Pacific Southwest Region 9 UTC

‘A’ Papers

Sunday, April 16, 2017 - 12:39am

By Griffin Kantz, B.S. in Policy, Planning, and Development 2017


In celebration of the brilliant and enterprising students from our multi-university METRANS community, we present this second installment of our ‘A’ Papers column – in which I highlight recent and outstanding academic publications by transportation students.

This issue features transportation research by two of my fellow undergrads in the Sol Price School of Public Policy. Soobin Kim, a junior in Urban Studies and Planning, wrote "Bus Shelters in Los Angeles" in a transportation planning class and subsequently submitted it for the USC Undergraduate Writer's Annual Conference where it earned First Prize in its category. David Roachford, graduating with a B. S. in Policy, Planning, and Development this May, completed his senior thesis "Gentrification and Displacement in Los Angeles' Rail Transit Neighborhoods" and is presenting it this month at the Urban Affairs Association Conference in Minneapolis.


Soobin Kim is a third-year student in the new B.S. of Urban Studies and Planning program in the Sol Price School. Her paper "Bus Shelters in Los Angeles" was the outcome of research she conducted for the final project of her Fall 2016 Urban Transportation Planning and Policy class under adjunct associate professor Michael Kodama.

For her paper, Soobin interviewed seven transportation officials and practitioners from outside the university, including reporters and public administrators, and combined their inputs with field research to assemble policy recommendations for improving the condition of LA Metro bus stations. In particular, she noted shortcomings in the operation of the Coordinated Street Furniture Program, jointly implemented by the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services and a private contractor since 2001. She found through her interview research that neighborhood resistance to bus station panel advertising and technical deficiencies with sidewalk sites have prevented over half of the proposed shelters from being built, with only five years remaining in the program. Soobin also investigated deficiencies in the bus station approval process and physical design.

            (Photo by Soobin Kim)


She selected five potential policy recommendations to address these perceived shortcomings and analyzed them by implementation cost, equitability, feasibility, and effectiveness. Her ultimate recommendations were a new process of rider-input data incorporation, revamped funding for the Coordinated Street Furniture Program, and expanded options for physical design. “Los Angeles must juggle various perspectives and stakes for a transportation system that meets the time, cost, safety, and convenience needs of its constituents. Bus shelters are especially essential for the safety and convenience elements, and with some fixes to the current program, Los Angeles can take a step closer to making public transit a stigma-free option for all.”

Soobin submitted her report to the 2017 USC Undergraduate Writer’s Annual Conference and won First Prize in the Professional Writing/Moral Reasoning category – and $1,000. She strongly encourages other USC students to submit their work for adjudication in the Writer’s Conference, “at least for the free dinner” she added.


David Roachford is a fourth-year B.S. of Policy, Planning, and Development student at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. This past semester he collaborated with his advisor, Price professor Marlon Boarnet, to compose a senior thesis, “Gentrification and Displacement in Los Angeles’ Rail Transit Neighborhoods,” investigating demographic impacts in the immediate vicinities of LA Metro Rail stations that may be tied to gentrification or displacement dynamics.

David spatially analyzed data from the Census and American Community Survey to detect if areas within the immediate vicinity of Metro stations demonstrated statistically significant changes in rent rate, home value, income level, racial composition, or education level when normalized against changes in neighborhoods within a larger radius of each station. He found that comparative increases in rent, income, and education were observable around many stations in central Los Angeles, but effects were overall quite diverse from station to station. The Blue Line in particular witnessed little demographic change around its stations. These effects, when detectable across several demographic categories, can be indicators of transit gentrifying local neighborhood economies or prompting displacement of preexisting residents.

David presented the results of his research on USC campus on April 3, 2017 in preparation for his participation at the 47th Annual Urban Affairs Association Conference, taking place later this month in Minneapolis. Boarnet expressed confidence in the quality of David’s research and his ability to give a masterful performance at the upcoming conference. We at METRANS wish David the best of luck! 

(Photo by David Roachford)


(Photo by Griffin Kantz)


This column runs in monthly installments. Students, if you have recently completed a project or paper (within or beyond the context of class) related to transportation, reach out to the author to be featured.


Griffin Kantz

Kantz is a fourth-year undergraduate studying Sustainable Planning in the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. He can be reached at