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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2015 TOPIC AREA: Integrating freight and passenger systems CENTER: NCST

Sustainability and Displacement: Assessing the Spatial Pattern of Residential Moves near Rail Transit

Project Summary

Project number: NCST-15-26

Funding source: US DOT

Contract number: DTRT13-G-UTC29

Funding amount: $100,000

Performance Period: 1/1/2016 to 12/31/2016


Project website:


Project Description:

One of the most important yet under-studied rail transit issues is its impact on displacement of low-income households from transit-oriented neighborhoods. With affordable housing in short supply in many of the same cities that are aggressively building rail transit, displacement of low income residents has become a key policy debate. This question relates directly to the METRANS mission of solving transportation problems in large metropolitan areas, and falls into the topic area (1) from the RFP, ?spatial patterns and the sustainability of passenger and freight transport.? The question of income levels of residents living near transit stations is fundamental for understanding transit ridership and the environmental impacts of rail transit. Because low-income persons use transit more and drive less than persons of higher income, if transit gentrifies neighborhoods by displacing low-income persons it stands to reason that the impact of the rail system on sustainability may be less than if low-income households are not displaced after rail stations open. Previous research on gentrification has highlighted the importance of who moves into and who is displaced from gentrifying neighborhoods, but research has not specifically correlated these changes with rail transit. Other studies finding a correlation between gentrification and rail transit have not been able to establish causal links. In summary, there is very little evidence on the migration of households after rail is built. For this project, we will partner with staff at the California Franchise Tax Board to use geocoded California income tax information to identify household residential location and household income levels, and we will track those households over time to assess whether low-income households migrate out of transit-oriented neighborhoods at disproportionate rates after rail service begins, and where those households move. Our research will shed light on this issue in four innovative ways: (1) by tracking individual households by income, (2) by analyzing household mobility before and after rail investment occurs (station opening), (3) by developing a like for like counterfactual from the same dataset, and (4) by analyzing displacement trends at frequencies as often as annual over several years. One of the principal investigators, Raphael Bostic, has worked with the California Franchise Tax Board data previously, and he is familiar with their process for data access. We have contacted research staff at the California Franchise Tax Board and they are interested and are willing to work with us on this research.



Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]


Raphael Bostic
Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall 201CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]