The Influences of the Hiawatha LRT on Changes in Travel Behavior: A Retrospective Study on Movers
Jason Cao, Alireza Ermagun
Report no. CTS 15-10
Following scant evidence for the effects of proximity to rail transit on auto use, we pinpoint the impacts of rail transit and neighborhood characteristics on both transit and car use in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. In this vein, we apply the structural equations modeling approach on 597 residents who moved into the Hiawatha light rail transit (LRT) corridor after it opened. Using a quasi-longitudinal design to compare the behavior of movers into the Hiawatha and control corridors, we found that the Hiawatha LRT acts as both a catalyst and a magnet. Movers into the Hiawatha corridor experience transit improvement, which increases transit use and reduces car use. The LRT also enables transit-liking people who were unable to realize their preference previously to relocate near the LRT. However, the LRT has no significant effects on changes in auto ownership. This suggests that besides transit infrastructure, planners should promote transit-friendly neighborhood characteristics.