Before and After a New Light Rail Stop: Resident Attitudes, Travel Behavior, and Obesity

This paper uses a natural experiment design to investigate the benefits that transit-oriented development provides to individual residents. Fifty-one residents of a revitalizing, mixed-use, Salt Lake City neighborhood near the TRAX light rail line were asked about their behaviors and attitudes. The residents were classified into three groups: nonriders; new riders, who reported recent rail rides only after the stop opened; and continuing riders, who reported recent rail rides both before and after the new stop opened. Participants wore accelerometers and completed surveys during two different time periods, one before and one after a new light rail stop opened in their neighborhood. Results showed that (adjusted for income and employment), obesity was much higher among nonriders (65%) than new riders (26%) and continuing riders (15%). All other significant differences show the same pattern, with new riders' averages lying between the extremes of nonriders and continuing riders. Continuing riders had, on average, the largest number of moderate physical activity bouts, and reported the highest place attachment, the greatest neighborhood satisfaction, the most favorable attitudes toward transit-oriented development, took the fewest car rides, and had the least pro-suburban attitudes. New riders reported fewer car rides after the rail service started. These findings indicate that planners should consider promoting the personal benefits associated with living in transit-oriented development, including high levels of neighborhood satisfaction and place attachment.


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  • Accession Number: 01149088
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 25 2010 10:52AM