LiPS Research Seminar with Marlon Boarnet

New York, NY

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Measuring Rail Transit's Sustainability Goals:  Learning from Los Angeles

Event abstract:

Los Angeles plans to open six new rail transit lines between 2012 and 2020.  Once completed, the world’s first “automobile city” will be home to a rail transit network with more service miles than the Washington Metro has today. Using the recently opened Exposition (Expo) light rail line as a case study, Boarnet and co-investigator Doug Houston are leading a multi-year, longitudinal evaluation of the travel and transportation impacts of new light rail. Boarnet will present early data from a 7-day travel survey of 285 households along the Expo Line corridor.  In 143 of the households an adult carried a geographic positioning system device (GPS, which tracks location) and an accelerometer (which measures physical activity) during the seven day survey period, and all households self-reported their travel.  Households are divided into two groups – an experimental group, within ½ mile of the Expo Line stations, and a control group, distant enough from the new stations that, based on estimates from the literature, household travel will not respond to the new rail line.  The results will yield one of the first controlled, before-after studies of the impact of new rail transit on travel and physical activity, allowing an evaluation of the role that rail transit can play in meeting California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and, in later extensions of the research, the impacts of rail transit on land values and neighborhood development.


Marlon Boarnet


Professor, Director, Graduate Programs in Urban Planning


University of Southern California / Sol Price School of Public Policy



Professor Boarnet is a renowned authority on urban economics, urban growth patterns, transportation, and regional science.