News | PSR Researchers Boarnet and Painter Explore Job Accessibility and Residential Movement Along Transit Lines

Stop the Video



by Meghan Orr, CSULB

In an era of growing calls for racial and economic justice, researchers are increasingly interested in the role that gentrification and displacement may play in exacerbating existing inequalities for disenfranchised communities. Gentrification is the concept of neighborhoods changing by bringing in new businesses, improving housing, and attracting wealthier residents. Gentrification leads to the displacement of poorer residents in these neighborhoods by creating higher rents and pricing them out of their own homes. While existing research on this concept has yielded inconclusive data, it has sparked interest in the field of mobility as a tangential factor in gentrification. USC Professor of Public Policy and Chair of the Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis Department, Marlon Boarnet, and USC Professor and Chair of the Public Policy Department, Gary Painter, recently published the final report for the PSR research project, “Residential Moves Into and Away from Los Angeles Rail Transit Neighborhoods: Adding Insight to the Gentrification and Displacement Debate.” The project takes a comprehensive look at job accessibility and residential relocation among Angelenos living near transit hubs.  The report was co-authored with USC PhD student Evgeny Burinskiy, USC Sol Price postdoctoral scholar Oscar Gerardo Hernandez Lara, San Diego State University Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Madison Swayne, and Allen Prohofsky of the California Franchise Tax Board.  


Boarnet and Painter wanted to examine how residential moves toward and away from rail transit stations changed job access. They accessed anonymized 2014 and 2015 income tax filing information through the California Franchise Tax Board. Anonymized income tax data were attached to residents’ zip codes, which allowed the researchers to determine if residents were moving, and if so, where. By comparing moving rates and income of movers versus non-movers in transit station areas, the researchers were able to examine whether a relationship exists between moving behavior and transit access to jobs. 

Their research revealed that households that moved away from rail transit neighborhoods experienced a transit job access reduction, averaging 138,087 fewer jobs in 30-minute peak travel time. However, households that moved closer to rail stations saw an average increase of 162,071 transit accessible jobs. Both rail and bus transit were considered when measuring transit accessibility to jobs. While the average moving distance into and away from rail transit neighborhoods was no more than four kilometers, transit job accessibility was significantly impacted by moves away from rail stations. This illustrates the vital relationship between household distance from rail transit connectivity and job access, which consequentially raises policy questions on how to address gaps in county residents’ transit connectivity and thus their socioeconomic mobility. Furthermore, the research team found that persons who moved away from rail transit neighborhoods tended to move to areas with lower performing schools and higher poverty rates when compared with Los Angeles County averages.   


The data gathered from this study contributes an important piece of information toward the ongoing discussion of gentrification and the impact it has on communities. There have been few studies of where persons move to when they leave rail transit neighborhoods. This research illustrates that even though most households move only a short distance when leaving a rail neighborhood, their new residential location provide much weaker transit access to jobs.