Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2017 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility CENTER: NCST

Gentrification Near Rail Transit Areas: A Micro-Data Analysis of Moves into Los Angeles Metro Rail Station Areas

Project Summary

Project number: NCST-17-10

Funding source: US DOT

Contract number: DTRT13-G-UTC29

Funding amount: $100,000

Performance Period: 9/1/2017 to 8/31/2018


Link to full seminar video

Link to report


Project description:


Rail transit and neighborhood compositional changes are becoming clearly linked in the public mind. Examples where rail transit has been associated, at least anecdotally, with neighborhood gentrification abound. In Washington, D.C., the Green and Yellow lines are associated with neighborhood transition north and east of downtown. In Los Angeles, the Gold, Expo, and Red/Purple lines have been associated with gentrification concerns (Zuk & Chapple, 2015a), and similar concerns have been raised regarding the soon-to-open Crenshaw Line. On balance, these same concerns are present in most large metropolitan areas that are building or expanding rail transit.


Gentrification is a process of neighborhood change characterized by increasing housing prices and changing demographic and socioeconomic composition of the neighborhood. These components of gentrification are often mutually reinforcing: changing composition can further increase housing prices and vice versa. Prior studies have raised the concern that rail transit expansion catalyzes or exacerbates gentrification (Zuk et al., 2017; Rayle, 2015).


This report seeks to shed light on this latter concern. It begins with a brief summary of the evidence from prior studies on both rail-related housing price increases and changing composition. It then introduces a newly available data source, which the authors use to examine the relationship between new rail transit station opening and neighborhood income composition. This report aims to determine whether a rail station opening in Los Angeles County is associated with the share and income composition of residents who move in and out of neighborhoods near that rail station. Specifically, the researchers address the following questions regarding gentrification and its tie to rail transit stations: (1) Who moves into rail-station neighborhoods and when? (2) Are higher income households growing as a share of station area population relative to lower-income households? (3) Do rail stations cause this phenomenon or is this happening regardless of the transit investment?


Research seminar highlights video


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]