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Can Compact Rail Transit Corridors Transform the Automobile City? Challenges and Opportunities for More Sustainable Travel in Los Angeles

Douglas Houston, Associate Professor of Planning, Policy, and Design, University of California, Irvine

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May 04, 2017
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM


1130 K Street, Room LL3

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Directing growth towards compact rail corridors has become a key strategy for shifting auto-oriented regions towards denser, mixed-use communities that support sustainable travel. Regional planning organizations in California have aligned their regional transportation plans with sustainable community land use and development strategies in response to the state’s Senate Bill 375’s challenge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing sprawl and directing growth towards public transportation corridors. This presentation draws insights from several studies in Los Angeles to discuss some challenges of, and opportunities for, transforming the automobile city. Studies utilizing California Household Travel Survey (CHTS) data investigate how travel patterns of residents of rail transit corridors in Los Angeles diverge from regional patterns, whether travel of near-rail residents varies across different rail transit corridors, and whether more accessible and walkable neighborhoods promote greater household gender equality in travel. Analysis of land use and development patterns in rail transit corridors provides insights into near-rail infill and redevelopment patterns, and results from the Expo Line evaluation study suggest the impact of new light rail service on the travel patterns of nearby residents. Taken together, these studies suggest that rail transit corridors are not created equally, and that transit providers and community planners should consider the social and development context of corridors in efforts to improve transit access and maximize development.


Dr. Douglas Houston is an Associate Professor of Planning, Policy, and Design at the University of California, Irvine. His research investigates how urban development patterns intersect with neighborhood livability and environmental quality. These themes are evident in four overarching and interrelated areas of his empirical work: (A) impacts of transit-oriented development, (B) human activity patterns and environmental hazards, (C) urban inequality and access to opportunity, and (D) geographic analytical methods. His scholarship contributes to several literatures – transportation and environmental planning, environmental health science, public health, and geography – and expands each by helping explain how places and policies influence people, behavior, and community health. His work has received support from the California Air Resources Board, the California Department of Transportation, the California Endowment, the UC Transportation Center, and the UC Multi-Campus Research Program.

This talk is brought to you by a generous collaboration with the California Association of Realtors.

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