Photo: Metro Transit
When a transit investment such as a light-rail transit (LRT) line begins service, surrounding neighborhoods often see significant gains in mobility and accessibility. New lines often lead to a physical upgrade of the neighborhood as well. Other effects, however, may be less desirable, such as neighborhood transformation, demographic changes, housing conversions, and shifts in a neighborhood’s social prestige.
Researchers have measured these neighborhood changes using objective data, but few have examined neighborhood residents’ self-reported perceptions of this change. To fill this knowledge gap and provide data for policymakers, University of Minnesota researchers surveyed residents and businesses along four Twin Cities transitway corridors.
“Overall, the perception of transitways’ impacts on neighborhoods is positive, but there are specific groups that have largely negative perceptions of transit-induced change,” says Yingling Fan, an assistant professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the study’s principal investigator. Her co-author was research fellow Andrew Guthrie.
In their work, the researchers randomly surveyed 750 households in 16 neighborhoods along two existing transitways (the Hiawatha LRT line and Northstar commuter rail line) and two planned transitways (Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit and Central Corridor LRT). In addition, researchers surveyed 160 businesses along the same corridors.
Here are highlights of what they found:
The researchers also recommend five key strategies that may help address negative perceptions and possible negative impacts of transit-induced neighborhood change:
The research was funded by the Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP), which was launched in 2006 by the Hennepin County-University of Minnesota partnership and has grown to include a mix of funding partners and program supporters.
“Yingling Fan’s work is encouraging because it shows us that the public perceives the project positively and looks forward to the benefits of transitway projects,” says Robin Caufman, assistant director for administration, communications and outreach with Metro Transit. “The results also reinforce the lessons we’ve learned about public engagement.”