Transportation, Social and Financial Impacts of Light and Commuter Rail

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J.C. Arndt, C. Morgan, J.H. Overman, T. Clower, B. Weinstein, M. Seman

Publication Date:

September 2009


While transportation impacts are often masked by heavy growth in corridor traffic and latent travel demand, modeling enables measuring the real transportation impacts of rail projects. Rail transit is both safe and environmentally friendly. Rail systems expand mobility and reduce household investment in transportation. However, as regions implement rail systems, they must take care to consider the full range of rider impacts so that environmental justice issues do not emerge. The largest body of research relates to the economic impact of rail. These impacts are strongest in station areas, as access to rail increases property value on nearby property. The positive impact of rail on property values does not hold true for property directly adjacent to the rail line however. State Departments of Transportation have played a variety of roles in rail development, ranging from funding initial planning and operating services. TxDOT has authority to participate in rail development but no funding has been appropriated by the legislature. TxDOT could more actively participate in commuter rail projects if the agency was afforded greater flexibility in application of funds and the right to own rolling stock.

Report Number:



Light Rail, Commuter Rail, Intercity Rail, Economic Development

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