Exploring Unintended Environmental and Social-Equity Consequences of Transit Oriented Development

Communities throughout the U.S. are pursuing land use and transport plans that locate high density, mixed use development near high quality rail and bus transit service, becoming transit-oriented developments (TODs). These plans are intended to meet important community goals, such as economic development, reduced congestion, greater transport choice, and improved public health. In addition, they are critical to managing the growth in vehicle travel necessary to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. Increasingly, however, there is concern that these plans may have unanticipated consequences that are inequitable and could undermine GHG reductions. The research uses the official Sacramento PECAS land use model and activity based microsimulation travel demand model to simulate the effect of plans on rents, location of low income households, and travel (mode, trips, auto ownership, and distance) over time throughout the region and, more granularly, those directly attributable to TODs in the region.

Different scenarios are simulated and the effectiveness of measures to redress negative outcomes is being tested. The MOVES vehicle emissions model and an economic lifecycle assessment model are used to examine GHG emissions. The study provides important policy insights, evidence, and practical guidance on a pressing subject that has received little attention.

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