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

Coordinated land use and transportation plans that locate high-density, mixed-use development near high-quality rail and bus transit are essential in helping communities reach important goals, such as economic development, reduced traffic congestion, greater transportation choices, and improved public health. These plans may also be critical to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals and reduce harmful effects to human and natural systems. However, there are concerns that these plans could undermine the well-being of low-income groups and GHG reduction efforts. Investments for transit-oriented developments (TODs) may increase property values and gentrification, which could cause displacement of low-income groups. If low-income groups are pushed out of TODs, they will likely live farther from their daily destinations, require a car for transportation, and be more likely to buy a used or older-model car that will increase GHG emissions. Furthermore, higher-income families living in TODs may be more likely to drive since they can afford it, further increasing GHG emissions. By using the Sacramento PECAS (Production, Exchange, and Consumption Allocation System) and Sacramento travel demand models, the effects of TOD development policies on the larger economy and on specific socio-economic groups can be predicted.