Research Projects

Project at a Glance

Project Status: active

Title: Evaluating the benefits of light rail transit

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Houston, Douglas

Contractor: UC Irvine

Contract Number: 12-313

Research Program Area: Climate Change

Topic Areas: Behavioral Change, Sustainable Communities

Research Summary:

Senate Bill (SB) 375 requires Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in California to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) that demonstrates how they will meet regional greenhouse gas reduction targets set by ARB. The introduction and expansion of light rail transit (LRT) systems and the densification of communities living around LRT stations are among the strategies being considered and pursued by regions as they work toward SB 375 goals. However, the regional travel demand forecasting models used by MPOs in their planning process are limited in their ability to accurately evaluate the impact of transit investment and transit-oriented development projects on travel demand. This research project will implement the first ever longitudinal, experimental-control, before/after evaluation of the impact of a light rail transit investment in California on travel behavior and the active transportation co-benefits for nearby residents. This project will build on an existing study that collected baseline data on travel behavior for 248 households in and near the Expo Line corridor in south Los Angeles. Due to substantial co-funding to support the second phase of data collection, this project will support a third phase of data collection, which will not only provide a rare longitudinal look at travel behavior, but will also include a significant expansion of data collection and analysis. The results of this research can provide insight into whether and to what extent light rail transit investments can support the goals of SB 375.

NOTE: ARB is funding the third phase of data collection and analysis for this project. For the results from the first two phases of this project, visit


For questions regarding research reports, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

Stay involved, sign up with ARB's Research Email Listserver