THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IMPACTS OF LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT: A CASE STUDY OF THE BALTIMORE CENTRAL LIGHT RAIL
Barry, Kyle Andrew
This study uses a multivariate hedonic regression model to estimate the economic development impacts of the Baltimore Central Light Rail. Given that the state of Maryland and the City of Baltimore are planning to construct a new light rail line in the coming years (known as the Baltimore Red Line), it is be important to confirm the predicted benefits of light rail on a pre-existing system. This analysis uses data from the 2005-2009 5-Year American Community Survey to test the impact of light rail station proximity on census tract level property values. Past studies have shown that proximity to a light rail station may have either positive or negative effects on property values. This is due to either, respectively, what is known as the "accessibility effect", or the increased ease of moving around the city due to increased access to public transportation, or the "nuisance effect", or the annoyance of living so close to the light rail station, due increased noise and the potential for increased crime in a given area. Presumably, these effects will be capitalized into the demand for local property values. The hedonic regression models showed a significant effect of light rail station proximity on property values only when locational variables were taken into account. When a more comprehensive model was incorporated or other variables were added to the locational model, the significant effect of station proximity disappeared. From this analysis, it can be inferred that the city of Baltimore must be quite careful in calculating full costs and benefits of the coming Red Line, and should promote the line as only one piece of a broader economic development program for the city, not as the central component.
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