Report Assesses Impact of Rail Stations on Displacement in Los Angeles

In Sustainability and Displacement: Assessing the Spatial Pattern of Residential Moves Near Rail Transit, researchers from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation analyze the effects of rail station openings on residential mobility in Los Angeles County. They find that out-mobility rates, where individuals move at least 0.5 miles from their origin, are higher in dense, urban, renter-concentrated neighborhoods, and lower-income households move more frequently than higher-income households. The evidence was mixed on the impact of rail station openings on the out-mobility rates of current residents.

LA County has seen 93 new rail-transit stations open since 1990, serving as an ideal area to study transit-oriented development and displacement. By analyzing tax-filing data from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) between 1993 and 2013, researchers were able to identify mobility rates across LA County. The mobility rate of 21% in LA County is higher than the 11% rate nationwide.

The researchers examined neighborhoods within a half-mile of a rail station on the Red/Purple and Gold lines. In most of these neighborhoods, 60% of households earn less than $50,000 annually. These neighborhoods also have a very high proportion of renters compared to LA County overall. The Red/Purple Subway line neighborhoods are racially and ethnically diverse, and all but one have higher foreign-born populations than LA County as a whole. Each of these neighborhoods was paired with a neighborhood at least one mile from the transit station with similar demographics used as a control group in order to isolate the effects of the rail station opening on mobility.

Overall, rail station openings were found to increase out-mobility rates by between 0% and 17%, but the effect varied by income, rail corridor, and differences in statistical models. Mobility rates for households near new Gold Line stations increased for all income groups. Out-mobility increased by 17% for higher income households and by 8% for the lowest income households.  Among households near the new Red/Purple Line stations, out-mobility appeared to increase by 4% for the lowest income households, while no statistically significant impact was observed for higher income groups.

Overall, evidence for the effect of rail station openings on out-mobility rates appeared to be mixed and context-dependent. While station openings on the Red/Purple line appeared to increase the gap in out-mobility rates between the lowest and highest income households, station openings on the Gold line appeared to narrow it. Although the results were mixed, the authors suggest that when planning their projects transit planners need to consider how new stations will impact lower income populations in neighborhoods that already have a high degree of out-mobility. More research is needed to understand how programmatic and development policies might mitigate displacement in transit-oriented development projects.

Sustainability and Displacement: Assessing the Spatial Pattern of Residential Moves Near Rail Transit is available at:

A brief Do Rail Transit Stations Induce Displacement? is available at: