Promoting social equity is an important part of the purpose of public transit. However, social equity has historically played a much more minor role in transit-oriented development. High quality transit has been shown to increase station area property values and cause concerns about the displacement of low-income residents by high-income residents when the desirability of a neighborhood increases. In combination, these dynamics of transportation and real estate economics mean that transit-oriented development is often not a natural social equity promoter. This thesis examines equity implications of social and economic change in the areas surrounding newly implemented transit stations, as well as public sector efforts to promote equitable transit-oriented development. I employ a mixed-methods approach including quantitative and qualitative components. Building from the bid-rent and rent gap theories, I examine change in station area low-, medium- and high-wage working population and jobs as a function of transit mode and difference in accessibility in a national, longitudinal analysis. I also explore public efforts to promote equitable transit-oriented development in the context of Harvey’s concept of entrepreneurial urbanism though a series of in-depth interviews with senior program staff, taking an interpretivist approach focused on interviewees’ shared understandings of their work and current limitations to it. In the national, longitudinal analysis, I find significant in-migration of high-wage workers to station areas, but not of low- or medium-wage workers, significant gains of high-wage jobs and losses of low- and medium-wage jobs. In the interpretivist analysis, I find process of equitable transit-oriented development promotion to be sharply constrained by current urban governance structures and relationships to the private sector. I close by recommending a focus on both preservation and production of affordable housing and entry-level, living wage jobs in station areas, careful consideration of the appropriate roles of mixed-income and all-affordable development, as well as critical consideration of when the entrepreneurial model of urban governance is at least benign and when alternatives to it ought to be considered.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2018. Major: Public Affairs. Advisor: Yingling Fan. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 209 pages.
Can Transit-Oriented Development Enhance Social Equity: Current State and Active Promotion of Equitable Transit-Oriented Development.
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