UCI News

USC/UCI study finds dramatic drop in driving after Expo Line stations open

Los Angeles residents who live near an Exposition Light Rail station dramatically reduced the number of miles they drove and tripled their rail ridership after the opening of the rail line last year, according to a new study co-authored by Doug Houston, UC Irvine assistant professor of planning, policy & design.

December 17, 2013

doug_houston_2Los Angeles residents who live near an Exposition Light Rail station significantly reduced the number of miles they drove and tripled their rail ridership after the opening of the rail line last year, according to a new study co-authored by Doug Houston (pictured), UC Irvine assistant professor of planning, policy & design. People living within a half-mile of a station traveled 10 to 12 fewer miles daily by car – a 40 percent decrease – after the rail line became available, according to the report. They also tripled their rate of rail travel, from an average of one daily rail trip per household to almost three daily household rail trips. The findings represent the first experimental study of the effects of a new rail line in Los Angeles. The study’s authors followed more than 200 households over seven-day periods in fall 2011, before the Expo Line opened, and in fall 2012, after its debut. “This is the first before-after evaluation of a major rail transit line in Los Angeles,” Houston said. “The results suggest that regional plans to target household and job growth toward dense, high-quality transit areas are headed in the right direction and could be associated with sizable reductions in vehicle-related air pollution.” The study was led by Marlon Boarnet, a professor with USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.