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Transit-oriented smart growth can reduce life-cycle environmental impacts and household costs in Los Angeles

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  • Nahlik, Matthew J.
  • Chester, Mikhail V.

Abstract

The environmental and economic assessment of neighborhood-scale transit-oriented urban form changes should include initial construction impacts through long-term use to fully understand the benefits and costs of smart growth policies. The long-term impacts of moving people closer to transit require the coupling of behavioral forecasting with environmental assessment. Using new light rail and bus rapid transit in Los Angeles, California as a case study, a life-cycle environmental and economic assessment is developed to assess the potential range of impacts resulting from mixed-use infill development. An integrated transportation and land use life-cycle assessment framework is developed to estimate energy consumption, air emissions, and economic (public, developer, and user) costs. Residential and commercial buildings, automobile travel, and transit operation changes are included and a 60-year forecast is developed that compares transit-oriented growth against growth in areas without close access to high-capacity transit service. The results show that commercial developments create the greatest potential for impact reductions followed by residential commute shifts to transit, both of which may be effected by access to high-capacity transit, reduced parking requirements, and developer incentives. Greenhouse gas emission reductions up to 470Gg CO2-equivalents per year can be achieved with potential costs savings for TOD users. The potential for respiratory impacts (PM10-equivalents) and smog formation can be reduced by 28–35%. The shift from business-as-usual growth to transit-oriented development can decrease user costs by $3100 per household per year over the building lifetime, despite higher rental costs within the mixed-use development.

Suggested Citation

  • Nahlik, Matthew J. & Chester, Mikhail V., 2014. "Transit-oriented smart growth can reduce life-cycle environmental impacts and household costs in Los Angeles," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 21-30.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:35:y:2014:i:c:p:21-30
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2014.05.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Cao, Xinyu, 2008. "Examining the impacts of residential self-selection on travel behavior: A focus on methodologies," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 204-228, March.
    2. Cervero, Robert, 2006. "Public Transport and Sustainable Urbanism: Global Lesson," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4fp6x44f, University of California Transportation Center.
    3. Cao, Xinyu & Mokhtarian, Patricia & Handy, Susan, 2008. "Examining The Impacts of Residential Self-Selection on Travel Behavior: Methodologies and Empirical Findings," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt08x1k476, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blanca Fernandez Milan, 2016. "How participatory planning processes for transit-oriented development contribute to social sustainability," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 6(3), pages 520-524, September.
    2. Anderson, John E. & Wulfhorst, Gebhard & Lang, Werner, 2015. "Energy analysis of the built environment—A review and outlook," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 149-158.

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