Can New Light Rail Reduce Personal Vehicle Carbon Emissions? A Before‐After, Experimental‐Control Evaluation in Los Angeles

17 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2017

See all articles by Marlon Boarnet

Marlon Boarnet

University of Southern California - Sol Price School of Public Policy

Xize Wang

University of Southern California

Douglas Houston

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

This paper uses a before‐after, experimental‐control group method to evaluate the impacts of the newly opened Expo light rail transit line in Los Angeles on personal vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We applied the California Air Resources Board's EMFAC 2011 emission model to estimate the amount of daily average CO emissions from personal vehicle travel for 160 households across two waves, before and after the light rail opened. The 160 households were part of an experimental–control group research design. Approximately half of the households live within a half‐mile of new Expo light rail stations (the experimental group) and the balance of the sampled households live beyond a half‐mile from Expo light rail stations (the control group). Households tracked odometer mileage for all household vehicles for seven days in two sample waves, before the Expo Line opened (fall, 2011) and after the Expo Line opened (fall, 2012). Our analysis indicates that opening the Expo Line had a statistically significant impact on average daily CO emissions from motor vehicles. We found that the CO emission of households who reside within a half‐mile of an Expo Line station was 27.17 percent smaller than those living more than a half‐mile from a station after the opening of the light rail, while no significant difference exists before the opening. A difference‐in‐difference model suggests that the opening of the Expo Line is associated with 3,145 g less of household vehicle CO emissions per day as a treatment effect. A sensitivity analysis indicates that the emission reduction effect is also present when the experimental group of households is redefined to be those living within a kilometer from the new light rail stations.

Suggested Citation

Boarnet, Marlon and Wang, Xize and Houston, Douglas, Can New Light Rail Reduce Personal Vehicle Carbon Emissions? A Before‐After, Experimental‐Control Evaluation in Los Angeles (June 2017). Journal of Regional Science, Vol. 57, Issue 3, pp. 523-539, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jors.12275

Marlon Boarnet (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Sol Price School of Public Policy ( email )

Xize Wang

University of Southern California ( email )

Douglas Houston

University of California, Irvine ( email )

P.O. Box 19556
Science Library Serials
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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