Residential Preference at Transit-oriented Development: A Visual Choice Experiment
Alsaiari, Hamad Nasser
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Insufficient knowledge of residential preferences represents a major obstacle to achieving residential satisfaction and quality of life. This obstacle is even greater in the case of transit-oriented developments (TODs), as their success depends, in part, on the degree to which people's preferences are consistent with their residential environments. This study employed a visual choice experiment, which combines the benefits of visual preference surveys and discrete choice experiments, to elicit residential preference for TODs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before the opening of its citywide public transportation system. Using a seemingly homogeneous sample of participants, the analysis incorporated three analytical methods to elicit residential preference: a multinomial logit model, a mixed logit model, and a latent class model. The results indicated the presence of preference heterogeneity and the emergence of four lifestyle classes that could explain and predict residential preference patterns. People with similar sociodemographic characteristics may have different lifestyles based on their choice behavior, marital status, and public transit attitudes. Additionally, the results showed a strong preference for low-density housing, even among those who favor living in a TOD; however, increasing density could be mitigated through the presence of other TOD attributes. The findings of this research point to the diversity of residential preferences and suggest that providing a variety of residential environments increases the likelihood that people will find their preferred environment. Additionally, planning efforts to convert all developments near transit, particularly in suburban locations, to TODs might be unsuitable in cities where public transportation has been introduced only recently. Instead, deferring TOD conversion efforts until public transportation and its use are mature may attract people to live near transit and encourage the gradual development of transit affinity in residents who may otherwise reject TOD living completely. Lastly, the successful application of a visual choice experiment in this research opens up a variety of potential analytical methods that are used commonly in other fields and have the potential to move visual preference research into the realm of robust empirical investigation.
General Audience Abstract
The work of urban planners, urban designers, architects, and policy makers centers on improving the built environment and increasing the quality of people’s lives. However, their work entails making decisions that are not always in tandem with people’s preferences (e.g., increasing housing density, proposing a mix of land uses in residential neighborhoods, introducing public transportation close to where people live and work, to name a few). Due to the uncertainty surrounding people’s acceptance of modifications of the built environment, especially when it entails introducing residential attributes for the first time, this dissertation focused on 1) assessing residential preference near public transportation nodes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia before operation of the public transportation system, and 2) assessing the extent to which advanced analytical methods are capable of providing a better understanding of residential preference differences among a seemingly homogenous sample of participants. The work in this dissertation was motivated by the increasing use of manipulated images in choice tasks, where participants are presented with multiple images, each depicting a residential scenario, as bundles to choose from, and their choice patterns then recorded and analyzed. The results showed that among the relatively homogenous sample of participants that was recruited, four significant residential preference patterns have emerged, which could be used to describe and predict residential preference and choice with great accuracy. This dissertation laid out several policy implications that could be useful in providing a built environment that matches with what people want. It also provided research implications and suggestions on the use of visual choice experiments for urban planners and designers that are well-developed in other fields of inquiry.
- Doctoral Dissertations