A study of the relationship between rapid rail transit and urban development

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Virginia Tech


The thesis presents an opportunity to study relationship between rapid rail transit system and urban development through measuring various changes caused by the rapid rail transit improvement in Washington, D.C., Beijing, China, and Vancouver, Canada. Due to the reason that the three systems are all well-planned systems, they are not only the important parts of urban public transit, but also tools for guiding urban and regional development.

Three principal goals are identified for these systems: relieve traffic congestion; provide a transit alternative to the automobile drivers; and support a compact pattern of regional town centers out from an over-developed downtown area to form a polycentric urban pattern.

The rapid rail transit is found to serve a majority of riders going to and from work. It attracts not only former auto drivers but also new riders from other modes due to the fact that the system is a time and cost-saving transportation tool for people. Joining other factors, rapid rail transit could shape land-use pattern, reduce decline of old downtown, and induce development. It influences society and economy positively in that region. Although there is no direct relation between the improvement and regional population growth, it influences the population re-distribution because it attracts new employment to its envelope and influence areas from other parts of the metropol is.

A good transportation system in a metropolis should satisfy the variety of needs for mobility engendered by a very heterogeneous population. A system which mainly depends on automobiles cannot meet the needs. An rapid rail transit system could compensate for the insufficiency of automobile. As a critical and irreplaceable part of an urban transportation system, rapid rail transit plays an increasingly important role.