The Influence of Transit - Oriented Developments on Housing Cost and Ridership in Denver, Colorado
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This research looks to understand how affordable housing policies can influence the success of compact, transit-oriented developments (TODs). Specifically, does the presence of affordable housing stock or affordable housing policy influence the use of public transportation ridership in TODs? Originally touted as a beneficial and sustainable form of development, transitoriented developments have moved from the poster project of sustainable growth to potential hotspots for gentrification and unaffordable housing. The relationship between housing cost and TODs is largely supported in studies of cities all across the United States. However, what is not as strongly understood is the connection between TOD implementation and public-transit ridership. TODs should, in theory, increase ridership as they create high-density development near stops and encourage pedestrian access to transit through thoughtful urban design. However, if these developments are pushing out low-income households, the most likely demographic to use public transit, are they actually able to create increased ridership overall? This research looks to understand the relationship between TODs and transit ridership through case studies of four TODs within Denver. Each TOD falls along a spectrum of housing values to evaluate whether or not there is a relationship between housing cost and ridership. These case studies evaluate the change in ridership over a nine-year period in which the transit stop went through developments and improvements. The goal is to understand if TODs are a viable tool for managing and mitigating GHG emissions without the addition of affordable housing within the policy. Through a regression analysis, housing costs were to be negatively correlated with public transit ridership in the chosen study areas. Rising housing costs due to the economic boost of TODs have been shown to undermine the success of the transit redevelopment and investment to increase ridership. This demonstrates a need to consider affordable housing during TOD policy development.