Research Portal

July 1, 2022

Light Rail Leads to More Walking Around Station Areas

Huang, Ruizhu; Moudon, Anne V.; Zhou, Chuan; Stewart, Orion T.; Saelens, Brian E. (2017). Light Rail Leads to More Walking Around Station Areas. Journal Of Transport & Health, 6, 201 – 208.

View Publication


Areas around Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations offer ideal conditions for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). Relatively dense, mixed-use neighborhoods can have positive impacts on mobility, health, and perceptions of neighborhood safety among nearby residents, primarily through walking activity for both transit and other purposes. To examine how station areas may attract new activity, this study analyzed changes in walking around station areas among people living close to an LRT station before and after the opening of a new transit system. This study examined walking behavior among the subset of 214 participants living within one mile of one of 13 LRT stations from among a sample of residents living close or further away from a new LRT line in Seattle. They completed a survey and a travel log and wore an accelerometer and a GPS for 7 days both before (2008) and after the opening of the Seattle area LRT (2010). Walking bouts were derived using a previously developed algorithm. The main outcome was the individual-level change in the proportion of daily walking within one quarter Euclidean mile of an LRT station. Overall walking decreased from before to after the LRT opening while station area walking did not change significantly, indicating a shift in walking activity to the station areas after the introduction of LRT. Increases in the proportion of station area walking were negatively related to participants' distance between home and the nearest LRT station, peaking at .0.75 mile. Male gender, college education, normal weight status, less access to cars, and frequent LRT use were also significantly associated with greater positive changes in the proportion of station area walking. The shift in walking to station areas after the completion of light rail provides evidence that the local proximate population is attracted to station areas, which may potentially benefit both transit use and TOD area economic activity. The residential catchment area for the shift in LRT area walking was < 0.75 mile of the LRT stations. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.


Body-mass Index; Physical-activity; Built Environment; Travel Behavior; Transit; Stop; Transit Oriented Development (tod); Behavior Change; Global Positioning Systems; Geographic Information Systems