The impact of a new rail transit station on existing businesses: Case study of the Davis square red line station, Somerville MA

by Owusu, Emmanuel, M.A., TUFTS UNIVERSITY, 2011, 85 pages; 1495503


Cities across North America are increasingly embracing mass rail transit systems with the expectation of long-term environmental, economic, and social benefits. Additionally, cities are using transit stations as neighborhood revitalization tool, hoping that infrastructure investment will boost local economies in surrounding neighborhoods. Often left out of the discussion on impacts of transit infrastructure are the subtle changes in existing local business mix and possible commercial displacement over time, due to changes in demography and land use that accompany these rail transit systems. Using the Red Line rail transit station in Davis Square in Somerville Massachusetts as a case study, this study examined the impact of rail transit stations on businesses development patterns and displacement of existing businesses in neighborhoods that host rail stations.

Combining longitudinal and natural experiment research methods and using businesses in Union Square as control group, a sample of the Davis Square and Union Square neighborhoods' businesses in 1984 were tracked over a twenty-five year period. The differences were compared to ascertain the impact of the Red Line rail transit station on Davis Square businesses.

The presence of the train station could not be linked to displacement of businesses from Davis Square. However, the train station provided the stimulus for neighborhood revitalization and also played a significant role in redefining the neighborhood's identity as that regional entertainment destination.

AdvisersJustin Hollander; Penn Loh
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsLand use planning; Transportation; Urban planning
Publication Number1495503

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