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Access to a comprehensive historical archive of real-time, multi-modal multi-agency transportation system data has provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate how “big data” can be used for policy analysis, and to offer new insights for planning scholarship and practice. We illustrate with a case study of a new rail transit line. We use transit, freeway, and arterial data of high spatial and temporal resolution to examine transportation system performance impacts of the Exposition (Expo) light rail line (Phase 1) in Los Angeles. Using a quasi-experimental research design, we explore whether the Expo Line has had a significant impact on transit ridership, freeway traffic, and arterial traffic within the corridor it serves. Our results suggest a net increase in transit ridership, but few effects on traffic system performance. Given the latent travel demand in this heavily congested corridor, results are consistent with expectations. The benefits of rail transit investments are in increasing transit accessibility and person throughput within high-demand corridors; effects on roadway traffic are small and localized.

Biographical Information

Mohja Rhoads received her PhD from the University of Southern California (USC) in Policy, Planning and Development. She received her Masters from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Planning and a Bachelors in Economics and French from Columbia University. Her research interests include the nexus between Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Transportation, namely the ability of ICTs to enable flexible workplace practices and the resulting travel implications. Her other research interests include using Big Data to answer old transportation questions in new ways, and Transportation and Land Use in a neighborhood context. Mohja is currently a Senior Research Associate for the South Bay Cities Council of Governments and a Research Fellow at the Price School of Public Policy at USC. In her spare time, Mohja likes playing the Ukulele, singing Jazz and reading printed books on all subjects.


Local transit -- Decision making -- Statistical methods, Transportation -- Planning -- California -- Los Angeles, Data mining, Street railroads -- California -- Los Angeles


Transportation | Urban Studies and Planning

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