California TOD + GHG Analysis

Photo: Erik Eckel via Flickr Creative Commons

Our research helped make the case that building affordable housing near transit can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles.

We were asked to contribute research and analysis to the report Why Creating and Preserving Affordable Homes Near Transit is a Highly Effective Climate Protection Strategy that quantifies the climate benefits of constructing affordable housing units near public transit. We calculated reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for five different income groups living in three types of locations.

Among the findings of our analysis were two key points:

  • Lower Income households drive nearly 50% fewer miles when living within a quarter-mile of frequent transit than those living further away, in areas that do not incorporate transit-oriented development (TOD) principles. When living within a half-mile of frequent transit they drove 25-30% less.
  • Higher Income households drive more than twice as many miles and own more than twice as many vehicles as Extremely Low-Income households living within a quarter-mile of frequent transit.

Because of this report, the State of California passed a bill in 2014 to devote billions of dollars in cap-and-trade revenue to fund projects intended to further curb climate impacts. In addition to investments in high-speed rail and public transit, millions of dollars will support affordable transit-oriented development (TOD).