The debate over crime and rail transit focuses on whether such investments "breed" criminal activities with new targets of opportunity or transport crime from the inner city to the suburbs. Yet, little empirical evidence exists on whether new rail transit actually does lead to increased crime rates around stations. In order to study this question, we test the relationship between crime and rail transit with the 2007 opening of the Charlotte light rail line. We use Geographical Information Systems software and micro-level data on reported crimes to generate measures of criminal activity in and around light rail transit (LRT) stations. We then implement a quasi-experimental before-and-after methodology using two alternate transit corridors to control for differences between neighborhoods that contain LRT stations and other neighborhoods. We find light rail does not actually increase crime around stations. Instead, we see a decrease in property crimes once the station locations are announced, which remains relatively stable after the light rail begins operating.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Urban Studies