Rail-based transit-oriented development: Lessons from New York City and Hong Kong

Becky P.Y. LOO*, Cynthia CHEN, Eric T.H. CHAN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

258 Citations (Scopus)


The idea of using transit-oriented development (TOD) in reducing automobile dependency and improving the sustainability of transportation activities has gained wider support in recent years. Research findings have shown that residents living in TOD neighborhood used transit more frequently than people having similar socio-economic characteristics but living elsewhere. Most of the existing studies on TOD and transit ridership used recently developed sites or suburban neighborhoods as case studies. However, limited research studies have been conducted on TOD using city-wide station-level data. By using the heavy rail systems in New York City and Hong Kong as case studies, factors which are expected to contribute to higher rail transit ridership are analyzed by using multiple regressions. The results show that a combination of variables in different dimensions, including (i) land use, (ii) station characteristics, (iii) socio-economic and demographic characteristics and (iv) inter-modal competition were important in accounting for the variability of rail transit ridership. In particular, station characteristics appeared to be the most important dimension in affecting average weekday railway patronage. Future research on TOD may pay more attention on examining how various aspects of station characteristics can be modified to increase railway patronage. Besides, car ownership is both significant and positively associated with railway patronage. The result suggests that higher car ownership may be associated with more pick-ups, drop-offs and park-and-ride activities to the transit stations for the longer transit trip legs. Furthermore, this study shows that place-specific factors are important in influencing railway patronage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-212
Number of pages11
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This project is supported by the Research Grant Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project code: HKU 748408H). The first author would also like to express her sincere gratitude to MTRCL for providing the average weekday rail patronage data of 2005 at the station level for this comparative analysis. We like to thank Mr. James Barry (formerly New York City Transit, Mr. Lawrence Hirsch, and Mr. Qifeng Zeng of New York City for providing us the dataset used for this study.


  • Hong Kong
  • Land use
  • New York City
  • Rail transit ridership
  • Station patronage
  • Transit-oriented development


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