Assistant Professor Steve Spears recently won the Best Poster award at the ACSP (Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning) annual meeting in Denver, CO. His poster was titled, “New Habits Die Hard: evaluating the dynamic impacts of attitudes and perceptions of new light rail use in Los Angeles.”
Dr. Spears’ work examined the effect of attitudes and perceptions on the use of the Expo Line light rail over a three year period. Specifically, he looked at attitudes towards transit use and car use, environmental norms, concerns about safety on public transit, and whether the study participants felt they had a good availability and quality of shops in their neighborhood.
He found that within the first 6 months of the new light rail line opening, more positive attitudes towards public transit led to less driving of personal cars, more physical activity and an increase in transit use. But after the new light rail transit was available for 18 months, it was the habit of using transit that most affected its continued use. The results stress the importance of marketing and rider incentives in the limited window of opportunity before and immediately after a new service begins operation.