Publication Date

9-2014

Committee Members

Dr. John R. Mullin, Chair - Dr. Ellen J. Pader, Member - Dr. Elisabeth M. Hamin, Member

Abstract

The South Coast Rail is a proposed transit infrastructure upgrade project that is intended to provide affordable Commuter Rail connectivity from Boston, Massachusetts to the South Coast Region communities of Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton. State and regional policy makers have debated the practicality of this project over the last 25 years while the estimated project cost reached $2.2 billion in 2013. The most fundamental benefit of this proposed project is improved economic stability in the South Coast Region in the form of increased access to employment opportunities, local industrial development, and expanded municipal tax revenue.

Increasingly, public transit nodes like Commuter Rail stations are becoming ideal sites for concentrated development, both commercial and residential, with the intent of clustering amenities and promoting more efficient use of urban land. Massachusetts Gateway Cities like Fall River have emerged as model communities to encourage this concentrated development around public transit, often referred to as "Smart Growth", due to their sizable populations and often underutilized infrastructure.

This research examines the relationship between Massachusetts Gateway City employment patterns and Commuter Rail transit service through the analysis of employment related statistics and spatial assessment of demographic trends around transit station sites. This evaluation is intended to support South Coast Rail planning strategies in order to maximize the positive economic impact of public transit improvement for the city of Fall River, Massachusetts.

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