Abstract for: Simulating the Interactions Among Land Use, Transportation, and Economy to Inform Light Rail Transit Decisions

In most transportation studies, computer models that forecast travel behavior statistics use static projections of the spatial distribution of future population and employment growth as inputs. As a result, they are unable to account for the temporally dynamic and non-linear interactions among transportation, land use, and socioeconomic systems. System dynamics (SD) provides a common framework for modeling the complex interactions among transportation and other related systems. This study uses a SD model to simulate the cascading impacts of a proposed light rail transit (LRT) system in central North Carolina, USA. The Durham-Orange Light Rail Project (D-O LRP) SD model incorporates relationships among the land use, transportation, and economy sectors to simulate the complex feedbacks that give rise to the travel behavior changes forecasted by the regionís transportation model. This paper demonstrates the sensitivity of changes in travel behavior to the proposed LRT system and the assumptions that went into the transportation modeling, and compares those results to the impacts of an alternative fare-free transit system. SD models such as the D-O LRP SD model can complement transportation studies by providing valuable insight into the interdependent community systems that collectively contribute to travel behavior changes.