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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Economic Growth in Urban Regions: Implications for Future Transportation


A central tenet of urban economics is that households, businesses, and industries compete for urban sites that enjoy accessibility advantages – whether to jobs, labor markets, raw materials, or distributions centers. Transportation investments trigger economic growth by enhancing accessibility, particularly in fast-growing, congested cities. Scholarly work suggests the impacts are more redistributive than generative – that is, new highways, rail investments, and busways shift growth that would have happened regardless from particular corridors and subareas of a region to others as opposed to prompting firm relocations and new business investments in a region. Factors other than transportation, such as “quality of life”, are increasingly influencing location choices of middle-income households and firms that are footloose. Of course, transportation and quality of life are not unrelated – public opinion polls reveal that being stuck in traffic is often first on the list among factors that are blamed for a declining quality of urban living.

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