Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Transit-Oriented Global Centers for Competitiveness and Livability: State Strategies and Market Responses in Asia


Over the past two decades, the spatial development patterns of city-regions have increasingly been shaped by global-scale centripetal and centrifugal market forces. Complex managerial tasks and specialized producer services agglomerate in the central locations of global city-regions, whereas standardized assemble lines, wholesale inventories, and customer services stretch over the peripheral locations of global production networks. One explanation for postindustrial agglomeration is the need for face-to-face interactions and knowledge spillovers among the labor-intensive business sectors. On the other hand, the spatial concentrations of knowledge-based activities are also promoted by entrepreneurial city-states’ economic development strategies. Since the 1990s, rail transit investments and urban regeneration projects have played a pivotal role in shaping competitive and livable global centers to attract foreign direct investments and qualified international workers. Despite the growing importance of city and regional planning in the global marketplace, existing studies have provided little evidence on transit-oriented urban regeneration projects particularly in global city-regions.

This dissertation examines Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo as three transit-oriented global center models, wherein entrepreneurial city-states have largely integrated rail transit investments with urban regeneration projects to guide postindustrial agglomeration and spur economic development in target locations. For each of the three Asian cases, I classify types of joint development packages on the basis of built environment attributes and estimate the impacts of rail transit investments and joint development packages on market location shifts and land price changes over the last decade. The empirical findings suggest that mixed-use redevelopment projects and urban amenity improvements around terminal stations largely shift the competitive advantages of knowledge-based businesses and the lifestyle preferences of highly skilled professionals towards central locations. The hedonic price models, however, reveal that the synergetic effects of rail transit investments and urban regeneration projects are highly redistributive over the rail transit networks as well as within each station catchment area, especially where urban districts are already well-developed and development regulations are generously relaxed for commercial profits.

One might argue that the Asian models represent a few extreme cases in terms of transit investment levels and urban agglomeration patterns, having very different evolutional pathways and institutional structures from other global city-regions. In response to this argument, I also attempt to illustrate specific experiences and common themes across the three Asian models and selected global city-regions that have been moving towards transit-oriented urban regeneration. The international statistics and case reviews in this dissertation suggest that there is global momentum to put greater public-private resources together into large-scale rail transit investments and transit-oriented development projects. These entrepreneurial forces tend to generate significant agglomeration impacts on knowledge-based business activities in the global marketplace, while raising transit overcapitalization and social stratification problems in the local context. The cross-cutting lessons drawn from the three Asian cases and global comparisons stress the importance of (i) evaluating urban agglomeration benefits, (ii) choosing adequate transit technologies, (iii) establishing public private partnerships, (iv) applying value capture techniques and (v) ensuring local community interests in shaping “competitive” and “livable” transit oriented global centers.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View