Ghosts in the Machine: The Influence of Historical Rail on Current Auto Ownership

TitleGhosts in the Machine: The Influence of Historical Rail on Current Auto Ownership
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsDavid Block-Schachter, Jinhua Zhao, Yu Shen
JournalJournal of Planning Education and Research
Keywordsauto ownership, Boston, built environment, endogeneity, historical rail
Abstract

This paper focuses on the impact of historical rail infrastructure—even after it no longer exists—on current auto ownership in the Boston area. We find that zones with shorter distances to historical rail infrastructure have lower levels of auto ownership. The results are robust to controls for current rail infrastructure, built environment, and demographic variation, as well as to instrumental variables that control for endogeneity. They imply that transportation infrastructure has lasting effects on travel behavior. Excluding these long-term effects in current models can skew decision-making.