Starting in 1990, Los Angeles County built a new and expensive rail transit system. Now we can calculate the costs and benefits.

Transportation infrastructure shapes the spatial fabric through which we thread our daily travel. How do we get to work or to school? Where do we go shopping? How long does it take to meet up with friends? Is it worth driving or taking rideshare? Public transit systems—including buses, streetcars, rail lines, and ferries—play a key role in determining our daily travel patterns. Rail transit (subways, light rail, and regional rail) has traditionally been important in older northeastern cities like New York and Philadelphia. Since the 1970s, though, many other cities in the U.S. have sought to increase the mobility available to their residents by building rail transit infrastructure, too.

This article appeared in the Second Quarter 2020 edition of Economic Insights. Download and read the full issue.