Multi-city exploration of built environment and transit mode use: comparison of Melbourne, Amsterdam and Boston

Laura Aston, Graham Currie, Md Kamruzzaman, Alexa Delbosc, Ties Brands, Niels van Oort, David Teller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The built environment is an important determinant of travel demand and mode choice. Establishing the relationship between the built environment and transit use using direct models can help planners predict the impact of neighborhood-level changes, that are otherwise overlooked. However, limited research has compared the impacts of the built environment for different networks and for individual transit modes. This paper addresses this gap by developing built environment and transit use models for three multimodal networks, Amsterdam, Boston and Melbourne, using a consistent methodology. A sample of train, tram and bus sites with similar station-area built environments are selected and tested to establish if impacts differ by mode. It is the first study that develops neighborhood-level indicators for multiple locations using a consistent approach. This study compares results for ordinary least squares regression and two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression to examine the impact of transit supply endogeneity on results. Instrumented values are derived for bus and tram frequency in Melbourne and bus frequency in Boston. For other mode and city combinations, the 2SLS approach is less effective at removing endogeneity. Results confirm that different associations exist between the built environment and transit modes, after accounting for mode location bias, and that this is true in multiple networks. Local access and pedestrian connectivity are more important for bus use than other modes. Tram is related to commercial density. This finding is consistent for all samples. Land use mix and bicycle connectivity also tend to be associated with higher tram use. Train use is highest where opportunities exist to transfer with bus. Population density is commonly linked to ridership, but its significance varies by mode and network. More research is needed to understand the behavioral factors driving modal differences to help planners target interventions that result in optimal integration of land use with transit modes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103136
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Amsterdam
  • Boston
  • Built environment
  • Melbourne
  • Multimodal
  • Public transport

Cite this