Do transit stations increase crime levels? That was the question asked by academic researchers at the University of North Carolina.
As reported in the Atlantic Cities blog last week, the researchers looked at crime levels at four proposed locations for the Charlotte area's LYNX light rail system. Transit stations were eventually built in late 2007 at two of the sites.
Published in the Journal of Urban Affairs December issue, the researchers then looked at crime levels before and after the initial station site proposals. In addition, study authors examined crime after stations were eventually built at two of the four proposed locations.
All four sites saw crime significantly drop after the proposed stations were announced in 2000. Levels creeped up a bit afterward, but they stayed below pre-announcement levels.
After the Lynx line opened in late 2007, crime levels dropped at the two light rail stations. This led to researchers to conclude:
"While controlling for overall crime trends in the city utilizing two control transit corridors, our analyses indicate that the announcement of rail transit actually leads to a decrease in property crimes. Once the stations open, the crime decrease is maintained, and does not return to preannouncement levels. This dispels rail transit opponents’ notion that light rail breeds crime. In fact, we offer counter evidence that suggests light rail may actually impede crime."