Effect of rail transit on travel behavior: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Jingjing Wang, Weibin Cheng, Yi Lu*, Donggen Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has treated new rail transit systems as ‘natural experiments’, and while they have generally resulted in increased ridership, the underlying reasons for this remain unclear. To address this, we undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of natural experiment studies published between 2000 and 2023 to synthesize the effect of rail transit on various travel behavior. We selected a total of sixteen studies for review, of which eight were suitable for meta-analysis. The pooled results showed that the introduction of rail transit significantly increased the mode share of rail while significantly decreasing the mode share of bus and car, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Our findings suggest that rail transit has the potential to promote sustainable travel behavior. However, to establish a more reliable association, further high-quality research is needed to examine the nuanced context, extend the follow-up duration, incorporate objective measures, and appropriately define the control group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103882
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Early online date20 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Urban rail transit
  • Travel behavior
  • Natural experiment
  • Systematic review
  • Meta-analysis


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