Michael Smart: Housing + Transportation Costs: Revisiting the Notion of Location-Efficiency Using Panel Data

Michael J. Smart is an assistant professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey. His research interests include travel demographics, transportation's role in families' economic upward mobility, and social determinants of travel behavior.


Recent "location–efficiency" policies have posited that those living in transit-rich environments are able to spend less on transportation, thus freeing up their budgets for other items, such as housing. However, to date, most studies have estimated transportation and housing costs. Using a long-running panel dataset on income and expenditures, Smart finds that "location-efficient" neighborhoods have low transportation costs principally because their inhabitants are poor; when higher-income residents move from transit deserts to transit-rich places, they continue to spend just as much on transportation.