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Staff Working Papers
Working Paper 23-06: Valuing Public Transit: The L-Train Shutdown

Published: 10/11/2023


​Becka Brolinson


In this paper, I quantify the value of access to public transit in New York using the surprise, hurricane-related announcement of the temporary shutdown of an important piece of transportation infrastructure: the L-train connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan. My approach allows me to measure changes in housing sales prices by using a change in public transit infrastructure that is (a) temporary, and (b) not an outcome of city transit planning, but rather an unexpected consequence of a natural disaster. I find that the L-train’s shutdown announcement caused a temporary decrease in sales prices for affected housing units of 6.4 percent. This estimate suggests a monthly capitalization rate of public transit access of around $863 for housing units where the L-train is the nearest subway stop, demonstrating that households in New York City ascribe a high value to transit access. Using these estimates, the benefits of the repair outweigh the costs, with the benefit-to-cost ratio of the repairs ranging from 2.76 to 2.78.​


A revised version of this paper has been accepted for publication in an academic journal with open (free) access. Citation: Becka Brolinson. 2024. “Valuing Public Transit: The L-Train Shutdown." Real Estate Economics​.


File Attachments:
Working Paper 23-06