Residential Preference at Transit-oriented Development: A Visual Choice Experiment

Alsaiari, Hamad . 2018
Publication Work Type: 
Publishing City: 
Blacksburg, VA
Thesis Type: 
PhD Dissertation
Virginia Tech
Publication Abstract: 

            Insufficient knowledge of residential preferences represents a major obstacle to achieving residential satisfaction and quality of life. This obstacle is even greater in the case of transit-oriented developments (TODs), as their success depends, in part, on the degree to which people's preferences are consistent with their residential environments. This study employed a visual choice experiment, which combines the benefits of visual preference surveys and discrete choice experiments, to elicit residential preference for TODs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, before the opening of its citywide public transportation system. Using a seemingly homogeneous sample of participants, the analysis incorporated three analytical methods to elicit residential preference: a multinomial logit model, a mixed logit model, and a latent class model. The results indicated the presence of preference heterogeneity and the emergence of four lifestyle classes that could explain and predict residential preference patterns. People with similar sociodemographic characteristics may have different lifestyles based on their choice behavior, marital status, and public transit attitudes. Additionally, the results showed a strong preference for low-density housing, even among those who favor living in a TOD; however, increasing density could be mitigated through the presence of other TOD attributes. The findings of this research point to the diversity of residential preferences and suggest that providing a variety of residential environments increases the likelihood that people will find their preferred environment. Additionally, planning efforts to convert all developments near transit, particularly in suburban locations, to TODs might be unsuitable in cities where public transportation has been introduced only recently. Instead, deferring TOD conversion efforts until public transportation and its use are mature may attract people to live near transit and encourage the gradual development of transit affinity in residents who may otherwise reject TOD living completely. Lastly, the successful application of a visual choice experiment in this research opens up a variety of potential analytical methods that are used commonly in other fields and have the potential to move visual preference research into the realm of robust empirical investigation.

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