San Antonio – The much heralded Weinstein-Clower April 1999 analysis of the economic impacts of light rail in Dallas has been shown to contain significant errors and problems with its methodology. One of the authors of this study, Bernard Weinstein of the University of North Texas, was recently in San Antonio as a guest of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to share the findings of his study as part of the current light rail debate.
The Weinstein study appears to document how light rail has led to higher property values in Dallas as a result of light rail and compared what it considered to be comparable areas along the light rail lines and in non-light rail areas. There are a number of problems with this study:
- Some of the properties evaluated in the Dallas analysis are not within walking distance (according to the study, 1/4 mile) of a light rail station (example: 4131 Central Expressway North is at least ½ mile from the City Place station, and further from any other station).
- The light rail/non light rail comparison areas listed in the study do not appear to be comparable. For example, the non-light rail areas do not include any significant office centers that are comparable to the office centers along the North Central Expressway (which is also the route of the light rail line). There are numerous other examples of commercial property that could have been included.
- The study uses a very small sample of properties, such that exclusion of single properties from the analysis can have significant impact on the overall results.
- Most important, the study fails to factor out the impact of rebuilding and expanding the North Central Expressway, which is also the route of the northern segment of the light rail line. The study simply assumes that all added value is the result of light rail. It would be expected that the North Central Expressway, which in its expanded portions along the light rail line will carry many more people than light rail, would have dominant impact on property values in comparison to light rail.
“The claim that light rail results in significant new development has always been suspect. The flaws in the Weinstein analysis give cause for even more suspicion” said Jeff Judson, President of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.