Exposure, timing, and vulnerability: The role of public transport in inducing gentrification


  • Malithi Fernando ITF/OECD, Research conducted at the University of Leeds
  • Eva Heinen University of Leeds
  • Daniel Johnson University of Leeds




gentrification, public transport, social impact, Light Rail Transit (LRT), Displacement


Gentrification is an increasingly common phenomenon in many urban neighbourhoods. While cities invest in more sustainable travel options for their residents, there is limited literature on its connection to gentrification of the surrounding areas. Understanding whether these investments induce gentrification is essential to ensure the positive impacts of public transport are not undermined by the displacement it may create. This paper presents a multi-analysis approach to studying gentrification, defined by a bi-axial definition of neighbourhood change which considers the negative components (displacement) and positive components (neighbourhood upgrading) of gentrification. We focus specifically on the extent to which exposure to public transport induces gentrification-like changes in neighbouring communities, the influence of time on the kind and magnitude of changes, and whether disinvested communities are most vulnerable. We analyse neighbourhood changes in Manchester, UK, in response to the introduction of the Metrolink tram network, and conclude that there is evidence of gentrification in areas with access to new light rail. We conclude that the length of exposure has a significant impact on the magnitude and direction of change for certain indicators of gentrification. We find mixed results regarding the susceptibility of disinvested communities to gentrification.

Author Biographies

Eva Heinen, University of Leeds

Institute for Transport Studies, Associate Professor

Daniel Johnson, University of Leeds

Institute for Transport Studies, Senior Research Fellow


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How to Cite

Fernando, M., Heinen, E., & Johnson, D. (2021). Exposure, timing, and vulnerability: The role of public transport in inducing gentrification. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 14(1), 885–910. https://doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2021.1897