The Impacts of Urban Public Transportation: Evidence from the Paris Region
Evaluating the impact of transport infrastructure meets a major challenge since rail lines are not randomly located. We use the natural experiment offered by the opening and progressive extension of the Regional Express Rail (RER) between 1970 and 2000 in the Paris metropolitan region, and in particular the deviation from original plans due to budgetary constraints and technical reasons, in order to identify the causal impact of urban rail transport on firm location, employment and population growth. We use a difference-in-differences approach on a specific subsample, selected to avoid endogeneity bias which occurs when evaluating transportation effects. We find that the increase in employment is 12.8% higher in municipalities connected to the new network compared to the existing suburban rail network. Places located within 20 km from Paris are the only affected. While we find no effect on overall population growth, our results suggest that the commissioning of the RER may have increased the competition for land since high-skilled households are more likely to locate in the vicinity of a RER station.