Jason Cao, a transport policy scholar at the University of Minnesota, has conducted a short but tidy study that demonstrates just what good public transit can mean to a person's life. His findings, in a word: satisfaction. Cao focused his research on the Hiawatha light rail line in Minneapolis (lately called the Blue line instead).... Cao sent questionnaires to households in the Hiawatha corridor. Respondents rated the quality of transit in their area (namely, service quality and accessibility) as well as the quality of their lives (how satisfied they were). To form points of comparison, Cao sent the same survey to residents of four other corridors: two in urban areas with transit but no light rail, and two in suburbs with similar demographics but no transit. What he found spoke to the power of living along the rails. People in the Hiawatha corridor had higher ratings on questions related to the quality of their lives compared to people in the other four corridors. These were items like "In most ways my life is close to my ideal" and "The conditions of my life are excellent." In short, they were satisfied with their lives.
Living near fixed-rail transit doesn't just make you happier—it also helps maintain property values during recessions. So why do so many suburbanites hate light rail so much? Do they like being miserable? Do they like seeing their property values tank during recessions?