Two papers recently published in Regional Studies examine the effects that commuting has on regions and communities. Christopher Nicholas, Riccardo Welters & Laurie Murphy, in their paper Does social capital help communities to cope with long-distance commuting? explore the potential mediating role of social capital between LDC impacts in a host region and the well-being of the residents of that host region. Their case study on the residents of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australia, suggests that bridging social capital is ineffective at helping residents to adapt to shocks in their communities, if linking social capital is not present. There may also be a low political efficacy of the linking social capital, as the decisions to use an LDC workforce or the extent of that were not made in the region.
The second paper, The effects of commuter rail establishment on commuting and deconcentration by Joanna Ganning studies the role of commuter rail stations in population deconcentration, modelled through the relationship between in-migration and out-commuting from census tracts. The study finds that, although not generalisable, commuter rail stations appear to reduce out-commuting when the station area’s migration rates are elevated. In this area studied, the station areas with higher density residential and commercial development experience higher migration rates. Those higher migration rates, paired with the development of the station areas, reduce out-commuting, signalling economic restructuring in those areas. As new systems are developed and initial land development nearby occurs, it raises possibilities about the potential for transit-oriented development to create effective node-based development, and how much variation there might be according to context?