• Are New Yorkers Willing to Pay More for Subway Proximity?
    • Method
    • Results
      • Plotting the differences in TOD vs Non-TOD Areas
      • Mapping population and rents close to transit
      • Comparing Subway Distance and Average Rent
    • Limitations
    • Conclusion
  • Code Appendix
    • Data Wrangling
      • Environment Set Up
      • New York City data sets
      • Identify areas with high subway proximity
    • Results
      • Indicator Maps
      • Bar charts
      • TOD Indicator Table
      • Graduated symbols maps
      • Plotting Subway Distance vs. Average Rent

Are New Yorkers Willing to Pay More for Subway Proximity?

New York is famous for its iconic subway and sky-high rents. But even in the face of such high rents, are New Yorkers still willing to pay more to live close to the subway? If they are, the City could consider zoning changes to allow more development close to transit. Increased density could mean increased tax revenue, potentially allowing the City to reinvest that income into expanding the subway and other city services.

In this brief, I investigate whether rents are higher in areas close to the subway, compared to areas without subway access, and how that has changed over time between 2011 and 2020.


To answer this question, I relied on US census data from 2011 and 2020 to capture median rents, travel and work behavior, and population figures for census tracts across all five city boroughs. I also sourced subway information from the City of New York to map out subway stations across the city. For the purposes of this analysis, non-subway transit lines, such as the Long Island Rail Road and the Staten Island Railway, were excluded.

Census tracts within a half-mile to the subway were designated as Transit Oriented Development (TOD) areas, while those tracts further away were designated as non-Transit Oriented Development (Non-TOD) areas. A more detailed discussion on this methodology is included in the appendix.The map below shows which areas were designated as a TOD or non-TOD areas in 2011 and 2020. Note, Census tracts may not follow geographic boundaries exactly. For instance, some census tracts may include bodies of water.