Mitigating Highway Construction Impacts Through the Use of Transit
Report no. MnDOT 2013-13
Human beings are creatures of habit. Traveling patterns are routines that we repeat over and over until something disrupts those patterns. When disruption occurs, there is an opportunity to entice travelers into new travel patterns. Surveys found that the highway construction in Duluth disrupted travel patterns for 40% of persons surveyed.
During the Duluth Megaproject highway construction project, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) used the opportunity entice travelers to transit. Additional trips and park and rides were added, which made transit more attractive to more travelers. Also, dedicated bus lanes were added to reduce travel time. Free fares enticed travelers to transit. A large promotional effort was undertaken to let travelers know about these enhanced options. Surveys of transit riders found that all of these efforts helped attract riders to transit.
Surveys also looked at what factors were important for keeping riders on transit after highway construction ended. Once new habits are formed, it is likely travelers continue those habits until another event forces them to examine their travel patterns. This research found less than 15% of transit riders changed their behavior within two years and all did due to life changes, primarily job change or finishing school. It appears that once travelers change to transit, riders continue to use transit as long as it is a reasonable option. Increasing fares to normal levels did not create a significant incentive to stop using transit.