Maximizing the benefits of transitways for economic competitiveness

By 2030, the Minneapolis–St. Paul region could have a network of 14 transitways. How can the region maximize the return on this investment to improve job accessibility and strengthen the region’s economic future? University of Minnesota researchers set out to find the answer. Assistant Professor Yingling Fan of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the principal investigator for the research, gave the first public presentation of the findings at the 23rd Annual CTS Transportation Research Conference on May 23.TransitThe research team developed and analyzed several different scenarios based on the Metropolitan Council’s 2030 population and land-use forecasts. Key findings:

  • The planned future transitway network will improve accessibility to jobs in “competitive clusters” (interconnected businesses and organizations that drive regional employment) and to all other jobs in many locations.
  • Locating future housing and job development within the I-494/I-694 loop will create additional regional accessibility to jobs.
  • An even more targeted concentration of development near transitway stations leads to even greater gains in job accessibility.
  • Low-income populations benefit the most from these gains.
  • Locating jobs near transitway stations leads to larger increases in accessibility than locating housing near transitway stations.

"Locating new jobs near transitways is especially important for maximizing the positive impact of current and future Twin Cities transitways."

— Yingling Fan

Fan noted two key implications from the study: First, integrated policies that support jobs and housing in and near the metro core will increase the return on investment in transitways. Second, additional policy efforts should be considered to increase transit accessibility for lower-income families and individuals.

“Though these residents generally have high levels of transit accessibility,” Fan explained, “this is largely due to residential concentration near downtowns.” The 2030 network would significantly increase job accessibility for north Minneapolis, for example, but “many suburban areas would not have transit access to jobs,” Fan said.

Research sponsors were the McKnight Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

Following Fan's presentation, a panel of experts discussed the implications of the research for the region and beyond (see related article).