Maximizing the return on transitway investment

MaximizingA network of 14 transitways is planned for 2030 in the seven-county Twin Cities region. How can the region ensure the greatest return on this investment, improve job accessibility, and strengthen the region's economic future? University of Minnesota researchers led by Assistant Professor Yingling Fan of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs set out to find the answer.

To determine how well transitways connect workers to job opportunities--and employers to the labor force--researchers first identified where the region's greatest opportunities exist. The first step in this process was mapping competitive clusters--geographic groupings of interconnected businesses and organizations that drive regional employment, pay higher wages, and have faster wage growth. The team found significant variation in the size and location of these clusters, as well as variation in how well these clusters are served by the current transit system.

To determine how the planned transitway investments could yield maximum accessibility benefits and economic growth, the research team then developed and analyzed alternative land-development strategies and identified the most promising development solutions.

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

— Yingling Fan

Their key findings include:

  • Integrating transit planning with land use and economic development maximizes the return on transitway investment.
  • Locating future development inside the I-494/I-694 loop will create additional accessibility to regional jobs beyond current projections, while locating development along transitways provides even greater benefits. In both cases, the population with the greatest need receives the greatest benefits.
  • Locating new jobs near transitways produces larger increases in accessibility than locating new housing near transitways, with the greatest accessibility benefits realized by balancing both.
  • Regional economic competitiveness is increased with stronger coordination of transit service to key competitive industry clusters, particularly those with a preference for locating in more compact areas.

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