U of M Research: Transitways spurring economic growth and development, improving mobility, and supporting equity

Contact: Michael McCarthy, Center for Transportation Studies, mpmccarthy@umn.edu, (612) 624-3645

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/21/2013)—Landmark regional investments such as the transit expansion underway in the greater Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area have the potential to significantly change long-term land-use patterns and travel behavior. They also raise important questions for policymakers and elected officials regarding the potential return on investment.

A new synthesis report from the Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP) pulls together seven years of research conducted by University of Minnesota researchers to help answer these questions. The report summarizes the actual and projected impacts of transitways on the Twin Cities region, offering lessons learned to help guide the build-out of the rest of the network most effectively. It concludes with a set of implications for policymakers.

The Twin Cities metro region is in the midst of a transit build-out. The Metro Blue Line (formerly known as Hiawatha), Red Line (Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit), and Northstar Commuter Rail are in operation, and the Green Line (Central Corridor) opens next year. All are part of an expanding regional transit network.

Under the TIRP program, which was launched in 2006, University of Minnesota researchers provide an objective analysis of data, public perceptions, and complex impacts resulting from transitway investments. Their research is unique in its breadth, scope, and ability to provide real-time analysis of the changes experienced when a region introduces high-quality transit service.

"This body of research and objective analysis confirm the many positive ways that expanding our transit network supports economic competitiveness, greater accessibility to jobs, opportunities for populations with low incomes, and enhanced livability for our whole region," says Kate Wolford, president of The McKnight Foundation, the synthesis sponsor. "This report undergirds why the accelerated build-out of our transit system is so important for the future prosperity of our region and its residents."

Key findings:

  • Development is occurring along new and emerging transit corridors.
  • The marketplace values transit access.
  • There is pent-up demand for transit-oriented development in the Twin Cities metropolitan region.
  • Policymakers can maximize the benefits of transitway investment.
  • Transit improves mobility.
  • A majority of residents and businesses see the value in transit.
  • Transitway investment is significantly improving access to jobs and workers, particularly benefiting low-wage earners.
  • People of all incomes benefit from transitway expansion, and those with lower incomes gain the most.

TIRP was launched by the Hennepin–University Partnership and has grown to include a numerous mix of state, regional, and local jurisdictional partners.

The Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) provides research administration and outreach support for TIRP. CTS is nationally renowned for developing, fostering, and spreading innovation in transportation.

More about this research, including the 24-page synthesis report, is available on the Transforming Community web page.