Annual study ranks access to jobs by transit in top US metros

twin cities 2018 job accessibility map
Minneapolis ranked 13th for job accessibility by transit in 2018.

Annual nationwide data from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota measuring access to jobs by transit are now available.

The annual analysis, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit.

“The data have a range of uses and implications, especially when applied on a state and local level,” says Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory.

The new report—Access Across America: Transit 2018—presents detailed accessibility values for each of the 49 metropolitan areas, as well as detailed block-level color maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area.

The rankings focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.

Rankings of the top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit in 2018 changed only slightly from the previous year, with New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, respectively, again topping the list. One exception is the Washington, DC, metro area, which dropped to #6 from #4, likely due to the unavailability of census data on federal workers.

The Minneapolis–Saint Paul area ranked 13th, unchanged from 2017. The study reports that the average worker in the Minneapolis metro can reach 18,034 jobs within 30 minutes traveling by transit. Total employment in the metro area is 1.8 million jobs.

The report presents the fourth annual national evaluation. “In constantly evolving systems like these, it is critical to monitor changes over time,” Owen says. “This report continues the process of monitoring how accessibility in these metropolitan areas evolves in response to transportation investments and land-use decisions.”

Key factors affecting the rankings for any metro area include the number of jobs available and where they are located, the availability of transit service, and population size, density, and location.

“Better coordination of transit service with the location of jobs and housing will improve job accessibility by transit,” Owen says.

The research is sponsored by the National Accessibility Evaluation Pooled-Fund Study, a multi-year effort led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and supported by partners including the Federal Highway Administration and 12 additional state DOTs.

The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota is the nation’s leading resource for the research and application of accessibility-based transportation system evaluation. The Observatory is a program of CTS.

The Transit 2018 report and other Access Across America research reports for auto, transit, and biking are available on the Observatory website.


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