Land Use and Travel Choices in the Twin Cities, 1958-1990


Gary Barnes, Gary Davis

July 2001

Report no. CTS 01-01


Economics, Freight

This report examines the effects of land development patterns on travel choices by residents of the Twin Cities area. A historical analysis studies changes in travel behavior between 1958 and 1990, focusing in particular on total daily time spent traveling. The conclusion is that daily time per traveler changed only very slightly over this time, despite very significant changes in land use. The second major analysis in the report looks at travel choices in 1990 in greater detail. Again, the conclusion was that land use per se did not play a significant role in travel choices when other factors were controlled for. Dense central areas generated much less mileage per person, but this was almost entirely because of lower speeds, not because central city residents spent much less time driving. Overall, there was less than a 20% difference in average time spent driving per day between central city and outer suburbs, and this difference arose entirely from commute times. Non-work travel time showed no systematic variation by location, in contrast to expectations. The one area in which land use played a significant role was that large dense job locations attracted very high shares for non-auto modes.

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