Transportation Impact of Transitways: A Case Study of Hiawatha Light Rail Transit in Minneapolis


Jason Cao, Jessica Schoner

March 2013

Report no. CTS 13-13

The Metropolitan Council in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area (Twin Cities) aims to greatly increase transit ridership in the next two decades. A network of transitways is an essential component to achieve the ridership goal. Since transitways represent significant infrastructure investments from federal, state, and local governments, the public and planners are interested in their ridership bonus. This study investigated transportation impact of the Hiawatha light rail transit (LRT) using a 2011 dataset collected in the Twin Cities. By employing a match-pair cross-sectional design, we surveyed residents living in the middle section of the Hiawatha LRT corridor and those in two urban control corridors and two suburban control corridors in the region. We first explored the reasons that motivated residents moving into the LRT corridor (or residential preferences) and their connections with transit use. Then we employed a propensity score matching approach to study the impact of Hiawatha LRT on transit use for residents who moved to the corridor before its opening and for those who moved after its opening. Finally, we tested the carryover effect of the LRT and built environment effect on active travel: walking to stores and strolling. The study produced interesting results and offered important implications for land use and transportation policies associated with light rail transit.

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