Understanding the Impacts of Transitways: Demographic and Behavioral Differences between Hiawatha Light-Rail and Other Transit Riders


Jason Cao, Rachel Jordan

October 2009

Report no. CTS 09-16

To improve mobility, Metropolitan Council has proposed a network of dedicated transitways in the 2030 Transportation Policy Plan. This project studied the profile of transit riders in the Twin Cities and explored environmental factors that influence mode choice of access to transitways, using the 2005 Metropolitan Council Transit Rider Survey. We found the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit (LRT) balances efficiency by serving choice riders and equity through promoting reverse commute and serving captive riders. The LRT has also facilitated the formation of a multi-modal transportation system by promoting mode mixing and encouraging transfers. More importantly, travel shed analysis of several transit routes showed the LRT has a much broader influence on the regional transportation network than local buses and express services.

Multinomial Logit models for access mode of the LRT confirmed that riders' demographics, trip characteristics, built environment and social environment factors around LRT stations affect their access modes. Among them, the distance from trip origin to LRT stations is the dominant factor; the impacts of built environment elements were equivalent to those of riders' demographics and trip characteristics, whereas the effects of social environment factors were the weakest. The results suggest if the goal is to maximize the number accessing transitways from existing bus services, we should increase the coverage of feeder services, increase street connectivity and promote mixed-use development. If the goal is to attract choice riders in areas where walking and local transit are not options, more park and ride facilities should be provided.

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