Exploring Strategies for Promoting Modal Shifts to Transitways

Principal Investigator(s):

Jason Cao, Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Yingling Fan, Associate Dean for Faculty, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Andrew Guthrie, Former U of M Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Transitways represent large public investments whose positive impacts must be maximized whenever possible to justify the expenditures they entail. Prominent among those looked-for positive impacts is the encouragement of automobile-to-transit mode shifts by attracting increased transitway ridership.

This study explored the impacts of travel time, travel cost, and population density on mode choice, using the 2010 Travel Behavior Inventory. Researchers found a monetary value of in-vehicle travel time of $17.5/hour and a transfer penalty of $10, equivalent to 35 minutes in vehicle travel time. Density, especially at destinations, has important effects, but travel time is the key to promote the shift to transit.

The research also employed a Direct Ridership Model (DRM) to predict boardings at the station level as a function of transit-supportive policies. Researchers found that station-area focused policies promoting affordable housing and sidewalks on all streets in station areas or entire cities have a significant and positive impact on ridership if there are sufficient potential destinations in the immediate station area, measured as the number of Google places within 100 meters.

Based on the results, researchers stress the importance of station area affordable housing as a transit system efficiency measure, as well as for the social equity reasons it is usually encouraged. Researchers recommend strengthening proaffordable housing policies and pro-sidewalk policies in Twin Cities station areas, supporting and encouraging the neighborhood-scale commercial development that is required for their efficacy, and the continued implementation of pro-affordable housing policies and pro-sidewalk policies as the regional transitway system expands.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2014013
  • Start date: 05/2013
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Planning, Transit planning