The Effects of Transitways on Auto Ownership and Auto Use: Evidence from the Hiawatha LRT

Principal Investigator(s):

Jason Cao, Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Metropolitan Council and local governments in the Twin Cities have been promoting transitway programs and corresponding transit-oriented developments (TODs) to accommodate the increase in travel and slow the growth in congestion. Although previous studies have produced empirical evidence on the transit ridership benefits of transitways, few have examined their impacts on auto ownership and auto use, which are directly related to congestion. This project fills the gap. This research pinpointed the impacts of rail transit and neighborhood characteristics on both transit and car use in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. In this vein, researcher applied the structural equations modeling approach on 597 residents who moved into the Hiawatha light rail transit (LRT) corridor after it opened. Using a quasi-longitudinal design to compare the behavior of movers into the Hiawatha and control corridors, researchers found that the Hiawatha LRT acts as both a catalyst and a magnet. Movers into the Hiawatha corridor experience transit improvement, which increases transit use and reduces car use. The LRT also enables transit-liking people who were previously unable to realize their preference to relocate near the LRT. However, the LRT has no significant effects on changes in auto ownership. This suggests that besides transit infrastructure, planners should promote transit-friendly neighborhood characteristics.


Project details:

  • Project number: 2015036
  • Start date: 09/2014
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Transit planning