Value of Transitways to Regional Economies: National and Twin Cities Perspectives

Principal Investigator(s):

Yingling Fan, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Andrew Guthrie, Former U of M Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Zhirong Zhao, Former U of M Faculty, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Transitways represent major expenditures of public funds. A significant portion of the funding needed for transitways comes from regional and state tax revenues. Though the mobility benefits of transitways are localized, state and regional spending on their construction is frequently justified on the basis of more broadly shared economic benefits. Due to the complexity of regional economies, however, these benefits can be difficult to quantify, particularly when only considering a single region. (Unless one can both build and not build the line in question, it is difficult to determine how the economy would have fared under the other option.) This research is exploring the value of transitways to regional and state economies employing national panel analyses at the regional and state level, as well as a multi-destination accessibility analysis considering the impacts of proposed transitways on access to long-term economic opportunity, comparing the Twin Cities region to two regions with higher and lower levels of transitway development. The national component of the research considers the 50 largest urbanized areas in the United States over the period from 2000-2016, comparing employment, GDP and economic inequality between urbanized areas as a function of the presence of transitways and the level of service they provide. The regional comparison component explores transit accessibility to regional employment centers, educational institutions, and workforce development resources, adding new understanding to the accessibility field by considering accessibility to these important destinations for economic opportunity simultaneously. The Twin Cities part of this task also considers both current conditions and future transitway buildout scenarios.

Project details: