Map Monday: Transit-to-Jobs Accessibility for Twin Cities Case Study Areas

Here’s a complicated but important map from the recent University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies report on the relationship of jobs to transit in the Twin Cities metro area. This study was reported on in a few places, including Citylab, but I thought I’d zoom in on one of their analyses here.

First, check out this map:


It shows the “accessibility” of jobs to people who use transit for the whole Twin Cities area, as well as identifying a half dozen case areas which were chosen according the following matrix:


As is often reported, but less often understood, the Twin Cities is highly segregated place, which is one reason why these six case study areas provide such a good slice of the regional geography.

The report explains the map thus, reflecting the not-surprising fact that the job vacancies in central city areas are generally accessible while those in the suburbs are not:

Figure 6-10 shows current accessibility to job vacancies by transit overlaid by the case study areas, as well as the regional transit system. Accessibilities differ widely between cases: North Minneapolis and Phillips have generally good accessibility. Golden Triangle, the Mall of America area and the Gateway Corridor have much more modest accessibility, while Brooklyn Park and Shakopee have little or none.

For example, the report breaks down how these six areas differ in a number of different characteristics.

Here’s income:


And here’s the race breakdown:


There are also a bunch of other data charted in the study, including the percentage of single mothers, educational background, and other things. At any rate, these areas illustrate how the unequal geography of the Twin Cities works to create different relationships between jobs and transportation.

Here’s the conclusion from this section of the report (they also did interviews with transit planners and workforce development professionals, which were used in the analyses to identify patterns):

Looking across all seven case studies, both transit planners and workforce development professionals lend support to the basic premise of this project: while successful coordination of transit and workforce development is consistently acknowledged as beneficial, there is a strong perception of need for more such coordination. This appears to be particularly true in suburban areas where transit has traditionally had less relevance to workforce development than in urban areas with at least high levels of traditional bus service. There is also a broad realization that workforce development efforts cannot simply give clients a bus card and send them on their way in suburban areas—even assuming future transit improvements. Urban areas suffer less from this issue on the home end of disadvantaged workers‘ commutes, but connecting urban workers with suburban jobs requires addressing the same issues at the workplace end, especially in terms of the first mile-last mile problem.

To me, the takeaway is that the lack of walkable land use in the suburbs poses a fundamental problem for transit planning and erasing inequality in the Twin Cities. It suggests to me that somehow we need to be more aggressive regionally about incentivizing employers (with both carrots and sticks) to better address the “last mile” situations that keep transit from being workable in these communities.

The report offers a lot more detail on this, and you can read the whole thing here.

PS. There’s even a video!

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.