Map Monday: Twin Cities Jobs by Transit Accessibility

Here’s a map from a just-released report called “Access Across America”, coming out of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. It has a series of heat maps showing the amount of jobs connected to transit in a huge list of metros around the United States.

Here’s the one for Minneapolis:


The key takeaway isn’t necessarily about the Twin Cities’ #13th place ranking, but rather the decline in accessibility. In the past year, the Twin Cities metro has actually lost ground when it comes to having jobs accessible by transit.

You might remember the recent analysis (from last week’s Map Monday) referring to the Star Tribune article on the growth in suburban and exurban entry-level jobs. Well that trend, combined with the lack of meaningful growth in the Twin Cities transit system, is a big part of why the MSP area is losing ground compared to the rest of the country’s largest cities.

Here’s the quote from the press release, with the perspective of business leaders like the Chamber of Commerce on this trend:

Regional business leaders said the negative trend seen in Minneapolis-St. Paul is extremely concerning, especially as the region competes to keep and attract employers.

“Last year the legislature proposed a 40% cut to existing Metro Transit bus service. Fortunately, we were able to work with the legislature and Governor to prevent those dramatic cuts, but our region’s transit service continues to be underfunded, which will have a significantly negative impact on our economy,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are not only behind competing regions, we are actually going in the wrong direction when it comes to providing access to jobs via transit. Our elected leaders need to step up and recognize how important a strong and growing transit system is to our region’s future economic success. We need to reverse the negative trend and start to make real, sustained investments in the transportation and transit system in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro region.”

The findings followed similar findings by a regional economic development group led by Greater MSP, which found that the Twin Cities region was getting worse in the number of jobs reachable by transit, both absolutely and compared to our peer regions.

By the way, if you’re wondering, as I was, about whether the Twin Cities Metro Area’s bi-polar nature might hurt it in the geographic jobs analysis, there’s a hefty methodology section attached to the report that explains how they calculated the time-thresholds.

Tl,dr; they figured out a nifty system, dividing up metros into zones and then using a time / transit / walking radius based on that.

Here’s the Twin Cities with “centroid” dots:

And then an example of a zone and a radius built around that:

Disappointing conclusions aside, the data is pretty cool!

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.