Map Monday: Minneapolis Transit Gap Map

Here’s a great new mapping tool called All Transit: Gap Finder that does some number crunching and identifies the places with the largest “transit gaps” in service in any given city. It uses a combination of population data and transit service data to figure out where the biggest mismatches between density / population and transit service exist.

As they explain them, “transit gaps exist wherever there is a mismatch between the strength of a transit market and the quality of transit service available to the households of that community.”

As you can see, the Twin Cities’ major gaps are almost all surrounding the downtown Minneapolis periphery. Here’s the map at two different scales:

And looking at Minneapolis:

The site’s designers explain the gaps thus:

On the map above, any orange and red areas show transit markets where households are underserved by transit and would benefit from improvements. Blue areas indicate where the transit market strength is already met by a minimum benchmark of adequate transit service and white areas show where the market strength for transit service is low enough that adding transit would not represent an improvement. The pie chart shows the percentage of those households underserved by transit grouped by market strength.

They later claim that Metro Transit needs to reduce the wait time for these areas by 11 minutes to meet their minimum standards.

It’s interesting to me that the gaps all seem to be in these neighborhoods like Whittier, Elliot Park, and Marcy-Holmes, that are within about five miles of downtown. Those are also the places with the highest densities in the city, and the results suggest that Metro Transit should be focusing on serving those areas instead of trying to create transit ridership in the blue areas like far South or North Minneapolis or (gulp) Saint Paul.

Of course, the politics of that proposition are a different story…

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15 Responses to Map Monday: Minneapolis Transit Gap Map

  1. Alex Schieferdecker
    Alex Schieferdecker February 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm #

    Amusingly, this map provides some basis for SWLRT.

    But also, seriously. Midtown Rail. E-Line aBRT. And Nicollet-Central can’t wait around forever for a streetcar, change the corridor to aBRT, save money, and start serving people sooner rather than later.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke February 19, 2018 at 4:28 pm #

      Yes I noticed that as well. Kenwood is “underserved” somehow.

      • Adam Platt February 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm #

        Bill, Kenwood is underserved because it is the largest transit “desert” in S. Mpls. Parts of it are a mile from an all-day bus route, and the neighborhood itself is served during a roughly 3 hour window once a day in one direction from downtown. Twenty years ago there was hourly or greater service 6 days a week. You can argue that an affluent neighborhood doesn’t need transit, but I have watched the drip drip drip of service cuts drive ridership ever downward.

        Kenwood is no less dense than most single family home residential nbhds in Mpls, but because of the lakes, there is the absence of a major N-S arterial street which props up the service in places like Linden Hills and Fulton, CARAG, etc.

        Density is a good indicator of transit potential, surely, but I am curious what kind of density this methodology would deem adequate in a nbhd like the Wedge, etc.

        • Adam Platt February 21, 2018 at 2:11 pm #

          Sorry, meant ECCO, not CARAG. Also meant frequency, not density.

      • SSP February 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm #

        I am missing that. Other than the W21st Street station (which has no bus connections and is on-again-off-again with the SWLR plan), SWLR doesn’t serve Kenwood. Nor does it serve any of the other South Minneapolis neighborhoods in red on this map.

    • Keith Morris February 19, 2018 at 8:26 pm #

      Nicollet-Central aBRT would definitely go the farthest in closing the gaps, ideally from from transit centers in Columbia Heights to Southdale. Forget about making people going from Lowry to south of Lake also take a streetcar on top of two buses (10 & 18). If we have to go it alone we could at least cover Lowry to Lake. I was surprised to see North wasn’t included among the largest gaps. Looking at some other American cities is pretty depressing.

  2. Tom Basgen
    Tom Basgen February 19, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

    This is the most chicken and egg argument inducing map I have ever seen. It’s terrific.

  3. Steve February 20, 2018 at 8:09 am #

    An interesting critique of the app:

    https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/02/the-problem-with-transit-gaps/553001/

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke February 20, 2018 at 9:55 am #

      Thanks for sharing that, Steve! Everyone should read it.

      Here’s the author’s main point:

      In short, nobody who knows Portland transit issues will find this map very helpful, and some may find it offensive. Partly this is because the blue category includes such a huge range of cases that it misses all the local distinctions that matter. But more importantly, the map is ignorant of Portland’s values, as any national algorithm will be. Portland as a whole is very concerned about its disadvantaged eastern area, much more than some other cities would be, and according to those values the transit service out there isn’t adequate at all.

      “No algorithm should be making claims about adequacy, because adequate is not an objective term: It depends on what a community’s goals are for transit. There are places in the U.S. where terrible transit service is considered adequate. On the other hand, by Canadian standards, and certainly by European ones, almost all Americans receive “inadequate” transit service. This is one of those times when a value judgment—what are your goals for transit? how much transit should there be? what kind of city do you want?—is being disguised as a purely scientific finding. It’s the same mistake that gives us traffic studies that “conclude” we must widen a road, as though there were no place for a full discussion of values and impacts.”

      • Lou Miranda February 20, 2018 at 3:11 pm #

        Yeah, it seems too blunt a tool, in some cases.

        In newer suburbs, how effective would a bus be in a land of cul de sacs? Would they want rail going through their neighborhood? (Even with an existing rail line, some Edinans pushed against commuter rail on the Dan Patch line.)

        A tool like this can be used to maybe find areas that had been previously dismissed, as you wrote, but I wouldn’t put in a transit line based primarily on this data.

        • Rosa February 22, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

          but that’s the chicken and egg part of the argument, right? Many places don’t want transit because they don’t want “that kind” of people, mostly – so if “adequate” is only reasonable to apply in light of a community’s goals, and those goals include “excluding people who need transit”, then all sorts of transit deserts are not just adequate but actually doing exactly right to meet their goals.

  4. Jason Goray February 20, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    I’ve lived on one of the boundaries between orange & red in the NE Minneapolis area of the map. In the 18 years I’ve lived there, I’ve worked downtown, in the warehouse district, and in the West Bank area.

    Unless I’m transporting one of my kids and my bike has been stolen (happens WAY more often than it should), I almost never take transit because I can walk it nearly as fast if not faster than the bus and inconsistency in bus arrival times means that unless one is way overdressed for walking or riding the bus, you can freeze at the stops.

    The only exceptions to this have been when I’ve had a significant injury preventing me from walking well.

  5. David Markle
    David Markle February 20, 2018 at 11:33 am #

    This map does appear to point to areas not well served by local transit. It doesn’t offer much insight for planning of–what I think are badly needed–high speed transit lines for the needs of the greater metropolitan area. In that category of needs I include transit to serve long-term economic growth.

  6. Cobo R February 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    Another interesting observation.. There is no blue areas that are served by SW transit.

    Seems to jive with my experience. I literally lived next to a bus stop in Eden prairie for 7 years, and I think I only saw the bus once or twice a year.

  7. Aaron Isaacs
    Aaron Isaacs February 20, 2018 at 3:41 pm #

    This doesn’t make sense to me. The red areas have the highest service levels in the Metro Transit system, with buses every 10 minutes or better and often additional crosstown service.

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