Chart of the Day: Percentage of People Near Frequent Transit

There’s a very cool new report out from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy titled “Indicators for Sustainable Mobility.” The study attempts to boil down what makes a transit-friendly city into a few simple measures, attempting to solve what they call the “black box” problem of many transit metrics.

The study looks at Minneapolis and other cities in North America and tries to evaluate how the city does along some basic metrics of proximity of jobs, people, and housing to good transit.

For example, check out this chart, that gives a general overview of the situation:

Percent Population Near Transit


Here are two more charts showing how Minneapolis stacks up. On the left is “frequent transit”, and on the right is “rapid transit”:

Screen Shot 2019 01 18 At 8.48.46 Am

“Near to frequent transit” is defined as “a roughly 10-minute bike ride or walk of a transit stop … served an average of five times an hour”; rapid is defined as “any Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, LRT corridor, or rail-based transit mode that meets the BRT basics definition in the BRT Standard.”

As you can see, lacking much dedicated right-of-way, we don’t have a lot of “rapid” transit in Minneapolis. The city also underperforms its potential for “sustainable mode share,” with far more people driving around than theoretically would have to, given the density and accessibility of people and jobs within the city.

Check out the whole report and the interactive website. They are both full of great data.

PS. The usual caveats about city size and comparisons are in play here. The study uses civic boundaries to compare places, and Minneapolis is small.

7 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Percentage of People Near Frequent Transit

  1. Alex SchieferdeckerAlex Schieferdecker

    So, obviously a big part of Minneapolis’ strong generally performance on these rankings is that it’s a city with pretty tight political borders, that really don’t extend at all into areas with suburban patterns of development.

    Another part of this data specifically seems to be that their definition of frequent transit is a bit more specific than is common (usually it’s every 15 minutes, here it’s every 12 minutes), which is good, but their definition of being close to transit is maybe a bit expansive (you can get pretty far in ten minutes on a bike, and biking to transit is not especially common, so I’m a bit confused by that).

    Disclaimers aside, I think we all know the story. The MSP metro has built some quite good rapid transit and some poor commuter transit. The path to higher ridership includes building a *network* of aBRT routes on every major arterial in the city, expanding METRO rail service in a couple more key corridors to serve the densest nodes, and then working to constrain or price driving.

    1. Cobo R

      But if you combine st-paul & Minneapolis you get a population of ~700K which is larger than the population of Boston & Vancouver and has about the same as Denver & Seattle.

      My(admitedly limited) experience is that transit is more or less the same in St-Paul as it is in Minneapolis.

      So I don’t if the narrative of “relatively small Minneapolis” Since half of the cities in this list are “relatively small” parts of their metro areas.

      1. Cobo R

        Sorry that last sentence is a garbled mess. My intended point was that many urban core cities are relatively small parts of their metro areas, and Minneapolis is not unique in that regard.

      2. David MarkleDavid Markle

        A meaningful comparison, in support of Alex’s observations, would be the city of Dallas which (I believe) includes several counties. An extreme example not included in the chart would be Oklahoma City that includes an immense geographical area relative to the number of residents. Here we have individual, separate suburban communities with a large total population. Isn’t Bloomington the third or fourth largest city in the state, in terms of population? Include those suburbs and our rank would greatly diminish on the above chart.

    2. Brian

      Constraining driving just punishes who doesn’t move into the cities of Minneapolis or St. Paul. Even with BRT and LRT expansion there will still be easily one million people in the metro area that won’t be within a 10 minute walk of transit.

      I have made it a lifetime goal to never in multi-tenant housing ever again. I lived in Laurel Village in Minneapolis for just over a year and I hated every day of it. Laurel Village is considered a luxury apartment complex, but I could hear noises from other apartments nearly every night. I had to keep my TV and other noise sources very quiet to not bother other tenants. The only good thing about that apartment was being able to walk to work every day.

  2. Cobo R

    a 10 min bike ride is at least 5 times further than a 10 min walk (in summer at least)… So it would be ~2 miles vs under half a mile… That’s a pretty wide margin in the definition of “near to frequent transit”.

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