Map Monday: Twin Cities Job Accessibility, Transit vs. Driving

There’s a new study about park and rides and highway express buses that came out of the University of Minnesota’s CTS (Center for Transportation Studies) a few months ago. I just got a chance to look through it, and there are some cool / depressing maps that I wanted to share.

The study is about how effective suburban park-and-ride and highway express lanes can be in changing job accessibility, with the goal of using access to jobs as a measure of planning these sorts of facilities.

So there’s a lot in the report showing how many jobs people can access via suburban transit. Tucked in there, too, is a set of maps that really reveals the gap between driving and transit for people looking for employment opportunities.

First, take a gander at the driving map, showing the total number of jobs you can access with a half-hour drive:

Screen Shot 2019 06 10 At 3.05.10 Pm


Now check out the transit map:

Screen Shot 2019 06 10 At 3.05.27 Pm

Um, that is a lot fewer jobs. For someone, like me, who almost insists on finding employment that I can access without a car, that’s a pretty big limit.

Finally, here’s the transit accessibility maps shown as a percentage of the driving accessibility, with different time thresholds included for good measure.

Screen Shot 2019 06 10 At 3.05.48 Pm

The conclusion, at least for me, is that the vast majority of people who take transit have to spend a lot more time getting to work than people who drive. Like, a lot more…

I’ll leave other conclusions up to you. Check out the whole report online.

17 thoughts on “Map Monday: Twin Cities Job Accessibility, Transit vs. Driving

  1. Karen E Sandness

    The problem that I see with transit planning in the Twin Cities is that they start with, “OK, what areas do we want to develop?” instead of thinking,”What major destinations need to be more accessible?”

    If I were Transit Czarina, the whole map would be redrawn to provide frequent service to all major destinations in the area with no confusing zigzags or forks in the routes (e.g. 6A, 6B, 6C, 6D, 6E, 6F, 6K, and 6U are identical between the Mississippi River and 36th and Hennepin, but different otherwise).

  2. Sharon Carlson

    Job destinations are typically city centers, however households are scattered and nonsensical. Park and rides are just one way to address this conundrum.

    1. Cobo R

      St Paul just isn’t as big of an employment center,

      According to Met council community profile. Minneapolis has ~324,014 jobs (2017 data) in it and St paul has ~182,649 (2017).

      Both cities are roughly the same size in area.

  3. Elizabeth Larey

    Thanks for the great article, really learning a lot of things I didn’t know. This one sure points out some major issues.

  4. Andrew Evans

    I brought this point up in the Mpls transit planning meeting last month. The bus system, and their new goals, are Absolutely Fabulous if a person works downtown or wants to go downtown. It really starts to fall apart if someone is trying to get to the more industrial parts of the city to go to work. The 30 min map ignores any of the larger employers (namely UPS) up over on Broadway or up University.

    So in a way, what the system does is cater to those privileged enough to work in white collar office jobs (or I guess blue collar if someone is doing boring office work or entry level stuff) and then those service industry workers who service this privileged class.

    Which is fine and all, but then the city and others need to stop shaming people who need vehicles if access isn’t being provided for those who need it outside of city centers.

    1. Tim

      You do make an excellent point here. Just because an area has a lot of jobs doesn’t mean they have all types of jobs. There’s also different shifts to consider too, if someone doesn’t work a 9 to 5 schedule, when transit can be more limited.

  5. Lou Miranda

    Ah, but is this a transit problem or a land use problem? Hint: it’s both.

    Transit will never be a good solution unless places of employment are on corridors & in nodes, rather than being suburban in randomly strewn-out places.

  6. Aaron IsaacsAaron Isaacs

    The problem is dispersed trip origins and destinations, a product of auto-centric development. Transit requires concentrated trips to be cost effective and suburban employment sprawl makes that impossible. Free parking is also a major deterrent to transit. Hence the focus on downtown, where there is both density and paid parking.

  7. Marshall

    Bill I think one the last point sums up the entire post:”The conclusion, at least for me, is that the vast majority of people who take transit have to spend a lot more time getting to work than people who drive. Like, a lot more…”

    I don’t take transit to work, and the major reason is that my young children ride with me to their daycare/preschool and it would require an extremely disjointed and lengthy commute to their facility and then on to my work. I am hoping as they get older and begin elementary school in the neighborhood that I will be able to find a job close enough to my home that I will no longer use a car. However, even that requires, as you outlined, that I a a person to be quite particular about the employment that I seek.

    Hopefully steady and incremental improvement continues to happen in the transit space to shorten commute times for transit riders, because until commute time via mass transit can at least compare somewhat to commute time via car there will not be a meaningful transition to transit.

  8. Marty D Smith

    I spend 2 hours comuting to work. I work in the resturant business and Corporate aresturants wont pay the rent to be in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul. Ever wonder why theirs not an Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory in Downtown’s? All of them are located in Subarbs. Aka.. Edina, Maplewood Etc… The bus systems to them are terrible or just not at all. When you do find a Resturant, you have to walk 15 to 20 minutes to get to one and with are winters, thats not safe.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

      I can live without a cheesecake factory downtown. Nick Magrino did organize an Olive Garden biek ride once and it was the only time I’d been to one. I was not that impressed.

      1. Julie Kosbab

        I have never understood the idea of “let’s build chain restaurants to attract people to downtown.” See also Block E.

        I did have a lovely grain bowl at Bachelor Farmer the other day. Can’t find that in Maple Grove.

        1. Tim

          You can find grain bowls pretty much everywhere now, unless you meant Bachelor Farmer specifically.

          I agree that chain restaurants aren’t a draw to bring people downtown, because you simply don’t need to go downtown for them. They have their place, but if I’m downtown, it’s typically for a special event and I want to go someplace unique.

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