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Discussion: Land Use and Transit


Over the last 60 years, our rapidly expanding region built a network of highways and grew outward around them. This new development provided jobs, homes, schools and recreation for the region’s residents.  However, this development pattern is not sustainable. Congestion costs residents and businesses time and money; maintaining and replacing highway infrastructure is now the majority of the highway budget. Changing demographics are leading to more interest in transit options, and businesses are increasingly looking for locations where workers can arrive by transit. To address these new realities, communities will need to create new choices for movement, living and working by carefully coordinating development and transit, especially along transitways.

Considerations (Did you know?)

--  Transportation choices are needed for the region to be economically competitive and to accommodate the travel demands of the 3.7 million residents forecasted to live in the region in 2040.  Transit options can reduce household travel costs and provide travel time savings.

--  Transit succeeds by connecting many people traveling to and from the same place on a regular basis, such as to locations with a large concentration of jobs.  For example, approximately 40 percent of downtown Minneapolis and 25 percent of downtown St. Paul workers commute via transit.  Research has shown that increasing job concentration increases transit ridership more than increasing housing density.

--  Frequent and networked transit service works well with interconnected street patterns, higher development densities and major destinations. Less-connected street patterns, lower development densities and less concentrated destinations support less frequent transit service and require higher operating subsidies. High construction costs make fixed-guideway transit appropriate for routes that attract the highest ridership.


As you respond to the following questions, consider how the Thrive outcomes, principles and goals inform your responses as well as what tensions you discover that might inform public policy. How do we recognize success?

  1. How might the region develop common priorities for transit investment?
    What criteria should be used to decide how to allocate regional transit resources?
  2. How could the region more effectively integrate local land use decisions and regional transit investment decisions? 

    How could local land use decisions improve the future viability of transit?  How could transit investment decisions enhance access to opportunity for low-income residents and communities of color across the region? What role should existing or potential market demand for future development opportunities play in making transit investments?

  3. How might communities built around automobile access adapt to work well with transit, bicycling and walking?  

    What are the problems?  Opportunities?  What are implications for land use and community development?


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