Report ranks job accessibility via transit for U.S. cities

Man sitting on bench using cell phonePhoto: Shutterstock Annually updated research from the U’s Accessibility Observatory ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. According to the latest data, the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area ranks 13th nationally in access to jobs by transit, falling from 12th in last year’s rankings.

The study reports that the average worker in the Twin Cities metro can reach 16,697 jobs within 30 minutes traveling by transit. Overall, workers in the metro can reach an average of 1.64 percent fewer jobs by transit than a year ago. Total employment in the metro area has remained steady at 1.7 million jobs.

The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013,The report shows accessibility to jobs by transit in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area.The report shows accessibility to jobs by transit in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area. focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.

The 1.64% decline in Minneapolis–Saint Paul is most likely due to changes in the patterns of job and worker locations, says Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory. “Accessibility reflects changes in both land use and transportation. Changes in the transit system between 2015 and 2016 were minor, and the region saw small increases in total jobs and workers. New workers to the region who choose to locate in places with little or no transit service will show up as a decrease in average accessibility. The results for the Minneapolis–Saint Paul region suggest the pattern of regional population growth, rather than changes in transit service, played the largest role in driving the small decline in average job accessibility by transit.”

 The Twin Cities’ decline in rank has more to do with what happened in cities with similar ranks, Owen adds.

The findings have a range of uses and implications. State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations, and transit agencies can apply the evaluations to performance goals related to congestion, reliability, and sustainability. In addition, detailed accessibility evaluation can help in selecting between project alternatives and prioritizing investments.

Top increases in job accessibility by transit

1. Cincinnati (+ 11.23%)
2. Orlando (+ 10.83%)
3. Seattle (+ 10.80%)
4. Providence (+ 10.64%)
5. Charlotte (+ 10.63%)
6. Phoenix (+ 7.51%)
7. Riverside (+ 6.54%)
8. Milwaukee (+ 6.53%)
9. Hartford (+ 6.43%)
10. New Orleans (+ 6.20%)
41. Minneapolis (-1.64%)

“The new data make it possible to see the change from year to year in how well a metro area is facilitating access to jobs by transit,” Owen says. “Transit is an essential transportation service for many Americans, and we directly compare the accessibility performance of America’s largest metropolitan areas.”

This year’s report—Access Across America: Transit 2016—presents detailed accessibility values for each of the 49 metropolitan areas, as well as detailed block-level color maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area.

Key factors affecting the rankings for any metro area include the number of jobs available and where they are located, the availability of transit service, and population size, density, and location. “Better coordination of transit service with the location of jobs and housing will improve job accessibility by transit,” Owen says.

The research is sponsored by the National Accessibility Evaluation Pooled-Fund Study, a multi-year effort led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and supported by partners including the Federal Highway Administration and additional state DOTs. The Accessibility Observatory is a program of CTS.

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