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Riding the Rails: Light-Rail Transit Market Areas in the Twin Cities.

Loetterle, Francis E.

This article reports on a study of the light-rail transit (LRT) system in Portland, Oregon, that attempted to identify the area of the city served by the system. The study identified three distinct market areas for the Portland LRT system based on users' mode of access to the station (walking, driving, or riding a bus), and found that the primary service area for the system was a 10- to 15-minute travel shed, the size and shape of which varied by mode of access. Loetterle xplains the implications of these findings for the Metropolitan Council's 2020 Regional Master Plan for Transit, which attempts to develop a network of exclusive transit lines (both LRT and busway) that provide complete coverage of the Twin Cities metropolitan area without duplication of service. Based on the service area concepts developed in the Portland study, he oncludes that this goal will largely be achieved by the Met Council's plan. Loetterle then offers a list of recommendations for policy makers engaged in transit planning: (1) individual LRT routes must be planned within the context of the complete LRT network to be established; (2) priority should be given to those LRT routes that have the potential to serve the most people within their service area; (3) priority should be given to developing LRT routes that service areas not well served by other modes of transit; (4) planning for LRT lines must take into consideration how patrons will gain access to the station, and provide adequate parking, easy walking access, and a complete feeder-bus network for each station; and (5) land-use planning around LRT stations should extend at least one-half mile in order to encourage the type of development that facilitates a strong walk-in market. The author concludes that LRT will not only improve transportation in the Twin Cities, but help to promote smart growth principles.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Data collection for this study was supported by a special grant from the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies arranged through CURA, with additional support provided by the author's employers.
31 (2): 1-8
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CURA call number: 
Reporter 31 (2)

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