The City is flatter: Changing patterns of job and labor access

David Levinson, Bernadette Marion, Andrew Owen, Mengying Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study measures accessibility by automobile for the Minneapolis - Saint Paul (Twin Cities) region from 1995 to 2005. In contrast to most previous analyses of accessibility, this study uses travel time estimates derived, to the extent possible, from actual observations of network performance by time of day. A set of cumulative opportunity measures are computed with transport analysis zones (TAZs) as the unit of analysis for 1995 and 2005. Analysis of the changes in accessibility by location over the period of study reveals that, for the majority of locations in the region, accessibility increased over this period, though the increases were not uniform. A “flattening” or convergence of levels of accessibility across locations was observed over time, with faster-growing suburban locations gaining the most in terms of employment accessibility. An effort to decompose the causes of changes in accessibility into components related to transport network structure and land use (opportunity location) reveals that both causes make a contribution to increasing accessibility, though the effects of changes to the transportation network tend to be more location-specific. Overall, the results of the study demonstrate the feasibility and relevance of using accessibility as a key performance measure to describe the regional transport system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-138
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank John Hourdos and Ted Morris from the Minnesota Traffic Observatory for their assistance with developing the arterial travel time estimates, and for providing information on the collection of signal timing data to augment arterial link travel times. We would also like to thank Hui Xiong for providing valuable information on the process of updating arterial link counts in the absence of reliable traffic count data. Michael Iacono, Jason Junge, Shu Hong, Pavithra Parthasarathi, Shanjiang Zhu, and Carlos Carrion also assisted on this project. The project was funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Report no. Mn/DOT 2010-09 , Project: Access to Destinations, Phase 3: Measuring Accessibility by Automobile). The authors are solely responsible for content.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016


  • Accessibility
  • Land use
  • Minneapolis
  • St. Paul
  • Travel behavior
  • Travel time


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