Escaping Suburbia

A Case Study on Microtransit and Access Equity in the Minneapolis-St.Paul Metropolitan Area

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More and more people are living in cities. As these cities grow, the benefits of living in them are increasingly unequally distributed. One factor that can turn the tide of glooming urban inequality is equitable access to opportunities. Designing policies for equitable access requires taking into account several components that impact accessibility: (i) land-use, (ii) transportation, (iii) individual needs and opportunities, and (iv) temporal constraints. In this research, the interaction between a novel mode of public transport, microtransit, and the first three components of accessibility is investigated. The accessibility implications of microtransit in the case study area: the Southern suburbs of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan, are assessed. It is concluded that microtransit manages to reach vulnerable rider groups and interacts with the land-use environment by pairing residential areas with commercial centers. Microtransit also interacts with other modes of transit by adding both extra demand and lowering the demand for ride-hailing and personal car use predominantly. Microtransit rarely seems to replace public transit or walking alternatives. Overall, it is found that microtransit does significantly increase accessibility levels in the case study area and especially impacts groups with low car ownership. Lastly, the benefits of microtransit are more fairly distributed than those of traditional transit in the studied area. This research demonstrates the positive access equity impact of microtransit and suggests further research into choice-riders, the application of microtransit in urban (core) and rural environments, and the interplay between public transit and microtransit, as well as policy interventions for policy-makers and transit providers.