State, county to study non-car travel times

The state and Hennepin County Board are undertaking a study to find out how long it takes to bus, bike and/or walk between various points in the county.

The $90,000, 18-month study will provide a better understanding of non-car travel times, and help project future transit ridership, a county news release said. The county and Minnesota Department of Transportation are splitting the study's cost.

The study will investigate non-auto travel times in 1995, 2000 and 2005, in a pie-shaped area that extends from downtown Minneapolis through I-35W south to Bloomington, and swings east to include the Hiawatha Corridor, Mall of America, Downtown St. Paul and the area up to University Avenue, including the future Central Rail Corridor.

Gary Erickson, assistant county administrator, said the study will look at how light-rail transit (LRT) has affected people's travel choices, building more credibility into the models that forecast future transit and transportation.

"When you get a major change in the transit system, such as the LRT, you don't have the historical data to go on," he said.

LRT now has a year under its belt.

"A lot of the transit trip is dependent on how far a person will walk to get to the transit [stop]," Erickson said. "A bus, sometimes you will only walk a block or two. Light rail has a different attraction and people are willing to walk a quarter mile. So we need to understand how far will people walk or bike."'

The research will also look at how far people will bike, period, he said. "Will they bike three miles all the way from home to work, without using a transit leg?"

Researchers will mesh the results with land use information and calculate accessibility to various destinations.