Messages from the Council Chair

High frequency transit is a development magnet, connecting people to opportunity

September 2019

Council Chair Nora Slawik One of the most gratifying parts of developing big regional plans is seeing a plan come to fruition. Recently, Metro Transit released the 2019 development trends report that tallies up new economic development served by high frequency transit. It provides solid evidence that private investment is following public investments in transit, and conversely, that transit can connect people to a growing region.

Our report shows that transit is connecting people to opportunity. High frequency transit like our METRO system and local, high frequency routes are the backbone of our transit service. People are connected to jobs, school, health care, and home without having to look at a schedule because a ride will be along every 10 to 15 minutes.

In the last 15 years, more than 35% of all regional development — $12 billion of permitted building activity — has occurred along high frequency transit lines. Another $8.2 billion is being planned. Cities have added nearly 28,000 housing units and another 29,000 are being planned.

This isn’t just important from the standpoint of economic development; it matters because mobility is essential to building an equitable, thriving region.

‘We all do better when we all do better’

In the next 20 years our region will become bigger, older and more diverse. We will grow by 700,000 people, and the average age will increase as the baby boom generation continues retiring. But the biggest demographic trend will be an increase in the share of people of color who live in our region. Today that share is 27% of our population; by 2040 it will be 40%.

This growth stands in stark contrast to the fact that our region ranks near the bottom nationally when it comes to minority home ownership, poverty and education rates, and overall income. Connecting everyone in our region to opportunities to live, work, and go to school where they choose is essential. Not just because it’s fair and equitable, but because we can’t remain competitive in a global marketplace if a huge share of our population is left behind.

The current plan to expand the METRO system would ensure that 500,000 people who don’t have convenient transit service today will be connected to a 30-minute commute to work. The 2019 report shows us that the long-term plan is working. We need to continue building our high frequency transit network, connecting every community to opportunities across the region.

More about the latest TOD report