Goals, Findings, and Policy Recommendations

Transportation Needs in Daily Life
If I wasn’t here, I probably never would be telling anyone my opinions on this sort of thing, since you don’t really think, like you’re just one person, and I’m not going to reach the government. I think focus groups like these are super cool, because everyone has opinions, and everyone can tell you their experiences and their opinions. I think this is a perfect way. I don’t even know how else I could get my experiences and opinions out there.

Focus group for Asian Youth, Ramsey County

This page highlights key findings from small group discussions where participants with a common identity shared their sentiments. These findings are categorized based on the working goals and objectives of the region’s 2050 Transportation Policy Plan and include recommendations for transportation policy.


The findings are the key takeaways from the small group discussions, and the transportation policy recommendations suggest policies that could resolve the transportation issues identified during the discussions.

I hear a lot of people in the Black community say they won’t put their children on the buses. They call Ubers or whatever to get the children to school, they don’t even want to put them on the school bus, a lot of people. Because of the gang violence, the drugs, the unknowing, feeling like we feel! Anything could happen. We might not make it back home. That one stands out a lot to me.

Follow-up focus group, multiple counties


  • People’s intersecting identities impact how they travel.
  • People’s experiences with violence shape how and when they choose to travel, especially for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.
  • Women of color often experience fear and trauma when traveling.

Transportation policy recommendations

  • Support vulnerable groups of people with their transportation needs.
  • Repair and eliminate impacts, harms, and injustices to Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.

I have some medical problems and I cannot walk for that long, so I have to have a car for transportation to the doctor, groceries, church, I have to have a car. I have two growing children, thank God they’re not little but my son isn’t easy when you have to keep asking for rides. I don’t want to be a burden on friends or family. It’s expensive to not have a car, I don’t know what I would do to get far away. I’m on social security, my money would disappear in transportation.

Focus group for people without reliable transportation, Scott County


  • Health shapes transportation needs, and transportation impacts health.
  • Fear for one’s safety and security while traveling is a defining feature of how people make travel choices.
  • Traffic safety is a looming concern and people want to feel safer in and around cars.
  • Many people experience anxiety while driving—especially in faster driving conditions like freeways.
  • The stressors of paying for transportation and isolation due to a lack of reliable transportation options affect people’s mental health.
  • Perceptions and fears for safety and security while traveling is communally shared and a defining feature of how people make travel choices.
  • Concerns about personal security are especially poignant for people who use transit for trips.
  • People’s fears about violence while traveling includes fearing police officers, especially when using transit.

Transportation policy recommendations

  • Address people’s feelings about transportation safety by making travel more comfortable and more welcoming on all forms of transportation.
  • Decrease death and injuries on all forms of transportation.
  • Take measures to improve comfort of travelers.
  • Invest in community liaisons with training in cultural competency and violence prevention to staff public transit.
  • Better define what behaviors are acceptable on transit in culturally competent ways.
  • Increase education around how to ride public transit.

We are new to the country. For people in that situation, it is difficult because when you arrive you don’t have the means to buy a vehicle. You don’t have access to credit because you need to have a job, and to have a job you need to have mobility.

Focus group for Latino caregivers, Ramsey County


  • Cost plays a large role in determining travel behavior.
  • Time spent in transport and waiting on transportation both take a toll on travelers and influence travel decisions. • Travel behaviors change over lifetimes, especially as people age.
  • ‘Transit dependent’ and ‘transit reliant’ are imprecise labels for many people who do not have reliable transportation in the region.
  • Environmental risks like weather, icy roads and sidewalks, poor pavement quality, lack of bike lanes, lack of bus shelter, or geographically spaced out transit stops shape people’s experiences while in transport.
  • Travel behaviors change in the winter.
  • Vehicle ownership and driving are difficult for many people.
  • People want transit to be responsive to their collective identity.
  • Transit is not meeting the daily needs for many who rely on it.
  • People’s relationships with their professional drivers/operators (including transit and ride-hailing) are important factors in transportation satisfaction and feelings of safety while traveling.
  • Construction detours are confusing.
  • Suburban transportation needs differ from urban needs

Transportation policy recommendations

  • Offer affordable travel options with fewer barriers.
  • Support transportation options, especially in suburban and exurban areas.
  • Prioritize snow and ice clearance on walking routes, including at crossings where snow tends to pile up.
  • Improve the waiting experience for transit by improving stop and station design.
  • Clean transit stops, stations, buses, and trains more frequently.
  • Prioritize timeliness of buses. • Improve seating on buses and trains.
  • Provide transit schedule information in more languages.
  • Improve dial-a-ride services. • Provide subsidies for ride-hailing services in areas where dependable transit services are lacking.
  • Provide additional driver training for transit operators, including customer service skills.
  • Improve the delivery of construction information to reach a broader audience.

I think if I had a car and was also making these like decisions to take public transportation, that would cross my mind a little bit more. Like, oh, I should be more socially conscious and take a greener source. But because I don’t really have that option, I’m either going to bike or I’m going to take the bus, and either of those feel more environmentally conscious than driving.

Focus group for young women, Ramsey County


  • Many individuals would prefer environmentally-friendly alternatives that can match the affordability and effectiveness of conventional transportation methods.

Transportation policy recommendations

  • Invest in sustainable travel infrastructure.

Because the park is a little bit away, I don’t let them walk to the park yet themselves, and I can’t see them and there’s one street that’s a little busier, but we bike there together.

Focus group for caregivers, Anoka County


  • People’s basic transportation, health, and economic needs must be met in order to have the resources needed (time, energy, etc.) to value, protect, or enjoy natural areas and green spaces.

Transportation policy recommendations

  • Invest in transportation leading to natural areas and green spaces.
Can I ask you a question? Why are you asking about our identity? How are you going to use this question? So, once they find out all that information, are they going to make changes? I appreciate you telling me that, but I’m going to be honest. I feel like even telling my story and sharing my reality, nothing’s going to come of it. I hope we are actually being heard, not being overlooked. If you are going across the whole 7 counties, they’re going to focus on the suburbs.

Focus group for Native American women, Hennepin County

Outreach and analysis

This style of research, which blends public outreach and engagement strategies with qualitative research methodologies, was successful in reaching diverse and underrepresented audiences and yielding actionable information for the agency.

Acknowledging bias

The study team acknowledges that we hold power in spaces that can impact what people are willing or able to share. A few participants shared their skepticism directly about this and other government processes.

Shaping the transportation system

Participants' willingness to share their personal stories has created a deeper understanding of the regional transportation system and, more broadly, for how to work better with our communities. We recognize that we must, in turn, share their stories in the most true and meaningful ways we can while making the feedback actionable. 

Contact us

Jonathan Ehrlich
[email protected]