Humphrey School News—January 20, 2016

Humphrey Student Shares Research on Light Rail Opinions at National Conference

Humphrey School’s own Wes Durham presented his research on public attitudes toward the Twin Cities light rail system at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC, earlier this month.

As a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student focusing on land use and urban design, Durham became interested in the intersection of land use and transportation while enrolled in Networks and Places: Transportation, Land Use, and Design with Humphrey School Associate Professor Yingling Fan. Durham decided to explore how land use can make transportation more effective.

Through an examination of survey data on perceived neighborhood quality change in relation to the light rail system, Durham’s paper, co-authored by Fan and Humphrey PhD student Andrew Guthrie (MURP ‘09), “Local Support of Light Rail in the Twin Cities,” broadens the understanding of the dynamics underpinning support for light rail. Discerning how opinions on one’s neighborhood influence opinions about the light rail system has the potential to benefit both transit agencies and entire metropolitan regions.

Some of the findings of Durham, Guthrie, and Fan’s research include the importance of traffic safety and parking, which they speculate might have been tied to understandings of neighborhood vitality in the minds of survey respondents, for influencing public attitudes toward the Twin Cities light rail system.

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