Given rapid urbanization (with an expected 800,000 new residents by 2040) coupled with rising car ownership in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region, the Twin Cities are expected to host an additional 675,000 more cars by 2040. So, Shared-Use Mobility published a plan in collaboration with McKnight Foundation and other organizations in the Twin Cities’ region to reduce the number of cars by shifting households away from single occupant vehicles and towards public transportation and shared mobility.

The plan lists down two goals: to remove 50,000 cars off the roads in ten years and to ensure that shared mobility programs are adapted to serve the same broad user base that makes up public transport in ridership. To pursue the first goal, the plan suggests that the city get rid of 20,000 cars in the coming five years in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, which is represented in a 5 percent reduction in personal vehicles. In the following five years, the cities should have removed 50,000 cars from the roads, representing an 8 to 10 percent reduction in personal vehicles in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

The plan notes that the Twin Cities region will need to attract 30,000 new daily transit riders through a combination of new rail capital projects and improvements to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and rapid bus lines. It will also need to sustain 600 total vehicles in car-sharing programs, which will require the re-introduction of a one-way model, sustained growth for existing operators, and new approaches to public-private partnerships in car-sharing. It will also require both cities to add 800 bike-share bicycles to expand the Nice Ride MN network to 2,500 total bikes, as well as adding 1,000 daily vanpool users, 2,000 micro-transit and ride-splitting users through new pilot projects.

twin cities

Courtesy of Shared Use Mobility Center

Tuning down the number of cars on the road by 20,000 would serve to reduce almost 80,000 metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions, and save residents more than $70 million each year in household transportation costs. Once these changes are underway, and societal norms about car ownership are successfully changed, the plan will move to grow the ecosystem of options and could eventually result in removing more than 50,000 cars from area roadways.

As for the second goal, over a period of 10 years, both cities should ensure that 40 percent of commutes use municipal-supported programs to guarantee affordability, as microtransit and vanpooling programs grow. Moreover on that point, the plan suggests commutes be tracked by the industrial classification of the employer. To guarantee equality, the plan also advises that the cities create a more representative membership base in shared mobility programs; at least 30 percent of active members would come from households that earn below 80 percent of the Area Median Income – 40 percent of public transit riders in the Twin Cities are considered low-income.

Car ownership is a real struggle, especially in cities with poor public transport systems. In India, car ownership has almost tripled in the past decade. It is even projected that vehicle ownership would grow by 775 percent in the next 24 years, bringing the ratio of car ownership to inhabitants – currently 20 cars per 1,000 inhabitants – to 175 per 1,000 inhabitants. In early 2016, India’s Ministry of Power promised to make the country 100% e-vehicle by 2030.