Itasca Project, 2012
The Itasca Project is a business-led civic alliance focusing on issues that affect economic competitiveness and quality of life in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. The CEO-led group commissioned "the country's first private-sector evaluation of the return on investment from transit investment .” The study assessed the regional economic impacts of completing the Metropolitan Council's long range plan -- which includes adding three light rail lines, two bus rapid transit extensions, and several new rapid-transit bus lines.
The study addressed three questions: (1) A built-out regional transit system would require substantial investment …What would be the return on that investment? (2) Investments can be made more or less quickly .. Would accelerating build out change the return on investment? (3) Many communities are interested in focusing more growth near transit stations .. Would such actions, regionally, change the return on investment?
The Itasca Project hired Cambridge Systematics to assess costs and benefits over a period to 2045. The consultants relied on TREDIS to calculate the regional economic consequences of changes in: (a) travel times and reliability, (b) vehicle operating costs, (c) shippers and logistics costs, (d) safety costs, (e) road pavement conditions and (f) labor force access to jobs. TREDIS results showed there would be a positive ROI (return on investment) associated with implementation of the proposed transit investments. The results were promoted by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and CEOs of major corporations.