Public Transportation’s Role in the Knowledge Economy

In December 2013, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) published a report titled The Role of Transit in Support of High Growth Business Clusters in the U.S. The report explored both the role of business clusters (also known as “innovation districts”) in the U.S. economy and the congestion-related mobility challenges facing eight specific high-growth knowledge–oriented innovation districts. These eight clusters are located in six metropolitan areas: Boston, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. Given constraints on continued road development in these areas, the study concluded that there is a solid case for expanding public transportation to support growth in these centers. As a follow-on study to the 2013 report, this report completes study of the “set” of technology-oriented clusters in the United States by looking at high-growth areas in Southern California, North Carolina, and Texas. It also expands the impact discussion to address the role of labor accessibility at business clusters in determining where, and how rapidly, the U.S. economy expands in high-value and high-technology sectors. The clusters explored in the current study are the Silicon Beach Innovation District in Los Angeles County, CA; the Historic Technology District in northwest Austin, TX; and Research Triangle Park, one of the oldest research parks in the United States, located between Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh, NC. These cases include geographic regions and development contexts, as well as types of cluster dynamics, not covered in the original study. They provide insight into the various factors that contribute to firm location choice, including the locality preferences of workers, the preference of startups for high degrees of firm-to-firm interaction and the need of older, more established firms for significant space to grow, both in terms of employees and capacity. In all three cases, public transportation is considered a necessary element for the continued growth of the district. The need for public transportation is based on a combination of (a) existing and anticipated roadway congestion with limited expansion options and (b) the desire to support the type of urban environment that is attractive to the newer wave of technology firms and workers. In addition to assessing the three districts described above, this report also includes a brief examination of high-speed rail and the role that it could play in supporting technology districts. The analysis uses the San Francisco Bay area (originally covered by cases in the previous report) as a case study because of ongoing high-speed rail planning in California.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract used with permission from American Public Transportation Association.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Economic Development Research Group, Incorporated

    Boston, MA  United States 

    American Public Transportation Association

    Washington, DC  United States 
  • Authors:
    • Duncan, Chandler
    • Stein, Naomi
    • Brown, Mike
    • Moses, Sue
    • Grisby, Darnell
  • Publication Date: 2016-2


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 54p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01597455
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 14 2016 4:34PM