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Title:Transportation Quality Indices for Economic Analysis of Non-Metropolitan Cities
Authors:Kimberly Vachal, John Bitzan, and Kenneth Button
Publication Date:Jul 2004
Report #:DP-158
Type:Research Report – Department Publications

Abstract

Although transportation plays a role in economic development, it often is assumed to be an inert factor because of data voids or under assumptions. This research offers estimates of the relative quality of freight and business transport service resources available to non-metropolitan cities across the United States. The U.S. economic geography is determined largely by its metropolitan population centers. Non-metropolitan cities offer an important nexus for seamless integration of our vast geography in terms of their location across rural areas and the role they play in integrating regional rural economies into the national and global market and for the potential they offer in generating agglomeration economies for a region. Indicators suggest that cities located in the Midwest have relatively higher freight transport service quality compared to non-metropolitan cities in other areas. Non-metropolitan cities in a cluster of northeastern states are at disadvantage, relative to non-metropolitan cities located in most states, considering the quality of freight service. Business travel service quality is highest in the eastern states, but range of service qualities is more randomly distributed across other regions compared to the freight transport quality distribution. The cluster of lower-quality freight transport service is a cause for concern as previous research suggests these lagging regions will likely become increasingly disadvantaged over time. Transportation quality indicators developed in this research offer a new opportunity to consider transportation and the associated data needs in analysis of economic development policies and strategies.

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