Category Archives: Accessibility

America’s Accessible Cities | Huffington Post

Wendell Cox cites our work in a Huffington Post article: America’s Accessible Cities.

With frequent press attention on traffic congestion and “gridlock,” it may be surprising that work trip travel times in US cities are better than those of high income competitors in other nations …. Indeed, the University of Minnesota’s David Levinson, found that the typical employee can reach two-thirds of jobs in major US metropolitan areas within 30 minutes.

Census Bureau data indicates that the average work trip travel time in US cities of more than 5 million population was approximately 29 minutes each way. Western European cities of more than 5 million population have an average travel time of 32 minutes. Toronto, Canada’s only city of this size, has a travel time of 33 minutes. East Asian cities with more than 5 million residents (Tokyo, Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, Nagoya, Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore) have far longer average travel times — at 42 minutes. Australia’s two largest cities (Sydney and Melbourne), which are yet to reach 5 million, have an average travel times of 35 minutes.

He is referring to our Access Across America report from last year.

Time is important, of course. What you can do with that time (the quality of the experience) also matters. If you can work while traveling, the value of saving time is less than if you must focus on the driving task. This is one reason why autonomous vehicles may be such a game-changer. It may also explain in part the premium people are willing to pay for high quality transit and intercity rail service.

Using principles of justice to assess the modal equity of regional transportation plans

My friends Karel Martens and Aaron Golub just published: Using principles of justice to assess the modal equity of regional transportation plans. Journal of Transport Geography
Volume 41, December 2014, Pages 10–20

Abstract:

While equity has been an important consideration for transportation planning agencies in the U.S. following the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI specifically) and the subsequent Department of Transportation directives, there is little guidance on how to assess the distribution of benefits generated by transport investment programs. As a result, the distribution of these benefits has received relatively little attention in transportation planning, compared to transport-related burdens. Drawing on philosophies of social justice, we present an equity assessment of the distribution of accessibility in order to define the rate of “access poverty” among the population. We then apply this analysis to regional transportation plan scenarios from the San Francisco Bay Area, focusing on measures of differences between public transit and automobile access. The analysis shows that virtually all neighborhoods suffer from substantial gaps between car and public transport-based accessibility, but that the two proposed transportation investment programs reduce access poverty compared to the “no project” scenario. We also investigate how access and access poverty rates vary by demographic groups and map low-income communities within access impoverished areas, which could be the subject of further focused investments.

Now only if we could do that for the whole country, hmm?

MnPASS Accounts per Household

Incremental Accessibility Benefits and Choice of Subscriptions for High-Occupancy Toll Lanes

Recently published:

MnPASS Accounts per Household
MnPASS Accounts per Household

This paper presents the results of an investigation into the factors contributing to toll lane subscription choice by using data from the MnPASS high-occupancy toll lane system operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The paper estimates a binomial logit model that predicts, on the basis of aggregate characteristics of the surrounding area, the likelihood of a household having a subscription to MnPASS systems. Variables in this model include demographic factors as well as an estimate of the incremental accessibility benefit provided by the MnPASS system. This benefit is estimated with the use of detailed accessibility calculations and represents the degree to which a location’s accessibility to jobs is improved if HOT lanes are available. The model achieves a rho<sup>2</sup> value of .634, and analysis of the results suggests that incremental accessibility benefits play a statistically and practically significant role in determining how likely households are to hold a toll lane subscription.

Access Across America Pooled Fund Webinar

Access Across America is a state-of-the-art multimodal accessibility evaluation for transportation system performance management and planning. The webinar (recorded August 6, 2014) featured an overview of the Access Across America project and examples of accessibility calculation results, information about the request for participation in the Access Across America Pooled Fund project, and a question and answer session.

(Pooled Funds are the “Kickstarter” for transportation research, where participants are usually, but not only, state DOTs – notably this process was developed in transportation some 20 years ago, much earlier than Kickstarter formed … yet another example of transportation exporting technologies to other sectors).

Watch webinar

Speakers

Pooled Fund Proposal Draft

Accessibility and the Allocation of Time: Changes in Travel Behavior 1990-2010

Recent working paper:

Brosnan, M and Levinson, D. (2014)  Accessibility and the Allocation of Time: Changes in Travel Behavior 1990-2010

Network Distance to CBD
Network Distance to CBD
  • Using detailed travel surveys conducted by the Metropolitan Council of the Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities) Region in Minnesota for 1990, 2000-2001, and 2010-2011, this paper conducts a detailed analysis of journey-to-work times, activity allocation and accessibility.  This study corroborates previous studies showing that accessibility is a significant factor in commute durations. Adjusting land use patterns to increase  the number of workers in job-rich areas and the number of jobs in labor-rich areas is a reliable way of reducing auto commute durations. The finding that accessibility and commute duration have a large affect on the amount of time spent at work shows that activity patterns are influenced by transportation and the urban environment in very impactful ways. The descriptive results of this analysis show a measurable decline in the time people spend outside of their homes as well as the amount of time people spend in travel over the past decade. Although trip distances per trip are not getting any shorter, the willingness to make those trip is declining, and as a result fewer kilometers are being traveled and less time on average is being allocated to travel.

Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground

Recent working paper:

Levinson, D., Giacomin, D., and Badsey-Ellis, A. (2014) Accessibility and the choice of network investments in the London Underground. Presented at the World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research, June 2014, at Delft.

Accessibility in London in 1881
Accessibility in London in 1881

 

 

  • Abstract: In 1863, the Metropolitan Railway of what came to be known as the London Underground successfully opened as the world’s first subway. Its high ridership spawned interest in additional links. Entrepreneurs secured funding and then proposed new lines to Parliament for approval, though only a portion were actually approved. While putative rail barons may have conducted some economic analysis, the final decision lay with Parliament, which did not have available modern transportation economic or geographic analysis tools. How good were the decisions that Parliament made in approving Underground Lines? This paper explores the role accessibility played on the decision to approve or reject proposed early London Tube Schemes. It finds that maximizing accessibility to population (highly correlated with revenue and ridership) largely explains Parliamentary approvals and rejections.
    Keywords: Accessibility, Network Growth, Subways, Public Transport, Travel Behavior, Networks

Developing a Comprehensive US Transit Accessibility Database

Recent working paper:

Transit Accessibility in Minneapolis
Transit Accessibility in Minneapolis

Owen, A. and Levinson, D. (2014) Developing a Comprehensive US Transit Accessibility Database

  • This paper discusses the development of a national public transit accessibility evaluation framework, focusing on lessons learned, data source evaluation and selection, calculation methodology, and examples of accessibility evaluation results. In both practice and in research, accessibility evaluation remains experimental and methodologically fragmented. This heightens the “first mover” risk for agencies seeking to implement accessibility-based planning practices, as they must select a method which might produce results that can only be interpreted locally. Development of a common baseline accessibility metric could advance the use of accessibility- based planning. The accessibility evaluation framework described here builds on methods developed in earlier project, extended for use on a national scale and at the Census block level. Application on a national scale involves assembling and processing a comprehensive national database of public transit network topology and travel times. This database incorporates the significant computational advancement of calculating accessibility continuously for every minute within a departure time window of interest. Values for contiguous departure time spans can then be averaged or analyzed for variance over time. This significantly increases computational complexity, but provides a very robust representation of the interaction between transit service frequency and accessibility at multiple departure times.