Accessibility, long considered a more robust measure of transportation system success than simple mobility, is moving out of research and into practice, according to panelists on an SSTI webinar.
Accessibility measures the ease by which travelers can reach desired destinations, or “opportunities.” Often, but not always, it is measured in terms of time. As such, it combines both mobility and proximity of land uses, bringing together two directly connected public policy concerns that are often poorly integrated in decision-making.
While accessibility is not a new concept, data limitations have made it difficult to measure. Now it is becoming practice-ready, panelists said.
The webinar, broadcast Dec. 4, featured Andrew Owen of the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory, Richard Kuzmyak of Renaissance Planning Group, and Kate Sylvester of the Maryland DOT. Slides and a recording are available on the SSTI website.
Owen, who cited commentary in the conservative National Review and libertarian Reason Foundation about the benefit of accessibility measures, has been working with Minnesota DOT and now is developing a pooled fund study to mainstream accessibility measures across the country. Kuzmyak has applied accessibility measures in the Washington, D.C., area, including in a project with Sylvester’s Maryland DOT.
While both efforts aim to make use of accessibility for better transportation and land use decision-making, the approaches are somewhat different.
Owen’s group uses a cumulative opportunities count, generally using jobs as the critical opportunities. They estimate the number of opportunities that can be accessed by car and transit from neighborhoods around the nation within a set time, say 30 minutes. …
The Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation with several national stakeholder groups, would like you to join us for the next Let’s Talk Performance: Performance Measures Beyond the Mainstream. The webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, October 28, from 2:30PM to 4:00 PM (EDT). This event is open to FHWA staff, State DOTs, MPOs, transit providers, and other stakeholder agencies. This webinar is the second in a series of six webinars focused on transportation performance management implementation activities. During this webinar, presenters will:
• Provide an update on FHWA Rulemaking proceedings;
• Focus on States and MPOs evaluating non-traditional performance measures
Accessibility is the ease of reaching valued destinations. It can be measured for various transportation modes, to different types of destinations, and at different times of day. There are a variety of ways to define accessibility, but the number of destinations reachable within a given travel time is the most comprehensible and transparent, as well as the most directly comparable across cities.
This report examines accessibility to jobs by transit in 46 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States. Transit is used for an estimated 5 percent of commuting trips in the United States, making it the second most widely used commute mode after driving. This report complements Access Across America: Auto 2013, a report of job accessibility by auto in 51 metropolitan areas. …
Rankings are determined by a weighted average of accessibility, giving a higher weight to closer jobs. Jobs reachable within ten minutes are weighted most heavily, and jobs are given decreasing weight as travel time increases up to 60 minutes.
This report describes the data and methodology used in the separate publication, Access Across America: Transit 2014. That report examines accessibility to jobs by transit in 46 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States. Transit is used for an estimated 5 percent of commuting trips in the United States, making it the second most widely used commute mode after driving. Rankings are determined by a weighted average of accessibility, giving a higher weight to closer jobs. Jobs reachable within ten minutes are weighted most heavily, and jobs are given decreasing weight as travel time increases up to 60 minutes.
The research was sponsored by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota. Accessibility Observatory reports, including the analysis of job accessibility by auto published last year Access Across America: Auto 2013, and interactive maps are available for download at: access.umn.edu/research/america.
Visit the site to see the reports, rankings, data, and maps.
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.
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.
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?