Accessibility Analysis

Transportation agencies and planning organizations often stress the importance of accessibility—connecting people to jobs and services—but formal accessibility analysis has traditionally fallen more upon academic researchers and advanced modelers. Meanwhile, our historical reliance on metrics like traffic speed, transit reliability and sidewalk coverage as proxy measures for accessibility-related outcomes has led to piecemeal implementation and unintended consequences like increased sprawl and rising transportation emissions.

What We Do

SSTI’s team of researchers, analysts and policy experts leverage a growing number of available tools and platforms—including Sugar Access, Conveyal, TransCAD, Network Analyst, and existing travel demand models—to conduct meaningful accessibility analyses and incorporate them into practical decision-making applications like benchmarking and project prioritization.

We work with state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local governments, and experts in the field, building on decades of relevant research, to help set up analytic platforms, integrate the right data sources, create workflows, and establish standards to guide the emerging field of accessibility analysis. Our research also helps tie accessibility to other important outcomes like vehicle miles traveled (VMT), mode choice decisions, and transportation costs.

Guidance for Practitioners

For those just getting started in accessibility analysis, SSTI produced a guide for practitioners as part of its work with Virginia’s Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment. We continue working with transportation agencies across the U.S.—whether they are just getting started or advancing the practice—and producing updated guidance and standards.

Access this guide for practitioners here: Accessibility in Practice: A Guide for Transportation and Land Use Decision Making.

Please contact us if you are interested in learning more or working with us.

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Our Work

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Virginia

Virginia’s Smart Scale project prioritization process evaluates all potential transportation investments using multimodal accessibility analysis. SSTI has supported the development and advancement of this approach and helped the Virginia DOT implement a new land use metric based on walking accessibility to non-work destinations.

Hawaii

SSTI and Smart Growth America helped the Hawaii DOT pilot the Smart Transportation Rank Choice (SmartTRAC) program to better align transportation investments with priorities around safety, preservation, accessibility, traffic management, and environmental protection. This involved assessing the mode shift potential of bike and pedestrian projects using accessibility analysis.

Washington

The Washington State DOT launched a multimodal accessibility program in 2019 with technical support and research assistance from SSTI and Smart Growth America. Their program sets a new framework for thinking about transportation system performance, identifying transportation gaps, and evaluating outcomes like environmental justice, health, and travel options.

Minnesota

Building on the success of its ongoing pooled-fund study, the Minnesota DOT enlisted technical support from SSTI to move from theory to practice. This work involves setting up a new analytic platform and conducting case studies with a number of local partners to assess impacts ranging from highway investments to school siting decisions.

Massachusetts

As a pilot project, SSTI evaluated multiple proposed transportation projects in the Boston area for accessibility benefits. We then demonstrated how the findings could be used to develop a cost-benefit-based STIP or TIP, as well as to maximize the benefits of projects as they are developed.

Utah

SSTI led research sponsored by the Utah DOT to better understand how accessibility metrics could apply in multimodal project prioritization, as mandated by SB136 in 2018. Our team also worked with the Wasatch Front Regional Council to better incorporate Access to Opportunity into long-range planning and to help coordinate efforts across agencies.

Connecting Sacramento

SSTI worked with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and other local partners to measure transit accessibility across the region and identify opportunities to improve first- and last-mile connections, leveraging other big data sources to better understand trip-making patterns near transit stations and along rail corridors.