After sitting shuttered for more than 30 years, the city of Quincy, MA recently reopened a pedestrian gate that allows residents of the town’s Penn’s Hill neighborhood to connect directly to the Quincy Adams MBTA station. Previous to the gate reopening, residents were forced to walk more than a mile to cross the Red Line train tracks and access the station. We measured how much this improved the accessibility of the adjacent neighborhoods.
The average transit user in New Orleans can access only a fraction of the opportunities that drivers can, according to a local advocacy group, and recent transit investments aren’t helping much. The group, Ride New Orleans, just released its annual State of Transit 2018 report, which includes an analysis of the number of jobs accessible by car and by transit within 30 minutes. They found that the average transit user can only reach 12 percent of the region’s jobs within 30 minutes, compared to 89 percent for drivers.
Through a grant from the Kresge Foundation, Smart Growth America worked with six regions over the past year to help them use performance measures to advance transportation projects that line up with their priorities for the future. SSTI supported several of the regions, focusing on helping each MPO tie their investments to policy priorities like economic vitality, accessibility to necessities, and equity.
CEOs and other senior officials from 16 state DOTs, as well as the Massachusetts Commission on the Future of Transportation, gathered in late July for SSTI’s annual Community of Practice meeting. While the conversation was free-flowing without any formal motions or votes, and so is not readily summarized, readers may enjoy seeing the briefing materials that formed the basis for the discussion.
How does the built environment influence the amount people drive? Research by SSTI’s Logan Dredske worked to answer this very question. The focus of his research was to create a framework for estimating vehicle miles traveled based on conditions of the built environment. His goal was to use measures of accessibility as the principal proxy for the built environment. The research also converted vehicle miles traveled into greenhouse gas emissions and evaluated the ability of transportation projects to reduce emissions.
The Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment recently released its new report, Accessibility in practice: A guide for transportation and land use decision making, developed by SSTI with several partners. The guide describes ways of measuring accessibility and, more importantly, how to use those metrics in planning, project evaluation, and other transportation and land use decisions. The information is useful for any state or local agency interested or already involved in making these kinds of decisions.
Significant research and debate in recent years have surrounded the impacts of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft on transportation systems: whether they reduce the need for personal vehicles, how they contribute to or reduce congestion, and how they impact transit ridership. A recent study published in the Journal of Transport Geography may help shed further light on some of these questions by examining taxi demand and its correlation to land use patterns and access to other travel modes in the Washington D.C. region. As the researchers point out, despite the significant growth of on-demand ride-hailing service providers like Uber and Lyft, taxis remain a key asset for urban mobility that can either complement or compete with other modes.
In most large metropolitan areas, the typical worker could reach more jobs by transit in 2016 than in 2015, according to the newest Access Across America report from the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory. Accessibility increased in 36 out of 49 regions. These annual reports let individual regions track changes in accessibility over time, scan for accessibility issues within the region, and compare their own performance to other regions.
In planning and designing for pedestrians, sidewalks are often a good start but rarely make a place walkable on their own. Measuring pedestrian accessibility (the topic of a recent SSTI webinar) depends on two important pieces of information: 1) where destinations are located, and 2) the quality of the walking network connecting to those places. This second point is the focus of two studies.
These two things are true: 1) Travelers dislike slow traffic, and 2) slow traffic is sometimes an inescapable result of things that people do like—cities with popular destinations. Conventional transportation practice responds well to No. 1, with well-known standards for delay and capacity. Practice has no clear standards to deal with No. 2—what to do in places where speeding up cars amounts to destroying the village in order to save it. A new study of neighborhoods in Los Angeles, a place with more than a little congestion, helps fill this gap.