Accessibility for all: Open source options for measuring access to destinations

As highlighted in two recent SSTI webinars in March and April of this year, accessibility measures are becoming more useful in practice. The most notable examples rely on proprietary data and methods, but open source approaches are also gaining traction, while highlighting the need for more reliable, open data. Accessibility measures describe how easily people can reach destinations, usually in terms of travel time, given the existing transportation system and land use patterns.

New research reinforces the importance of the built environment to cycling mode share

A recently published study from Montreal sheds new light on the importance of the built environment in influencing bicycle commuting and the resulting impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers also estimated the effect of bicycle infrastructure accessibility on cycling mode share. They estimated the effect of the new bicycle infrastructure as yielding a 1.7 percent reduction in transportation GHG emissions, roughly equivalent to the estimated effects of replacing the city’s buses with hybrid models and electrifying the city’s commuter trains.

Job type and location may keep low-wage workers from using transit

Affordable transit service can be a major asset to low-wage workers, but characteristics of their jobs—such as where and when they work—may keep them from using those services. New research in Toronto focuses more attention on the work end of the trips in determining how well transit can meet workers’ needs and finding ways to increase transit effectiveness and ridership.

AllTransit: Transit connectivity, accessibility, and frequency

The Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter has released its AllTransit tool that assists in analysis, planning, and visualization of transit systems. AllTransit stands out through its ability to analyze a variety of metrics quickly, producing outputs in the form of GIS-based maps, charts, and tables that can be employed to educate policy makers, planners, agencies, advocates, and the general public to make better informed choices about transit operations, service planning, and infrastructure investments.

AllTransit: Transit connectivity, accessibility, and frequency

The Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter has released its AllTransit tool that assists in analysis, planning, and visualization of transit systems. AllTransit stands out through its ability to analyze a variety of metrics quickly, producing outputs in the form of GIS-based maps, charts, and tables that can be employed to educate policy makers, planners, agencies, advocates, and the general public to make better informed choices about transit operations, service planning, and infrastructure investments.

Trip-making data, TDM, and connectivity in Northern Virginia (SSTI and Michael Baker International, 2016)

Commercially available GPS data offers valuable new insight about trip origins, destinations, and routes, including short trips that travel demand models often cannot capture. Using this data, SSTI worked with Michael Baker International, the Virginia DOT, and local stakeholders to identify opportunities for managing travel demand and improving connectivity throughout Northern Virginia. This final report describes the full data set and 17 selected case studies, along with recommended projects and policies, estimated costs, and benefits for each.

Not just speed and land use: considering directness of travel

Improving access to destinations means raising travel speed or reducing travel distance. Because of siloing within government, transportation agencies have traditionally worried about speed while leaving distances to land use authorities. However, one aspect of distance that transportation agencies can affect without breaking any silos is directness or circuity of travel. A paper from the University of Minnesota examines circuity in transit trips.

Capturing value for transit improvements

A new transportation enhancement fund assessment on real estate developers in Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Kendall Square will help fund transit improvements in that area, including possible enhancements to the Red Line Kendall/MIT station. This type of strategy, known broadly as value capture, is not new, and has been used in other cities such as San Francisco, Portland, and Washington, DC. However, the proposals in Cambridge have potential to serve as a model, developing into a value capture policy and process that can aid the T with further improvements going forward.

Virginia adopts multimodal, competitive project scoring process

Last year Virginia enacted legislation to select state-supported transportation projects through a multimodal, competitive process. The law prescribed five areas to be considered in the scoring, along with project cost: congestion mitigation, economic development, accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use. The relative weights of those elements, and details of how to assess project benefits in those categories, were left to the rulemaking process, which concluded June 17.