Informal transit may not be the answer, but it can fill key service gaps

When transit and mobility options are inaccessible or don’t meet needs, people find ways to travel. For most of the world, this often takes the form of informal transit services. As a result of failed public investment in transportation, these flexible, low cost, and unregulated systems are often the main form of travel in developing countries. Although higher income countries have some forms of informal transport, it is often subsidized and more regulated microtransit. These more flexible options do not replace formal transportation networks, but they do provide a critical service to often overlooked communities. 

The work commute changed after the pandemic, new data shows

Research continues to shed new light on the post-pandemic changes in travel behavior and access to opportunities. A recent webinar with SSTI and Accessibility Observatory examines the changes in accessibility across the country, while a new study by Replica highlights new commute patterns in two cities. Both analyses show the lasting impacts of the pandemic on peak travel times, giving transportation professionals valuable insights for adapting planning and design in ways that will improve overall access and system performance.

Measuring Accessibility: Expanding the Practice

Wednesday, August 23, 2023
As agencies continue to integrate accessibility analysis into policy and planning, new research can guide the expansion of current and best practices. In this session we will talk with Louis Merlin from Florida Atlantic University and Dana Rowangould from the University of Vermont about their research into pedestrian and other accessibility metrics, and the practitioners who use them.

Virginia hopes to expand transit access by leveraging data

All public transit agencies in Virginia will have free access to planning software, thanks to a new partnership with the transit technology company Via. This is one of several steps the state has taken to incorporate accessibility analysis into planning and programming, and to advance equitable transportation. Providing statewide access to data and software may serve as a model for other agencies as they strive for more equitable and effective networks. 

Accessibility analysis may be at a pivotal moment for widespread adoption

Accessibility analysis, measuring the ease with which people can reach destinations, could shift the paradigm in the fields of land use and transportation planning. Where traffic speeds once reigned supreme, momentum is building behind the adoption of a more comprehensive metric. While uptake has thus far been somewhat diffuse among cities, metropolitan planning organizations, and states, those who have the capacity and resources to implement accessibility analysis find it a powerful tool for leveling the playing field between modes, focusing on the movement of people over vehicles, and centering the needs of under-resourced communities. 

Measuring access to destinations can help agencies predict transit ridership

Many transportation agencies throughout the U.S.—some working directly with SSTI—are beginning to think about service in terms of access to destinations. A few, like the Washington and Virginia DOTs, are measuring accessibility in planning and project selection. New research suggests that accessibility analysis can also be helpful in predicting travel outcomes like transit ridership.

Utah and Washington DOTs measure connectivity across highways under recent federal pilot program

The state DOTs in Washington (WSDOT) and Utah (UDOT) recently developed methods to evaluate the comfort, safety, and connectivity of active transportation networks, focusing on bicycle and pedestrian connectivity across highways. The studies leverage newer data sources and GIS techniques to think about how highways can create barriers for nearby communities and how major corridors can be made more permeable.

Reforming fees and fines could help chip away at transportation inequities

A recent report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) highlights transportation inequities in the greater Chicago area. Big-picture findings support the region’s comprehensive plan, but the near-term recommendations focus on changes in transportation-related fees, fines, and fares—a small but important share of overall transportation costs.