Research Reports

Access Across America: Transit 2018

Principal Investigator:

Andrew Owen, Brendan Murphy

February 2020

Report no. CTS 20-01

Topics: Accessibility metrics, Economics

Accessibility is the ease and feasibility of reaching valued destinations. It can be measured for a wide array of transportation modes, to different types of destinations, and at different times of day. There are a variety of ways to measure 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 study estimates the accessibility to jobs by transit and walking for each of the United States' 11 million census blocks and analyzes these data in 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas. 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. Travel times by transit are calculated using detailed pedestrian networks and full transit schedules for the 7:00 -- 9:00 a.m. period. The calculations include all components of a transit journey, including "last-mile" access and egress walking segments and transfers, and account for minute-by-minute variations in service frequency.

This report presents detailed accessibility values for each metropolitan area, as well as block-level maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area. A separate publication, Access Across America: Transit 2018 Methodology, describes the data and methodology used in this evaluation.

Rankings of the top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit in 2018 changed only slightly from the previous year, with New York, San Francisco, and Chicago again topping the list. One exception is the Washington DC metro area, which dropped to #6 from #4, likely due to the unavailability of census data on federal workers.

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