Measuring the impacts of new public transit services on space-time accessibility

Lee, J. and Miller, H. J. (2018) “Measuring the impacts of new public transit services on space-time accessibility: An analysis of transit system redesign and new bus rapid transit in Columbus, Ohio, USA,” Applied Geography, 93, 47-63.


  • Lack of access to opportunities contributes to poor social and health outcomes.
  • Columbus, OH introduced a transit route and schedule redesign and bus rapid transit.
  • We analyze impacts on accessibility to opportunities in a deprived neighborhood.
  • Detailed route and schedule data allow high resolution accessibility analysis.
  • The new bus rapid transit has a much greater impact on accessibility


The absence of effective access to opportunities and services is a key contributor to poor socio-economic and health outcomes in underserved neighborhoods in many cities. The city of Columbus, Ohio, USA is attempting to enhance residents’ accessibility by providing new public transit services. These new services include a major Transit System Redesign (TSR) of the conventional bus network and the introduction of a new bus rapid transit, named CMAX. Using a high-resolution space-time accessibility measure, we analyze whether these new public transit services will change residents’ accessibility to job and healthcare in an underserved neighborhood of Columbus. Also, we assess whether enhancing the CMAX service to reduce delays (e.g., reserved lane, off-board payment system) will improve accessibility. The high-resolution space-time accessibility measure in this study uses published public transit schedules via the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). We use multiple departure times during a day to account for the temporal fluctuations of accessibility based on the transit schedule changes. We also consider the operating hours of job opportunities and healthcare services. Results suggest that the TSR yields ambiguous benefits for accessibility to jobs and healthcare. However, the new CMAX service and its potential upgrades lead to a substantial increase in both job and healthcare accessibility. The results can be used for city officials and urban planners to evaluate the effectiveness of public transit innovations in improving accessibility.

Keywords: Transportation; Space-time accessibility; Public transit; Bus rapid transit; Jobs; Healthcare

Accessibility planning in American metropolitan areas: Are we there yet?

New publication:  Proffitt, D., Bartholomew, K., Ewing, R. and Miller, H.J. (2017) “Accessibility planning in American metropolitan areas: Are we there yet?Urban Studies.  Article first published online: June 13, 2017. DOI:

Transportation-planning researchers have long argued that the end goal of a transportation system is increasing accessibility, or opportunities for individuals to meet their daily needs, but that US practice tends to focus on increasing mobility, or opportunities to travel farther and faster. This study finds evidence that the gap between theory and practice may be closing when it comes to accessibility, but that significant barriers still exist to the wider adoption of the accessibility paradigm among metropolitan planning organisations, the main entities responsible for regional transportation planning in the USA. We measure this gap by creating an accessibility index based on content analysis of a nationally representative sample of 42 US regional transportation plans (RTPs). We then use regression-tree analysis to determine the characteristics of metropolitan areas that are most likely to employ accessibility concepts. Finally, we identify barriers to a wider adoption of the accessibility paradigm. Most RTPs include accessibility-related goals, but few define the term or use accessibility-oriented performance measures. The lack of clarity on accessibility leaves vehicle speed as the fundamental criterion for success in most plans. Our analysis finds that MPOs serving large regions with high per capita income are the most likely to produce plans that focus on accessibility. We argue that such places produce more accessibility-oriented RTPs because they have greater planning capacity and recommend changes to federal planning guidelines that could speed the adoption of the accessibility paradigm in RTPs.

Keywords accessibility, metropolitan planning organisations, mobility, regional planning, transportation planning