Realizable accessibility: Evaluating the reliability of public transit accessibility using high-resolution real-time data

New paper: Liu, L., Porr, A. and Miller, H.J. (2023) “Realizable accessibility: Evaluating the reliability of public transit accessibility using high-resolution real-time data,” Journal of Geographical Systems, 25, 429-451.

Abstract. The widespread availability of high spatial and temporal resolution public transit data is improving the measurement and analysis of public transit-based accessibility to crucial community resources such as jobs and health care. A common approach is leveraging transit route and schedule data published by transit agencies. However, this often results in accessibility overestimations due to endemic delays due to traffic and incidents in bus systems. Retrospective real-time accessibility measures calculated using real-time bus location data attempt to reduce overestimation by capturing the actual performance of the transit system. These measures also overestimate accessibility since they assume that riders had perfect information on systems operations as they occurred. In this paper, we introduce realizable real-time accessibility based on space–time prisms as a more conservative and realistic measure. We, moreover, define accessibility unreliability to measure overestimation of schedule-based and retrospective accessibility measures. Using high-resolution General Transit Feed Specification real-time data, we conduct a case study in the Central Ohio Transit Authority bus system in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Our results prove that realizable accessibility is the most conservative of the three accessibility measures. We also explore the spatial and temporal patterns in the unreliability of both traditional measures. These patterns are consistent with prior findings of the spatial and temporal patterns of bus delays and risk of missing transfers. Realizable accessibility is a more practical, conservative, and robust measure to guide transit planning.

Measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries

New paper: Willberg, E., Tenkanen, H., Miller, H.J., Pereira, R. H. M. and Toivonen, T. (2023) “Measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries,” Transport Reviews, DOI: 10.1080/01441647.2023.2240958.

Abstract. Our societies struggle to provide a good life for all without overconsuming environmental resources. Consequently, scholarly search for approaches to meet environmental and social goals of sustainability have become popular. In transport research, accessibility is a key tool to characterise linkages between people, transport, and land use. In the current paper, we propose a conceptual framework for measuring just accessibility within planetary boundaries. We reviewed transport studies and discovered a substantial literature body on accessibility and social disadvantage, much vaster compared to the literature around environmental and ecological impacts of accessibility. We also show a gap in approaches that have integrated these two perspectives. Building on the review, we suggest a conceptual framework for incorporating environmental and social sustainability goals in accessibility research. We conclude the paper by pointing to key challenges and research avenues related to the framework, including (i) dealing with uncertainty and complexity in socio-ecological thresholds, (ii) integrating environmental limits into the conceptualisations of transport equity, (iii) measuring accessibility through other costs than travel time, and (iv) integrating both quantitative and qualitative data.

Turning old maps into 3D digital models of lost neighborhoods

New paper:  Lin Y, Li J, Porr A, Logan G, Xiao N, Miller HJ (2023) “Creating building-level, three-dimensional digital models of historic urban neighborhoods from Sanborn Fire Insurance maps using machine learning.” PLoS ONE 18(6): e0286340.

Abstract. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps contain a wealth of building-level information about U.S. cities dating back to the late 19th century. They are a valuable resource for studying changes in urban environments, such as the legacy of urban highway construction and urban renewal in the 20th century. However, it is a challenge to automatically extract the building-level information effectively and efficiently from Sanborn maps because of the large number of map entities and the lack of appropriate computational methods to detect these entities. This paper contributes to a scalable workflow that utilizes machine learning to identify building footprints and associated properties on Sanborn maps. This information can be effectively applied to create 3D visualization of historic urban neighborhoods and inform urban changes. We demonstrate our methods using Sanborn maps for two neighborhoods in Columbus, Ohio, USA that were bisected by highway construction in the 1960s. Quantitative and visual analysis of the results suggest high accuracy of the extracted building-level information, with an F-1 score of 0.9 for building footprints and construction materials, and over 0.7 for building utilizations and numbers of stories. We also illustrate how to visualize pre-highway neighborhoods.