Measuring the impacts of dockless micro-mobility services on public transit accessibility

New paper:  Liu, L. and Miller, H.J. (2022) “Measuring the impacts of dockless micro-mobility services on public transit accessibility,” Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 98, 101885.

We develop new measures of the accessibility increments to public transit afforded by dockless micromobility. We apply this to public transit and Lime scooter data for Columbus.  We find that dockless micro-mobility services such as scooters can improve public transit accessibility, but the benefits are very uneven and face substantial challenges including capacity and cost.

Abstract: Dockless micromobility services have potential as a fast and flexible solution to short-distance trips and public transit’s first-mile/last-mile (FM/LM) access problem; however, these services also have limitations, including uneven spatial distribution, low capacity, and user out of pocket expense. This can impact on the ability of micromobility to enhance public transit accessibility. We introduce accessibility increment measures – the amount by which public transit accessibility improves due to micromobility services. We apply these measures to hypothetical trips using public transit and micromobility data from Columbus, Ohio, USA. We find dockless scooters can increase accessibility by multimodal public transit trips, with increments in the first mile significantly outweighing last mile accessibility increments. Accessibility increments are highly concentrated in the city center due to the distributions of scooters and bus stops. We also find that scooters’ accessibility increment contribution is highly unequal: a small number of scooters contribute most of the accessibility increments. Monetary cost simulations show that the first-mile accessibility increment will rapidly decrease and last-mile increment slightly increase with lower willingness to pay. Capacity simulations show a group of users’ accessibility increment will rapidly decrease as the group size increases, but this depends on whether they are competing or collaborating for scooters. Our results show that despite showing promising potentials, vendors and policymakers still need to address these issues to make collaboration between public transit and dockless micromobility sustainable and equitable. The paper provides measures and evidence for future transit and micromobility planning for scooter vendors and transit authorities.

 

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. (2022) “Realizable accessibility: Evaluating the reliability of public transit accessibility using high-resolution real-time data,” Journal of Geographical Systems, online first.

Take home message:

We develop a refined time geographic measure of accessibility via public transit using real-time vehicle location data. We also show how to use this measure with schedule data to analyze the reliability of public transit accessibility at the urban scale. To be published in a special issue on “Time Geography in the Age of Mobility Analytics” in the Journal of Geographical Systems.

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 schedulebased 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.

What Is Essential Travel? Socioeconomic Differences in Travel Demand in Columbus, Ohio, during the COVID-19 Lockdown

New paper: Kar, A., Le, H.T.K. & Miller, H.J. (2021) What Is Essential Travel? Socioeconomic Differences in Travel Demand in Columbus, Ohio, during the COVID-19 Lockdown, Annals of the American Association of Geographers (online first) DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2021.1956876

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly reshaped urban mobility. During the lockdown, workers teleworked if possible and left home only for essential activities. Our study investigates the spatial patterns of essential travel and their socioeconomic differences during the COVID-19 lockdown phase in comparison with the same period in 2019. Using data from Columbus, Ohio, we categorized travelers into high, moderate, and low socioeconomic status (SES) clusters and modeled travel demand of SES clusters for both phases using spatially weighted interaction models. Then, we characterized the SES variability in essential travel based on frequently visited business activities from each cluster. Results suggest that disparities in travel across SES clusters that existed prior to COVID-19 were exacerbated during the pandemic lockdown. The diffused travel pattern of high and moderate SES clusters became localized and the preexisting localized travel pattern of low SES clusters became diffused. During the lockdown, the low and moderate SES clusters traveled mostly for work with long- and medium-distance trips, respectively, whereas the high SES cluster traveled mostly for recreational and other nonwork purposes with short-distance trips. This study draws some conclusions and implications to help researchers and practitioners plan for resilient and economically vibrant transportation systems in response to future shocks.

Keywords: equity, mobile phone data, O–D flow, social exclusion, spatial interaction

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