Abstract: Many people with mobility disabilities (PwMD) rely on public transit to access crucial resources and maintain social interactions. However, they face higher barriers to accessing and using public transit, leading to disparities between people with and without mobility disabilities. In this paper, we use high-resolution public transit real-time vehicle data, passenger count data, and paratransit usage data from 2018 to 2021 to estimate and compare transit accessibility and usage of people with and without mobility disabilities. We find large disparities in powered and manual wheelchair users’ accessibility relative to people without disabilities. The city center has the highest accessibility and ridership, as well as the highest disparities in accessibility. Our scenario analysis illustrates the impacts of sidewalks on accessibility disparities among the different groups. We also find that PwMD using fixed-route service are more sensitive to weather conditions and tend to ride transit in the middle of the day rather than during peak hours. Further, the spatial pattern of bus stop usage by PwMD is different than people without disabilities, suggesting their destination choices can be driven by access concerns. During the COVID-19 pandemic, accessibility disparities increased in 2020, and PwMD disproportionately avoided public transit during 2020 but used it disproportionately more during 2021 compared to riders without disabilities. This paper is the first to examine PwMD’s transit experience with large high-resolution datasets and holistic analysis incorporating both accessibility and usage. The results fill in these imperative scientific gaps and provide valuable insights for future transit planning.
My main message – the future of personal transportation should be similar to the history of personal transportation – walking, biking and public transit. Electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and advanced air mobility are simply continuations of the same thing we have been trying for a century – cars and car dependence. As should be clear, cars are not working well, and we can’t solve our car problem with more car-ing.
On April 14, I had the opportunity to give a lecture in the Mobility and Planning for Human-scale Cities lecture series organized by the Mobility Lab at the University of Tartu in Estonia, sponsored by the US Speaker Program of the US Department of State.
Mobility is central to urbanity, and urbanity is central to our common future as the world’s population crowds into urban areas. This is creating a global mobility crisis due to the unsustainability of our 20th century transportation systems for a crowded and connected 21st century world. We need to move beyond inflexible, unsustainable and brittle car-dominated mobility monocultures to flexible, sustainable and resilient mobility polycultures with a wide spectrum of integrated mobility options. This transition is hard because mobility is complex, a wicked problem and a fundamental social dilemma.
In this lecture, I address the transition towards sustainable mobility. I discuss how we can leverage the urban data revolution to resolve these challenges. In particular, I focus on the role of next generation urban observatory science that respects complexity, embraces uncertainty and conflicting values, facilitates urban experimentation and creates environments for collaboration and knowledge co-production. I identified the major scientific challenges, merits and broader impacts of the observatory approach to transportation and urban science.
A recording of the lecture is available via the link below: