Journal of Geographical Systems 2023 Best Paper Award

Totally chuffed that our paper on “realizable accessibility” has been selected by the Journal of Geographical Systems for the 2023 JGS Best Paper Award:

Measuring the impacts of disruptions on public transit accessibility and reliability

New publication: Liu, L., Porr, A., and Miller, H.J. (2024) “Measuring the impacts of disruptions on public transit accessibility and reliability,” Journal of Transport Geography, 114, 103769.

Abstract. Public transit systems are facing higher risk of system degradation from external disruptions, affecting their ability to deliver reliable accessibility to transit users. Therefore, resilience, the ability to maintain functions during a disruption, becomes a crucial assessment of public transit systems. In this paper, we calculate two space-time prism-based measures with General Transit Feed Specification real-time (GTFS-RT) data: realizable real-time accessibility, a conservative real-time accessibility measure that can be achieved by users subject to delays, and scheduled accessibility, accessibility based on schedule. We also define accessibility unreliability, the deviation between realizable accessibility and scheduled accessibility, to measure the reliability of delivered accessibility. We use the two measures to gauge the resilience of public transit systems and conduct two case studies of short- and long-term disruptions, namely Ohio State football games and the COVID-19 pandemic, on the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) bus system in Columbus, Ohio. We find there are two peaks of high unreliability before and after each football games, with the stadium as the geographic center of the disruption. The after-game peaks are shorter and more intense than the before-game. We also find COVID-19 had persistent negative impacts on accessibility and reliability: Realizable accessibility universally declined during the pandemic, but only part of cities experienced unreliability increase, primarily in urban perimeters and suburbs. Improved traffic conditions during the pandemic may help to reduce unreliability, but the later service cuts increased unreliability. The two case studies prove the effectiveness of the method to detect system disturbances and provide important guidance for public transit system operation and planning.

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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.