Local authorities worldwide have been pursuing transit-oriented development (TOD) strategies in order to increase transit ridership, curb traffic congestion, and rejuvenate urban neighborhoods. In many cities, however, development of planned sites around transit stations has been close to non-existent, due to, among other reasons, a lack of coordination between transit investments and land use at a broader spatial scale. Furthermore, while TOD considers access to transit, it often neglects the access to destinations that is provided by transit.
We contend that accessibility-oriented development (AOD) can overcome these drawbacks of transit-oriented development. The AOD strategy fosters an environment conducive to development by balancing access to both jobs and workers. As such, AOD explicitly considers the connections between TOD locations and destinations that matter, both locally and regionally. Where markets are free to take advantage of accessibility levels, AOD is a naturally occurring process. Planners could therefore use the various tools at their disposal to influence accessibility levels (to jobs and workers) in order to attract urban development in potential AOD areas.
To test the assumptions that guide AOD strategies, access to jobs and workers are calculated in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Canada in 2001 and 2011. Cross-sectional and temporal regressions are then performed to analyze average commute times and urban development occurring across the region. Results show that residents in neighborhoods with high access to jobs and low access to competing workers experience the shortest commute times in the region, while the relationship also holds for changes in average commute times between the studied time periods. In addition, both access to jobs and access to workers are associated with changes in residential, commercial and industrial development: high labor force accessibility is associated with increases in job density, and high access to jobs is related to increases in population density between 2001 and 2011. Planners can thus leverage accessibility as a tool to direct development in their cities and to strategically adjust commute times, thereby realizing the full benefits of planned transit investments.
Keywords: Transit-oriented development; Accessibility; Travel behavior; Land use
Australia’s top cities may rate among the most liveable in the world, but the Property Council of Australia is warning us not to get complacent.
It has commissioned a report which finds that our cities need to improve issues, like infrastructure and public transport, if they want to continue to be attractive places to live.
The segment runs on the linked .mp3 file. I get to have my say as well, arguing that access is a good, even if congestion is a bad and a feature of people wanting larger homes in the suburbs and commuting by car and population growth in excess of infrastructure growth. (I also talked about road pricing in the interview, but that was cut for time … that’s what I meant when I said “managing”.)
JONATHAN HAIR: David Levinson is a Professor of Transport at The University of Sydney.
DAVID LEVINSON: Congestion is only going to get worse as long as there’s people being added to the system faster than infrastructure is added to the system, and as long as people aren’t doing anything to manage it.
People want to live further away from their jobs, and have larger houses, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But the cost of doing that is that there’s more people using the same roads in the same amount of time.
JONATHAN HAIR: He believes the solution to the problem is making it easier to access services without having to travel.
DAVID LEVINSON: Manhattan is more congested than Sydney is but there are more things to do in Manhattan, so the accessibility is higher.
People can reach more things in the same amount of time. What we really care about is not moving quickly on the network, but getting to where we want to go. And if there’s more things around us, that are close to where we want to be, we don’t have to travel as long a distance.
So while growth has costs, it also has benefits in terms of activity, because there’s more stores nearby, there’s more restaurants, there’s more jobs that might be better suited to the kinds of skills that we have.
ELEANOR HALL: That’s University of Sydney’s Transport Professor David Levinson.
This study estimates the accessibility to jobs by auto for each of the 11 million U.S. census blocks and analyzes these data in the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas.
Travel times are calculated using a detailed road network and speed data that reflect typical conditions for an 8 a.m. Wednesday morning departure. Additionally, the accessibility results for 8 a.m. are compared with accessibility results for 4 a.m. to estimate the impact of road and highway congestion on job accessibility.
Rankings are determined by a weighted average of accessibility, with a higher weight given to closer, easier-to-access jobs. Jobs reachable within 10 minutes are weighted most heavily, and jobs are given decreasing weights as travel time increases up to 60 minutes.
The report presents detailed accessibility and congestion impact values for each metropolitan area as well as block-level maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area. It also includes a census tract-level map that shows accessibility patterns at a national scale.
Each technological advance in mobility over the past 200 years increased the size of metropolitan areas. The ability to go faster, either owing to new technologies or more completely deployed and deeply connected networks, allowed people to reach more things in less time. The Underground drove the expansion of London, streetcars did the same for many American cities,[a] while trams and trains made Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane among others, and highways have exploded the size of cities everywhere. Historically, the time saved from mobility gains was reflected mostly in additional distance between home and the workplace, maintaining a stable commuting (home to work) time.
Will autonomous vehicles follow the path well worn by earlier technologies?
Fast, driverless cars that allow their passenger to do things other than steer and brake and find parking impose fewer requirements on the traveler than actively driving the same distance. Decreases in the cost of traveling (i.e., the availability of safe in-vehicle multitasking) makes travel easier. Faster roads arise because of capacity gains from vehicle automation (due both to closer following distances and narrower lanes, even more practical with narrower vehicles fit to serve the single passenger they usually carry). Easier travel means increases in accessibility and subsequently increases in the spread of development and a greater separation between home and work, (pejoratively, `sprawl’), just as commuter trains today enable exurban living or living in a different city.[b] Autonomous automobility reinforces the disconnected, dendritic suburban street grid and makes transit service that much more difficult (as if low density suburbs weren’t hard enough). People will live farther ‘Out.’
However, concomitant with automation is the emergence of the sharing economy, with at least some people transitioning from today, where the typical Australian owns their own car, to mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) — automated taxis. This is more likely in larger, central cities where taxis are common, auto ownership is already difficult, and parking scarce and expensive. In this world, while the total cost of travel drops as vehicle ownership costs disappear, the cost per trip might rise, as the cost of ownership is allocated to each trip. This reduces travel demand.
Driverless cars which can be summoned on-demand allow people to avoid vehicle ownership altogether. This reduces vehicle travel, as people will pay more to rent by the minute than exploit the sunk costs of vehicular ownership. By saving total expenditures on transport, more funds are available to pay for rent in cities, and more trips are by walk, bike, and transit. People who seek the set of urban amenities (entertainment, restaurants, a larger dating pool) will find these amenities increasing in response to the population. The greater value in cities with the new more convenient technology leads to more and taller development. (Hence the use of the word ‘Up.’)
At first blush, ‘Up’ and ‘Out’ appear to be contrasting scenarios; they are not exclusive, however. More people living in the outer suburbs or exurbs does not mean fewer people live in cities, because the overall size increases (with more people overall). Sydney for instance, is expected to grow from just over 5 million to about 8 million people over the next four decades.
Similarly, as the cost of travel decreases, people will be more willing to live in locations far from where they work. At safe speeds of 160 km/h on freeway lanes exclusively dedicated to automated vehicles, the commuting range expands widely. From Sydney in this new world, Newcastle can be reached an hour on road, and Kiama and Katoomba are even nearer.
Sydney planners have recently proposed the benchmark of the “30-minute city“, the idea that most people can find work, school, or daily shopping within 30 minutes of their homes by walk, bike, or transit. The threshold of 30-minutes is roughly equal to today’s one-way commute in Sydney (actually 35 minutes), shorter by car (26 minutes), longer by train (62 minutes) according to BITRE. The long times by train are because trains are designed to serve longer distance trips, and focus on the Central Business District.
The 30-minute city can be achieved through a combination of transport and land use strategies. On the transport side is the question of how fast and how direct the transport network is. On the land use side is the question of where desired activities are located relative to each other.
If the 30-minute city is defined for walk, bike, and transit as the relevant modes, with mobility-as-a-service easily available on-demand, the Up Scenario works best, though getting one-way commuting times for train users down from 60 to 30 minutes is a large ask. In contrast, the Out Scenario can continue to enable a 30-minute city for privately owned autonomous vehicles so long as jobs don’t centralize further in downtowns.
The interplay of AVs and road pricing is especially important. While autonomous vehicles may eventually double or quadruple road capacity, total demand will rise as well due to population growth, so long as people continue to work, shop, and play outside-the-home at today’s rates, even more if traditional patterns of induced demand hold.
It is quite possible that sharing remains a niche while most people choose to own their own cars — the ‘Out’ scenario dominates. Thus, exurbanization and AVs better leverage newly available capacity. But, in the absence of pricing, and with cheap energy, there is little to discourage tomorrow’s privately owned AVs from circulating empty on the road network rather than pay for high prices of parking, and thereby slow travel for everyone else. This possible outcome is so obviously bad, it suggests road pricing or similarly effective regulation in some form is likely.
Nothing in cities makes sense except in the light of accessibility.
Transport cannot be understood without reference to the location of activities (land use), and vice versa. To understand one requires understanding the other. However, for a variety of historical reasons, transport and land use are quite divorced in practice. Typical transport engineers only touch land use planning courses once at most, and only then if they attend graduate school. Land use planners understand transport the way everyone does, from the perspective of the traveler, not of the system, and are seldom exposed to transport aside from, at best, a lone course in graduate school. This text aims to bridge the chasm, helping engineers understand the elements of access that are associated not only with traffic, but also with human behavior and activity location, and helping planners understand the technology underlying transport engineering, the processes, equations, and logic that make up the transport half of the accessibility measure. It aims to help both communicate accessibility to the public.
Risk severity in transportation network analysis is defined as the effects of a link or network failure on the whole system. Change accessibility (reduction in the number of jobs which can be reached) is used as an integrated indicator to reflect the severity of a link outage. The changes of accessibility before-and-after the removing of a freeway segment from the network represent its risk severity. The analysis in the Minneapolis – St. Paul (Twin Cities) region show that links near downtown Minneapolis have relative higher risk severity than those in rural area. The geographical distribution of links with the highest risk severity displays the property that these links tend to be near or at the intersection of freeways. Risk severity of these links based on the accessibility to jobs and to workers at different time thresholds and during different dayparts are also analyzed in the paper. The research finds that network structure measures: betweenness, straightness and closeness, help explain the severity of loss due to network outage.
Since I am under contract to neither organization, I am free to give a review of the documents. I have comments prepared on the idea of the Three-City plan (dislike) and have something in the hopper on the 30-minute city (like), but am not clear whether it realisable.
The Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan is a gorgeous document, it is well-laid out, and pleasing to read. The Transport for NSW plan is much draftier, and appears to have been rushed. On the assumption that this is not staff’s fault, but rather that it was grabbed from their reluctant hands by political higher-ups who wanted a joint release, and who correctly assume that no one (i.e. only internationally-originating transport planning professors) actually reads plans, I will not pick on them for their unreadiness. The Sunday release is perhaps a tell in this regard.
My first blush comments about some remaining aspects of the Greater Sydney Region 40-year Plan are below (with the caveats that I have read the document once, have not read the previous documents, and am new to the country).
It is great to see the coordination between the agencies, and at least the idea that the transport and land use planning should be in sync.
The plan writes “Importantly, infrastructure will be sequenced to support growth and delivered concurrently with new homes and jobs.” This is good planning practice, and it is important that timing as well as end-state is considered. Whether this is well-executed remains another matter. As they say, time will tell.
In general, most of the GSC plans seems reasonable and hard to disagree with, if somewhat vague in many cases. For instance. “Strategy 8.1 consider cultural diversity in strategic planning and engagement.” OK, I’ve considered it, now what should I do with it?
It is a 40-year plan (Well a “40-year vision and 20-year plan”). Infrastructure lasts a long time, we want to make sure we take sound, long-term decisions. Now I like the future and all, and even think visioning is a good idea, as is preserving options, but 40 years is a long time, even in something as slow moving as transport networks.
The Chronologically-Aware might note that it is already 2017, not 2016, and it is a 40 year plan for 2056. Let us not be bound by petty calendars, this is planning time. Also since it is already 2017, and it won’t be adopted for at least some time, it might wind up being a 38-year plan.
Think back to 1976, it was before the internet or mobile telephony (or even wireless phones), before widespread Cable TV or the VCR, before Personal Computers even (it was the year Apple was founded). How much of a 1976 plan’s prediction of life today would be correct?
I’d suggest very little of the difference between 1976 and the present would have been accurately estimated by most people, or even most planners, or futurists, in 1976. Certainly we imagine that road projects that were funded in 1976 were realised soon thereafter. And much hasn’t changed.
To borrow from Sting (1983, i.e. 34 years ago): People still face a
‘… shouting above the din of their Rice Krispies,’ living their lives of quiet desperation. Other aspects are far different. Far fewer factories ‘belch filth into the sky’ as least in the developed countries. Far fewer workplaces are ‘hindered by picket lines,’ as the power of labour has withered. Far fewer businessmen have their own secretaries. We don’t have flying cars. We do have 280 characters.
Still, plans (or visions) can shape growth patterns, even if the forecasts of life are terribly inaccurate. Plans I am most familiar with, the New Town Plan of Columbia, Maryland (where I grew up) and the Wedges and Corridors plan of Montgomery County (where I worked for 5 years) both gave form to, and continue to shape their communities. Columbia was expected to be completed (built out with 100,000 residents) within 15 years (in fact, it was closer to 35 years, and the Town Center area still is not finished, 50 years on).
The Interstate Highway System of course was an important shaper of development patterns across the US, and enabled the rise of just-in-time production, among other things. It was expected to be done in 16 years (1972, from 1956), but wasn’t really essentially done until 1982, and officially done a decade later.
Laying a street network, like the Manhattan Grid, is a largely irreversible process, as evidenced by the lack of change in the street grid even after catastrophic events like the London fire or San Francisco Earthquake.
The expectation of the plan is that Greater Sydney grows to 8 million over 40 years. Demographics are among the easiest things to forecast for long time periods, as people age and migrate slowly. At current rates, I don’t doubt the estimate of 8 million. This however depends on an open immigration policy, which I am not sure traditional Australia will continue to support.
I don’t see any discussion of an intercity High-Speed Rail or Very Fast Train. Yet clearly the transport agencies are considering this and making provision for it. Certainly the notion of HSR remains vague, and the details missing, but this is a 40-year plan.
Aspects of funding made me happy to read, even if they were hedged:
“explore and, where appropriate, trial opportunities to share value created by the planning process and infrastructure investment (such as rail) to assist funding infrastructure” … Land Value Capture ! p. 31
“investigate the potential of further user charging to support infrastructure delivery” … Road Pricing ! (though “charging” users only shows up on 3 pages) p.31
The technological tsunami about to hit surface transport is acknowledged, but not dealt with. The word “autonomous” (as in Autonomous vehicles) shows up on 5 pages. Not enough thought is given to this, given the timeframe.
The Movement and Place framework (p. 39) is good, and highly reminiscent of the Hierarchy of Roads. I like the more detailed and nuanced design from Transport for London better, (TfL’s 9 cells vs. GSC/TfNSW’s 4), but there is an argument for simplicity.
On education, the document says: “The NSW Government will spend $4.2 billion over the next four years on school buildings, which it estimates will create 32,000 more
student places and 1,500 new classrooms.”
This is $131,250 per student! This is $2.8M per classroom. This seems a lot, even for Sydney. (p. 40) I sure hope some of this maintenance, not just capacity expansion.
The term “Accessibility” shows up on 14 pages. This is good, and the word seems to be used correctly. This is consistent with the idea of the 30-minute city.
Under “Directions for Sustainability” (p. 122) It is great they are using metrics. I take issue with some of them …
“An efficient city
Metric: Number of precincts with low carbon initiatives
A resilient city
Metric: Number of local government areas undertaking resilience planning”
Honestly, these specific ones are terrible metrics. Particularly the first one. Just measure (or estimate) the carbon emissions, not the number of “initiatives”. Compare with the tree canopy “Metric: Proportional increase in Greater Sydney covered by urban tree canopy”, which looks at the actual amount of tree coverage. Resilience is admittedly trickier to assess.
Constructing a plan is hard (in a political sense of finding something that enough people will agree to that is more than pablum, writing down a coherent set of strong ideas is actually not that difficult at this stage in history, with so many go ideas to draw from). I applaud the effort, and think it is better than the alternative. But it could be better still, and that is the reason for discussion and comment.
Top increases in job accessibility by transit
1. Cincinnati (+ 11.23%)
2. Charlotte (+ 11.02%)
3. Orlando (+ 10.83%)
4. Seattle (+ 10.80%)
5. Providence (+ 10.65%)
6. Phoenix (+ 7.51%)
7. Riverside (+ 6.59%)
8. Milwaukee (+ 6.53%)
9. Hartford (+ 6.44%)
10. New Orleans (+ 6.18%)
Top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit
1. New York
2. San Francisco
5. Los Angeles
9. San Jose
Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit.
The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.
Though rankings of the top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit remain unchanged from the previous year, new data comparing changes within each of the 49 largest U.S. metros over one year helped researchers identify the places with the greatest increases in access to jobs by transit. Cincinnati and Charlotte improved more than 11 percent. Seattle, which ranks 8th for job accessibility by transit, improved nearly 11 percent. In all, 36 of the 49 largest metros showed increases in job accessibility by transit.
“This new data makes it possible to see the change from year to year in how well a metro area is facilitating access to jobs by transit,” said Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory. “Transit is an essential transportation service for many Americans, and we directly compare the accessibility performance of America’s largest metropolitan areas.”
This year’s report—Access Across America: Transit 2016—presents detailed accessibility values for each of the 49 metropolitan areas, as well as detailed block-level color maps that illustrate the spatial patterns of accessibility within each area.
Key factors affecting the rankings for any metro area include the number of jobs available and where they are located, the availability of transit service, and population size, density, and location. Better coordination of transit service with the location of jobs and housing will improve job accessibility by transit.
The findings have a range of uses and implications. State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and transit agencies can apply the evaluations to performance goals related to congestion, reliability, and sustainability. In addition, detailed accessibility evaluation can help in selecting between project alternatives and prioritizing investments.
The research is sponsored by the National Accessibility Evaluation Pooled-Fund Study, a multi-year effort led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and supported by partners including the Federal Highway Administration and 11 additional state DOTs.
The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota is the nation’s leading resource for the research and application of accessibility-based transportation system evaluation. The Observatory is a program of the Center for Transportation Studies. CTS is a national leader in fostering innovation in transportation.
The Transit 2016 report and other Access Across America research reports for auto, walking, and soon biking, are available at access.umn.edu.
Now available for pre-order, with a shipping date in December if all goes well: Metropolitan Transport and Land Use.
As cities across the globe respond to rapid technological changes and political pressures, coordinated transport and land use planning is targeted as a solution and is the subject of increased interest.
Metropolitan Transport and Land Use, the second edition of Planning for Place and Plexus, provides unique and updated perspectives on metropolitan transport networks and land use planning, challenging current planning strategies, offering frameworks to understand and evaluate policy, and suggesting alternative solutions.
The book includes current and cutting edge theory, findings, and recommendations which are cleverly illustrated throughout using international examples. This revised work continues to serve as a valuable resource for students, researchers, practitioners, and policy advisors working across transport, land use, and planning.
About the Author
David M. Levinson is Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of Sydney School of Civil Engineering. From 1999-2016 he taught and served as Chair of Transportation at the University of Minnesota, where this book was first crafted. He serves as the editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use and is the author or editor of a dozen books.
Kevin J. Krizek is Professor and Director in the Program in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado Boulder. He recently served as a Visiting Professor of ‘Cycling in Changing Urban Regions’ in the Institute of Management Research at Radboud University (the Netherlands).