Maximizing Access in Transit Network Design

Recently published:

  • Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., Lahoorpoor, B., and Levinson, D. (2022) Maximizing Access in Transit Network Design. Journal of Public Transportation. 24 [doi]

This study adopts an Access-Oriented Design (AOD) framework for optimizing transit network design. We present and demonstrate a method to evaluate the best combination of local and express alternative transit system designs through the novel concept of ‘iso-access lines’. Two bus network system designs were explored for a greenfield development in suburban Sydney: through-routed transit lines (T-ways) with higher speeds and more direct service, but longer access and egress times, and local routes that provide additional spatial coverage. We developed scenarios with T-ways only, local routes only, and both, and computed transit access to jobs as a cumulative-opportunities measure for each scenario. Local routes offer greater overall access, while T-ways provide greater access-per-unit-cost. The optimal combination of the two was established by generating ‘iso-access’ lines and determining access-maximizing combinations for a given cost by applying production-theory principles. For 15-min access, the optimal combinations had T-way service frequency equivalent to 0.48 times that of local routes. This ratio increased to 1.45, 2.05 and 2.63 for 30-min, 45- min and 60-min access respectively. In practice, the method can be applied to determine optimal transit combinations for any given budget and desired access level.

Fig. 4. Schematic representation of transit connections designed for the development area. T-ways connect superblock centers with rail stations on either end. Local routes originate at rail stations, loop around superblocks and terminate at the origin stations.

All ridership is local: Accessibility, competition, and stop-level determinants of daily bus boardings in Portland, Oregon

Research on accessibility, a measure of ease of reaching potential opportunities, has advanced significantly, but the adoption of these measures by public transport agencies has lagged. One explanation may be that research has been conducted at different spatial scales from the stop level typically used by agencies. To address this gap, this study examines the relationship between accessibility to jobs and average daily bus boardings at the bus-stop level of analysis in Portland, Oregon. Our models show that daily boardings could increase by 1.8% to 2.1% for every 10% increase in accessibility, measured as the number of jobs reachable in 30 min from the bus stop by public transport. This finding supports the argument that accessibility-focused service improvements have the potential to bolster stop-level ridership since network adjustments and new services like bus-rapid-transit often yield considerable increases in accessibility. At the same time, inter-stop competition reduces an individual stop’s ridership. This study conveys the benefits of planning for accessibility at a regional scale and links regional decisions back to stop-level ridership, the context most familiar to public transport agencies, in the hope that this will accelerate and extend the adoption of accessibility in practice.

Diagram illustrating the calculation of overlapping accessibility as a measure of inter-stop competition.

Access-oriented design? Disentangling the effect of land use and transport network on accessibility

Recently published:

  • Lahoorpoor, B., Rayaprolu, H., Wu, H., and Levinson, D. (2022) Access-oriented design? Disentangling the effect of land use and transport network on accessibility. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives [doi] [Open Access]

In urban planning and design, a holistic perspective is needed to examine multiple potential scenarios in future developing plans. Access (or accessibility) is a concept that measures the performance of a city in terms of how easily residents can reach their desired activities. The land use pattern and the transport network configuration are the two critical elements of spatial access measures. This study investigates whether access-oriented design can improve accessibility outcomes, and disentangles access benefits from network design and land use patterns. A generic superblock with two types of street network design is defined, and populated with two different land use allocation strategies. Local access is measured from transit stops. Furthermore, to test the hypothesis at a larger scale, the Liverpool LGA in Sydney is selected, and different combinations of land use pattern and network topology are tested. Results indicate that the land use pattern plays a vital role in the local access; however, the network configuration significantly impacts the access at the regional scale. The application of access-oriented designs in future urban growth is discussed.

Two different superblock layouts: Grid vs. Ring-Radial.

Applications of Access

Now available for download: Applications of Access.

Applications of Access edited by David Levinson and Alireza Ermagun

About

Our open access book Applications of Access, edited by David Levinson and Alireza Ermagun has launched!

Applications of Access was inspired by our belief that planning should reach beyond mobility and incorporate all intricacies of reaching your destination. We set out to publish a book examining topics such as (1) Equity and social justice, (2) Resilience and crisis, (3) Active transport, (4) Public transport, (5) Auto travel, (6) System performance, and (7) Project evaluation.

But this book is not intended to simply be a “how to” manual, but rather to inspire researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to spark a broader array of research and practice in the nexus of transport access.  
This was a labor of love that included the work of many of our colleagues and thought leaders in the transport community. We are thrilled to finally be able to share our work with you, and we hope to embolden our greater transport community to examine access through the many lenses that impact our daily commutes and quality of life.

Table of Contents

1 An Introduction to Applications of Access
Alireza Ermagun and David Levinson 15

2 Fostering Social Equity and Inclusion
Pâmmela Santos and Geneviève Boisjoly 23

3 Justice, Exclusion, and Equity: An Analysis of 48 US Metropolitan Areas
Chelsey Palmateer and David Levinson 45

4 Disparity of Access: Variations in Transit Service by Race, Ethnicity, Income, and Auto Availability
Elisa Borowski, Alireza Ermagun, and David Levinson 69

5 Access During COVID
James DeWeese, Kevin Manaugh, and Ahmed El-Geneidy 87

6 Access to Shelters
Mahyar Ghorbanzadeh, Kyusik Kim, Eren Erman Ozguven, and Mark Horner 105

7 Access and Centrality-Based Estimation of Urban Pedestrian Activity
Brendan Murphy, Andrew Owen, and David Levinson 117

8 Which Station? Access Trips and Bikeshare Route and Station Choice
Jessica Schoner and David Levinson 133

9 Cargo Bikesharing as a Last-mile Connector
David Duran-Rodas, Aaron Nichols, Benjamin Büttner 149

10 Spatio-temporal Transit Access to Food Stores
Xiaohuan Zeng, Ying Song, and Na Chen 165

11 Multi-destination Access
Andrew Guthrie and Yingling Fan 193

12 Non-work Vehicle Trip Generation from Multi- week In-vehicle GPS Data
Arthur Huang and David Levinson 217

13 Job Access and Spatial Equity of a Toll Road
I Gusti Ayu Andani, Lissy La Paix, Shanty Rachmat, Ibnu Syabri, and Karst Geurs 239

14 Access and Transit System Performance
Alireza Ermagun and David Levinson 261

15 Intraurban Access and Agglomeration
Michael Iacono, Jason Cao, Mengying Cui, and David Levinson 277

16 Transit Access Performance Across Chicago
Fatemeh Janatabadi, Nazanin Tajik, and Alireza Ermagun 291

17 Interactive Access for Integrated Planning
Anson Stewart and Andrew Byrd 307

18 The Role of Transit Service Area Definition for Access-based Evaluation
Chelsey Palmateer, Alireza Ermagun, Andrew Owen, and David Levinson 327

19 Access-based Evaluation of Transit-Oriented Developments
Chelsey Palmateer, Andrew Owen, and Alireza Ermagun 347

20 Physical and Virtual Access
Tanhua Jin, Long Cheng, and Frank Witlox 363

Editors and Contributors 377

Bibliography 387

FEATURES

  • 424 Pages
  • Publisher: Network Design Lab

DOWNLOAD

The End of Traffic and the Future of Access | Spontaneous Access: Reflexions on Designing Cities and Transport | Elements of Access: Transport Planning for Engineers, Transport Engineering for Planners | A Political Economy of Access | The 30-Minute City: Designing for Access | Transport Access Manual | Applications of Access

TRANSPORTIST: OCTOBER 2021

How to value transport projects

Instead of measuring and monetising the fairy dust of `travel time savings’, a transport facility should be assessed on how much access it produces per unit of investmentAccess is the ease of reaching destinations. E.g. you might measure how many jobs (or restaurants or hospitals, etc.) can be reached in 30 minutes and/or $5 (or the dual of this measure, such as how many prospective patients an ambulance can reach in 12 minutes). A transport facility that increases access to destinations for a cost effectively is good. 

So the question is: does a streetcar or road or bike path enable people to reach more activities in less cost (time, money, aggravation, risk, negative externalities, etc.) than before, at a reasonable expenditure? (This cost includes the social and financial costs of building and providing the infrastructure). In short, are the upfront capital costsand ongoing maintenance and operations costs of the facility justified by the lower variable costs of its users? 

Sometimes (which is to say, often) transport projects are promoted for real estate. Real estate prices monetise the transport benefits (above what the user bears in time, money, and effort) in land value (time savings are not actually money, they become money through land value). We can build models that estimate the real estate value provided by additional accessibility.

So a better way of assessing the transport benefits is through real estate price uplift, as the market captures how people value the transport benefit. (We cannot simply add land prices to travel time and travel cost reductions, as that would be double counting). Places with higher access, and where access is more valuable, are more expensive and more productive and pay higher wages. We don’t really need to understand the detailed market mechanisms, nor attribute costs to detailed categories, the land market tells us how much access is worth, and transport models tell us how much access is created by a change to the network – from those two facts we can estimate the value created.

Because many projects are promoted by real estate interests, who presumably believe they will get the monetized benefits of those projects through higher land values, the public has a reasonable expectation that those interests pay for the costs of the project (that is, the tax incidence falls on the land owner). There are a variety of approaches, generally lumped as value sharing or value capture. The most general of these, a land value tax, originally promoted by Henry George, captures all of the uplift caused by all the access created by both transport investments and changes in the distribution of human activities.

From a project assessment point-of-view, land value uplift has often been part of the ‘wider economic benefits‘, which are optionally added after the value of travel time savings, which is considered the main benefit. ATAP for instance writes:

WEBs are improvements in economic welfare associated with changes in accessibility or land use that are not captured in traditional cost–benefit analysis (CBA). They arise from market imperfections, that is, prices of goods and services differing from costs to society as a whole. Reasons include economies of scale and scope, positive externalities, taxation and imperfect competition.

The international literature to date has concentrated on four types of WEBs that arise from major transport initiatives.

– WB1: Agglomeration economies — productivity gains from clustering by firms

– WB2: Labour market and tax impacts — productivity gains accruing to governments via the taxation system

– WB3: Output changes in imperfectly competitive markets — profit increases for firms

– WB4: Change in competition — gains to consumers and more efficient production.

ATAP goes on to write: 

“WEBs are only likely to be significant, and so worth estimating, for sizeable transport initiatives located in or improving access to large urban areas”

This logic is backwards. Because of induced demand, road projects rarely actually ‘save time’. Transit is often slower than car, so creating a project that induces someone from car to transit also doesn’t save time, but must nevertheless be preferred if people voluntarily switch.

Yet despite not ‘saving time’, these projects do create economic value. From a consumer perspective for instance, people can find a better fit for housing in the same travel effort (and may prefer to ride passively than to drive), or can engage in shopping activities that better match their desires in the same time window. From a producers perspective, WB1-WB4 from above are all embedded in land value. 

In reality, WEBs are the benefits of transport. If there were no productivity gains from clustering, we would not have cities and instead choose to be maximally spread out, and not need to be proximate in any sense. If there were no gains to consumers from competition, everyone would pay monopoly prices for everything, etc.

And these WEBs do not show up in ‘travel time savings’ but consistently show up in land value (CBDs are more expensive than suburbs are more expensive than rural areas). The WEBs are implicit in the land value uplift which occurs as a result the increased access. ‘Wider economic benefit’, properly measured as land value gains due to increased access, can and should be considered the primary benefit of new investment, not a speculative add-on aimed at juicing the numbers.

The consequence of properly and completely valuing benefits and full costs systematically may very well be a higher benefits estimate than a travel time savings-dominated metric would produce, which, if decision-making were rational, would justify more construction of public and active transport than would otherwise take place. A tax system that captured the land value that was thus created could relax whatever financing constraints currently limit that investment.

Jobs

Research

  • Wu, Hao, and Levinson, D. (2021) The Ensemble Approach to Forecasting: A Review and Synthesis. Transportation Research part C. Volume 132, 103357 [doi
    • HIGHLIGHTS
      • Review and synthesize methods of ensemble forecasting with a unifying framework.
      • As decision support tools, ensemble models systematically account for uncertainties.
      • Ensemble methods can include combining models, data, and ensemble of ensembles.
      • Transport ensemble models have the potential for improving accuracy and reliability.
      ABSTRACT: Ensemble forecasting is a modeling approach that combines data sources, models of different types, with alternative assumptions, using distinct pattern recognition methods. The aim is to use all available information in predictions, without the limiting and arbitrary choices and dependencies resulting from a single statistical or machine learning approach or a single functional form, or results from a limited data source. Uncertainties are systematically accounted for. Outputs of ensemble models can be presented as a range of possibilities, to indicate the amount of uncertainty in modeling. We review methods and applications of ensemble models both within and outside of transport research. The review finds that ensemble forecasting generally improves forecast accuracy, robustness in many fields, particularly in weather forecasting where the method originated. We note that ensemble methods are highly siloed across different disciplines, and both the knowledge and application of ensemble forecasting are lacking in transport. In this paper we review and synthesize methods of ensemble forecasting with a unifying framework, categorizing ensemble methods into two broad and not mutually exclusive categories, namely combining models, and combining data; this framework further extends to ensembles of ensembles. We apply ensemble forecasting to transport related cases, which shows the potential of ensemble models in improving forecast accuracy and reliability. This paper sheds light on the apparatus of ensemble forecasting, which we hope contributes to the better understanding and wider adoption of ensemble models.
    • This paper is the first dissertation paper from Dr. Hao Wu’s Dissertation: Theory of Ensemble Forecasting – with Applications in Transport Modeling. Hao successfully defended last month. It’s hugely important for changing how modeling is done, instead of relying on the one best model, an ensemble of models is more accurate and more reliable. Transport modeling has spent decades developing advanced (and Nobel prize-winning) methods, but has fetishised a single model approach rather than embracing uncertainty and humility. This needs to change. [Hao is also, as far as I know, the first Transport Engineering PhD from the University of Sydney since JJC Bradfield, who designed the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Trains network] “In 1924, Bradfield was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science (for a thesis titled “The city and suburban electric railways and the Sydney Harbour Bridge”, the first doctorate in engineering awarded by the University of Sydney.”
  • Allen, Jeff, Farber, Steven, Greaves, Stephen, Clifton, Geoffrey, Wu, Hao, Sarkar, Hao, and Levinson, D. (2021) Immigrant Settlement Patterns, Transit Accessibility, and Transit Use. Journal of Transport Geography. 96, 103187 [doi]
    • ABSTRACT: Public transit is immensely important among recent immigrants for enabling daily travel and activity participation. The objectives of this study are to examine whether immigrants settle in areas of high or low transit accessibility and how this affects transit mode share. This is analyzed via a novel comparison of two gateway cities: Sydney, Australia and Toronto, Canada. We find that in both cities, recent immigrants have greater levels of public transit accessibility to jobs, on average, than the overall population, but the geography of immigrant settlement is more suburbanized and less clustered around commuter rail in Toronto than in Sydney. Using logistic regression models with spatial filters, we find significant positive relationships between immigrant settlement patterns and transit mode share for commuting trips, after controlling for transit accessibility and other socio-economic factors, indicating an increased reliance on public transit by recent immigrants. Importantly, via a sensitivity analysis, we find that these effects are greatest in peripheral suburbs and rural areas, indicating that recent immigrants in these areas have more risks of transport-related social exclusion due to reliance on insufficient transit service.
  • El-Geneidy, Ahmed and Levinson, D. (2021) Making Accessibility Work in Practice Transport Reviews (online first) [doi]
    • ABSTRACT: Accessibility, the ease of reaching destination, is the most comprehensive land use and transport systems performance measure (Levinson & Wu, 2020; Wachs & Kumagai, 1973; Wu & Levinson, 2020). Accessibility has been applied in planning research since the 1950s (Hansen, 1959), and still today, we find major barriers to adopting it in practice (Handy, 2020). Advances in computing and software have enabled researchers to generate complex measures of accessibility with higher spatial and temporal resolutions moving accessibility research at a fast pace, while the implementation of accessibility, in practice, lags (Boisjoly & El-Geneidy, 2017). Even simple measures, such as the cumulative opportunities measures of accessibility, confront challenges in adoption.

Videos

Research by Others

Polls

  1. How long must someone be dead before we should stop referring to them as “the late so and so”? (reading newspaper article describing the “late Erik Erikson”, dead 27 years.) Or should we say the late Isaac Newton?
    • <1 year 18.6%
    • 1-4 years 34.3%
    • 5-9 years 11.4%
    • >10 years 35.7%
    The median is just under 5 years, so I will go with that. 

News & Opinion

Making Accessibility Work in Practice

Recently Published:

  • El-Geneidy, Ahmed and Levinson, D. (2021) Making Accessibility Work in Practice. Transport Reviews [doi] [first 50 free download]

Accessibility, the ease of reaching destination, is the most comprehensive land use and transport systems performance measure (Levinson & Wu, 2020; Wachs & Kumagai, 1973; Wu & Levinson, 2020). Accessibility has been applied in planning research since the 1950s (Hansen, 1959), and still today, we find major barriers to adopting it in practice (Handy, 2020). Advances in computing and software have enabled researchers to generate complex measures of accessibility with higher spatial and temporal resolutions moving accessibility research at a fast pace, while the implementation of accessibility, in practice, lags (Boisjoly & El-Geneidy, 2017). Even simple measures, such as the cumulative opportunities measures of accessibility, confront challenges in adoption.

Immigrant Settlement Patterns, Transit Accessibility, and Transit Use

Recently published:

  • Allen, Jeff, Farber, Steven, Greaves, Stephen, Clifton, Geoffrey, Wu, Hao, Sarkar, Hao, and Levinson, D. (2021) Immigrant Settlement Patterns, Transit Accessibility, and Transit Use. Journal of Transport Geography. 96 103187 [doi]
  • Abstract: Public transit is immensely important among recent immigrants for enabling daily travel and activity participation. The objectives of this study are to examine whether immigrants settle in areas of high or low transit accessibility and how this affects transit mode share. This is analyzed via a novel comparison of two gateway cities: Sydney, Australia and Toronto, Canada. We find that in both cities, recent immigrants have greater levels of public transit accessibility to jobs, on average, than the overall population, but the geography of immigrant settlement is more suburbanized and less clustered around commuter rail in Toronto than in Sydney. Using logistic regression models with spatial filters, we find significant positive relationships between immigrant settlement patterns and transit mode share for commuting trips, after controlling for transit accessibility and other socio-economic factors, indicating an increased reliance on public transit by recent immigrants. Importantly, via a sensitivity analysis, we find that these effects are greatest in peripheral suburbs and rural areas, indicating that recent immigrants in these areas have more risks of transport-related social exclusion due to reliance on insufficient transit service.

    Fig. 3. Bivariate maps of transit accessibility and density of recent immigrants.

    Towards a General Theory of Access: Video

    Levinson, D. M., & Wu, H. (2020). Towards a general theory of access. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 13(1), 129-158. https://doi.org/10.5198/jtlu.2020.1660

    This paper integrates and extends many of the concepts of accessibility deriving from Hansen’s (1959) seminal paper, and develops a theory of access that generalizes from the particular measures of access that have become increasingly common. Access is now measured for a particular place by a particular mode for a particular purpose at a particular time in a particular year. General access is derived as a theoretical ideal that would be measured for all places, all modes, all purposes, at all times, over the lifecycle of a project. It is posited that more general access measures better explain spatial location phenomena.

    The Thirty-Minute City on ABC Sydney Afternoons

    I had the pleasure of being on James Valentine’s

    Afternoons on ABC Radio on Friday (June 18, 2021)

    We discussed the thirty-minute city and related topics for about 15 minutes.

    An automated transcript is below:

    James Valentine 0:11
    You’ve been hearing for a while now that we’re going to have sort of three cities in Sydney. We’re going to have the city city, the river city of Parramatta and now the new Bradfield city, the Western Sydney parklands city, the Aerotropolis, it seems to be a city, it’s got at least three names at the moment, that Western one and there’s going to be three hubs, we’re going to be a 30 minute city, we’re gonna be able to get around this city, you’ll be able to live, you know, Jason, the paramedic, everything will be there, your job will be there, the school will be there to help services will be there and everything. So you’ll never need to leave that area, necessarily. The you may have also heard that the IBC announced a little earlier in the week that 300 or so staff will be moving to Paramount or will be based in Parramatta in a few years time that we’re in the process of looking for the right accommodation and figuring out what what would be best in that in that part of the world. So these are interesting things. And I wondered whether it was a good time to have a conversation about how successful is this going to do things like this work? When when, when an industry when something like our says yeah, when a government department or the ABC or an industry says, Okay, we’ll base ourselves here. What is it? What do we need to make that work? Do we have the infrastructure to make it work? And what effect does it have on the area? Is that a good thing? Does it you know, usually mean? Yep, this is great. The play starts to boom. And it works. I mean, there’s a big broad questions, but let’s see if we can crunch them down a little Professor David Levinson joins us. He’s from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney. He’s a very successful career looking at transport and urban infrastructure in lots of ways. He’s the author of something that’s got a dissertation that’s called probably my favorite title, “on whom the toll falls”. Yeah, a brilliant title about road road charging. Really a title of people good road charging and the like. But it’s great to have you been here for a for a conversation. Professor David Levinson. Good afternoon. Thank you for having me. I mean, you’re we’ve been sitting about four years or so now from from Minnesota. Is that right? Yes. And so do you look, I would look at the City of Sydney go. It’s pretty congested, messy, haphazard, thing, but you know that that’s grown like, like Topsy over over a couple of centuries. Now. How do you see it?

    David Levinson 3:35
    Well, I mean, it’s certainly grown fast. But all cities are messy. All cities are congested. A city that’s not congested, is probably dying. And so congestion is one of the prices for urbanity. Right? We can’t expect our infrastructure to grow as fast as our population and places that tried to invest excessively in infrastructure before the people are there are going to have a lot of white elephants, a lot of projects that aren’t aren’t well used.

    James Valentine 4:02
    Right? So. So the notion that you might think, let’s, let’s build all the metro and the schools and the parks and hope people come, that doesn’t quite work.

    David Levinson 4:11
    We don’t have the resources to do that, unless you want to not address the existing problems that are already there. You know, if, if planning were 100% accurate, and we could forecast these things perfectly sure. But that’s not the case. that’s never been the case. And, you know, you, you can’t expect the populations that were here before 1788 to have built in advance of the settlers. It just doesn’t, you know, so we have to think about what are we trying to do and try to establish some sort of concurrency between the development of land and the development of infrastructure. And once you’ve solved all the problems for your existing residents, then if you have some excess resources and want to sort of plan for our future residents We might be moving into currently greenfields undeveloped areas. That might make sense. But we clearly haven’t solved the problems for all of our existing residents. And yet we’re starting to build some infrastructure for people who don’t live here yet.

    James Valentine 5:12
    Right. So is your sense of most cities is that the it’s enough for them to play catch up.

    David Levinson 5:19
    I think most cities need to play catch up with their existing demand. Certainly a fast growing city is always going to be playing catch up. When the growth slows, you might be able to have caught up at at some point. But at that point, your city’s not really growing anymore. And I think of cities in the American Midwest. You’re Detroit’s in Cleveland, well, they probably have enough infrastructure for the population that’s there. Now, they did catch up. And then things change, because that’s what happens, things change, we can’t accurately foresee how the technology is going to change how preferences are going to change how economics are going to change. And we really need to be thinking I mean, a 40 year time horizons fine for a vision. So if you think about the plans currently out there 2056 plans they were started in 2016. That’s fine for vision, but we have to also constantly be updating and and checking those and make the next investment decision aligned with the plan. But we can’t expect to build out a 40 year plan today and just wait for those roads and train lines

    James Valentine 6:22
    fell out. Yeah. And we can’t control that within a city like Sydney, will say things like, there’ll be another million people here in 10 years old and that sort of stuff. And people will say, Well, does that have to happen? Is this also somewhat uncontrollable cities have a great gravitational pull?

    David Levinson 6:37
    Well, I mean, a city is part of a country and the national government will decide immigration levels. And obviously, unexpectedly last year, immigration levels fell. And we see cities in Australia, especially Sydney, are losing population in the past year to regional areas as there’s more out migration and then migration. Now, maybe immigration will reopen. But that’s a policy choice. And assuming that that policy choices made, may be probably those people will come to cities, because that’s where most of the economic activity still is. But there’s no guarantee of that. I mean, we could have much better telecommunications technologies in 10 or 20 years, in which case, the advantages of the city are lower than they are today. Because today, it’s still better to be in person for doing things than to do them virtually.

    James Valentine 7:30
    Yeah, that’s right. And we’ve seen that, you know, 10 years ago, if people said, Yeah, I could probably work from home and use the computer system where you couldn’t really it didn’t really work. But it wasn’t robust enough, it couldn’t carry enough.

    David Levinson 7:41
    Yeah, and I think that the shift has been, I mean, there’s been a push, obviously a force factor, which has required people to work from home more than they otherwise would. But there’s also been the enabling of technology, which is better that we had video conferencing. 15 years ago, I lived in London for a year and supervise my students from in who were in Minneapolis via Skype calls. And it worked beautifully. We had a 24 hour work schedule, and it’s like I would, you know, it’d be late at night there and early in the morning in London, and I have meetings with them. And then you know, they would do things in and they would go to sleep, but I would wake up and I would see what they done. And it was probably more efficient than us being on the same timezone. Because the response was, was taking place during their off time. So we need to think about this dynamic of telecommunications is changing, not just work for for people who work in offices, I mean, it’s also changed how we shop significantly and our social patterns. And you know, how many people do you know on the internet that you’ve never actually met in person? I mean, this is a growing phenomenon. We’ve seen from travel data that people are making fewer social trips than they used to. And our hypothesis is they’re substituting online communications. Yeah, social social media for that guy is that even pre COVID COVID. work at home was rising as well. And virtual shopping was rising as well, but obviously is a huge spike in the in the last little over a year.

    James Valentine 9:08
    At this point. He listened to what Professor David Levinson. He’s from school of civil engineer at the University of Sydney and we just joined the fat a little on some of the planning issues around Sydney and some of the ways in which we’re moving around and some of what what what was coming so this notion of the 30 minutes city is that more than a slogan is that is that a reality?

    David Levinson 9:26
    Well, it depends on what you mean by the 30 minutes city right so the the Greater Sydney Commission has a few definitions in their report, which are not all the same, but that you can reach the the destinations that you need for your daily life within a 30 minute trip by public transport or active transport, walking and biking. But that’s not guaranteed that you will have a job within 30 minutes or in your local region of Sydney. And we see today of course there’s huge tidal flows of people who come from the western parts of Sydney towards the eastern parts of Sydney because There’s more housing in the West and more jobs in the east. And until all of these areas are balanced with terms of jobs and housing, a workers and housing in each of those places are roughly equal. We’re going to continue to have those kinds of tidal flows. And so it won’t be a 30 minute city, if you live in the West and work in the next city over or if you run if you’re if you’re in Bradfield and Western Sydney or near retropolis. And you work in the City of Sydney, that’s going to be well, more than a 30 minute commute by any mode of transport at this point. Yeah. And so

    James Valentine 10:32
    is that answered by you know, we’re making a gesture of moving 300 people to to paramedic, so then those people there, if that’s their job, is there, that’s good? Could the same thing? What is the answer also, then, for other industries and ourselves to move to campbelltown, to move to the hills district,

    David Levinson 10:50
    I think some of this will happen anyway. Because as telecommunications gets better than need to pay the high rents to be in the center, go down, or you see that you own a building in the center, and you can sell it and if you don’t actually need to be there. So there’s some industries for which the technical term economies of agglomeration are really high the benefits of being near other firms within walking distance of other firms. And typically, that’s things like finance and media and advertising. And arguably government. And there’s other industries, manufacturing, for which there’s no real benefit to being adjacent to the shelter. You know, you need the space. And once upon a time, it might have been appropriate when you physically move the goods by hand or horse from one building to another. But now, since it’s by truck, you just need to be nearby. You don’t need to be adjacent to. And so we’ve seen this kind of decentralization for decades. I mean, we’ve essentially been decentralization since 1788, right? I mean, we’ve people landed at a point and then they’ve spread out. employment in the Sydney CBD is about 15% of regional employment, which, you know, is probably not as high as people imagined it is. So what was the percentage of the 15% of total workers in the Greater Sydney region work in the CBD, right? And if you count the neighborhoods adjacent to the CBD, like ultimo or piermont, or Surry Hills, it gets up to about 20%. Right? Yeah.

    James Valentine 12:21
    But when we think of it as the CBD, so there’s all these workers come in. And that’s a fairly low percentage, it’s a low percentage. I

    David Levinson 12:26
    mean, it’s bigger than any other business district. And Paramount is on the order of 2%. Right now, and Western Sydney is going to be pretty close to 0% right now. And this will change over time. But this percentage has also been declining, historically. And so in 1789, it would have been close to 100% of all jobs were in the CBD. Now, it’s it’s much fewer. So this is a long term dynamic and the shock to the system of enabling office workers to work from home full time, but you know, maybe they’ll go back two days a week or three days a week? we don’t we don’t know yet. I mean, it’s still, I mean, we’re a year and a half into this. And public transit, which is basically a measure of how many people are going into the central business district is still below 70% of its pre COVID levels, indicates that it’s probably some kind of permanent effect. And yeah, and I think that’s going to be you know, an issue for people who own real estate and CBD who own businesses in the CBD and so on that, that it’s going to be harder for them in the future to generate as much money as they used

    James Valentine 13:32
    to So will it just happen all the deliberate moves and deliberate infrastructures have to put in nothing if something like the metro out to the to the northwest and that you know, huge industrial park and and business park out there, which major firms have their head office set up? Now? That’s a it’s made to be some, you know, some planners sitting down guy, put the trail on there, build that thing there, you know, that’ll boom, that area, it’s the same source, is that what they never aerotropolis look like? Yeah, I

    David Levinson 13:56
    mean, there has to be there. There are 1000s of deliberate decisions I think is the way you need to think about it and and ABC moving offices from ultimo to Parramatta is, is one of many of these kinds of decisions that will take place over next decades. That will help adjust the regional balance of jobs and and workers and ultimately reduce commute times overall. giving people more freedom. But you know, the question I mean, you physically are working in a building, I physically work in a building, but how often do you actually have to be here? It’s better if we’re in the building, perhaps but is I

    James Valentine 14:34
    very much have to be here between 1230 and 330. In the audition, sure, but I mean, at

    David Levinson 14:38
    the peak of COVID lots of reporters and working at home and makeshift studios and sound quality wasn’t quite as good. And, you know, obviously there were other issues associated with that. It’s better to be interviewed in person than it is to be interviewed over the phone. So these kinds of what actually needs to be done in person versus what can be done remotely is going to be needed. Oceana is going to be steadily changing as telecommunications technology gets better as more deals are built

    James Valentine 15:04
    as more software is made, once your report card on how Sydney’s handling all this in the moment,

    David Levinson 15:09
    Sydney is doing pretty well, overall, I mean, compared to say, how Europe, the United States did over the last, you know, your year and a half? I think we’re being a little bit, perhaps overcautious on some things.

    James Valentine 15:25
    Also, this is with the with COVID. You’ve been with Calvin sort of in general is our is that is that getting that road? that balance? Right, between the long term planning and the short term investment, for example, is that sort of, we’re getting it I think,

    David Levinson 15:37
    I think we make transport decisions based on assuming the land use is fixed. And we make land use decisions based on assuming the transport is fixed. And we’re not really taking these decisions together in the way that we could, I mean, we, we should be planning for access and trying to see, you know, the city is measured by how many things you can reach. And we know that a function of where things are located as well as how fast you can move on a network to get there. We want to be able to we should be planning for that directly. And right now, the planning is is somewhat fractured for that. And we also are there’s sort of a mismatch between who gets the benefits from infrastructure decisions and who’s paying for the infrastructure. If you build a train station, and somebody owns land adjacent to it, they get a huge uplift in value, but they didn’t really pay for the full costs of the benefits they’re receiving. Yeah.

    James Valentine 16:29
    David Levinson great to get some time with you. Thanks so much for coming in. All right. Fight faces. Great. So nice to meet you, Professor David Levinson from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney. We’ll talk about employment and wage growth with with David Taylor in a moment or two ABC business reporter. I asked him if there was a song he wanted to sort of intro and he said I am in this one I want to groove into Michelle Pfeiffer that white. This was a masterpiece. Living in the city got Chuck was saying we got a kiss. So pretty. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Don’t give it to you. Believe images