Currently, in partnership with the World Bank, we have an open-source software platform for measuring accessibility, the Land-Use and Transport Accessibility Tool, which we are making available to government officials. This tool leverages the power of the OpenTripPlanner engine and open standardized data to model block-level accessibility. The added value of the tool (free and user friendly) is its ability to easily calculate the accessibility of various opportunities and transportation scenarios. Diego will do a demo providing examples on how Accessibility analysis can be used to evaluate the baseline access to employment using public transport, compare different transport scenarios and projects and land use patterns among others. Most urban transport projects focus on improving the ability of citizens to move freely within a city. Typically, that has been measured by the share of the population living within, say, 0.5 kilometer of a transit stop, the maximum travel distance per unit of time, or the amount of transportation infrastructure in a city. Using such “proximity” measures to monitor urban mobility has led to congested highway networks and public transit systems that have failed to bring jobs and services within the practical reach of residents—especially the poor. Proximity-based measures represent indirect attempts to capture the real objective of transit systems: the accessibility of opportunities. New technologies and richer databases now make accessibility—the number of jobs, health facilities, schools, and other essential services that are available without a car in, say, 30–75 minutes—a practical criterion for judging the state of mobility and for designing ways to improve it. This accessibility criterion will be critical for achieving SDG 11, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Accessibility analysis has not always been feasible, but the growing availability of standardized data and computing resources, a transport project’s benefits to the residents of, say, a low-income neighborhood can be assessed with a metric more meaningful than a projection of reduced congestion or transit ridership. An accessibility analysis can show that improving multimodal options may yield far greater benefits than a focus on infrastructure or travel times. Indeed, the accessibility-based indicator has already been applied in numerous cities to calculate citywide accessibility of employment opportunities, schools, hospitals, retail centers, etc. The calculations have revealed areas that, for example, are densely populated yet have poor accessibility to one or many types of service. Similarly, the analysis can identify areas that have good accessibility but have a low population density and thus have potential for greater development.

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Speaker: Diego Canales