Ranking cities on access to jobs by transit


Columbus, OH has increased its job access via transit by nine percent in the last year but ranks 25th out of 49 cities according to Access Across America: Transit 2017. (Image: Screenshot via Accessibility Observatory)

The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota has put together a report on transit accessibility in 49 of the most populated US metro areas since 2015. The 2017 report released late last month uses the same methodology to look at how many jobs are accessible by transit in a specific time period.

Accessibility is defined in the report as “the ease and feasibility of reaching valued destinations,” or the places people need and want to visit. “Key factors affecting the rankings include the number of jobs available and where they are located, the availability of transit service, and population size, density, and location.” (Accessibility Observatory) The authors used a number of data sets to create a standard measure of access to jobs by transit that can be compared between metropolitan regions and over time.

Jobs were chosen as the destination to measure because they are the most important non-home destinations and employment tends to drive transit ridership, for better or worse. While about 16 percent of all trips (across all modes) are for work, 49 percent of transit trips are work trips.

The cities most accessible by transit according to the report are those you might imagine, with New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Boston taking the top five spots. However, comparing this year’s data with last year’s allowed researchers to see which cities improved their accessibility standings with better transit and/or increased housing and employment development. Kansas City, Charlotte, Austin, Columbus, and San Francisco had the highest growth in access to jobs by transit from last year’s report (though they still rank relatively low in overall access, excepting San Francisco).

San Francisco has both the second highest job accessibility by transit and the fifth largest increase in job accessibility by transit over the past year.

The full report is worth the time and should be read to understand what affects access in a number of different contexts. The writers stress that not all jobs are the same and land use decision making and the cost/benefit in access decisions should be considered.

For more on how employment and development generally are important when considering access by transit, the TODresources library makes available a number of texts on the subject of employment and TOD including Destinations Matter: Building Transit Success and TCRP 167: Making Effective Fixed Guideway Investments.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • Experts say any transit project will bring development in Tampa, FL (Tampa Bay Online)
  • Plans for light rail in Durham, NC could bring 400 apartments (and parking garages) on surface parking lots (The Herald-Sun)
  • Mixed-use boom in Albuquerque, NM (Albuquerque Journal)
  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) releases three joint development opportunities (VTA)