Accessibility tradeoffs in public transit planning
Spatial accessibility is a critical consideration in the provision of services, both public and private. In public transit planning, accessibility is comprised of access and geographic coverage. Interestingly, these two considerations are somewhat at odds with each other. Access is important because it is the process associated with getting to and departing from the service. Such access is typically perceived of in spatial terms as the physical proximity to transit stops or stations. Additional stops along a route usually mean greater access, because a stop is more likely to be within an acceptable walking/driving standard for a larger number of people. On the other hand, more stops and greater access slow transit travel speeds, thereby decreasing the area of service reachable given a travel time budget. More stops along a route translate to greater service interruption and longer travel times. The faster the travel time, the more desirable the service. Further, if travel times become excessive, then user demand for service will decrease. All of this means that stop spacing along a route is central to accessibility, as it is a tradeoff of access (more stops) and geographic coverage (service efficiency through less stops). This paper details modeling approaches for addressing accessibility concerns in an integrated fashion. Bus-based transit service in Columbus, Ohio will be utilized to illustrate the usefulness of these approaches in transit planning.