Research Reports

Access Across America: Auto 2015

Principal Investigator:

Andrew Owen, Brendan Murphy, David M Levinson

September 2016

Report no. CTS 16-07

Topics: Economics, Environment

Accessibility is the ease of reaching valued destinations. It can be measured across different times of day (accessibility in the morning rush might be lower than the less-congested midday period). It can be measured for each mode (accessibility by walking is usually lower than accessibility by transit, which is usually lower than accessibility by car). There are a variety of ways to measure accessibility, but the number of destinations reachable within a given travel time is the most comprehensible and transparent as well as the most directly comparable across cities. This report focuses on accessibility to jobs by car. Jobs are the most significant nonhome destination, but it is also possible to measure accessibility to other types of destinations. The automobile remains the most widely used mode for commuting trips in the United States. 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.

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