Study to Tap Accessibility Data to Improve U.S. Transportation System

The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota is moving into the second phase of a multi-year national pooled-fund study to measure access to destinations, such as jobs, education, and health care as a way to guide transportation investments and land-use planning.

[Above photo by the Minnesota DOT.]

“Measuring access to destinations gives us the clearest possible view of how well our transportation systems connect travelers with important destinations,” explained Andrew Owen, the Observatory’s director, in a statement.

Andrew Owen

“It can also reveal how transportation and land use planning work together to set the stage for future growth and sustainability,” he added. “Comprehensive accessibility metrics can help planners make wise, cost-effective transportation system investments that will best serve public needs as they evolve through an increasingly uncertain future.”

The first phase of the National Accessibility Evaluation study – covering 2014 to 2019 – established a new national data source for multimodal job access while identifying national and local trends regarding how easily workers can reach jobs via different transportation modes.

The new second phase of the study, covering 2020 to 2024, will continue providing annual updates of national job access data while expanding new destination types to include education and health care.

In addition, the Observatory said it would provide study partners support with integrating accessibility data and concepts into transportation planning and performance management.

The National Accessibility Evaluation – initiated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and supported by the Federal Highway Administration and 14 additional state departments of transportation – provides this data to help stat DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, transit agencies, and others attain performance goals related to congestion, reliability, and sustainability.

Related articles