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Comparing Accessibility Measures: A Denver Case Study

Authors: Joseph Chestnut*, University of Denver, Eric Boschmann, University of Denver
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Denver, Accessibility, Public Transportation, GTFS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 8:15 AM / 9:30 AM
Room: Virtual Track 11
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Accessibility, often defined as the potential to reach destinations, is a critical indicator for public transit systems. Cities, such as Denver, often measure accessibility to jobs as a way to better understand how well public transit systems serve the needs of the population. Past researchers have divided accessibility measures into two distinct categories, normative and positive. Normative indicators of job accessibility are those that measure the number of jobs that can be reached in a given amount of time. Positive indicators of job accessibility are measures of how far people actually travel. Many cities and metropolitan planning organizations, including the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), measure accessibility to jobs with a normative approach, finding out how many jobs can be reached in a given amount of time. However, this framework ignores temporal variability in accessibility. Using Metropolitan Denver as a case study, this paper compares the two approaches to measuring accessibility by their ability to measure temporal variation in accessibility. This study uses General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data as well as census Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) data to measure accessibility at a 12 minute interval throughout the day for both normative and positive approaches to accessibility. These results are then used to compare the measures and inform recommendations for accessibility measures that better measure the temporal variation in travel times in Metropolitan Denver.

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