Virginia Transit Equity and Modernization Study: Access2Opportunity Analysis
DPRT strives to create a more equitable and modern transit system. An assessment of current transit conditions revealed equity gaps in the opportunities accessible by public transit. These results validated the transit equity concerns of citizens and amplified the need for a more equitable transit system.
The Access2Opportunity tool quantified the potential access riders have to opportunities relative to other areas around the Commonwealth. By assigning Access2Opportunity scores to each geographic area, DRPT identified specific transit gaps and how to prioritize projects to create more opportunity for those less served.
DRPT used a data-driven approach to develop an action plan for the advancement of a modern, more equitable transit system.
People who are dependent on public transit have less access to opportunity when compared to people who drive a private vehicle.
In 2021, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a resolution for DPRT to assess the current conditions of their transportation system and identify opportunities to build a modern, more equitable transit system. DPRT’s assessment uncovered significant equity gaps in the system’s fixed-route transit destinations. It became clear that the residents who relied on transit for everyday passage to locations such as their work, basic healthcare facilities, and food and drug stores, had less access, or “opportunity,” than people who owned a private vehicle – especially in rural and lower income areas.
Every day, Virginia residents face barriers in their transit network that they must endure to meet their basic needs. In some areas of the state, bus stops are too sparce, so there is not an adequate transit network to get them to their intended destination. In areas with a higher-quality network, there still is not equal access to their employment centers and destinations. What do you do when your public transit system fails to provide access to critical destinations such as hospitals, grocery stores, and childcare? You use innovative technologies to inform systemic changes to the transportation system that meet the needs of all residents.
Looking to identify equity gaps in the transit system, DRPT used Access2Opportunity to leverage open-source data and quantify the difference in opportunity between public transit and private automobiles.
They developed a scoring system based on the average number of employment centers and destinations accessible within 30-, 45-, and 60-minute routes. To visualize the inconsistencies, the collected data helped illustrate the proportion of destinations accessible by transit as compared to by vehicle in the same time interval (Figure X).
Locations where access to opportunities are similar between transit and auto are illustrated in dark purple, while locations where public transit is less accessible to opportunities than auto are shown in lighter purple. This analysis approach provided DPRT with a new way to quantify inequality in the level of transit access across the state.
DPRT can improve transit infrastructure to provide greater access for riders to reach their needed destinations, breaking down the barriers that residents have faced with public transit.
Over the last decade, The Commonwealth of Virginia’s population has grown more than 8% and is projected to grow another 14% before 2040. As the state continues to grow and the population becomes more diverse, the needs of the transit system grow with it. Through a better understanding of The Commonwealth residents’ needs within each geographical area, DPRT can make informed decisions for advancement in the creation of a more equitable and modern transit network for all.