Graham Sustainability Institute

Measuring Metropolitan Accessibility and Transportation Sustainability


Jonathan Levine – Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Joe Grengs – Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Lidia Kostyniuk – Transportation Research Institute
Carl Simon – Ford School of Public Policy
Susan Zielinski – Transportation Research Institute

External Partners

University of Maryland

Project Summary

Accessible transportation systems that allow users to meet their transportation needs with available resources are critical for sustainability in our built environments. What do people seek in their transportation system? What does accessibility look like, and how is it measured? An interdisciplinary project team worked to develop and estimate, for the first time, measures of accessibility, enabling meaningful comparison between multiple metropolitan areas of the United States.

The team’s objectives were to inform land-use and transportation planning at the level of metropolitan region, and to explain factors underpinning the differences in the accessibility observed among the selected regions. To this end, the researchers:

  • Developed multiple measures of accessibility for 10-15 mid- to large-sized metropolitan regions – example measures of accessibility included wise land use and design, telecommunication technologies that reduce the need for travel, and seamless, multi-modal transportation options;
  • Explored the connection between accessibility and characteristics of the built environment of the metropolitan regions; and
  • Developed and analyzed several measures of urban form and transportation-provision characteristics to measure accessibility and sustainability outcomes.

The team’s work is continuing to influence discussions about transportation and sustainability in the built environment.

This project received a $145,952 Environmental Sustainability Multidisciplinary Research Team Proposal Grant in 2007.