How it Works

What does the TransitCenter Equity Dashboard Do?

The TransitCenter Equity Dashboard tracks how well public transit systems in seven US regions serve their riders, and how changes to transit service affect riders over time. The dashboard measures access to opportunity on transit, transit service intensity and transit affordability for people of color, people living in poverty, essential workers, and other people who rely on transit to meet their daily needs. The dashboard also includes metrics of transit reliability and how travel times to key destinations on transit compare to travel times by car. The dashboard shows these data with a series of charts, interactive maps, and downloadable data sets. Data begin in February 2020 and are included for Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco-Oakland, and Washington D.C.

Who made the dashboard?

The TransitCenter Equity Pulse was funded by TransitCenter and was completed in May 2021 by Sustainable Systems Research, LLC, SF2 Enterprises Inc, University of Vermont, and Klumpentown Consulting. The project team includes Jeff Allen, Steven Farber, Alex Karner, Willem Klumpenhouwer, Lisa Li, Rick Liu, Mitchell Robinson, Diego Da Silva, Dana Rowangould and Amer Shalaby. The work was performed in collaboration with Mary Buchanan and Steven Higashide at TransitCenter. Community partners in the seven US regions provided feedback and guidance on the dashboard.

How do I cite this dashboard?

Please reference the following paper:

Klumpenhouwer, W., Allen, J., Li, L., Liu, R., Robinson, M., Da Silva, D. L., Farber, S., Karner, A., Rowangould, D., Shalaby, A., Buchanan, M., & Higashide, S. (2021). A Comprehensive Transit Accessibility and Equity Dashboard.Findings, July.

How is the information shown on the Dashboard calculated?

Below we provide a brief description of the methods used to create the dashboard. A more detailed methodology is available upon request. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

Accessibility represents the ease with which people can reach the places they want and need to go. Accessibility is a function of transportation and land use (where essential destinations are located). Access to opportunities measures, which represent the ease of reaching a specific type of destination, are a commonly used measure of accessibility. The dashboard evaluates access to opportunity on public transit with several measures, including number of jobs, low-wage jobs, or amount of park space accessible in a set amount of time. The dashboard also shows access to opportunity in terms of the travel times to nearby grocery stores, hospitals, urgent care facilities, pharmacies, and colleges or universities.

Measures of public transit accessibility can capture many characteristics of transit systems that affect people’s ability to reach their destinations, including the location of stops and routes, what kinds of destinations can be reached on those routes, the speed or directness of routes, the frequency of service, fares, and time spent walking to and from a transit stop or transferring between routes. We estimate transit and car accessibility by calculating transit and car travel times to the locations of destinations across each region. For some measures, we also estimate accessibility using a fare constraint to represent lower-cost transit travel.

Transit travel times between all Census block groups in each region are estimated using the OpenTripPlanner (OTP) tool. OTP uses a detailed pedestrian network from OpenStreetMap (OSM). Transit schedules are represented by General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data for transit operators in each region. These GTFS data are obtained from TransitLand and OpenMobilityData. Transit travel times are capped at 90 minutes and include all parts of a door-to-door trip, including time walking to and from a transit stop, time spent waiting for a transit vehicle, time spent traveling in vehicle(s), and time spent transferring between transit vehicles. Areas where no destination can be reached within 90 minutes are displayed on maps in the "least access" quantile. Car travel times are estimated using ArcGIS Network Analyst (ArcGIS Pro 2.7) and the ESRI Streetmap Premium network based on HERE data to represent typical road traffic conditions.

Transit fares are estimated using a simplified heuristic. We created a fare calculator that uses OTP to generate detailed transit itineraries for the shortest trip between all Census tracts in each region. The fare calculator estimates the cost of each itinerary based on a database of manually calibrated rules representing fare information from each transit operator’s website. These fare rules include the cost of transfers within and between agencies. In a small number of cases these rules are simplified. We assume that transit travelers pay for a one-way ride with an intermediate purchase choice that is less expensive than cash, such as a ticket or card where available. We assume cash fares where no intermediate choice is available. We do not include discounted fares like student or senior fares or options that require a large up-front purchase like monthly or weekly passes. The fare constraints used in each region are determined based on the cost of living and base transit fares. They are set at $4 for a one-way trip in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia and $5 in Boston, the District of Columbia, New York City, and San Francisco-Oakland. The fastest transit time between each pair of tracts in the region and its accompanying fare is then estimated for two different transit networks: one that includes only low-cost modes (local bus plus comparable-cost modes) and the other including all modes (all available public transit options). When determining the travel time between two locations, we select the shortest of the two travel times that meets the fare constraint (if applicable). A full list of transit agencies and premium modes (which are excluded from the low-cost travel network) is included below.

We consider five categories of destinations. Destinations and data sources include:

We combine travel times (fare-constrained transit, unconstrained transit, and car) and the location of these destinations to estimate how many destinations can be reached in a certain amount of time, e.g. jobs reachable within 30 minutes. These types of accessibility measures are estimated for destination types that are widely available, including jobs, low-wage jobs, and parks and greenspace. The dashboard’s data download also includes a similar gravity-based accessibility measure that uses a continuous decay function to weight opportunities based on how quickly they can be reached.

We also estimate travel times reach a certain number of opportunities, e.g. travel time in minutes to one hospital or to three hospitals. The travel time to one hospital reflects the minimum possible time to reach a hospital. The travel time to three hospitals measures travel time to the third-closest hospital, capturing people’s need for options, where the closest hospital may not match someone’s needs in terms of the cost or type of care provided. These types of measures are used for healthcare facilities, grocery stores and supermarkets, and higher education.

Transit service intensity represents how often an area is served by transit. Using transit schedules from GTFS feeds we estimate the total number of unique transit trips that visit stops within 200 meters of a block group, and estimate the average number of unique trips per hour over a 24-hour period.

Transit reliability measures evaluate the on-time performance of transit vehicles in a particular transit system, calculated as the fraction of all vehicles in that system that are between 1 minute early and 5 minutes late. The dashboard shows on-time performance for a select number of transit operators that provide direct reports about the status of delay of every vehicle (e.g., minutes early or late for the next stop) in their real-time GTFS feeds. Where a transit operator does not provide on-time performance we do not report reliability. Available GTFS-realtime and NextBus transit feeds across all regions are sampled on approximately an hourly basis (with exact times randomly picked from each hour). Transit reliability is shown on the Story page. Population and block-group level measures of transit reliability are not available.

Equity indicators shown on the Story pages summarize population-weighted access and transit service intensity for groups of people, weighting these outcomes based on where group members live across the entire region (including areas in the MSA, economic region, urban core, and equity neighborhoods). Data on race and ethnicity, income level, and parent-child status are obtained from the 2018 five-year American Community Survey data from the US Census. Essential workers are defined based on residential location of workers listed in the US Census LEHD data. The residential locations of each of these populations is also available as a demographic overlay in the map pages. The Story page also evaluates outcomes for people with specific travel constraints, including people traveling with limited fares or people traveling on weeknights.

We also evaluate transit accessibility measures relative to car access to provide an indication of equity of access for different mode users.

Where can I find the data and source code?

Population-weighted summaries, populations by block group, dot overlays, and reliability data (where available) can be found on the data page for a specific region.

Due to the size of the data, bulk block-group level scores across all destinations and measures are not available for direct download. You can access and download the block-group specific scores for a single destination and measure via the following steps:

  1. Visit the map page for the desired region.
  2. Use the map configuration panel to choose the dataset you would like to download, and update the map.
  3. Click the download tab on the side panel and choose whether to download as CSV or as a spatial dataset.

If you would like to request a larger portion of the dataset for research or analysis, please email [email protected]

In addition the source code used to generate the measures and the web dashboard are publicly available:

Reading Downloaded Transit Scores

Access and transit scores will have a column (block_group) for the GEOID of each block group in the region, be named using a key representing each opportunity and measure combination. For all scores except for transit service, names are in the form:

[opportunity]_[parameter]_[period]_[autoFlag]_[fareFlag]

Where period is one of AM (weekday morning peak), PM (weekday evening), or WE (weekend). Transit service names are in the form los_trips_[period], where period is one of WKD for a weekday measure and SAT for a Saturday measure. The table below provides a reference for the other various options in the score keys.

Opportunity Measure Type Unit Code Parameter 1 Parameter 2 Parameter 3 Auto Ratio Fare Capped
Description Code Description Code Description Code Yes No Yes No
Jobs Cumulative Jobs C000_P 30 min c30 45 minutes c45 60 minutes c60 autoY autoN fareY fareN
Low-Income Jobs Cumulative Jobs CE01_P 30 min c30 45 minutes c45 60 minutes c60 autoY autoN fareY fareN
Groceries Travel Time Minutes snap_M Closest t1 3rd Closest t3 - autoY autoN - fareN
Hospitals Travel Time Minutes hospitals_M Closest t1 3rd Closest t3 - autoY autoN - fareN
Urgent Care Travel Time Minutes urgentcare_M Closest t1 3rd Closest t3 - autoY autoN - fareN
Pharmacies Travel Time Minutes pharmacies_M Closest t1 3rd Closest t3 - autoY autoN - fareN
Parks Cumulative Acres parks_P 15 minutes c15 30 minutes c30 - autoY autoN fareY fareN
Post-Secondary Institutions Travel Time Minutes schools_M Closest t1 3rd Closest t3 - autoY autoN - fareN
Transit Service Intensity Average Hourly Trips Trips los_trips Options are WKD for weekday service, SAT for Saturday service.

Note: An additional gravity-based accessibility score is included for access to jobs, both low-income and all. A gravity-based accessibility measure that uses a continuous decay function to weight opportunities based on how quickly they can be reached. These scores are represented with the paramater nexp. These scores are not included in the summary data as they are not used in the story page.

Transit Agencies and Routes Used

New York

Agency Premium Routes
Connecticut Transit Shore Line East All Rail; Bus Routes: SLET
JFK Airtrain Bus Routes: 2877, 2878, 2879
Monroe County Transit Authority None
MTA: MNR Hudson Rail Link None
Nassau Inter-county Express None
NJ Transit All Rail; Bus Routes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
NYC Ferry All Ferry
Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH) None
Southeast Area Transit District None
NYCDOT (Staten Island Ferry) All Ferry
Westchester County Department of Transportation (Bee-Line Bus) Bus: 18013
MTA: Long Island Rail Road Rail Routes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
MTA: Metro-North Railroad Rail Routes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
MTA Bus Routes: BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, BM5, BXM1, BXM10, BXM11, BXM18, BXM2, BXM3, BXM4, BXM6, BXM7, BXM8, BXM9, QM1, QM10, QM11, QM12, QM15, QM16, QM17, QM18, QM2, QM20, QM21, QM24, QM25, QM3, QM31, QM32, QM34, QM35, QM36, QM4, QM40, QM42, QM44, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8, X27, X28, X37, X38, X63, X64, X68
Academy Bus Routes: SIM1, SIM10, SIM11, SIM15, SIM1C, SIM2, SIM22, SIM23, SIM24, SIM25, SIM26, SIM3, SIM30, SIM31, SIM32, SIM33, SIM33C, SIM34, SIM35, SIM3C, SIM4, SIM4C, SIM4X, SIM5, SIM6, SIM7, SIM8, SIM8X, SIM9

Washington D.C.

Agency Premium Routes
Arlington Transit None
Calvert County Public Transportation None
Charles County VanGo None
DASH Bus None
DC Circulator None
DC Streetcar None
Fairfax Connector Bus Routes: 393, 394, 395, 396, 599, 698, 699
Fairfax CUE None
Maryland Transit Administration Rail: MARC
Montgomery County MD Ride On Bus Routes: 6461
OMNIRIDE Bus Routes: 3335, 3336, 3337, 3338, 3339, 3340, 3341, 3346, 3348, 3349, 3350, 3351, 3354, 3355, 3356, 3357, 3358, 3360, 3361, 3365
Prince George's County TheBus None
Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland None
TransIT Services of Frederick County None
Virginia Railway Express All Rail
WMATA Bus Routes: 11Y, 17B, 17G, 17H, 17K, 17L, 17M, 18G, 18H, 18P, 29W, 5A, B30
Prince George's County TheBus None
Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland None
TransIT Services of Frederick County None
Virginia Railway Express All Rail
WMATA All Subway; Bus Routes: 11Y, 17B, 17G, 17H, 17K, 17L, 17M, 18G, 18H, 18P, 29W, 5A, B30

Los Angeles

Agency Premium Routes
Anaheim Resort Transportation None
Airport Valet Express None
Avalon Transit None
Beaumont Transit Bus Routes: 3420, 15730, 16684
Big Blue Bus Bus Routes: 3265
Corona Cruiser None
Culver City Bus None
Duarte Transit None
El Monte Transit None
Foothill Transit Bus Routes: 490-155, 493-155, 495-155, 498-155, 499-155, 699-155, 707-155
Glendale Beeline None
Gold Coast Transit None
Kern Transit Bus Routes: 1161, 1162, 1164, 1166, 1167, 1168, 1173, 1175, 1367, 1368
LA Go Bus None
LADOT Bus Routes: 626, 627, 628, 629, 630, 631, 633, 634, 635, 636, 637, 638, 640
Lawndale Beat None
Long Beach Transit None
Metro - Los Angeles Bus Routes: 442-13135, 460-13135, 487-13135, 489-13135, 501-13135, 550-13135, 577-13135, 910-13135
Metrolink Trains All Rail
Mountain Transit All Cable Tram; Bus Routes: 240, 241, 242, 243
Norwalk Transit System None
OmniTrans None
Orange County Transportation Authority Bus Routes: 206, 211, 213, 701, 721, 794, 53x, 57x, 64x
Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency Bus Routes: 358, 6467
Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority None
Pasadena Transit None
Riverside Transit Agency Bus Routes: 200, 204, 205, 206, 208, 210, 217
Simi Valley Transit None
Spirit Bus None
SunLine Transit Agency Bus Routes: 1294
Thousand Oaks Transit Bus Routes: 5234
Torrance Transit System None
Ventura County Transportation Commission None
Victor Valley Transit Authority Bus Routes: 7106

Philadelphia

Agency Premium Routes
Cecil Transit None
NJ Transit Rail All Rail
SEPTA None
Port Authority Transit Corporation All Rail

San Francisco-Oakland

Agency Premium Routes
AC TRANSIT Bus Routes: F, G, J, L, LA, NL, NX, NX1, NX2, O
Altamont Corridor Express All Rail
Angel Island Tiburon Ferry All Ferry
Blue & Gold Fleet All Ferry
Caltrain All Rail
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority All Rail
City of Palo Alto Shuttle None
Commute.org Shuttles None
County Connection None
Dumbarton Express Consortium Bus Routes: DB, DB1
Emeryville Transportation Management Association (Emery Go-Round) None
Fairfield and Suisun Transit Bus Routes: 11144, 11128
Golden Gate Ferry All Ferry
Golden Gate Transit None
Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority None
Marin County Transit District None
Mission Bay TMA None
Rio Vista Delta Breeze Bus Routes: 29, 31
SamTrans Bus Routes: FCX-184
San Benito County Express None
San Francisco Bay Ferry All Ferry
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Cable Tram Routes: California Street Cable Car, Powell-Hyde Cable Car, Powell-Mason Cable Car
San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) Bus Routes: 150, 152, 163
Santa Cruz Metro Bus Routes: 17-130
SolTrans Bus Routes: 13571, 11098
Sonoma County Airport Express Bus Routes: 12331
Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit None
Stanford Marguerite Shuttle None
Tideline Water Taxi None
Tri Delta Transit None
Union City Transit None
VTA Tram Routes: All; Bus Routes: 101, 102, 103, 104, 121, 168
WestCat (Western Contra Costa) Bus Routes: 2676
Bay Area Rapid Transit All Rail

Chicago

Agency Premium Routes
Chicago Transit Authority None
Metra All Rail
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District All Rail
PACE Bus Routes: 755-317, 850-317, 851-317, 855-317

Boston

Agency Premium Routes
128 Business Council None
Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park All Ferry
Brockton Area Transit Authority None
Cape Ann Transportation Bus Routes: 2846
Coach Company Bus Routes: 12119, 12138, 12143
Lowell Regional Transit Authority None
Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority (including Vineyard Fast Ferry) Bus Routes: 2799, 2803, 2805, 2807
Massport / Logan Express Bus Routes: 11704. 11705, 11706, 11707
MBTA Bus Routes: 170, 325, 326, 351, 352, 354, 426, 428, 434, 450, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 553, 554, 556, 558, 741, 742, 743
Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority Bus Routes: 10735, 10736, 70738
Middle West Regional Transit Authority None
Middlesex 3 TMA None
Montachusett Regional Transit Authority Bus Routes: 3510, 4729
Patriot Party Boats None
Peter Pan Bonanza Division and Peter Pan Bus Lines None
Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (including Plymouth and Brockton Street Railway Co.) None
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority None
Seastreak None
Southeast Area Transit District None
Southeastern Regional Transit Authority None
The Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority None
Worcester Regional Transit Authority None
Yankee Line Bus Routes: All

Photo Credits

Photo credits for banner-style images on the front page in order of appearance: Chicago Transit Authority, Outfront/JCDecaux and Joren. Homepage tile images and individual story page image credits can be found in the table below:

Boston Chicago Los Angeles New York Philadelphia San Francisco-Oakland Washington D.C.
Homepage Tile Kevin Zolkiewicz Benjamin Dziechciowski Frederick Dennstedt Alex Proimos David Wilson Sunny Lam Thomas Hawk
Banner 1 Aimee Custis Phil Beard Dan Reed Rhythmic Diaspora (Flickr user) 7Beachbum (Flickr user) Paul Sullivan Nevermind the End (Flickr user)
Banner 2 Aimee Custis Chicago Office Movers Outfront/JCDecaux Scott Shaw David Wilson Jim Maurer Nevermind the End (Flickr user)
Banner 3 Shinya Suzuki Sawyer Bengston T.H. Rogers Alexander Cromarty Kyle Ortiz SFMTA Thomas Hawk
Banner 4 Kevin Zolkiewicz Joe Sosa Outfront/JCDecaux Around the Horn Elvert Barnes Bernard Spragg C. Watts
Banner 5 Yu-Jen Shih Austin Wehrwein Sharon Hahn Darlin NYC DOT Kyle Ortiz Steve Rhodes Ben Schumin
Banner 6 Shinya Suzuki John W. Iwanski Dan Reed MTA David Wilson Jim Maurer Kyle Anderson, WMATA
Coronavirus Mangopear Creative