Research Projects

Stop the Video

Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2017 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

Examining the Geography of Opportunity through a New Public Transit Opportunity Index

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-17-09
Funding source: US DOT
Contract number: 69A3551747109
Funding amount: $99,983
Performance period: 1/1/2018 to 12/31/2019

Project description

The project introduces a new index of geographic opportunity that improves upon existing measures to analyze the spatial mismatch between job growth and populations in urban settings. Past measures of job accessibility have relied on measures of linear distance between populations and job, actual commute times for those working, or much simpler regional approaches. These past measures suffer from combinations of measurement error and endogeneity due to the fact that linear distance is most relevant if someone has a car and commute times derived from a working population subsumes a set of job market and residential choices for this population. Past measures are most problematic for the most disadvantaged populations that are unlikely to have a car. The new gravity model focus on travel time in public transportation using Generalized Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data. We compare this measure of job accessibility to measures of auto and walking accessibility in 9 large metropolitan areas to determine the association between job accessibility and employment outcomes at the Census tract level. We find that labor force participation is consistently higher in places with greater transit accessibility between 15-45 minutes away. In contrast, accessibility by automobiles is most consistently associated with jobs that can be reached within 15 minutes.

Link to dataset


Gary Painter
Professor, Sol Price School of Public Policy
635 W. Downey Way, VPD 207
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3331
United States
[email protected]


Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]