Transit Accessibility Measurement Considering Behavioral Adaptations to Reliability

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, operations - reliability, planning - service improvement, ridership - behaviour


Transit accessibility, travel time reliability, real-time vehicle location


Accessibility measures are necessary for evaluating the benefits of proposed transportation improvements. However, they often do not account for travel time unreliability, but instead incorporate deterministic and time-invariant travel times. This approach risks mischaracterizing the accessibility experienced by travelers. In this paper, we review recent literature on accessibility and travel time reliability with a focus on transit and introduce an approach to joint accessibility-reliability measurement that relies on a behavioral perspective. Using this behavioral perspective, we propose that existing accessibility measures be implemented using travelers’ total travel time budget as a measure of travel time, and that varying departure time strategies depending on service characteristics be considered. The total travel time budget can reasonably be quantified with a high percentile of the total travel time distribution. However, we note that different percentiles may be more appropriate for different traveler types, as these percentiles correspond to varying tolerances for late arrivals. This behavioral perspective can be operationalized with commonly used accessibility measures, such as the cumulative opportunity measure, and with real-time vehicle location data. We include a demonstration of the potential changes in accessibility estimates when accounting for travel time unreliability, with a simplified case study of a transit route in San Francisco. The results show a considerable reduction of the number of opportunities available to travelers when the calculation is based on the latter—between 5.9% and 37.9% less, depending on various factors. Such differences have the potential to significantly affect the accessibility benefits of transit capital investments.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.