About this Data
Walk Score is a proprietary method for measuring walkability developed by a company of the same name. The Transportation Alliance asked Walk Score to calculate for every regional bus stop the walkability of the area around it.
1. Walkscore at Regional Transit Stops. This chart shows the percentage of regional transit stops that meet each of Walkscore's four classificaitons, Walker's Paradise, Very Walkable, Somewhat Walkable, and Car Dependent.
2. Percentage of Very Walkable Transit Stops. This chart shows the percentage of regional transit stops for the top three jurisdictions (250+ transit stops) that are either Very Walkable or Walker's Paradise.
What We Know
Why Walkability is Important
It's often said that all transit users are pedestrians, too. In fact, we are all pedestrians at some point during the day no matter what mode of transportation we use. Walking refers to not just how safe, comfortable, and convenient it is to walk in a particular place, but also to how land use and development patterns contribute to what destinations are easy to reach by foot.
As the area around a single transit stop becomes more walkable, that can mean that the number of destinations accessible by transit increases even if the level of transit service stays the same. Riders are more like to use transit often, use it for more than just a work commute, and to enjoy using transit if transit stops and stations are located in walkable places.
Walk Score at Regional Transit Stops in the MTA System
There are a few competing measures of walkability available, but none is as widely recognized and adopted as "Walk Score". As mentioned above, Walk Score is a proprietary method of measuring walkability of places, and can be calculated for specific places, like transit stops. The Transportation Alliance was able to obtain this data from Walk Score for the over 4000 MTA transit stops in the region, including bus and rail in the core service area, and commuter bus and MARC train in the Greater Baltimore region and throughout Maryland.
What We Need
According to Walk Score, their proprietary methodology includes looking at population density and road metrics like block length or intersection data. However, they closely guard their methodology in order to preserve its economic value.
Walk Score's success shows that it has been useful to many in understanding walkability, and it has even survived academic scrutiny several times for specific applications. It's less clear whether Walk Score can compute a satisfactory representation of less tangible values such as comfort, actual or perceived safety, or even condition of infrastructure (if there are sidewalks, are they in good shape?)
For some metrics we might currently consider important to walkability, there's just no replacement for direct observation or qualitative surveys. In these cases, no data readily exists, except in cases where planners and engineers have been engaged by governmental jurisdictions or other entities to perform observational audits.
Data from Regional/Local Operators
Transportation Alliance was able to obtain walkability data for MTA using the GTFS data that MTA makes available. Ideally, similar data would be able to be analyzed for all of small transit operators in the region, some of whom make similar data readily available to the public and some of whom do not.