Now that MTA has made its GTFS and GTFS-RT feeds available, any person can access the transit route data needed to analyze access. Additionally, many GIS layers for destinations are available, such as the ones utilized by the Transportation Alliance
Though MTA and MDP appeared to conduct a fairly robust analysis of both population and destinations along the frequent transit network, their findings rely on numerous assumptions and data inputs. Selection of data and assumptions are choices about which reasonable people can disagree, so disclosing them is essential to transparency.
Example: MTA's calculations of access
When the Transportation Alliance conducted its own analysis of BaltimoreLink using the same MTA data, it was unable to reproduce MTA’s results. The Transportation Alliance’s report, “Will We Be Better Off?” found that across most measures of access, BaltimoreLINK performed about the same or slightly worse than the old bus system.
MTA's reporting, exemplified by the slides above, was laudable because it moved beyond simply looking at jobs access to consider a basket of destinations and amenities critical to quality of life: hospitals, schools, pharmacies, supermarkets, libraries.
A Commitment to Regular Updates
MTA published its conclusions about access under the BaltimoreLINK system after these findings were requested by advocates and stakeholders, including the Transportation Alliance. However, MTA has not committed to measuring access on an ongoing or regular basis. MTA’s Office of Performance Management reports quarterly data only on three metrics: ridership, farebox recovery, and on-time performance. Furthermore, where access is concerned, the sky is the limit in terms of the number and specificity of access metrics that can be developed. For example, AllTransit has developed at least 29 metrics across six categories of indicators that all measure some aspect of access. MTA should use rider and stakeholder input to continue to develop new ways of analyzing access facilitated by public transportation in its service area.