Taubman College

Research, Outreach, and Funding / The Metropolitan Accessibility Index

Transportation policy has long been evaluated in mobility terms, including measures of highway congestion or level of service. Yet mobility is not a goal in and of itself, but rather means to reach one's destinations--a way of increasing one's accessibility. Other means of increasing accessibility include proximity--being near to what we need--and remote electronic connectivity via electronic means including phone, fax, or Internet. If accessibility is the ultimate goal of transportation policy, our evaluation tools, or "scorecard" should be based on that concept, rather than movement alone. This project, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, and the Michigan Center for Advancing Safe Transportation throughout the Lifespan, is developing accessibility measures to be compared between 30 of the largest metropolitan regions of the United States. We are interested in the kind of metropolitan form and transportation systems that lead to varying levels of accessibility in different regions, and to variations in the distribution of accessibility between areas and demographic groups. The project aims to make accessibility--both the concept and its indicators--central to the way in which transportation policy is evaluated and practiced nationwide.