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See How Your Town’s Transit Stacks Up to Hundreds of Other Cities

Wired

IN THE WORLD of public transit, data is a valuable thing. And historically, it’s been the purview of public transit agencies. They’re the folks who know where the buses are, and they use their own, often archaic systems—paper schedules mounted on bus shelters, for example—to dole out select info to the public.

In recent years, that dynamic has changed. Cities, states, and countries are embracing the idea of open data, turning all their information over to any company, group, or citizen interested in doing something productive with it. In an era where smartphones are nearly as common as people with hands, government is now the platform, not the product.

When’s your bus actually going to show up? How do you get from the dog park to that new music venue? Want to share your route with friends in real time? Apps with answers abound.

Still, all those data sets, provided by a plethora of public agencies, have been fragmented. If you wanted to know how your transit agency stacks up with the one across the river, or how well served your part of town is compared to your coworkers’, you were signing up for a lot of work. That’s now changed, thanks to a new tool appropriately called “AllTransit.”

The impressively comprehensive online tool was released this week by the nonprofit research institutes Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter. The result of a year spent compiling data from 805 agencies, 543,787 stop locations, and 15,070 routes across the country, the tool provides an unprecedented look into nationwide transit access and equity.

AllTransit promises to assess the quality of transit in your neighborhood—or your congressional district, or your city, or your region, or your state. Plugging any of these into the tool and you get an “AllTransit Performance Score” on a ten-point scale. The score rewards places where transit connects lots of households to lots of jobs, where buses and trains come frequently, and where high shares of commuters use transit to get to work.

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Featured Publication

Stalled Out: How Empty Parking Spaces Diminish Neighborhood Affordability

CNT
March 25, 2016

Stalled Out: How Empty Parking Spaces Diminish Neighborhood Affordability explores the relationship between unused parking and neighborhood affordability. Many cities, including Chicago, mandate the minimum number of parking spaces new developments need to build. As the report points out, however, these minimum requirements don’t always reflect real demand.

For this study, we interviewed multifamily developers in Chicago and went to the parking lots and garages of 40 apartment buildings, both market-rate and subsidized, to see how much parking was being used. Researchers went at 4:00 a.m., when most tenants have parked their cars and are asleep in bed. Consistent with our findings in the San Francisco Bay AreaWashington, D.C.; and King County, Washington, the study found that:

  • The supply of parking exceeds demand. Buildings offered two spots for every three units. According to our analysis, they only used one for every three.
  • As parking supply goes up, much of it sits empty. Apartments with fewer spaces saw a greater percentage of their parking used.
  • Apartment buildings near frequent transit need less parking. Buildings within ten minutes of a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train stop provided one spot for every two units. Even then, one-third of the spots sat empty.

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