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Assess Access to Public Transit: A GIS Recipe

This post is a short recipe for a longer lesson that you can complete on the Learn ArcGIS website. You’re in the right place if you:

Full lesson: Assess Access to Public Transit. If you are unclear about anything in this recipe, consult the lesson.

Ingredients:

Process:

Map existing bus service

1. Use the GTFS Stops to Features tool to convert a stops.txt file (from a GTFS dataset) to a feature class.

2. On the Analysis tab of the ribbon, click Network Analysis and confirm that the active Network Data Source is set to the one you want to use.

Network Data Source in the Network Analyst menu

3. On the same Network Analysis menu, click Service Area. Now you have access to a Service Area tab on the ribbon.

4. From the ribbon, Run a service area analysis with the following parameters:

5. Export your new polygons to a new feature class.

Bus stop service area on the map

Your map shows which parts of the city are within a 10-minute walk of an existing bus stop.

Assess the map for future bus stops

1. Add the USA Block Groups layer from Living Atlas, or an equivalent. If necessary, filter it to cover only your study area.

2. Use the Enrich tool to add variables to your block group features. In the United States, try the following variables:

Your new enriched layer can help you find where people live in your city with the most need for bus service.

3. Make three copies of the enriched layer and symbolize each one with a solid color and no outline.

4. In the Symbology pane, use Vary symbology by attribute to vary the transparency of each layer by one of the enriched fields, normalized (divided) by an area field.

Vary symbology by attribute transparency

The colors blend on the map so that areas of highest need are brighter.

Contents pane and map with transparent layers

5. On the ribbon, on the Appearance tab, mask the three enriched layers with the bus service area polygons.

Bus Service Areas checked in the Masking menu on the ribbon

Those parts of the city that already have access to public transit are erased from the map, allowing you to visually assess neighborhoods that might benefit from a new transit line.

Finished map with two areas circled

6. Consider adding more demographic variables. So far, you’ve mapped where people live but ignored where they work, shop, and go to school. To better map the need for bus service, you can also include variables like daytime population, total employees, and total retail sales.

7. Consider performing a more rigorous suitability analysis to help you select areas by weighing your criteria and quantifying your results.

 

 

About the author

Heather is a cartographer and artist who mixes both practices to express and understand landscapes. She works as a product engineer at Esri, where she writes and edits lessons for the Learn ArcGIS website. View more of her work at www.heathergabrielsmith.ca

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