Conveyal offers consulting services to transportation planners using Transport Analyst, our purpose-built, open-source tool for rapid and rigorous transportation analysis. Analyst performs evaluations of the impact of current and future transport systems on the ability of people to reach their destinations. It takes into account both transport and land use.
Its core focus is accessibility, a measure of what things people can reach, not just how far or fast they can travel. For example, you might be interested in the number of jobs within a certain travel time of each person in the region. This means Analyst can be applied to evaluating changes in land use as well as changes in the transport system. This metric is better aligned with personal experience; people care about what the transport system affords them access to, not just how far they can travel.
Analyst is geared toward comparing multiple future transport scenarios, as well as current conditions. We provide tools to rapidly and graphically prototype transport scenarios, and the accessibility impacts of those scenarios can be easily analyzed and compared. The current transport system can be imported from standard datasets, including General Transit Feed Specification and OpenStreetMap.
Public Outreach and Consultation
Analyst can generate web sites designed for public outreach and consultation, allowing users to enter an address and see how their access to the city will change as the result of a scenario, as well as any impacts to trips they currently make. It can also export analysis results to standard GIS formats, allowing the creation of publication-quality maps for inclusion in reports and presentations.
Analyst works with very high-resolution datasets, in contrast to the Traffic Analysis Zones typically used in transport modeling. We generally work with either city block level data or very high resolution regular grids of demographic data. If such data are not available, they can be disaggregated from lower resolution data through combination with other datasets. Where available, we use the complete timetable of the transit system (not just the speeds and headways of each route). When a timetable is not available, Analyst uses headways to generate many possible timetables in a Monte Carlo simulation and compute an average accessibility.
Analyst also accurately accounts for all of the components of trip time, including walking to and waiting for public transit vehicles. This is done by looking at all possible departure times at a particular time of day (for instance, a 7–9 am peak commute), and combining these to create outputs that take into account waiting time and variance in travel and wait time over the day.
Analyst handles many different modes of transport, including public transport, walking and cycling. Where traffic speed data are available (either from sensor networks or traffic models), driving can be incorporated as well. These modes can be combined within a single trip to evaluate the effects of cycling or driving to transit. Bike share/cycle hire and park-and-ride systems can be incorporated as well.
Analyst is ideally suited for performing equity and impact analyses for different demographic groups. Because of the fine spatial resolution at which Analyst works, it can estimate the impact of a scenario on each member of a demographic group directly, without having to assume any spatial distribution. It works equally well for groups that are concentrated in particular areas and groups that are spread across a region.
Through the use of cluster computing and highly optimized algorithms, Analyst can move from sketching a conceptual scenario to viewing the results in mere minutes, fast enough to evaluate changes as they are proposed in meetings or brainstorming sessions. It becomes a crucial part of the analyst’s toolbox, allowing instant feedback throughout the planning process.
Open Data and Open Source
Analyst imports data from multiple open formats. Transit network and schedule data come from the open General Transit Feed Specification format. Data from many public transit operators are available in this format. Street network data come from OpenStreetMap. Demographic and land-use data generally come from a national census, and are reformatted as Shapefiles or raster data before import.
All of the components of Analyst are open source and licensed under the permissive Apache 2 license. This promotes re-use and adaptation of the software, and also allows anyone interested to examine and understand the algorithms used in these analyses.
Get in Touch
We provide consulting support for a broad array of land use and transportation projects. We’d love to hear from you.