The Walk Score web site has a neat feature called a Transit Time Map that shows where one can travel in 15, 30, and 45 minutes on transit. The user selects his or her starting location and departure time, and the system draws a map showing where you can go on transit within 15, 30, or 45 minutes.
The maps are currently only available for San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and DC, so I decided to make a 30-minute map for COTA. The map below shows how far you can travel by a combination of transit and walking when leaving High & Broad at 5:00 PM. Local routes are shown in blue and areas covered by express routes but not local routes are red. I have labeled the map with the route numbers that would take a rider to that location on the map. Click on the map for a larger version, or here to open a new window with the Google maps version.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how to make the map dynamic and interactive like WalkScore does, but I still think making maps like this could be useful for both riders and transit planners.
Riders can see what is accessible from downtown in a given time period. This could help choose places to live and work.
Transit planners can use it to set goals. Let’s say we want 50% of the region’s population to be within 30 minutes of downtown. What do we need to do to achieve that? Can we speed up service anywhere? Can we add new express service? Is there anywhere a new pedestrian connection could open up access to an existing route?
Mobility is important. If transit wants to compete with automobiles and gain significant mode share, it needs to move people around the region quickly. This is especially true in a city like Columbus where congestion isn’t that bad and parking isn’t that expensive. This is one way to measure mobility that I think could be a very useful planning tool.