MAP: Here's Where All Of Austin's 'Transit Deserts' Are

Mar 5, 2018

Researchers from UT Austin's Urban Information Lab have created an interactive map that overlays research on so-called transit deserts to pinpoint which Austin neighborhoods have the least access to public transportation compared to demand.

Junfeng Jiao, lead researcher on the project, says the calculus is more than simply measuring the distance between your front door and a bus stop.

Demand is measured by a variety of factors – likelihood of car-ownership, how dependent a household may be on a car, distance from public transportation and socioeconomic data. The supply is mapped out using sidewalk, bike lane and land-use data, along with public transit data available from Google. 

Neighborhoods in roughly 50 cities were broken down into three categories:

  • Transit deserts (supply is low, demand is high)
  • Properly served areas (supply and demand are roughly equal) 
  • Transit oases (supply is high, demand is low).

Austin's transit deserts are relatively few and far between, Jiao says. More dense areas like West Campus, the Domain and South Congress are categorized as transit deserts, though.

"So, basically, the high-density definitely will increase the demand in the neighborhood," Jiao says. "Take, for example, West Campus. We have a lot of student population who are definitely transit-dependent ... and do not own – or have a limited ownership – of a car."