Measuring Accessibility to Destinations: National trends, local application 


Date: Thursday, October 12th, 2023


Accessibility, or Access to Opportunity, is a measure of how people connect through transportation to the destinations they value. The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies has developed, produced, and reported on job accessibility metrics at a national scale for nearly a decade. Most recently, these data are being used to understand the feedbacks of travel behavior change during COVID-19, and extended to include different destination types that capture the needs of travelers. In this seminar Andrew Owen and Saumya Jain present recent findings from the long-running national study and showcase a new application of accessibility metrics in the context of the Appalachian region.


Andrew Owen is the lead researcher at the Accessibility Observatory and a research fellow with the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota. Andrew’s work focuses on building and applying systems for collecting, calculating, analyzing, and communicating data describing transportation systems. At the Accessibility Observatory, he leads the development and maintenance of tools to calculate nationwide, multimodal accessibility to a variety of destination types. Andrew holds master’s degrees in civil engineering and urban and regional planning, and he joined the field of transportation research following a career in computer science and network security. His MS thesis work focused on accessibility evaluation for public transit systems. 

Saumya Jain is a researcher for the Accessibility Observatory at the Center for Transportation Studies. In this role, she works with geospatial and data analytics tools to address transportation access and equity concerns in decision-making, closely working with state departments of transportation and local transportation agencies. She also supports business development at the Observatory through project management, stakeholder partnership building, and grant writing. Saumya holds a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before she joined CTS in January 2022, she worked at UW Madison's State Smart Transportation Initiative as a transportation planning and policy researcher. She also worked for a year at a transportation engineering consultancy in St. Louis, MO, before moving to applied transportation research and multimodal accessibility. She currently serves on the board of Our Streets Minneapolis and lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two cats.