Kaid Benfield Archive


New mapping vividly illustrates the effect of transit on automobile dependence

Kaid Benfield

Posted June 12, 2009 at 1:37PM

, , , , , ,

The following maps are the product of research done in Melbourne, Australia, on patterns of car ownership.  What they suggest is that transit works:  the closer one is to a rail transit line, the less need there is for a car.  The farther away, the greater the need for multiple cars.  Basically, the purple areas indicate where 50% or more of the households own, respectively, none, one, two, or three cars:

     Melbourne's rail lines and patterns of car ownership (by: Phin, Transport Textbook)

The research, published on the blog Transport Textbook, shows that households owning no cars or only one car are disproportionately located along the rail lines.  Households owning two or (especially) three cars are located away from the rail lines and in outlying areas.

The article also includes maps showing the location of Melbourne residents who commute to work on public transit.  From the author, Phin:

"There's a clear pattern of [households] with fewer cars clustering around the rail lines, and I'd say that in general, fewer cars equates to more public transport use. These figures are going to be influenced by average occupancies per dwelling and overall density. Pages 64-65 of the ABS report [linked on the original blog] shows the percentage of the population living alone, which is clustered around rail lines in some areas, but the connection does not appear to be incredibly strong. Population density (pages 12-13 of the ABS report) does not seem to be correlated with the rail corridors at all.

"To my mind, the data shown above suggests that Melburnians do make their transport decisions on the basis of the available options. The obvious issue with my assessment is the selection bias problem. It could well be argued those that want to use PT will choose to live close to rail and tram lines, and that those who prefer to drive won't care if they live near PT. I don't find that argument very convincing, but in all fairness I have to admit that the data above can't rule it out."

Phin also contends that rail has a larger influence on these things than does bus transit, and there is some very interesting discussion in the comments on his post.