High-speed rail in the United States: accessibility potential and spatial equity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hyojin Kim (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Selima Sultana

Abstract: There is renewed interest in developing high-speed intercity passenger rail (HSIPR) in the United States, revitalizing a transport mode that has long since lost most intercity travelers to competing modes of transportation such as automobile and airplane. For the construction of an HSIPR network to be successful, it is important to understand the locational benefits and disparities associated with this proposed network. This dissertation examines the potential impact of HSIPR in the United States using accessibility and equity measures at both the national and local scales with three broad goals: (1) project the impact of HSIPR in the United States using location-based accessibility measures at a national scale, (2) evaluate the locational effect of both the current railway upgrade plans and the full HSIPR plan along the southeast corridor of the United States, and (3) assess the spatial patterns of multimodal accessibility at the census-tract level via different intercity travel modes, using a social-equity perspective in the case of seven metropolitan statistical areas along the Southeast HSR corridor of North Carolina. Unlike most past research, accessibility to HSIPR is measured using a multimodal transportation network in ArcGIS through a combination of road, railway, and air travel, considering access/egress time to/from train stations or airports as well as waiting and transfer times. Overall, the findings of this dissertation suggest that HSIPR will significantly lead to nationwide and local accessibility gains, and it will contribute to lessening the spatial disparity of accessibility with intercity travel both from the perspectives of personal travel and economic development. While the highest travel-time accessibility gains will go to the central and eastern United States, the largest economic-potential accessibility gain is expected in the cities along the northeast rail corridor. The faster HSIPR service will compete with air mode by 34.3% more than current, specifically in the areas that are reachable within five hours by train. At the regional scale, there will be overall accessibility gains in the Southeast corridor from the upgraded speed of HSIPR, with more benefits concentrated in cities where the trains will stop, such as Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte in North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina. However, a tract-level accessibility analysis reveals that the accessibility gains will be concentrated only in specific parts of a city, with the highest concentration found near rail station areas of Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia. It is expected that cities along the Southeast corridor will experience improved spatial equity, but the accessibility gap between cities with and cities off the HSIPR system remains. This suggests that upgrading regional intrastate transportation will be necessary to more equally distribute the accessibility benefits from HSR cities to non-HSR cities. Most census tracts in the Southeast will gain spatial equity, but less-accessible areas will receive greater benefits. While both the high- and low-income groups show better accessibility equity from all modes of transportation after completion of HSIPR in the Southeast region, the middle-income group will have less-accessibility equity. This may be a result of the scattered residential locations of the middle-income group compared to the centrally located populations of the high and low-income groups.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Accessibility, Transportation equity, High-speed rail, Multi-modal accessibility, United States, Southeast high-speed rail, GIS, Network Analysis
High speed trains $z United States
Geographic information systems $z United States
Local transit accessibility $z Southern States

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