Abstract

In the United States public transit utilization has increased significantly in the last decade and is considered a critical component in reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas. Despite public transit's climate change mitigation potential, the use of transit necessitates environmental exposure which may be a health hazard during periods of extreme heat. Transit system design, which includes stop location and schedules, is shown to contribute to environmental exposure resulting from access and waiting. Using Los Angeles Metro (Los Angeles County, CA) and Valley Metro (Maricopa County, AZ) as case studies of systems operating in extreme heat conditions, the research demonstrates how system design contributes to heat exposure times that vary significantly between neighborhoods. Household level access (walking) time estimates are developed using a shortest path algorithm to nearby transit stops. Waiting time estimates for individual transit stops are derived from published transit schedules and on-board survey responses. The results show that transit users from areas with low residential density, limited high capacity roadways and irregular street networks, and not located along direct paths between major activity centers are likely to experience prolonged access and/or waiting times. Public transit may help mitigate climate change impacts but transit proponents, agencies and planners should be cognizant of the impact an uncertain climate future may have on a growing base of transit riders. These insights can allow us to proactively govern and adapt transit systems to protect people from a growing health concern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 18 2016

Fingerprint

heat
vulnerability
Extreme Heat
Hot Temperature
Systems analysis
Climate change
Los Angeles
Climate Change
Environmental Exposure
Appointments and Schedules
Health hazards
climate change
residential density
Gas emissions
Greenhouse gases
Health
health
Climate
Walking
urban area

Keywords

  • Climate
  • Health
  • Heat
  • Transit
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Transportation

Cite this

Transit system design and vulnerability of riders to heat. / Fraser, Andrew; Chester, Mikhail.

In: Journal of Transport and Health, 18.01.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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