Jeff Allen


About     Maps     Research


Here I list and provide links to research papers that I've helped out on or written myself over the past few years or so. Summaries of my research output can also be found on my sporadically updated Google Scholar or ResearchGate pages. For any questions or comments, feel free to email me at jeff.allen@utoronto.ca



2020

Planning transport for social inclusion: An accessibility-activity participation approach - Allen, J. & Farber, S. - Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment


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Abstract - Social equity is increasingly becoming an important objective in transport planning and project evaluation. This paper provides a framework and an empirical investigation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) examining the links between public transit accessibility and the risks of social exclusion, simply understood as the suppressed ability to conduct daily activities at normal levels. Specifically, we use a large-sample travel survey to present a new transport-geography concept termed participation deserts, neighbourhood-level clusters of lower than expected activity participation. We then use multivariate models to estimate where, and for whom, improvements in transit accessibility will effectively increase activity participation and reduce risks of transport-related social exclusion. Our results show that neighbourhoods with high concentrations of low-income and zero-car households located outside of major transit corridor sare the most sensitive to having improvements in accessibility increase daily activity participation rates. We contend that transit investments providing better connections to these neighbourhoods would have the greatest benefit in terms of alleviating existing inequalities and reducing the risks of social exclusion. The ability for transport investments to liberate suppressed activity participation is not currently being predicted or valued in existing transport evaluation methodologies, but there is great potential in doing so in order to capture the social equity benefits associated with increasing transit accessibility.

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Importance of Automobile Mode Share in Understanding the Full Impact of Urban Form on Work-Based Vehicle Distance Traveled - Xi, Y., Allen, J., Miller, E. J., Farber, S., & Keel, R. - Transportation Research Record


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Abstract - Vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) has been widely used in regional planning as a key sustainability performance indicator. Many regional growth plans for reducing work trip VKT have been proposed, with a focus on land use development in employment centers. Despite the potential impact of urban form on the reduction of VKT, the fundamentals of how this takes place remain unclear. This study analyzes the relationship between urban form, VKT, and mode shares by examining office commuting patterns in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) through a structural equation modeling approach. The model supports the substantial impact of urban form on the reduction of VKT; however, it indicates that such an impact is made mostly through shifting modes, rather than directly on reduced travel distances. This model is then used to evaluate critically a regional growth plan for the GTHA, finding that strategies focusing solely on increasing land use densities in employment centers are not likely to reduce regional VKT significantly without also easing commuting auto dependency. Thus, it is recommended that more sustainable travel alternatives for workers in employment centers should be provided to achieve a sufficient reduction in VKT.

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Measuring when Uber behaves as a substitute or supplement to transit: An examination of travel-time differences in Toronto - Young, M., Allen, J. & Farber, S.- Journal of Transport Geography


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Abstract - Policymakers in cities worldwide are trying to determine how ride-hailing services affect the ridership of traditional forms of public transportation. The level of convenience and comfort that these services provide is bound to take riders away from transit, but by operating in areas, or at times, when transit is less frequent, they may also be filling a gap left vacant by transit operations. These contradictory effects reveal why we should not merely categorize all ride-hailing services as a substitute or supplement to transit, and demonstrate the need to examine ride-hailing trips individually. Using data from the 2016 Transportation Tomorrow Survey in Toronto, we investigate the differences in travel-times between observed ride-hailing trips and their fastest transit alternatives. Ordinary least squares and ordered logistic regressions are used to uncover the characteristics that influence travel-time differences. We find that ride-hailing trips contained within the City of Toronto, pursued during peak hours, or for shopping purposes, are more likely to have transit alternatives of similar duration. Also, we find differences in travel-time often to be caused by transfers and lengthy walk- and wait-times for transit. Our results further indicate that 31% of ride-hailing trips in our sample have transit alternatives of similar duration (≤15 minute difference). These are particularly damaging for transit agencies as they compete directly with services that fall within reasonable expectations of transit service levels. We also find that 27% of ride-hailing trips would take at least 30 minutes longer by transit, evidence for significant gap-filling opportunity of ride-hailing services. In light of these findings, we discuss recommendations for ride-hailing taxation structures.

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A measure of competitive access to destinations for comparing across multiple study regions - Allen, J. & Farber, S. - Geographical Analysis


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Abstract - Accessibility is now a common way to measure the benefits provided by transportation-land use systems. Despite its widespread use, few measurement options allow for the comparison of accessibility across multiple urban systems, and most do not adequately control for market competition between demand-side actors and supply-side facilities in localized markets. In this paper we develop a measure of competitive access to destinations that can be used to accurately compare accessibility between regions. This measure stems from spatial interaction modelling and accounts for competition at both the supply and demand sides of analysis, regional differences in transportation networks and travel behaviour, and any imbalance between the size of the population and the number of opportunities. We use this method to compute access to employment for Canada’s eight largest cities to comparatively examine inequalities in accessibility, both within and between cities, and by travel mode.

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2019

Measuring the Local Economic Impacts of Replacing On-Street Parking With Bike Lanes - Arancibia, D., Farber, S., Savan, B., Verlinden, Y., Smith Lea, N., Allen, J. & Vernich, L. - Journal of the American Planning Association


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Abstract - Bike lane projects on retail streets have proved contentious among merchant associations in North America, especially when they reduce on-street parking. A limited but growing number of studies, however, detect neutral to positive consequences for merchants following bike lane implementation. In 2016, the City of Toronto (Canada) removed 136 on-street parking spots and installed a pilot bike lane on a stretch of Bloor Street, a downtown retail corridor. Using a case–control and pre–post design, we surveyed merchants and shoppers to understand the impacts of the bike lanes on economic activities. We find no negative economic impacts associated with the bike lanes: Monthly customer spending and number of customers served by merchants both increased on Bloor Street during the pilot. Our findings are consistent with an improving economic environment at the intervention site. Downtown retail strips may therefore be suited to tolerate bike lanes and even benefit from increased retail activity. Pre and post surveys can provide valuable insights into local economic impacts of streetscape changes affecting merchants along city streets, especially where access to sales data is limited.

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Benchmarking Transport Equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) - Allen, J. & Farber, S. - Transport Findings


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Abstract - We compute a series of benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) that describe the state of transport equity in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area(GTHA). These measures are designed to be simple to interpret, have clear normative interpretations, and be easily replicable in future survey waves or for other regions.

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Book Review: "The Geography of Urban Transportation" - Allen, J. - The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien


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Mapping differences in access to public libraries by travel mode and time of day - Allen, J. - Library & Information Science Research


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Abstract - Public libraries strive to provide everyone in their surrounding communities the ability to access their information and services. However, previous research indicates that the closer someone lives to a library, the more likely they are to visit, while reduced proximity can dissuade or even prevent people from visiting. This study extends upon existing research on spatial access to libraries to detail a methodology for measuring how access can differ temporally, either by time of day or by the day of the week, as well as by available travel mode. This is exemplified in a case study of access to libraries in Regina, Canada, finding that those who are reliant on public transit have substantially less access to public libraries than those with a private car. Results also show that travelling to libraries during the morning, evening, or weekend takes longer, on average, than during weekday afternoons due to reduced opening hours.

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Sizing up transport poverty: a national scale accounting of low-income households suffering from inaccessibility in Canada - Allen, J. & Farber, S. - Transport Policy

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Abstract - Millions of Canadians rely on public transportation to conduct daily activities and participate in the labour force. However, many low-income households are disadvantaged because existing public transit service does not provide them with sufficient access to destinations. Limited transit options, compounded with socioeconomic disadvantage, can result in transport poverty, preventing travel to important destinations, like employment opportunities. Given the growing gentrification of Canadian downtowns and the dispersion of poverty into Canadian suburbs, the time is right for a national accounting of those living in transport poverty, and the development of a national transport and land use strategy for alleviating the risks of accessibility deprivation. Accordingly, in this paper we measure and analyze vertical inequalities in access to employment in Canadian cities in order to estimate how many, where, and to what extent, Canadians are at risk of transport poverty. We make use of open transit network data and cutting edge accessibility measurement methods to generate comparative scores suitable for a national-scale analysis. We find that in aggregate, lower income neighbourhoods tend to have better levels of transit accessibility. But despite this overall positive outlook, there are still nearly one million low-income individuals living in urban areas with low transit accessibility. We summarize our findings by generating descriptive typologies for areas vulnerable to transport poverty which are then used to develop and recommend planning strategies to reduce inequalities.

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2018

Using network segments in the visualization of urban isochrones - Allen, J. - Cartographica

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Abstract - Since the early twentieth century, thematic mapping techniques such as isochrones have been used for visualizing the accessibility and mobility provided by urban transportation networks. These maps typically depict the area accessible from a point within a certain time or distance threshold. This article details a design alternative to conventional isochrones, which links travel times to network edges. Benefits of this technique include highlighting the network structure of transport networks and comparing travel times for different travel scenarios. This article details methods for producing these maps using free and open-source data and software and provides examples of visualizing different accessibility scenarios in Toronto, Canada.

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Association between residential self-selection and non-residential built environment exposures - Howell, N. A., Farber, S., Widener, M. J., Allen, J., & Booth, G. L. - Health & place


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Abstract - Studies employing ‘activity space’ measures of the built environment do not always account for how individuals self-select into different residential and non-residential environments when testing associations with physical activity. To date, no study has examined whether preferences for walkable residential neighborhoods predict exposure to other walkable neighborhoods in non-residential activity spaces. Using a sample of 9783 university students from Toronto, Canada, we assessed how self-reported preferences for a walkable neighborhood predicted their exposure to other walkable, non-residential environments, and further whether these preferences confounded observed walkability-physical activity associations. We found that residential walkability preferences and non-residential walkability were significant associated (β = 0.42, 95% CI: (0.37, 0.47)), and further that these preferences confounded associations between non-residential walkability exposure and time spent walking (reduction in association = 10.5%). These results suggest that self-selection factors affect studies of non-residential built environment exposures.

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How time-use and transportation barriers limit on-campus participation of university students - Allen, J., & Farber, S. - Travel Behaviour and Society

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Abstract - Success in postsecondary education is related to the amount of time spent on campus. The more often students attend class and access on-campus learning resources, the better their grades and the lower their dropout rates. Despite the importance of on-campus participation in student outcomes, some students living in large cities face tremendous transportation and time-use barriers that make it difficult to spend more time on campus. Accordingly, the objective of this paper is to examine the mobility factors that prevent students from attending their campuses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Specifically, we examine student disparities in barriers to participate based on where they live, their mobility options, as well as the time constraints of their daily activity patterns (e.g. part time work). Data is drawn from a 1-day travel survey of students across seven university campuses in the GTA. This is augmented with computationally derived transport accessibility factors. Multivariate logistic regression models are then employed to uncover the mobility-related determinants for a) if students feel commuting discourages them from travelling to campus; b) if students pick courses based on their commute; c) if commuting discourages students from participating in university organized activities; and d) how many days per week a student visits campus. The results of these models fuel a discussion of how to limit mobility-related barriers to postsecondary student participation.

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Transportation barriers to Syrian newcomer participation and settlement in Durham Region - Farber, S., Mifsud, A., Allen, J., Widener, M. J., Newbold, K. B., & Moniruzzaman, M. - Journal of Transport Geography

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Abstract - This paper reports on the effects of inaccessibility on Syrian refugees in Durham Region, a municipality abutting the City of Toronto. The transport and social exclusion framework is applied to determine whether transport poverty leads to inaccessibility, and how this impacts participation in daily activities and the wellbeing of recently landed refugees. A mixed methodological approach consisting of focus groups, survey data collection, and accessibility analysis provides a thorough and valid depiction of the topics investigated. The findings clearly depict evidence of subjective inaccessibility and its negative impact on participation in social and discretionary activities. At the same time, inaccessibility was not determined to be effecting participation rates in many mandatory activities such as daily English language classes or childcare-related tasks. Most of the respondents overwhelmingly felt that their transportation situation was having a strong negative impact on several dimensions of wellbeing, including loneliness and sadness. Despite the strong subjective and emotional responses to perceived inaccessibility, GIS-based accessibility scores show that the survey respondents had higher levels of objectively-measured access to destinations when compared to the broader population of Durham Region, indicating the importance of qualitative assessments of perceived access. Overall, the research confirms the validity of the transport and social exclusion framework and its usefulness in understanding participation and settlement outcomes among refugee migrants within a suburban, North American context.

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A new tool for neighbourhood change research: The Canadian Longitudinal Census Tract Database, 1971–2016. - Allen, J., & Taylor, Z. - The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien

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Abstract - Performing longitudinal analysis of socio‐economic change in small‐area spatial units such as census tracts presents several methodological complications and requires significant data preparation. Unit boundaries are revised each census year because of changes in population and delineation methodologies. This limits cross‐year comparison since data are not representative of the same spatial units. To address these problems, we have developed an innovative procedure to reduce error when comparing tract‐level data across census years by apportioning data to the same areal units. This paper describes the methods used to create the Canadian Longitudinal Tract Database. Our procedure is a combination of map‐matching techniques, dasymetric overlays, and population‐weighted areal interpolation. The output is a set of tables with apportionment weights pertaining to pairs of unique boundary identifiers across census years, which can be linked with census data or other data with census identifiers that require longitudinal comparison.

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Comparative visualizations of transport networks in Calgary using shortest-path trees - Allen, J. - Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space

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Abstract - Three maps are generated to visually compare the structure of transport networks, differences in travel times, and critical travel pathways for three travel modes in Calgary, Canada. The maps also highlight how the fractal-like structure of these urban transport networks are visually similar to natural phenomena.

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2017

Constructing a Routable Retrospective Transit Timetable from a Real-time Vehicle Location Feed and GTFS - Wessel, N., Allen, J., & Farber, S. - Journal of Transport Geography

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Abstract - We describe a method for retroactively improving the accuracy of a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) package by using a real-time vehicle location data set provided by the transit agency. Once modified, the GTFS package contains the observed rather than the scheduled transit operations and can be used in research assessing network performance, reliability and accessibility. We offer a case study using data from the Toronto Transit Commission and find that substantial aggregate accessibility differences exist between scheduled and observed services. This ‘error’ in the scheduled GTFS data may have implications for many types of measurements commonly derived from GTFS data.

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How do changes in the daily food and transportation environments affect healthy food accessibility? - Widener, M., Minaker, L., Farber, S., Allen, J., Vitali, B., Coleman, B., Cook, B. - Applied Geography

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Abstract - A healthy food environment is an important component in helping people access and maintain healthy diets, which may reduce the prevalence of chronic disease. With few exceptions, studies on healthy food access in urban regions typically ignore how time of day impacts access to food. Similarly, most extant research ignores the complexities of accounting for the role of transportation in spatial access. Examining healthy food access is important, especially for populations whose day-to-day schedules do not align with a typical work schedule. This study profiles novel methods that can be used to examine the daily dynamics of food access in Toronto, Ontario, using grocery stores as a case study to examine the changing geographies of food access over a 24-h period, and the impact of a changing public transit schedule on food access. Walking and automobile travel times are also reported. Results indicate that access to grocery stores is severely diminished for large parts of the city in the late night and early morning, and that public transit travel times are higher and more variable in the early morning hours. Ultimately, this research demonstrates the need for further study on how residents with nonconventional schedules experience, and are affected by, the dynamic food and transportation environments. Future research should build upon the methods presented here to include a broader range of food retailers.

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Improving Access to Digital Historical Census Boundaries in Canada - Allen, J. & Leahey, A. - ACMLA Bulletin

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Abstract - This paper outlines the current status of census boundary datasets in Canada. It then details our work creating an inventory for historical census boundaries in Canada. This included collecting known datasets from a variety of sources, data conversion, composing a comprehensive set of metadata, and providing online access to the collection. We also compiled an extensive organization chart of all known boundaries produced in order to keep track of the collection as well as assess any gaps to help plan future digitization projects. We hope that this work is utilized and shared with others so that more attention is given to this important historical GIS collection.

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