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This two-part study employs fine-scale performance measures and analytical techniques designed to evaluate and improve transit services for people experiencing disability. Part one puts forth a series of time-sensitive, general transit feed system (GTFS)-enhanced employment accessibility models that account for multiple transportation modes, categories of functional limitation and design characteristics of existing public transit infrastructure. Model results shed light on the degree to which a medium-size city’s public transit system addresses the gap between a theoretical continuum of rider capacities and the physical demands required to achieve mobility and access to employment. Our research finds that an individual’s combined physical mobility constraints (e.g., walking speed and maximum walking distance) and public transit infrastructure requirements (e.g., presence/absence of wheelchair boarding platforms and connections to pedestrian access routes) may reduce employment accessibility outcomes by as much as 86 percent. Part two of the study utilizes performance measures developed in part one to model—via spatially explicit structural equations—the degree to which employment accessibility explains variations in public transit ridership and work commute transportation mode share. Here we find that commute share and ridership…(results). Developing a better understanding of relationships between accessibility and transit usage, we reason, will help shed light on how American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant transit infrastructure affects mode choice decisions among people with considerable functional limitations and across the broader population.

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TRCLC 15-02