Student Thesis Research

Measuring Community-Level Access to Transit

Ben Hammer,  BCD Honours Student

Ben Hammer is an Honours Bachelor student of Dalhousie’s Community Design program. His project reviews and compares three measures of access to public transit at the community level and identifies spatial and temporal patterns of public transit access across Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

The purpose of this research is to investigate what scoring scheme is best suited for future investigations of transit access through the SAMoSA Study, as well as to inform the Study’s knowledge of community-level public transit in HRM. A gravity model equation is used to determine the level of access to public transit for each civic address in HRM, incorporating factors relevant to supply, demand, and cost. Three scoring schemes of access are applied to the gravity model to assess and compare the frequency and proximity of service within community boundaries. These three scoring systems are: average number of proximal routes, average weighted buses per hour, and average weighted buses per hour at peak.

This research identified that just over 26% of the population of HRM lacks access to transit, and some communities with higher scores of access appear underserved when scores are weighted by population. Halifax’s Downtown, Dalhousie’s Studley Campus, and the Northeast Commons, are examples of communities that score highly overall for access to public transit, while communities like Windsor Junction and Lawrencetown East are without transit access, and areas like Quinpool North are underserved by population.

Overall, this research found that scores of spatial access (average number of proximal routes) and scores of temporal access (average number of buses per hour) were highly correlated, producing similar results. Therefore, no scoring scheme was found to be more useful than the others investigated. This research was successful in identifying limitations and challenges to public transit service in HRM rural communities and recommends that transit options or subsidised taxi service should be explored in rural areas to potentially improve health and wellbeing.



Comparing Community-Level Access to Parks and Recreation in Halifax Regional Municipality

Kirstin Pichaloff, BCD Honours Student

Kirstin Pichaloff is an Honours Bachelor student of Dalhousie’s Community Design program. In her project, she explores spatial accessibility to parkland and recreational space available across communities of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

Academic scholarship recognizes several indicators for community health and wellbeing related to access to public green space; a relationship discussed by this research through literature review. As part of the SAMoSA Study, this project contributes knowledge of community-level access to green space in HRM and helps to identify communities with greater or lesser access to recreational amenity.

This research uses both density and proximity measures to compare recreational space size and location to population size and community area, as well as compares distances between recreational spaces. A range of urban, suburban, and rural communities are included. This study performs network analyses and produces a gravity model to illustrate the number of recreational spaces accessible within 800 metres per 1000 people in each community. A series of maps illustrate these relationships using GIS data sources and Statistics Canada census data.

Analysis of these findings determined that proximity measures provide more comprehensive results across communities while density measures provide results relative to the application of area measures versus population, as opposed to percentage of land use. Rural areas achieve higher access scores when using population-based measures, contrary to area-based measures. Overall, exurban communities were found on average to have the least access to recreational space. The findings suggest that requirements for equitable spatial access may differ between urban and rural communities and that future research may examine the influence of, and define, servicing in communities.

Finally, this study recommends that future projects continue to study access using both density and proximity measures to offer the greatest overall understanding of access factors to public recreational green space at the community level.