Analysis of Social Equity in Transportation in Washington DC Region Considering Sea Level Rise Using Advanced Travel Demand Models

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Virginia Tech

The world is increasingly becoming urban. In fact, 80 percent of the US population is already living in cities. With the influx of a huge population in urban areas, the urban infrastructures are bound to be stressed. Furthermore, people from every walk of life live in urban areas in search of better economic opportunities. These diverse people have diverse needs. To make matters worse, governments have a limited budget. And, they are faced with the challenge of providing infrastructure and public services fair to everyone. This thesis attempts to respond to these challenges through two manuscripts. The first manuscript proposes a decision-support tool that responds to these challenges along with the flooding vulnerability due to sea-level-rise. As flooding events are getting more frequent and intense, coastal road network is vulnerable and can significantly affect daily mobility. Therefore, the paper proposes an optimization framework that minimizes the cost of mitigation measures for flooding while also considering social equity. As a result, the results of this optimization function is not only financially optimum but also equitable to all. The second manuscript proposes a novel framework for analyzing equity in terms of access to opportunity, rather than equity of outcomes. We showcase the use of a large-scale, high-fidelity agent-based, activity-based travel demand model to produce travel times to employment centers. This travel time is used as a proxy to access to opportunities. The results are visualized in a GIS heatmap. The model is applied to the Metropolitan Washington DC area. This manuscript contributes to the literature by analyzing the equity of opportunities without considering an individual’s socioeconomic characteristics.

Social equity in transportation, Agent-based mode, Activity-based model, Equity of opportunity, flooding vulnerability, POLARIS