Friday, December 29, 2006

Access or Mobility?

Submitted by Paul Ellis

As the name "Regional Access Mobility Partnership" (emphasis added) implies, RAMP has considered "access" and "mobility" to be largely interchangeable terms. A recent discussion kicked off by the new Gulf Coast Institute blog (supporting transportation planning in the Houston region) highlights that transportation researchers are supporting much more attention to “access,” or the ability to interact, as a different goal from “mobility,” or the ability to travel.

Christof Spieler augments this distinction in a responsive post on his blog, Intermodality, citing examples not just from Houston but from London, as well. "If we think about transportation in terms of connecting people to where they want to go--not just in terms of moving cars or buses," Spieler concludes, "we get better results."

Speiler argues that ideal for transportation isn’t how fast one can travel but how many places one can get to in a given period of time. "Access is opportunity and quality of life," he observes. "Mobility is just speed." It's a distinction worth noting...

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community's largest transportation planning effort.

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