Update on Project Activities
At this time last week, our team was struggling to find new, significant recommendations for this project. Settling at one concrete recommendation would have put the rest of our GIS analysis to waste, so we geared up for an important call with our community partners. On Monday, our group convened to discuss our concerns, and came away with a newfound clarity around the project as a whole. Thinking outside the scope of suggestions limited by distance to relevant stations, we are now considering other significant factors, such as the robustness of bike route infrastructure around public transit routes, how the topography of the routes, especially in mountainous or hilly regions around CalTrain, are affecting commuters, the accessibility of highway crossings and other physical infrastructural aids to travel, and how street width classifications can help us narrow down the changes that are most effective.
As these recommendations are made over the remainder of the project, we hope to remain in close contact with our community partners to help us review these recommendations in the wake of our final report and StoryMaps. Adina, in particular, can help us with the content of our recommendations and how these can be phrased in constructive ways. Ian, who is more familiar with computerized data analysis, can help us with the visualization of these recommendations and whichever elements of trouble we are having with StoryMaps. In addition, our community partners have pledged to help us obtain any data sets we need for analysis, specifically with the more elusive data on bike lane networks in the Bay Area. Other potential sources of data include the VTA, MUNI, and BART sets as a way to corroborate our recommendations and cross-reference their services with our findings to remove any duplicated areas of service we may find. Since the call, we have already obtained the data from MUNI and VTA. This updated scope of work helps us expand beyond finding just recommendations for service outside of a certain radius and incorporates a wider set of criteria for our recommendations.
As reported on last week, our Literature Review for the final report is underway. Most of the material that is relevant to our project hasn’t been covered in lecture yet (Transportation is scheduled for Week 8) but our team members have nonetheless started to review that literature already. In addition, we are reviewing older readings, especially the Plan Bay Area 2040 reading, which provides useful information and context to the transportation challenges that we are analyzing.
What We Observed and Learned
To ground ourselves in the new project direction outlined by our community partners, we decided to revisit the Grand Jury report to re-orient ourselves by reviewing the issue of route scheduling on transit connections. In this, we were reminded that only 34% of all SamTrans “Caltrain Connection” routes result in feasible and attractive transfer times (5-15 minutes). Because our project is now focusing more on the improvements made through schedule changes, we think that this statistic found in the report is highly relevant to our work from here on out.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
Now that we have compiled most of the data sets that we need in order to start carrying through our analyses in GIS, our main focuses for the coming week will be to flesh out the story maps website, continue working on making recommendations, and begin writing up sections of the final report.
As of now, we have some maps added to the story maps website, but we need to work on the descriptions and general design of the site. For recommendations, we are now going to start focusing on missed connections between Caltrain and the Bay Area bus systems to better serve the needs of our community partners. After rereading the Grand Jury report, we noticed the Caltrain connector data was not specific enough (giving only a handful of examples) by bus route in order for us to analyze the changes that could be made in scheduling, so we will be re-creating that data with analysis tools in Python and R. We will look at the average wait times for waiting for Caltrain after using the bus and vice versa during peak commute times. From there, we will determine use the SamTrans information already in our GIS to show how schedules and routes might be changed to allow better access for Communities of Concern. This change from our original plan was also informed by the realization that our original intentions moved beyond the scope of the project and also neglected to factor in the Grand Jury report, which is a major contender for our project. By narrowing down our focus, we will be better equipped to produce results in the coming weeks.
As our analyses move forward, we are continuing to work on the final report, particularly in the project purpose and literature review sections. We will go over all of the relevant readings and project descriptions in order to find content for these sections.