A transit desert, Eric Jaffe explains, is a place where a high need for transit—marked by the presence of low-income, elderly, or disabled populations—coincides with inadequate service. Two transport scholars recently set out to map transit deserts in Chicago and three other cities using GIS. The results were mixed: some areas they identified as having the highest need are in fact known to have good service.
“Suffice it to say, identifying transit deserts with GIS remains a work in progress,” Jaffe writes. But that doesn’t mean mappers shouldn’t keep trying. To the contrary, the scarcity of transit funds makes the need to identify transit deserts all that more urgent.