Shifting perspectives: A comparison of travel-time-based and carbon-based accessibility landscapes


  • Julia Kinigadner Technical University of Munich, Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering, Chair of Urban Structure and Land Use Planning
  • David Vale University of Lisbon, Lisbon School of Architecture
  • Benjamin Büttner Technical University of Munich, Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering, Chair of Urban Structure and Land Use Planning
  • Gebhard Wulfhorst Technical University of Munich, Department of Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering, Chair of Urban Structure and Land Use Planning



CO2 emissions, accessibility planning, climate change mitigation, low carbon mobility options


Undoubtedly, climate change and its mitigation have emerged as main topics in public discourse. While accessibility planning is recognized for supporting sustainable urban and transport development in general, the specific challenge of reducing transport-related greenhouse gas emissions has rarely been directly addressed. Traditionally, accessibility is operationalized in line with the user perception of the transport system. Travel-time-based measures are considered to be closely linked with travel behavior theory, whereas CO2 emissions are not necessarily a major determinant of travel decisions. Given the changed prioritization of objectives, additional emphasis should be placed on the environmental costs of travel rather than solely the user costs. Accessibility analysis could account for this shift in perspectives by using CO2 emissions instead of travel time in the underlying cost function. While losing predictive power in terms of travel behavior compared to other implementations of accessibility, carbon-based accessibility analysis enables a normative understanding of travel behavior as it ought to be. An application in the Munich region visualizes the differences between travel-time-based and carbon-based accessibility by location, transport mode, and specification of the accessibility measure. The emerging accessibility landscapes illustrate the ability of carbon-based accessibility analysis to provide new insights into land use and transport systems from a different perspective. Based on this exercise, several use cases in the context of low-carbon mobility planning are discussed and pathways to further develop and test the method in cooperation with decision-makers are outlined.


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How to Cite

Kinigadner, J., Vale, D., Büttner, B., & Wulfhorst, G. (2021). Shifting perspectives: A comparison of travel-time-based and carbon-based accessibility landscapes. Journal of Transport and Land Use, 14(1), 345–365.