PTAL Data: Unlocking Urban Planning Potential

Seungbong Lee, Geospatial Analyst, Advanced Infrastructure

In the bustling urban landscapes of towns and cities across the UK, the accessibility of public transport systems play a pivotal role in shaping the daily lives of millions. 

From Local Authorities decarbonising transport, through to businesses identifying potential new site locations, understanding the accessibility of public transport is a crucial element in sustainable urban planning and development. Enter Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL) data—a valuable tool that provides insights into the accessibility of various locations via public transportation.

In this blog, we unpack the basics of PTAL data and how it influences decision-making in urban planning.

What is the meaning of PTAL?

PTAL is a method used in the transport planning process to assess connectivity of a given location to the public transport system. This method takes into account;

  • Walking time from the point-of interest to the public transport access points;
  • The reliability of the service modes available;
  • The number of services available within the catchment; and
  • The level of service at the public transport access points 

How is a PTAL calculated?

At Advanced Infrastructure we have created a PTAL dataset covering the entire UK by 100m by 100m grid squares. Each PTAL grid square represents the distance to the nearest public transport node and service frequency at those nodes. The result is a grade from 1–6 (including sub-divisions 1a, 1b, 6a and 6b), where a PTAL of 1a indicates extremely poor access to the location by public transport, and a PTAL of 6b indicates excellent access by public transport.

How is PTAL Data Visualised?

PTAL Data when used in the LAEP+ platform enables the data to be visualised in a map interface with the PTAL scores displayed by colour, with Red being a high PTAL and Green being a low PTAL. The image below shows how a user can visualise the PTAL dataset in a given area.

Key Benefits of PTAL Data for Planning

  • Targeted Infrastructure Investments: PTAL data can identify areas with inadequate access to public transport and priortise investments to optimise transit routes.
  • Optimised Land Use: PTAL data facilitates the efficient use of land by encouraging development in transit-rich areas.
  • Economic Development: Accessible public transportation networks supported by PTAL data stimulate economic development by increasing access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other essential services.

How can PTAL Data Support Planners?

Urban Planning: Urban planners use PTAL data to inform decision-making processes related to transportation infrastructure, land use, and urban development. By understanding the accessibility levels of different areas, planners can identify gaps in the public transport network, prioritise investments in transportation infrastructure, and optimise land use to improve overall accessibility for residents.

Development Planning: Developers and real estate professionals rely on PTAL data to evaluate the suitability of potential development sites and assess the market demand for properties with high transit accessibility. PTAL scores influence decisions related to the location and design of residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments, as well as the feasibility of transit-oriented development projects.

Decarbonising Local Areas: PTAL data can help local authorities encourage modal shift away from private car usage towards more sustainable modes of transportation, such as buses, trains or trams. By improving the accessibility and convenience of public transit options, more people may choose to use public transportation instead of driving, resulting in lower carbon emissions from transportation.

Business Decision-Making: Businesses can utilise PTAL data to make informed decisions about the location of offices, retail stores, and other facilities. By selecting locations with high PTAL scores, businesses can ensure better accessibility for employees, customers, and suppliers, leading to increased foot traffic, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency.

Transportation Policy: Government agencies and policymakers can leverage PTAL data to formulate transportation policies and initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable and inclusive transportation systems. PTAL data helps policymakers identify areas with low accessibility and implement targeted interventions, such as expanding public transit service or implementing transit-oriented development strategies.

In Summary

PTAL data serves as a valuable tool for planners, policymakers, developers, local government, and businesses alike, enabling them to make informed decisions that enhance the accessibility, sustainability, and livability of urban environments. By harnessing the power of PTAL data, cities can create transportation systems that are greener, equitable, efficient, and resilient.

At Advanced Infrastructure our innovative GIS tools, datasets and APIs are making it easier for private companies, local authorities, distribution network operators and consultants to plan local energy transitions and operate using low carbon power. PTAL Data is just one dataset in our GIS tool belt that can be combined with our cloud based net zero planning platform LAEP+ (Local Area Energy Planner Plus), or as a stand alone dataset available as an API or exportable file format.

Visit our datasets catalogue to lean more about PTAL Data

Published on :
March 15, 2024
Seungbong Lee, Geospatial Analyst, Advanced Infrastructure

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Seungbong Lee
Seungbong Lee