Theses Master's

Urban Form and Mobility in Guayaquil, Ecuador: An Evaluation of Transit Accessibility in Vía a la Costa

Magnalardo, Andrea Wong

Given the rapid urban expansion that the Vía a la Costa neighborhood in Guayaquil, Ecuador is experiencing, the proliferation of urban issues associated with this expansion, and the call for further research on mobility in the area by Professor Teresa Pérez de Murzi’s research on the forms of urban development, the present research aimed to evaluate transit accessibility in Vía a la Costa.

Particularly, the purpose of this study was to respond to the following question: In the context of growing dispersed and fragmented urban development in Guayaquil, based on a growing demand for privatized urban living, to what extent is transit accessibility distributed per urban development model in Vía a la Costa? In addition, to what extent is transit accessibility correlated with settlement size, residential tax lot density, and length of internal streets?

A mixed-methods approach was employed for the present research. Interviews served to ground this study in the reality of Guayaquil as perceived by the Municipal Transit Authority of Guayaquil (ATM), where the need to focus on general transit accessibility was redirected to the call for evaluating transit accessibility based on existent urban development models in the city’s poles of urban expansion, such as Vía a la Costa. A GIS analysis provided a process to measure transit accessibility using the internal street networks of urban development models to obtain the mean distances to and from transit. Finally, Pearson correlation tests examined the relationships between distance traveled and attributes of urban developments, such as size, residential tax lot density, and length of streets. Interactive surveys collected data on time to destinations and mode preferences from sample populations in Vía a la Costa to consider transit users’ perspectives.

Results indicated that when evaluating transit accessibility per three urban development models in Vía a la Costa as classified by Pérez de Murzi (2019): settlements of communal origin, informal settlements, and private gated communities, and dividing the results into four quarters (Q1 representing the shortest mean distances traveled from a residential tax lots to their nearest public bus station), a larger proportion of private gated communities was present in Q4 whereas settlements of communal origin and informal settlements were more evenly distributed between Q1 and Q4. Additionally, the Pearson correlation tests suggested that settlement size, residential tax lot density, and the length of internal streets were correlated with the mean distances from the nearest public bus station, with the latter having the most positive correlation. However, the p-values of correlation tests indicated that these correlations were not statistically significant.

This study concluded that urban development models with higher transit accessibility are open, as opposed to walled as in private gated communities, and often served by internal public bus routes. On the other hand, private gated communities showed the lowest accessibility levels on average given that the traditional mode of travel in these developments is the automobile and private real estate developers are not required to plan for transit accessibility from the interior of each private settlement. The interactive surveys suggested opportunities for improving first-last mile connections to transit through investments in bike infrastructure and subsidized modes of transit within settlements of every type. These investments, alongside accessibility mandates for developers are key to encourage more transit ridership, improve the ridership experience, and reduce traffic congestion and its associated risks in the Vía a la Costa neighborhood.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Meisterlin, Leah M.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 19, 2023