Transit Equity Is Equity for All

By James Rubin, Ph.D.

According to the 2022 American Community Survey administered by the US Census Bureau, 3% of workers in the US use transit to commute to work. This is down from 5% in 2019, and a direct result of the post-COVID increase in telecommuting among white-collar workers.

With newly developed tools that integrate Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Origin-Destination Employment (LODES), Census, and General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data, we can estimate the average number of jobs accessible by transit within any time budget from any point in the agency’s service area. More importantly, results can be compared for subpopulations of workers to determine how much better (or worse) access that group has compared to the general worker population. In honor of Black History Month, we’d like to take a closer look at the access to employment public transportation provides to Black or African American workers.

Workers who identify as Black or African American have traditionally used transit at a greater rate than the general worker population of the US. Before COVID, in 2019, 10% of Black or African American workers used transit to commute. Though this rate decreased since COVID to 6%, Black or African American workers continue to use transit to commute at twice the rate of the average US worker.

We computed the average number of jobs accessible by transit for all workers within 45 minutes from any location in the service area for seven transit agencies in the US. We also computed this average specifically for Black or African American workers. Using the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver as an example, on average there are 81,136 jobs accessible by transit within 45 minutes from anywhere in the service area. Looking specifically at Black or African American workers, on average there 104,119 jobs accessible from anywhere in the service area by transit in 45 minutes. RTD provides 28% better access to employment for Black or African American workers in the Denver metro area than it does for the general worker population. The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), and Lane Transit District (LTD) each provide substantially better access to Black or African American workers at rates of +144%, +36% and +25%, respectively, compared to the general worker population.

Some of the better access for Black or African American workers is by design. Agencies look carefully at their customers, the travel demands of these customers, and how to best serve them. But there’s also a geospatial component that contributes to these results. In Albany, the Black or African American population is mostly concentrated near the regional centers of downtown Albany and Schenectady where many bus routes pass through regardless of whether the route begins in a Black or African American neighborhood. Conversely, in San Antonio, a large portion of the Black or African American population lives east and northeast of the center of the metro area, where there is less of a concentration of routes heading to and from downtown.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
News Article

March Madness, Leadership Development & One Shining Moment

It’s that time of the year when 64 college basketball teams (yes, I’m a traditionalist) come together to make one last push to be crowned champions; the best in their field.
The journey of leadership development is a lot like in many ways the pursuit of “One Shining Moment”.

Read More »

Want to learn more about TransDASH?

Fill out this form below.