A social equity analysis of the U.S. public transportation system based on job accessibility

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University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies


Access to quality public transportation is critical for employment, especially for low-income and minority populations. This study contributes to previous work on equity analyses of the U.S. public transportation system by including the 45 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in a single analysis. Year-2014 Census demographic data were combined with an existing 2014 dataset of transit job accessibility. Then, transit equality and justice indicators were developed and a regression analysis was performed to explore trends in transit job accessibility by race and income. The findings suggest that within individual MSAs, low-income populations and minorities have the highest transit job accessibility. However, the overall transit ridership is low, and in certain MSAs with high transit job accessibility both high and low income populations have high access levels but middle income populations do not. Within individual MSAs, on average, accessibility differences by income are greater than accessibility differences by race. The relative importance of race versus income for injustice increases with MSA size. In upper mid-size and large MSAs, differences by race increase. Also, the differences by race are greater among low-income populations. Accessibility- related equality and justice indicators are only one of many issues that comprise the wider discussion of equity.



Social sustainability, transit equity, the Gini Index, equality, justice