Civil rights guidance and equity analysis methods for regional transportation plans: a critical review of literature and practice (Journal of Transportation Geography, 2013)

Metropolitan planning organizations typically undertake an analysis of regional transportation plan equity to comply with federal anti-discrimination law, most prominently Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In this critical review, the authors examine the law, regulatory guidance, academic research, and agency practice pertinent to equity analysis. They find that recommendations are extensive but generally lack specificity and are rarely enforceable. Current methodology is based in the spatial analysis of environmental exposures and the neighborhood effects literature. This method is not appropriate for the analysis of transportation investment benefits, in part because target populations must be defined a priori based on demographic thresholds for areal units rather than on the basis of exposure. Newer travel demand modeling paradigms are capable of sidestepping methodological problems, and legacy models can be adapted and improved.
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