Getting transportation equity right

The American equity conversation has turned to law enforcement, but we know that racism also resides in the history of the built environment, and that current practice is not anti-racist enough to achieve equity. Fortunately, a lot of scholars, reporters, practitioners, and advocates—including many people of color whose voices are urgently worth seeking out in a white-dominated field—have been working to point out the problems and possible solutions.

Advancing congestion pricing: a new report

A new ENO report on congestion pricing and recent webinar suggests that having a clear purpose and vision in place before implementation is the key to success. In addition, revenue as a goal and sent to general funds is largely unsustainable; equity goals and community leadership will help with implementation road pricing has been shown to control congestion, and the main barriers at this point are political and poor communication.

In the midst of nationwide transit service cuts, more than one million rural households do not have a car

Many transit agencies have been forced to drastically scale back services due to rapidly declining revenues, and rural providers are no exception. Many were already operating on incredibly tight budgets, serving large geographic areas with a small staff of part-time drivers. While it is easy to see how pandemic-related service cuts will impact people in urban areas who rely on transit, the impacts will likely be just as devastating for many rural communities, especially the pockets of rural America with disproportionately low car ownership.

In the midst of nationwide transit service cuts, more than one million rural households do not have a car

Many transit agencies have been forced to drastically scale back services due to rapidly declining revenues, and rural providers are no exception. Many were already operating on incredibly tight budgets, serving large geographic areas with a small staff of part-time drivers. While it is easy to see how pandemic-related service cuts will impact people in urban areas who rely on transit, the impacts will likely be just as devastating for many rural communities, especially the pockets of rural America with disproportionately low car ownership.

The risk of premature death from transportation noise

The health risks of exposure to transportation noise may not command the same attention as those of exposure to particulate matter or motor vehicle crashes. But it turns out that prolonged exposure to noise is a serious matter, with numerous deleterious health effects—from sleep disruption and behavioral changes, to hearing loss, hypertension, and heart disease. New research focusing on Houston, Texas, attributes nearly as many premature deaths to transportation noise as to motor vehicle crashes, and shows that low-income households are at heightened risk of death from transportation noise exposure.

Exposure to particulate pollution shown to increase COVID-19 death rate

A new paper under review presents evidence that exposure to pollution—including that from motor vehicles—reduces the survival rate of individuals who have contracted COVID-19. Those most at risk of death have underlying diseases which may be due to, or exacerbated by, long-term pollution exposure. This adds to the mounting awareness that disadvantaged communities may disproportionately bear the brunt of the effects of COVID-19.

New report discusses how transportation officials can support health equity

Smart Growth America recently released a new report, The State of Transportation and Health Equity, a field scan looking at the intersection of transportation and health equity in the U.S. today. The report summarizes lessons based on interviews with 92 experts working across disciplines at the local, state, and federal levels across the country. It identifies the biggest challenges to health equity facing our transportation system and strategies to address them. SGA will be hosting a webinar about the report on Thursday, January 23, at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Places with most crash exposure also fear enforcement bias

Low-income and minority Americans face a dilemma: They are disproportionately victimized by our transportation system. And while law enforcement could help, those same Americans are subject to profiling and fines that can lead to economic ruin. SSTI’s mid-November Community of Practice meeting, attended by CEOs and top staff from a dozen state DOTs, took on this problem. Jill Locantore, executive director of Walk Denver, gave us permission to share her presentation, and we can also summarize the thrust of the conversation.