A study by researchers at UT Health San Antonio details the barriers that Latinos in the U.S. face because of poor access to transportation options. Inadequate transit options, unreliable or spotty schedules, long commutes, and a geographic mismatch between jobs and affordable housing are especially acute for Latinos, although the suburbanization of poverty creates similar problems for many communities.
In most large metropolitan areas, the typical worker could reach more jobs by transit in 2016 than in 2015, according to the newest Access Across America report from the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory. Accessibility increased in 36 out of 49 regions. These annual reports let individual regions track changes in accessibility over time, scan for accessibility issues within the region, and compare their own performance to other regions.
Affordable transit service can be a major asset to low-wage workers, but characteristics of their jobs—such as where and when they work—may keep them from using those services. New research in Toronto focuses more attention on the work end of the trips in determining how well transit can meet workers’ needs and finding ways to increase transit effectiveness and ridership.
Transportation researchers and practitioners have long sought other tools to complement or perhaps replace conventional methods—tools that would better analyze trips rather than speed at points in the system, speak to non-auto modes of travel, address land use solutions as well as highway infrastructure, and so on. Fortunately, new sources of data and emerging methods, as well as new-found interest in performance and scenario planning, are yielding the types of tools that the field needs.
A study done by Cambridge Systematics for NCHRP Project 20-65 examined the indirect economic benefits to society of state investment in public transportation. The study found there are substantial cost savings to other government programs due to increased access to jobs, health care, and education. In many economic impact analyses, these indirect benefits are less well-documented than job creation through capital and operational spending, effects on local development patterns, and direct benefits to riders such as cost or time savings leading to increased productivity.
A recent study by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota considers the perspective of developers and business leaders interested in developing TOD sites in the Twin Cities. The study finds that there is an unmet demand for TOD and other walkable, multimodal transportation infrastructure. However, encouraging walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods will require the different actors involved—developers, business owners, and municipalities—to work together to develop a new suite of policies, zoning codes, and other ordinances that will foster this type of development.
As commute times increase, married women work fewer hours or even drop out of the workforce according to a forthcoming article. The finding helps explain differences in women’s workforce participation across various metro areas. Its focus on travel time as a driver of economic outcomes, the article has clear relevance to transportation agencies that are wrestling with setting meaningful, outcome-based performance measures.