Perspectives and Methods for Evaluating the Equity Impacts of Transportation Decisions
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Updated 12 March 2013
This chapter discusses general concepts of transportation equity, ways to evaluate it, and describes the specific criteria this Encyclopedia uses to rate the equity impacts of individual TDM strategies. For more detailed information on this issue see the report “Evaluating Transportation Equity” at www.vtpi.org/equity.pdf.
Equity refers to the distribution of resources and opportunities. Transportation decisions can have significant equity impacts. Transportation represents a major portion of consumer, business and government expenditures. It consumes a significant portion of public resources, including taxes and public land. Transportation activities have external impacts (noise and air pollution, crash risk and barrier effects) that affect the quality of community and natural environments, and personal safety. Transport determines where people can live, shop, work, go to school and recreate, and their opportunities in life. Adequate mobility is essential for people to participate in society as citizens, employees, consumers and community members. It affects people’s ability to obtain education, employment, medical service and other critical goods.
The demand for mobility, and for motorized travel in particular, has increased over the last century. In previous generations, most communities were organized to allow residents to walk or bicycle to neighborhood stores, schools and recreational activities. Work trips tended to be relatively short and centralized. Now, transportation systems and land use patterns are more automobile dependent, increasing the need to travel and reducing travel choices, particularly for non-drivers (Sanchez and Brenman 2007).
“For those too young, too old, too poor or too infirm to drive, the paucity of mobility alternatives severely limits their opportunity for education and their ability to share in other essential everyday activities. Moreover, as more employers have moved to the suburbs, more jobs require car mobility.” (Johnson 1993)
As the need for mobility increases and communities become more Automobile Dependent, transportation financial costs tend to increase. This may be affordable to higher income households, but it tends to impose significant financial burdens on lower income households (Affordability). A Transportation Research Board (TRB 2001) document states,
“The burden of owning and operating vehicles is increasing for the lowest-income families.
Transportation was the third-highest household expense in the 1970s; today it is the second highest. For affluent households, this change reflects personal preferences. For families with lower incomes, however, particularly those living in automobile-dominated metropolitan areas, costs for transportation compete in magnitude with those for housing. In many low-income households in low-density suburbs, 25 percent of household income is spent on transportation.”
Equity impacts can be difficult to evaluate, in part because the word “equity” has several meaning, each with different implications. There are four general types of equity related to transportation:
This refers to treating everybody the same, regardless of who they are. Egalitarianism implies that everybody should receive the same quality of services, pay the same price, and bear the same costs. In practice, this can be arbitrary and unfair, because it depends on how impacts are measured, and does not take into account differences in abilities and needs. For example, egalitarianism might be used to justify charging every passenger pay the same fare (regardless of trip length), that each transit rider receive the same subsidy (regardless of income or need), that each resident pays the same amount or tax support transportation services (regardless of income or use), or that roads are unpriced (so everybody is stuck in traffic equally). Although each of these may seem fair and equitable from a particular perspective, they are contradictory and can increase inequity from other perspectives.
2. Horizontal Equity (also called “fairness”)
This is concerned with the fairness of impact allocation between individuals and groups considered comparable in ability and need. Horizontal equity implies that consumers should “get what they pay for and pay for what they get,” unless a subsidy is specifically justified. It is often cited when communities compete for transportation resources, such as state or federal funding, and is the basis for cost allocation studies that compare how the costs imposed by different vehicle classes compare with their user payments (FHWA 1997).
For example, horizontal equity suggests that roadway resources should be allocated equally to all users, so a bus carrying fifty passengers should be able to use up to fifty times as much road space as a car carrying one passenger, that pedestrians and cyclists should be protected from risks imposed by motorists, and that people who seldom or never use automobiles should avoid subsidizing motorists parking facilities.
3. Vertical Equity With Regard to Income and Social Class
This focuses on the allocation of costs between income and social classes. According to this definition, transport is most equitable if it provides the greatest benefit at the least cost to disadvantaged groups, therefore compensating for overall social inequity. Policies that provide a proportionally greater benefit to lower-income groups are called “progressive,” while those that make lower-income people relatively worse off are called “regressive.” For example, a tax or fee that represents a greater portion of annual expenditures for lower-income households than for higher-income households is considered regressive, while a discount that targets lower-income households is considered progressive. This definition is often used to support transport subsidies and oppose price increases.
4. Vertical Equity With Regard to Mobility Need and Ability
This is a measure of how well an individual’s transportation needs are met compared with others in their community. It assumes that everyone should enjoy at least a basic level of access, even if people with special needs require extra resources and subsidies. Applying this concept requires establishing a standard of Basic Access. This tends to focus on two issues: access for people with disabilities, and support for transit and special mobility services.
Because of these different definitions it is important to specify which perspective is being used when evaluating transportation equity. For example, it may be unclear to simply say that a particular transportation policy or project increases or decreases equity, without indicating which type of equity is being considered.
Equity evaluation is affected by how people are grouped. Below are some categories that may be important for equity analysis:
· Income class (with special attention to very low income).
· Travel mode (walker, cyclist, transit rider, rideshare passenger, motorist, etc.).
· Gender and age.
· Ability to drive (i.e., whether or not people have access to an automobile) and type of driver (i.e., high- and low-mileage, high- and low-risk).
· Geographic location (urban, suburban or rural resident, resident within or outside a particular jurisdiction).
· Physical ability (able-bodied, people with various types and degrees of disability).
· Travel need (employed, parents with children, people with special medical needs).
· Cost bearer (i.e., degree to which a group pays taxes and fees, or bears other costs such as noise pollution or crash risk).
For example, when evaluating the equity impacts of a particular Road Pricing program it may be important to determine whether it is regressive (lower-income people pay a relatively large portion of their income); how it affects low-income workers, very low income households and people with disabilities; how it affects people who use alternative modes; which types of travelers are likely to reduce their automobile travel, what types of changes they make and what burden this imposes on them, how it affects residents of various neighborhoods, what portion of the fee is paid by people from other jurisdictions, whether the people who pay the fee benefit from better roads or reduced traffic congestion delay, and how revenues are used (Pricing Evaluation).
These factors often overlap. For example, residents of certain areas tend to be lower income or ride transit more than residents of other areas. Since politics tends to be based on geography (politicians represent residents of a particular jurisdiction), equity analysis often focuses on geographic conditions, but this is not optimal, since people’s need vary within a jurisdiction. For example, even suburban communities with high levels of automobile use and low levels of transit ridership, some residents are non-driver, while even city residents use automobiles and benefit from highways. It is therefore a mistake to assume that transit improvements are only a concern in cities, or highway improvements do not benefit urban residents.
Examples of Common Transportation Equity Issues
Access Management – Should businesses that lose direct driveway access on busy arterials be compensated?
Transportation Planning – Are alternative modes given adequate priority in transport planning, investment and management?
Road Space Allocation – Is an adequate portion of public road space allocated to alternative modes, providing a fair share of benefits to non-drivers?
Geographic Impacts – Federal, state and regional policies may favor some areas over others in terms of transportation investments and policies. What perspective should be used when evaluating these impacts?
Road Pricing – Should residents who bear a greater financial burden to drive, or experience greater congestion because they live along parallel unpriced roads be compensated?
Market Reforms – Changing transport fees and taxes may benefit some people, but disadvantage others. What changes are fair?
Measuring Transportation – How transportation is measured (per vehicle-mile, passenger-mile, per capita) often affects how equity is evaluated.
Highway Cost Allocation – The ratio between costs imposed and user taxes paid varies for different types of vehicles.
Traffic Safety – Traffic policies and practices impose different risks and responsibilities on different types of road users (pedestrians, cyclists, passengers in small cars).
Transit Funding – Should public transit service be subsidized? How much, and which type of services?
HOV Priority – Is it fair to allocate certain types of vehicles extra road space? Is it more fair than general purpose lanes, where HOV passengers are delayed by congestion as much as other vehicles, although they require less road space (and therefore contribute less to congestion) than SOV passengers.
Nonmotorized Planning – Do nondrivers receive a fair share of road space and consideration in safety planning?
Sustainable Transportation – Are impacts on future generations and distant populations given adequate consideration?
Vehicle Costs – Should vehicle charges (fuel taxes, road tolls, parking fees) be minimized to make driving more affordable to low-income motorists?
Vertical Equity With Respect to Income
Transportation Affordability – Are Transportation Options affordable to lower-income people.
Pricing – Should low-income people receive discounts for road and parking fees?
Environmental Justice – Are negative impacts such as traffic pollution and risk imposed excessively on lower-income populations?
Economic Development – Are lower-income groups given adequate transportation to access education and employment opportunities? Should economically disadvantaged areas receive extra transportation investments (roads, transit, etc.)?
Vertical Equity With Respect to Need and Ability
Transportation Evaluation – Should transportation resources be allocated equally per capita, or based on some measure of need?
Universal Access – Does the transportation system adequately accommodate people with physical disabilities or other special needs, such as parents pushing a stroller and pedestrians pushing a handcart? Are there adequate Parking facilities for people with disabilities.
Planning Process – Are planning practices biased in favor of automobile travel and undervalue alternative modes used by disadvantaged populations? Do current transportation planning practices provide adequate public participation?
Automobile Dependency – Do current policies and practices create transportation and land use patterns that excessively disadvantage people who for any reason cannot drive an automobile?
Different types of equity objectives often conflict. For example, some people argue that roadway user fees (fuel taxes, road tolls, parking fees) should only be used for roadway improvements, on horizontal equity grounds (“consumers should get what they pay for”), but this may contradict horizontal equity objectives of providing mobility for disadvantaged people, including non-drivers, which can be achieved if a portion of user fees are spent on improving alternative modes.
Transport equity is often evaluated in terms of a transportation system’s ability to provide Basic Access to people who are transportation disadvantaged. This section discusses these concepts. Also see Accessibility and Evaluating Transportation Choice.
Basic Access (or Basic Mobility) means that people can obtain goods, services and activities that are considered valuable to society, such as emergency services, medical care, education, employment, food and clothing, and some recreational activities. Basic Access can also apply to services and commercial activities that support social and economic development goals. This concept has many implications for transport planning. For example, it suggests:
Transportation Disadvantaged refers to people who have significant unmet transportation needs. The six attributes listed in the table below can contribute to a person being Transportation Disadvantaged. Somebody with just one or two of these attributes is not necessarily Transportation Disadvantaged. For example, a non-driver may have adequate transportation choices if they are physically able, live in a community with good walking and transit services, and can afford taxi and delivery services when necessary. Similarly, a wheelchair user may have adequate transportation choices if they can drive or afford a chauffeur, and live in a community that accommodates wheelchairs. However, adding one or two more attributes (for example, if a non-driver goes to an automobile-dependent community, or if a wheelchair user loses their ability to drive) can make them significantly Transportation Disadvantaged.
Table 1 Attributes That Contribute to Transportation Disadvantage
· Non-drivers. People who cannot drive or do not have access to a motor vehicle.
· Low Income. Drivers and non-drivers whose mobility is significantly constrained by financial limitations.
· Disabled. People with disabilities that limit their mobility.
· Commuter. People who must make daily trips to work or school.
· Caregiving Responsibilities. Primary caregiver to non-driving dependents (children, elderly relatives, etc.).
· Automobile Dependency. Lives in a community with automobile-dependent transportation and land use patterns.
This table indicates factors that contribute to a person being transportation disadvantaged.
Below are indicators that people are transportation disadvantage. Not everybody in each category is transportation disadvantaged under all circumstances, but these groups tend to face transportation problems.
· Households that do not own an automobile (sometimes called 0-vehicle households).
· People with significant physical disabilities.
· Low-income households.
· Low-income single-parents.
· People who are too young or old to drive.
· Recent immigrants from developing countries.
The term Social Exclusion is used to describe inadequate Basic Access (DETR 2000). This can include:
· Spatially - people have no means of access.
· Temporally - people cannot get to their destination at the appropriate time.
· Financially - people cannot afford to make the journey.
· Personally - people lack physical or mental capabilities to handle a means of transport.
Transportation adequacy can be evaluated in terms of:
· Affordability – Whether transportation options have financial costs within the targeted users’ budget.
· Availability – Whether transportation options exist at the location and time users require.
· Accessibility – Whether transportation options accommodate users’ physical and mental abilities, including the total journey experience (i.e., door-to-door).
· Acceptability – Whether transportation options are considered suitable to users.
Both Basic Access and Transportation Disadvantage reflect qualitative factors that may be difficult to measure, and values that may vary from one individual or community to another. For example, different people may have different ideas as to how far physically-able transit users should be expected walk to access a bus, or how many shopping and recreation trips people need for basic access. For this reason it is important to community members and users be involved in determining how to evaluate transportation choice (Evaluating Transportation Choice).
Transportation equity can be difficult to evaluate. There is no practical way to measure with precision the transportation needs and abilities of everybody in a community, or to predict how a particular policy or program will affect transportation equity.
Bailey (2004) uses the portion of residents who do not travel on a given day as reported in travel surveys as an indication of the number of people who are significantly transportation disadvantaged in a community. This study focused on elderly residents, the but same indicator could be used for other populations. It found that the portion of residents age 65+ who do not travel on an average day ranges from 44% up to 69%, and is affected by their ability to own an automobile, ability to drive, quality of walking conditions and transit services, and community design factors.
The relative degree to which non-drivers are disadvantaged relative to drivers can be measured using mobility gap analysis. A mobility gap is the different in motorized travel (automobile, public transit, taxi travel, etc.) between households that do not own an automobile (zero-vehicle households) and automobile-owning households. This can be determined using travel survey data to compare the average daily trips generated by different types of households. Since zero-vehicle households tend to be smaller and have lower employment rates than automobile-owing households, these differences should be taken into account in order to compare motor vehicle trip generation rates between comparable households with and without vehicles. After taking these factors into account, zero-vehicle households are generally found to generate 30-50% fewer personal trips. This is the mobility gap. This information can be used to calculate the additional transport services needed to provide non-drivers with comparable mobility as drivers (LSC 2001).
This approach may exaggerate real transportation “needs” to some degree, since many automobile trips are non-essential, so it may be acceptable to society that people who do not have an automobile travel significantly less than those who do. On the other hand, this methodology understates real transportation needs by assuming that households which own an automobile have no unmet mobility needs, which ignores the mobility problems facing non-drivers in vehicle-owing households. For example, a household that owns one vehicle that must be shared by two or three adults who commute to work or school, or households with an employed adult who cannot drive due to disabilities or other problems, may face a mobility gap similar to zero-vehicle households.
In many situations the most practical approach is to use indicators that represent various transportation equity objectives. This Encyclopedia uses the five indicators described below to evaluate the equity impacts of TDM strategies. Of course, they represent general trends and may not apply in all situations. Planners and decision makers can choose which of these indicators to use, and adjust ratings assigned to a particular TDM strategy, to meet the conditions and priorities of a particular planning process.
This indicator assumes that public policies and resources should be applied equally unless there is a specific reason for favoring a particular individual, group or activity. A policy or practice that favors one group over others of equal need and ability is considered inequitable.
This indicator assumes that individuals should bear the costs they impose. TDM strategies that make prices more accurately reflect costs (such as charging users directly for using parking facilities), or that have smaller external costs than the same trip made by automobile are considered to support this criteria, while those that require increased subsidies or impose greater external costs than the same trip made by automobile are considered to contradict this criteria.
This indicator assumes that public policies should benefit lower-income people. A strategy that tends to make lower-income people better off overall, either absolutely or relatively to higher income people, is considered to support this criterion.
This indicator assumes that public policies should provide adequate transportation to people who are transportation disadvantaged. Strategies that tend to improve mobility and access for transportation disadvantaged groups (e.g., non-drivers, people with disabilities, people who cannot afford a personal automobile, children, etc.) are considered to support this criteria.
This indicator assumes that public policies should insure basic access, and favor travel that has high social value over travel with lower social value. For example, it suggests that emergency vehicles should have priority over general traffic, and that special efforts may be justified to insure that everybody can access critical services, education and employment, and that freight traffic and service vehicles are given priority if needed to achieve economic objectives.
A summary table such as the one below is used to evaluate the equity impacts of each TDM strategy according to the five criteria described above. The rating system ranges from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts. Of course, these ratings represent very general trends and may not apply in all situations so users should use their own judgment when applying these values.
Table 2 Equity Summary
Treats everybody equally.
This reflects whether a strategy treats each group or individually equally.
Individuals bear the costs they impose.
This reflects whether a strategy makes individual consumers bear the costs they impose, meaning that subsidies are less than they would be with automobile travel.
Progressive with respect to income.
This reflects whether a strategy makes lower-income households better or worse off.
Benefits transportation disadvantaged.
This reflects whether a strategy makes people who are transportation disadvantaged better off by increasing their travel options or providing financial savings.
Improves basic mobility.
This reflects whether a strategy favors more important transport (emergency response, commuting, basic shopping) over less important transport.
Rating from 3 (very beneficial) to –3 (very harmful). A 0 indicates no impact or mixed impacts.
How transportation is Measured, the units used for comparison in Evaluation (such as costs per lane-mile, vehicle-mile, passenger-mile, incremental peak-period trip, etc.), and the scope of analysis can have a significant impact on equity analysis.
For example, although they seem contradictory, all of the statements below can be considered true. They reflect different perspectives and measurement units.
· Motorists pay special taxes that primarily fund the road system and transit services, and so unfairly subsidize other modes of transportation.
· Motor vehicle travel imposes the greatest external costs of all modes overall, so motorists are unfairly subsidized by non-drivers.
· Transit travel is the most subsidized transport mode per passenger-mile.
· Motorists receive more subsidy than transit users per capita.
· Rural drivers subsidize urban transportation by funding expensive urban roadways and urban transit services.
· Urban drivers subsidize rural residents by funding rural roads that receive little traffic, and therefore little fuel tax revenue.
· Higher-income people pay more taxes per capita that fund transportation facilities and services, and so subsidize lower-income people.
· Lower-income people pay more transportation taxes as a portion of their income, and travel less, and so bear an unfair portion of the costs of transportation facilities and services.
· Motorists subsidize facilities for nonmotorized modes, such as sidewalks and bicycle paths.
· Sidewalks and paths are needed because motorized traffic makes roads unsuitable for nonmotorized travel (people walk and cycle on roadways without problem in areas with minimal automobile traffic).
There is no single correct perspective or measurement unit for evaluating transportation equity, although it is often best to use per capita impacts, rather than per vehicle-mile or passenger-mile.
Most TDM help achieve equity objectives. For example, some TDM strategies:
· Increase horizontal equity (fairness) by reducing unnecessary and arbitrary policies that favor automobile transportation over other travel modes.
· Increase horizontal equity by making transportation prices more accurately reflect costs.
· Benefit lower-income people by providing direct financial savings and improving affordable transport choices.
· Benefit transportation disadvantaged people by improving transport choices and reducing the automobile external costs they must bear (such as road and parking subsidies, and uncompensated crash risk and pollution costs).
· Improve basic access by increasing transport choices and giving priority to higher value trips.
Not all TDM strategies provide all of these equity benefits, but many do, and a comprehensive TDM program that includes a suitable combination of strategies will usually help achieve most equity objectives. Table 3 lists TDM strategies that tend to help achieve specific TDM objectives (Increasing Equity).
Table 3 TDM Strategies That Tend To Help Achieve Equity Objectives
Treats Everybody Equally
Benefits Lower Income
Benefits Transport Disadvantaged
Basic Mobility and Access
This table lists TDM strategies that help achieve various equity objectives.
Although some TDM programs require subsidies, these can only be considered unfair if they are greater than subsidies for comparable automobile travel. Expenditures on alternative modes may simply represent an alternative way for non-drivers to receive their share of transportation resources. Even if subsidies are greater than that for automobile travel per passenger-mile, non-drivers only travel about a third as much as distance as motorists each year, and so per capita annual subsidies may be much small. Total annual per capita transportation external costs and subsidies tend to be much greater for motorists than for transit riders (Social Benefits of Public Transit).
On the other hand, there are some strategies for achieving transportation equity objectives that contradict other TDM objectives. Equity requires that lower-income people have access to affordable transportation, which in many communities means automobile transportation. For example, Raphael and Stoll (2000) and Sullivan (2003) show that in many situations automobile transportation increases employment rates and incomes among lower-income and minority workers, which justifies policies that make automobile ownership and use more affordable, including targeted loans, Carsharing, and Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance. Such programs may increase total vehicle travel by a small amount.
Automobile-oriented strategies to achieve transportation equity objectives may create new problems. For example, providing basic mobility to transportation-disadvantaged people in automobile-dependent communities tends to be expensive, requiring significant subsidies. With conventional vehicle insurance, making coveage affordable to high-risk motorists requires large, unfair cross-subsidies from lower-risk motorists. Free parking and low road users charges, intended to make driving more affordable, results in unfair cross-subsidies from households that drive less than average to those that drive more than average. TDM strategies can help avoid these problems, resulting in more effective solutions, financial savings, and fewer unintended consequences.
These equity benefits can be particularly large for comprehensive TDM programs that reduce market distortions, increase transportation choices, and create more balanced transportation and land use systems. This can provide significant financial savings that particularly benefit lower-income households and people who are transportation disadvantaged. Many TDM strategies help achieve equity objectives in addition to economic and social objectives (Win-Win Transportation Solutions). Implementing such “no regrets” solutions helps achieve more Sustainable Transportation.
The Costs of Chauffeuring
Chauffeuring refers to additional vehicle travel required to carry a passenger, in contrast to a rideshare trip in which a passenger is carried in an otherwise empty seat in a vehicle that would be making a trip anyway, and so does not increase vehicle travel. In automobile-dependent conditions non-drivers often require significant amounts of chauffeuring: children driven to and from school, recreational and social activities; people with disabilities driven to medical appointments and shopping; and out-of-town visitors being chauffeured to and from airports or train stations, and to various activities.
Chauffeured travel is inefficient. It requires drivers’ time, increases vehicle travel (chauffeured trips often require an empty backhaul, so transporting a passenger 5 miles generates 10 miles of vehicle travel), and deprives passengers of independence.
People sometimes value chauffeuring as an opportunity to socialize, such as a time when parents can talk with their children, but it can also generate stress and conflict, such as when a driver must interrupt an important activity to fulfill chauffeuring obligations, or when a passenger or driver misses a scheduled connection. Parents often complain about the time poverty and stress of chauffeuring, and seniors with declining ability are often reluctant to giving up driving because they do not want to lose their independence or burden others for rides. Studies indicate that both time poverty and reduced independence tend to reduce people senses of wellbeing and happiness (Curie and Delbose 2010).
A diverse transport system with efficient non-automobile transport options (walking, cycling, public transit, taxi services, and telecommunications), can reduce the need for chauffeuring. More accessible land use, which minimizes travel distances, increases the portion of trips that can be made by walking, cycling and taxi. Transit-oriented development, with appropriate housing located in transit-rich areas can significantly reduce the need for chauffeuring.
Various reports and guides described below indicate effective ways to incorporate equity objectives in transport planning. Below are some best practice recommendations:
· Evaluate the distribution of transportation policy and program impacts by income, need, driving ability and geographic location to determine if any groups will bear an excessive burden (see methodologies in ECONorthwest and PBQD 2002).
· Consider the distribution of impacts such as the crash risk, noise and air pollution, neighborhood quality, and the barrier effect (i.e., impacts on nonmotorized travel) when evaluating transportation equity.
· Use Accessibility Measures, such as the total time and financial costs to reach desired services and destinations, when evaluating transportation equity. Give consideration to the total journey experience, including walking to transit stops and destinations.
· Consider all modes when evaluating transportation equity impacts and addressing transportation equity objectives, including transit, paratransit, taxi, and nonmotorized modes. Use Multi-Modal Level-of-Service Indicators to evaluate impacts on alternative modes.
· Audit public transport demand and supply to insure that resources are deployed where they are most needed.
· In general, equity analysis should be based on per capita measurement units, rather than per vehicle or per vehicle-mile, which tends to give greater weight to higher income people who travel more, and gives far less consideration to people who are transportation disadvantaged.
· Include land use decisions, such as the location of public facilities, in transportation equity evaluation and planning.
· Consult with transportation disadvantaged people to identify their access needs, barriers and preferences.
· Involve affected communities in transportation decisions.
The report, Equity Analysis of Land Use and Transport Plans Using an Integrated Spatial Model (Rodier, et al. 2010), used the Activity Allocation Module of the PECAS (Production, Exchange, and Consumption Allocation) Model to evaluate the equity effects of land use and transport policies intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This model was used to simulate the effects of the “Business-As-Usual” and “Preferred Blueprint” scenarios that were developed through a recent planning process for the Sacramento region into the year 2035. The PECAS model system, with its representation of the interactions among the transport system and the rest of the spatial economic system, enables an evaluation of the distributions of a wider range of economic impacts, including wages, rents, productivity, and consumer surplus, for segments of households, labor, and industry. In this study, the PECAS model is applied to illustrate the distributional measures that can be obtained from this type of model and to provide insights into the equity effects of different transport and land development patterns.
The results show that a more compact urban form designed around transit stations may reduce travel costs, wages, and housing costs by increasing accessibility, which can lead to substantial net benefits for industry categories and lower income households. Higher income households may be net losers, since their incomes are more dependent on reduced wages, they are less willing to switch to higher density dwellings, and they are more likely to own their own home.
Opponents of efficient road pricing, such as congestion tolls, often argue that low-income, urban residents will suffer if they must pay to use congested freeways. This contention, however, fails to consider (1) how much low-income residents already pay for transportation in taxes and fees, or (2) how much residents would pay for highway infrastructure under an alternative revenue-generating scheme, such as a sales tax. Schweitzer and Taylor compare the cost burden of road toll and a local option transportation sales tax. The analysis indicates that although the sales tax spreads the costs of transportation facilities across a large number of people, it redistributes about $3 million in revenues from less affluent residents to those with higher incomes. Low-income drivers individually save if they do not have to pay tolls, but low-income residents as a group pay more with sales taxes.
The report Impacts Of VMT Reduction Strategies On Selected Areas And Groups, sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation, investigates the equity impacts of the state’s vehicle miles travelled (VMT) reduction targets (18% reduction by 2020, 30% reduction by 2035, and 50% reduction by 2050), and ways to minimize negative impacts on disadvantaged populations. It identified various VMT reduction strategies and evaluated their impacts on five groups and areas, including small businesses, low-income residents, farmworkers, distressed counties, and counties with more than half the land in federal or tribal ownership. It identified ways to implement VMT reduction programs with the most postitive or least negative impacts on disadvantaged groups.
The Baltimore Region Environmental Justice in Transportation Project (BREJTP) is developing a better process for systematically integrating environmental justice into regional transportation planning and decision-making. Their website provides a list of the different projects taking place and other useful information. Collectively these projects are concerned with, public participation, access to quality public transit service, pedestrian safety, air pollution and congestion impacts, and equity in the planning process. The project is structured in three phases:
Phase I - Community Outreach: Determine the key Environmental Justice transportation (EJT) issues affecting regional subgroups and identify methods for reaching the correct segments.
Phase II - Environmental Justice in Transportation Tool Kit: Develop an EJ planning guide that supports interactive exchanges between transportation agencies, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and community residents.
Phase III - Dissemination of Findings and New Tools: Encourage the propagation and dissemination of improved procedures through academic curriculum, technology transfer and peer exchange.
The FHWA, Toolbox for Regional Policy Analysis provides information on various methods for evaluating the equity impacts of transportation decisions. The case studies listed below demonstrate their application.
A consumer welfare model is used to estimate per-trip user benefits by income group under alternative scenarios.
Accessibility of residents to employment is compared for "disadvantaged" versus "non-disadvantaged" neighborhoods for the Regional Transportation Plan versus the no-plan alternative. Statistical tests are applied to measure the significance of differences.
Transportation-related emissions and noise data are disaggregated within a GIS raster (grid cell) environment and their coincidence with population is measured. Exposure is measured by socioeconomic group to develop indicators of equity.
Accessibility is compared by mode (automobile, rail transit, and bus) and across five income groups to analyze the equity impacts of the Tren Urbano rail transit project.
GIS is used in conjunction with emissions and noise models to plot emissions and noise contours around transportation facilities. These are then overlaid on minority and low-income population data to develop measures of environmental justice.
For Sacramento’s Blueprint Project, a region-wide planning process that promotes compact, mixed-use development and public transportation improvmenets, researchers are evaluating the environmental justice implications. They are examining the equity effects of smart growth (the Preferred Blueprint Scenario) and an urban sprawl scenario (the Base Case Study) from the Sacramento region with advanced land use and travel demand models. The EJ effects will include the economic benefits or losses (for example, change in access to jobs, goods, and services) to households in different income levels by specific locations in the Sacramento region.
This study investigated the combined effects of changes in gasoline prices and transit service corridor. It concludes that increases in fuel prices or other vehicle user fees, are most harmful to lower-income consumers located in areas with poor transportation options. This implies that fuel price increases are less harmful if implemented with improvements in alternative modes.
The Atlanta Regional Commission transportation model provides analysis to show how the current system and proposed alternatives serves households in different income classes. It also calculates the percentage of employment and households accessible to transit service (within 0.4-mile of a transit route). This information is used to evaluate the existing mobility system and various alternative plans.
The results show that with the current system, 48% of total employment and 28% of all households are within walk distance of transit (0.4 mile). For the lowest income level (less than $20,000 annual income), 38% of households have accessible transit service, the most of any income class. In 2020, if no additional changes are made to the transit system, the transit accessible employment percentage declines to 39% and the portion of homes within walking distance of transit decreases to 26% the percent. However, if planned improvements are implemented, the percent of transit-accessible employment is 57% and the portion of homes with transit access increases 46%.
The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program developed a detailed database of transit service and demographic data in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas which can be used to measure transit access for various demographic groups. The results reveal considerable variation in transit coverage and service levels, and transit’s ability to connect workers to the types of jobs they are most likely to hold. The results indicate that more compact and transit-oriented cities and neighborhoods provide much better transit access to employment than more sprawled, automobile-oriented cities and neighborhoods.
The STELLA integrated model has been used to quantify and compare the quality of accessibility to employment in the city of Detroit by various demographic groups, including transit dependent populations, taking into account financial and time costs, and the effects of congestion. The results indicate that under current conditions, non-drivers are significantly disadvantaged compared with drivers, but this can be changed with more transit-oriented transportation and land use planning.
The U.K. Sustainable Development Commission (SDC 2011) commissioned a study that analyzes the costs of car dependency and ways to ensure that the decisions we make about future transport priorities help minimise the negative impacts on everyone. It concludes that a new approach to national transport policy is needed which achieves a better balance between potentially conflicting rights and freedoms in a way that is equitable for both this and future generations and, which respects environmental limits. This approach must recognise that transport planning decisions have significant indirect and external impacts, and so should consider effects on all members of society, not just motorists.
There is a long history of incorporating vertical equity objectives into transportation policies (i.e., insuring that lower income people have basic mobility). Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, wrote that, “When the toll upon carriages of luxury coaches, post chaises, etc. is made somewhat higher in proportion to their weight than upon carriages of necessary use, such as carts, wagons, and the indolence and vanity of the rich is made to contribute in a very easy manner to the relief of the poor, by rendering cheaper the transportation of heavy goods to all the different parts of the country.” (Smith, 1776, chapter 5)
Thakuriah and Tang (2008) find that having transportation problems during adolescence and young adulthood reduces annual income after two decades by approximately $2,500 compared to those who don’t have such problems. They conclude that this evidence supports governmental subsidies of transportation services targeting economically and mobility disadvantaged youth (such as teenagers and young adults in carless, low-income households) because of the resulting long-term economic and social benefits. These economic benefits will also enable these individuals without the means for personal mobility to avoid dependence on public assistance, unemployment benefits and other forms of governmental assistance in the long run.
Analysis by Lehner-Lierz (2004) indicates that women, children and elderly people tend to take many shorter trips (e.g., shopping and other local errands, chauffeuring children to school, etc.), and often lack use of an automobile, and so tend to depend more on non-motorized modes and public transit. She argues that current transportation planning practices tend to favor automobile travel over alternative modes, which harms more vulnerable populations, stating that "car travel steals women's space and time" by dominating street space and dispersing destinations. She recommends more support for cycling transportation on equity grounds.
Years ago my grandmother worked hard as a waitress in a downtown restaurant, but with the low wages she had trouble making ends meet. She rode the bus to work each day, and toward the end of the month when money was tight she would save her transfers from one day until the next. Often the bus driver wouldn’t notice, but sometimes they would stop her, and say, “Lady, this is from yesterday.”
She would reply, “You see how long I’ve been waiting for this bus!”
Sometimes they would let her on with it with a laugh.
For more information on issues related to transportation equity analysis see Increasing Equity, Transportation Affordability, Evaluating TDM, Market Principles, Evaluating Pricing Strategies, Evaluating Transportation Choice, Community Livability, Sustainable Transportation and TDM, TDM Planning, Comprehensive TDM Evaluation, Measuring Transportation, TDM and Economic Development, Transportation Costs, Transportation Statistics, TDM in Developing Regions. See Khisty (1997) and Litman (1999) for more discussion of transportation equity. For more detailed information on this issue see the report “Evaluating Transportation Equity” at www.vtpi.org/equity.pdf.
Anvita Arora and Geetam Tiwari (2007), A Handbook for Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) of Future Urban Transport (FUT) Projects, Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Program (TRIPP), Indian Institute of Technology (http://tripp.iitd.ernet.in); at http://tripp.iitd.ernet.in/publications/paper/SEIA_handbook.pdf.
Linda Bailey (2004), Aging Americans: Stranded Without Options, Surface Transportation Policy Project (www.stpp.org).
Baltimore Region Environmental Justice in Transportation Project (www.brejtp.com) is developing a better process for systematically integrating environmental justice into the regional transportation planning and decision-making.
Judith Bell and Larry Cohen (2009), The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America, PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute Convergence Partnership (www.convergencepartnership.org/transportationhealthandequity).
Daniel Carlson and Zachary Howard (2010), Impacts Of VMT Reduction Strategies On Selected Areas and Groups, Washington State Department of Transportation (www.wsdot.wa.gov); at www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/751.1.pdf.
Community Impact Assessment Website (www.ciatrans.net) provides information for considering impacts on human environments in transportation planning.
Coordination Council for Access and Mobility (www.ccamweb.org) is supported by the US Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services works to increase the cost-effectiveness of resources used for human service transportation.
Graham Currie and Alexa Delbose (2010), Modelling the Social and Psychological Impacts of Transport Disadvantaged,” Transportation, Vol. 37, No. 6, pp. 953-966; abstract at www.springerlink.com/content/e1j732870x124241.
DETR (2000), Social Exclusion and the Provision and Availability of Public Transport, Mobility and Inclusion Unit, UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions; at www.liftshare.com/business/pdfs/Dft-social%20exclusion.pdf.
DFID (2003), Social Benefits in Transport Planning, UK Department for International Development (www.transport-links.org); at www.transport-links.org/transport_links/projects/projects_document_page.asp?projectid=322. Describes methodologies for more comprehensive transportation project evaluation.
ECONorthwest and PBQD (2002), Estimating the Benefits and Costs of Public Transit Projects, TCRP Report 78, TRB (www.trb.org); at http://gulliver.trb.org/publications/tcrp/tcrp78/index.htm.
Environmental Justice Resource Center (www.ejrc.cau.edu) at Clark Atlanta University serves as a major resource center on environmental justice and transportation equity issues. Publishes quarterly Transportation Equity newsletter.
FHWA (1997), 1997 Federal Highway Cost Allocation Study, USDOT (www.ota.fhwa.dot.gov/hcas/final).
FHWA, Environmental Justice Website (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ej2.htm) provides reports, publications, and links to other websites concerning environmental justice, community impact assessment, public involvement in transportation planning.
FHWA, Toolbox for Regional Policy Analysis; Distribution of Impacts Case Studies, Federal Highway Administration (www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/toolbox).
FHWA (2008), Income-Based Equity Impacts of Congestion Pricing: A Primer, Office of Transportation Management, Federal Highway Administration (www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov); at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/fhwahop08040/fhwahop08040.pdf.
FHWA and FTA (2002), “Establishing Meaningful Performance Measures for Benefits and Burden Assessments,” Transportation & Environmental Justice: Effective Practices, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, FHWA-EP-02-016 (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ej2.htm).
David J. Forkenbrock and Glen E. Weisbrod (2001), Guidebook for Assessing the Social and Economic Effects of Transportation Projects, NCHRP Report 456, Transportation Research Board, National Academy Press (www.trb.org); at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_456-a.pdf.
David Forkenbrock and Jason Sheeley (2004), Effective Methods for Environmental Justice Assessment, National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 532, Transportation Research Board (www.trb.org); available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_532.pdf.
Aaron Golub (2010), “Welfare and Equity Impacts of Gasoline Price Changes under Different Public Transportation,” Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 1-21; at www.nctr.usf.edu/jpt/pdf/JPT13-3.pdf.
Krista Gullo, et al. (2008), “A Model of Social Inequity and Accessibility in Detroit,” (2008), Personal Mobility and Global Climate Change, Future Research Directions in Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility, SMART, University of Michigan (http://um-smart.org).
Mayer Hillman (1993), Children, Transport and the Quality of Life, Policy Studies Institute (www.psi.org.uk).
IMR (2009), Sprawl vs Transit Villages: Environment Justice Implications, Innovative Mobility (www.innovativemobility.org); at www.innovativemobility.org/sprawl/Sprawl_vs_Transit_Villages_Environmental_Justice.shtml.
Elmer Johnson (1993), Avoiding the Collision of Cities and Cars, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Chicago).
C. Jotin Khisty (1997), “Operationalizing Concepts of Equity for Public Project Investment,” Transportation Research Record 1559, TRB (www.trb.org), pp. 94-99.
LCEF (2011), Where We Need to Go: A Civil Rights Roadmap for Transportation Equity, Leadership Conference Education Fund, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (www.civilrights.org); at www.protectcivilrights.org/pdf/docs/transportation/52846576-Where-We-Need-to-Go-A-Civil-Rights-Roadmap-for-Transportation-Equity.pdf
Ursula Lehner-Lierz (2003), “The Role of Cycling For Women,” Sustainable Transport: Planning for Walking and Cycling In Urban Environments (Rodney Tolley Ed.), Woodhead Publishing (www.woodhead-publishing.com), pp. 123-143.
Todd Litman (2002), “Evaluating Transportation Equity,” World Transport Policy & Practice (http://ecoplan.org/wtpp/wt_index.htm), Volume 8, No. 2, Summer, pp. 50-65; revised version at www.vtpi.org/equity.pdf.
Todd Litman (2006), You CAN Get There From Here: Evaluating Transportation Diversity, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org); at www.vtpi.org/choice.pdf; originally published as, “You Can Get There From Here: Evaluating Transportation Choice,” Transportation Research Record 1756, TRB (www.trb.org), 2001, pp. 32-41.
Todd Litman (2009), Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis Guidebook, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org/tca).
Todd Litman (2010), Affordable-Accessible Housing In A Dynamic City: Why and How To Support Development of More Affordable Housing In Accessible Locations, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org); at www.vtpi.org/aff_acc_hou.pdf.
Todd Litman and Marc Brenman (2011), A New Social Equity Agenda For Sustainable Transportation, Paper 12-3916, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (www.trb.org); at www.vtpi.org/equityagenda.pdf.
Todd Litman and Tom Rickert (2005), Evaluating Public Transit Accessibility: ‘Inclusive Design’ Performance Indicators For Public Transportation In Developing Countries, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org); at www.vtpi.org/tranacc.pdf.
LSC (2001), Montana Rural Passenger Needs Study, Montana Department of Transportation (www.mdt.state.mt.us).
Karen Lucas (2004), Running on Empty: Transport, Social Exclusion and Environmental Justice, Policy Press (www.bris.ac.uk/Publications/TPP/tpp.htm).
Oxford University (2012), Socio-spatial Inequalities, Transport and Mobilities Lectures (www.tsu.ox.ac.uk/events/ht12_seminars). This website contains all Podcasts and presentation slides for this seminar series by leading experts on transport equity.
Clarissa Penfold, N. Cleghorn, C. Creegan, H. Neil and S Webster (2008), Travel Behaviour, Experiences And Aspirations Of Disabled People, produced for the Department of Transport, United Kingdom by The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), Social Research in Transport Clearinghouse (www.sortclearinghouse.info); at www.sortclearinghouse.info/research/325.
Steven Raphael and Michael Stoll (2000), Can Boosting Minority Car-ownership Rates Narrow Inter-Racial Employment Gaps? Working Paper W00-002, Program on Housing and Urban Policy, University of California at Berkeley (http://urbanpolicy.berkeley.edu).
Tom Rickert (1998 and 2002), Mobility for All; Accessible Transportation Around the World and Making Access Happen: Promoting and Planning Transport For All, Access Exchange International (www.globalride-sf.org) and the Swedish Institute On Independent Living (www.independentliving.org). These excellent guides provide information on how to implement Universal Design in Developing as well as developed countries.
Glenn Robinson, et al. (2010), Building on the Strength of Environmental Justice in Transportation: Environmental Justice and Transportation Toolkit, Baltimore Region Environmental Justice in Transportation Project (www.ejkit.com) and the Office of Civil Rights, Federal Transit Administration.
Caroline Rodier, John E. Abraham, Brenda N. Dix and John D. Hunt (2010), Equity Analysis of Land Use and Transport Plans Using an Integrated Spatial Model, Report 09-08, Mineta Transportation Institute (www.transweb.sjsu.edu); at www.transweb.sjsu.edu/MTIportal/research/publications/documents/Equity%20Analysis%20of%20Land%20Use%20(with%20Covers).pdf.
Thomas W. Sanchez, Richard Stolz and Jacinta S. Ma (2003), Moving to Equity: Addressing Inequitable Effects of Transportation Policies on Minorities, The Harvard University Civil Rights Project (www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu) and the Center for Community Change (www.communitychange.org).
Thomas W. Sanchez and Marc Brenman (2007), The Right To Transportation: Moving To Equity, Planners Press (www.planning.org).
K.H. Schaeffer and Elliot Sclar (1980), Access for All, Columbia University Press (New York).
Lisa Schweitzer and Brian Taylor (2008), “Just Pricing: The Distributional Effects Of Congestion Pricing And Sales Taxes,” Transportation, Vol. 35, No. 6, pp. 797–812 (www.springerlink.com/content/l168327363227298); summarized in “Just Road Pricing,” Access 36 (www.uctc.net/access); Spring 2010, pp. 2-7; at www.uctc.net/access/36/access36.pdf.
SDC (2011), Fairness in a Car Dependent Society, Sustainable Development Commission (www.sd-commission.org.uk); at www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/fairness-in-a-car-dependent-society.html.
Adam Smith (1776), An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations, The Adam Smith Institute (www.adamsmith.org.uk).
Jeffery J. Smith and Thomas A. Gihring (2001), Financing Transit Systems Through Value Capture: An Annotated Bibliography, Geonomy Society (www.progress.org/geonomy), also available at www.vtpi.org/smith.pdf.
Social Exclusion Unit (2002), Making the Connections: Transport and Social Exclusion, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (www2.dft.gov.uk/pgr/inclusion).
Social Research in Transport (SORT) Clearinghouse (www.sortclearinghouse.info) is a repository of reports and links to research findings focused on social issues in transport.
Jamie E.L. Spinney, Darren M. Scott, and K. Bruce Newbold (2009), “Transport Mobility Benefits And Quality Of Life: A Time-Use Perspective Of Elderly Canadians,” Transport Policy, Vol. 16, Is. 1, January, Pages 1-11.
John Stanley, David A. Hensher, Janet Stanley, Graham Currie, William H. Greene and Dianne Vella-Brodrick (2011). “Social Exclusion and the Value of Mobility,” Journal of Transport Economics and Policy (JTEP), Vol. 45, (2), pp. 197-222; summary at www.sortclearinghouse.info/research/861.
Kerri Sullivan (2003), Transportation & Work: Exploring Car Usage and Employment Outcomes in the LSAL Data, NCSALL Occasional Paper (http://gseweb.harvard.edu/~ncsall).
Surface Transportation Policy Project (www.transact.org) provides information and advocacy for more balanced transportation policies.
Ian Taylor and Lynn Sloman (2008), Towards Transport Justice: Transport and Social Justice in an Oil-Scarce Future, Sustrans (www.sustrans.org.uk); at www.sustrans.org.uk/webfiles/Info%20sheets/Sustrans_report_towards_transport_justice_april08.pdf.
Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah and Lei Tang (2008), Longitudinal Analysis of Effect of Transportation Difficulties on Earnings Among Young Adults From Disadvantaged Families, Transportation Research Board 87th Annual Meeting (www.trb.org).
Marie Thynell (2009), Social Change and Urban Transport, Sustainable Urban Transit Technical Document #2, Sustainable Urban Transport Asia (www.sutp.org); at www.globalstudies.gu.se/digitalAssets/1299/1299523_TD02_SocialChange_Final.pdf.
Adie Tomer, Elizabeth Kneebone, Robert Puentes, and Alan Berube (2011), Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program (www.brookings.edu); at www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Programs/Metro/jobs_transit/0512_jobs_transit.pdf.
TRISP (2005), “Distribution Of Benefits And Impacts On Poor People,” Economic Evaluation Notes, UK Department for International Development and the World Bank (www.worldbank.org); at http://go.worldbank.org/ME49C4XOH0. Summarizes transport project evaluation methods suitable for developing country applications.
TSG (2005), Measuring Accessibility as Experienced by Different Socially Disadvantaged Groups, Transport Studies Group – University of Westminster (www.wmin.ac.uk); at http://home.wmin.ac.uk/transport/projects/samp.htm.
U.S. Department of Justice ADA Homepage (www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm) provides information on implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act.
USEPA (2013), Creating Equitable, Healthy, And Sustainable Communities: Strategies For Advancing Smart Growth, Environmental Justice, And Equitable Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov); at www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/equitable-dev/equitable-development-report-508-011713b.pdf.
Martin Wachs (2003), Improving Efficiency and Equity in Transportation Finance, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, Brookings Institute (www.brookings.edu/es/urban).
Asha Weinstein Agrawal (2011), Getting Around When You’re Just Getting By: The Travel Behavior and Transportation Expenditures of Low-Income Adults, Mineta Transportation Institute (www.transweb.sjsu.edu); at www.transweb.sjsu.edu/MTIportal/research/publications/documents/2806_10-02.pdf.
World Bank (2004), Background Resource Materials on Transport and Poverty, World Bank (www.worldbank.org/transport/pov&tra_resources.htm).
World Bank Transport Website (www.worldbank.org/transport) includes information on various equity issues.
D. Brad Wright (2008), “No Way to Go: A Review of the Literature on Transportation Barriers in Health Care,” World Transport Policy & Practice, Volume 14, Number 3 (www.eco-logica.co.uk), pp. 7-23; at www.eco-logica.co.uk/pdf/wtpp14.3.pdf.
This Encyclopedia is produced by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to help improve understanding of Transportation Demand Management. It is an ongoing project. Please send us your comments and suggestions for improvement.
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