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This report outlines a framework for mobility equity, or a transportation system that increases access to high quality mobility options, reduces air pollution, and enhances economic opportunity in low-income communities of color. Decades of local, regional, and state transportation plans and investments have not adequately responded to the mobility needs of low-income communities of color, reinforcing unequal land-use patterns and contributing to disproportionate health and economic impacts. Today, technological advancements are making it easier to address community-identified mobility needs with a multitude of clean transportation options. However, we lack the planning, policy, and decision-making structures that will equitably deliver mobility benefits to low-income communities of color. To establish a transportation system that benefits all people, California must embrace an equitable deployment of investments and policy interventions to prioritize the mobility needs of low-income individuals of color and address the historical neglect they have experienced. This type of reform must center social equity and community power as primary values in all transportation planning and decision-making. To get there, this paper proposes a framework designed to elevate these values and address structural inequities through an adaptable, customizable process for community, advocates, and transportation decision-makers.
On June 24, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 which gave up to $4,500 to owners of vehicles with poor fuel economy who trade them in for more efficient new vehicles. This "cash-for-clunkers" program was touted as meeting three objectives: increasing vehicle sales, at a time when the U.S. auto industry is struggling; reducing fuel use; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This column examines the workings of the program as well as describes what kinds of vehicles can be turned in and purchased under it. The column then assesses how well the program meets its stated objectives. In conclusion, the authors found that the program will chiefly benefit the vehicle manufacturers as there is such a narrow differential in mileage between traded-in and new vehicles eligible for credit that the resulting reductions in fuel usage and GHG emissions will be modest. In addition to this, they found that the energy cost of building new vehicles must be factored into the equation as the carbon dioxide payback time for manufacturing vehicles can take several years. Lastly, the column points out that the program greatly affects income distribution as it encourages old cars to be crushed and shredded, thus reducing the supply of old cars and presumably raising the price of those that remain, in turn hurting lower income people.
Equitable mobility pilot projects should center the voices usually left out of decision-making through a community-driven process. Equitable mobility pilot projects must also address entrenched injustices by providing the following benefits to low-income communities of color in a way that is meaningful, direct, and assured: (1) Increased access to affordable, efficient, safe, reliable mobility options; (2) Reduced air pollution; (3) Enhanced economic opportunities. Historically, transportation investments and plans have not met the mobility needs of low-income people of color because decisions have been made behind closed doors without community input. This has resulted in these communities suffering from disproportionate levels of transportation-related pollution and longer and less reliable commutes. A lack of good mobility options limits low-income people's ability to raise themselves out of poverty. Today, low-income people of color often face financial, technological, physical, or cultural, barriers to accessing shared mobility services (i.e. bikeshare, scooter share, Uber, carshare, etc.). Some of these mobility services have also be shown to compete with public transit ridership and utilize unfair labor practices, both of which harm people of color.
Three transportation revolutions—electrification, vehicle sharing, and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles—are poised to transform our entire transportation system, impacting everything from how people move and the shape of our communities to the livelihoods of millions now employed in driving jobs. This report seeks to chart a path away from personally-owned autonomous vehicles and instead establish a vision and a path towards a “heaven” scenario that improves mobility for all people, reduces air pollution, and increases economic opportunities, particularly for marginalized populations. In a “heaven” future, all people will have access to fleets of autonomous vehicles that are electric and shared, known as FAVES, that replace the need for personal vehicle ownership. In this equitable and sustainable vision, we must continue to prioritize walking, biking, and public transit—still the healthiest, most sustainable alternatives—over FAVES and all other autonomous vehicles, to the maximum extent possible. To get there, we must put marginalized people first, reclaim our streets for people and not cars, and utilize this autonomous vehicle revolution as a tool to address the transportation, environment, and economic injustices of the past.
The U.S. has seen tremendous growth in shared-use mobility services over the past decade. This expansion, however, has not reached underserved communities. Low-income households could greatly benefit from the cost-savings of sharing otherwise underused assets, as these communities lack sufficient access to public transit and “first-last mile” solutions. The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) interviewed carsharing company experts with experience serving low-income communities, an insurance industry expert with substantial experience working with carsharing companies, and leaders of community-based organizations (CBOs). These entities brought unique insight in identifying best practices that can be encouraged through government regulations. These recommendations can guide program design and are summarized at the end of this report. Interviewees helped inform four major policy areas: (1) outreach; (2) infrastructure; (3) insurance; and (4) credit/payment. Interviewees offered their expert opinions and recommendations for how to successfully implement low-income carsharing programs.
This report contends that creating and preserving diverse transit-oriented neighborhoods is sound public policy that would favorably impact households and regions on multiple fronts, resulting in: a broader range of housing opportunities, greater transportation choice, better environmental outcomes and stronger family and neighborhood economies. There is no single silver bullet for creating and preserving such neighborhoods, however. Promoting and preserving diverse transit oriented neighborhoods requires policies that address housing, land use and transportation, experienced practitioners in several sectors, tools geared to promote transportation-oriented development (TOD )and affordability, and flexible financing.
Cities and regions have a many sources of intrinsic values. Some of these are quite tangible, such as the aggregated purchasing power of families and households, or the value of in-place infrastructure for utilities and municipal services. Others are intangible in nature but still quite real and valuable: a sense of community and place, as evidenced by organizations committed to that area’s future, or historic preservation, and quality of life, respectively. By recognizing and valuing both kinds of assets, new strategies can be crafted to capture these benefits and use the resultant resources for community renewal and reinvestment.
This study examines equity and smart mobility in ten U.S. counties and their central cities to understand the extent that smart mobility services and assets are equitably available, and impact accessibility, employability, livability, and mobility. For this study, “equitable smart mobility” is defined as transportation systems that incorporate technology while increasing access to mobility options, enhancing opportunity in low-income communities of color, and supporting a clean environment.
The southern suburbs of Chicago (the Southland) grew up in the nineteenth century with a dual identity: as residential communities from which people rode the train to downtown jobs and as industrial centers that rose around the nexus of the nation’s freight rail network. Over the last two generations, many of these communities endured economic hardship as residents and businesses left for sprawling new suburbs and international pressures eroded the industrial base. The environment of the Southland and the entire Chicago region suffered as farmland was paved over at ever accelerating rates, vehicle miles traveled climbed steadily, and thousands of acres of prime industrial land decayed into brown fields.
As more and more regions seek to implement high-occupancy toll or HOT lanes, more and more transit agencies seek knowledge to take advantage of this new infrastructure opportunity. Unfortunately, as is often the case with the rapid diffusion of a new technology, little information is available to guide policy. This research addresses the need for knowledge of the integration of transit with HOT lanes. It first identifies the salient elements of HOT lanes for transit agencies and then systematically compares these features across all 12 HOT lane facilities operating in the United States at the start of 2012. This paper combines a review of the limited literature on HOT lane/transit integration with detailed data collection from functioning projects. The text aims at a general comparison; however, the tables offer an additional degree of detail to facilitate further exploration.