This session includes research associated with the program elements of the federal transportation process. The session includes environmental justice applications in 48 metropolitan areas, analysis of transportation improvement plans, and the connection between transportation and housing decisions.
Realizing the Potential of Equity Analyses of Regional Transportation Plans: Law, Practice, and Proposals for Reform
Richard Marcantonio, Public Advocates Inc.Show Abstract
Aaron Golub, Portland State University
Alex Karner, University of Texas, Austin
Louise Dyble, Winston & Strawn LLP
By shaping regional development through their planning activities, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) can affect three important “drivers” of regional inequality: unrepresentative governance, unequal access to opportunities, and unfair distribution of the benefits and burdens of growth. After decades of regional planning, however, some locations enjoy easy access to opportunities, while others are locked in a cycle of decline. We contend in this article that law and guidance requiring robust equity analyses for regional transportation plans hold more promise to realize equity than is currently achieved in practice. To make this case, we survey federal standards for regional planning, focusing on key pieces of law and guidance concerning social equity in MPO planning derived from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 12898 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. We then scrutinize the “equity analysis” of regional plans required of MPOs, highlighting the important impact it could have on addressing regional equity. Lastly, we reflect on the shortfalls of the existing practice, and offer proposals to strengthen the equity analysis requirement that derive from authors’ experiences working with these planning processes.
Does Location Matter? Performance Analysis of the HUD Assistance Programs with Respect to Transportation Affordability in Dallas–Fort Worth Metropolis
Shima Hamidi, University of Texas, ArlingtonShow Abstract
Jinat Jahan, University of Texas, Arlington
Somayeh Moazzeni, University of Texas, Arlington
Transportation costs are the second largest expenditure for a family, thus have a substantial influence on housing affordability. In an auto-oriented region like DFW, the situation is exacerbated for low income families to limited transportation options. This study seeks to evaluate the efficiency of major affordable housing programs for low income people in terms of transportation affordability. This study uses a rigorous methodology that involves a solid transportation cost modeling with disaggregated data available at property level for housing assistance programs in DFW. Our findings show that about 69% of the assisted units in DFW are unaffordable in terms of transportation costs. The majority of them are spending about 17% to 20% of their income on transportation. The most affordable program is Low Income Housing Tax Credit with 58% affordability rate and the least affordable program is the Continuum of Care with 9% affordability rate when accounting for transportation costs. We also found that almost all affordable units (regarding the transportation costs) are located in main economic hubs of the region such as Dallas and Fort Worth which have better access to jobs and public transit. In contrary, almost all housing properties in the areas between Dallas and Fort Worth are unaffordable. These are areas adjacent to the University of Texas at Arlington with a high number of transit dependent population and in Arlington, the biggest midsize city with no public transit. Our findings urge HUD to consider modifying these programs by incorporating the location-efficiency factors to ensure true affordability.
Justice, Exclusion, and Equity: An Analysis of 48 U.S. Metropolitan Areas
Chelsey Palmateer, University of Minnesota, Twin CitiesShow Abstract
David Levinson, University of Sydney
Injustice in transportation services experienced by disadvantaged demographic groups account for much of these groups' social exclusion. Unfortunately, there is little agreement in the field about what theoretical foundation should be the basis of measures of the justice of transportation services, limiting the ability of transportation professionals to remedy the issues. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved measure of the justice of the distribution of transportation services, which relates to the effectiveness of transportation services for all members of disadvantaged groups rather than for only segregated members of these disadvantaged groups. To this end potential measures of distributive justice, based on the accessibility to jobs provided by various modes, are evaluated in 48 of the top 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The purpose of the study is to inform recommendations for appropriate use of each measure.
Assessing the Equity Impacts of a Transportation Improvement Program
Alex Karner, University of Texas, AustinShow Abstract
Aaron Golub, Portland State University
Living near transportation infrastructure investments is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, proximity to new transit, roadway and interchange investments is likely to be associated with enhanced accessibility to destinations. On the other, this proximity brings exposure to air pollution, noise, and visual blight, especially for roadway capacity expansion. Despite this dual nature, contemporary assessments of transportation infrastructure often consider roadway proximity to be an unambiguous benefit. This is especially problematic in an environmental justice (EJ) context since low-income people tend to be concentrated near roads yet are less likely to own automobiles to avail themselves of the accessibility offered by them. While much attention in the US context has focused on regional transportation plan analysis, the transportation improvement program (TIP)—a near-term listing of the projects that have or will receive federal funding or are otherwise regionally significant —offers a promising opportunity to assess the burdens of roadway proximity in the context of projects likely to be constructed. Yet agencies rarely analyze their TIPs for potential EJ impacts, and when they do, the analyses are often based on simple visual assessments of proximity and census demographics. This article provides a brief overview of the TIP and existing approaches to its EJ analysis. It will then employ a dataset of TIP projects from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) to develop a more meaningful approach that recognizes not all roadway proximity is beneficial, especially if populations do not have access to automobiles. The findings will be of interest to planners and practitioners seeking to increase the correspondence of their equity analyses with the likely impacts on populations of color and low-income in their cities and regions.