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Defining and measuring
public transit service equity
Alex Karner, PhD
Postdoctoral researcher ● CEDEUS
Defining and measuring
public transit service equity
Alex Karner, PhD
Postdoctoral researcher ● CEDEUS
@AlexKarner
Transportation equity
What is it?
3
• Freeway revolts, urban
unrest (1960s)
– McCone commission
report
• ISTEA (1991)
– “P...
Transportation equity
What is it?
4
…a civil and human rights priority. Access to
affordable and reliable transportation
w...
Transportation equity
What is it? An illustrative example
• 2004: Minority Citizens Advisory Committee
proposes adoption o...
Regional equity analysis
• Critical review
– Geographic aggregation
– Future vs. existing equity
– Treatment of race
6
Kar...
Photo credit:
Paloma Pavel
Regional equity organizing:
Equity, environment and jobs Scenario
Transit service equity
8
9
Why do we have transit?
• Image and aesthetics
• To use federal funds (FTA’s New Starts)
• Economic development (Chatman...
Who uses transit?
10
Transit dependents
(bus users)
Choice riders
(commuter rail users)
“Simply put, the bus is the mode o...
Transit goals in tension
• Rail transit service has expanded faster
than bus service over the past 25 years
• Bus patronag...
Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
Legal basis for transit equity
12
“No person in the United States shall, on the
ground of race, color, or national origin, be
excluded from participation in...
Fund recipients may not discriminate “with
regard to the routing, scheduling, or quality of
service … furnished” to patron...
Equity analysis practice
• Transit agencies evaluate the equity of
“major” service changes according to FTA
guidance FTA C...
image source: Metropolitan
Transportation Commission
Oakland Airport Connector
• $500 million project
• Doubles fare, no i...
17
July, 2010 Metro budget cuts 387,500 bus service hours
Nov., 2010
Bus Riders Union files administrative complaint
with ...
How well do existing methods
work?
18
Study area: Phoenix, Arizona
• 6th largest city in US
(1.4 million people)
• 12th largest metropolitan
area (4.2 million p...
20
Rapid
Express Local
Light rail
Typical analysis:
1. Establish service area demographics
21
total population people of color
household
income < $25K
Valle...
Typical analysis:
2. Establish affected population demographics
22
Route 39 – 40th St.
white people of color household inc...
Typical analysis: limitations
23
• Either census data or ridership can be
used
• Most analyses based on demographics
proxi...
Accessibility-based analysis?
• Accessibility measures the potential to
meet desired needs
(Wachs and Kumagai, 1973; Handy...
Research questions
1. How consistently do existing methods
characterize the equity of transit-related
decisions?
2. How ca...
Observed ridership and census
demographics
26
Data and methods
27
• Census demographics
– 2010 SF1 (race)
– 2008-2012 ACS (income)
• Ridership
– 2010-2011 Valley Metro
...
28
Rapid
Express
Local
29
• White ridership
higher than
census on
premium modes
• Black ridership
higher than
census on local
modes
• Latino ride...
30
31
Modeling results
dependent variable (ridership proportion)
White Black Latino Asian < $25K > $50K
census 2.1 2.1 24.8
N 92...
Modeling results
dependent variable (ridership proportion)
White Black Latino Asian < $25K > $50K
census 2.1 2.1 24.8
N 92...
Modeling results
34
Implications for FTA equity analysis
Rapid routes example
Comparison populations
white
people of
color
household
income < ...
Conclusions
• The demographic data used (census or
ridership) can affect the conclusions drawn
regarding equity
• FTA cons...
Equity in accessibility
37
38
Maricopa Pinal
Maricopa Association of Governments TAZ system
~1 sq. mile
~1/4 sq. mile
~1/10 sq. mile
Data
39
Pedestrian network
OpenStreetMap
Block-level demographics
Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics
Transit stops
T...
Methods
1. Calculate pedestrian service areas around
stops (1/4 mi. bus, 1/2 mi. rail)
2. Develop service area demographic...
41
Origin
Stopi
Stop1 Stop2 Stopj
Workersw Jobsw
Travel time and geography
General Transit Feed Specification
…
Demographi...
Results: total accessibility
42
Territorial accessibility Worker-weighted accessibility
43
Route-level territorial accessibility
44
Route-level worker-weighted accessibility
Scottsdale
Neighborhood
Circulators
Glendale Urban
Shuttles
Scottsdale
Neighb...
45
Implications for FTA analysis
> average low-income riders
worker-weighted route-level accessibility to low-wage jobs
Limitations
• Coarse (and
unchanging) LEHD
thresholds
– Low-wage jobs
definitely low
– Mid-wage jobs less
clear
• No consi...
Conclusions
• Valley Metro routes appear mostly equitable
• New data allow for the development of
refined indicators of pu...
Contact
Alex Karner
alex.karner@gmail.com
http://www.alexkarner.com
@AlexKarner
Acknowledgements
Funders
Walton Sustainabi...
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[Webinar] “Public Transit Service Equity: Definition and Measurement Considerations”

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Webinar Session: “Public Transit Service Equity: Definition and Measurement Considerations” (July, 3rd). Presented by Dr. Alex Karner.

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[Webinar] “Public Transit Service Equity: Definition and Measurement Considerations”

  1. 1. Defining and measuring public transit service equity Alex Karner, PhD Postdoctoral researcher ● CEDEUS
  2. 2. Defining and measuring public transit service equity Alex Karner, PhD Postdoctoral researcher ● CEDEUS @AlexKarner
  3. 3. Transportation equity What is it? 3 • Freeway revolts, urban unrest (1960s) – McCone commission report • ISTEA (1991) – “Planning factors” • Subsequent guidance, legislation, etc. Watts, Los Angeles, 1965
  4. 4. Transportation equity What is it? 4 …a civil and human rights priority. Access to affordable and reliable transportation widens opportunity. Current transportation spending programs do not equally benefit all communities and populations. Negative effects of some transportation decisions are broadly felt and long-lasting. The Leadership Council on Civil Rights http://www.civilrights.org/transportation/
  5. 5. Transportation equity What is it? An illustrative example • 2004: Minority Citizens Advisory Committee proposes adoption of four EJ principles: 1. Creation of an empowering public process 2. Collection of data to analyze inequities in transportation funding 3. Changing discretionary investments to mitigate such inequities as are found 4. Mitigation of disproportionate project effects prior to being approved for funding 5 Transportation 2035: MTC’s 2009 RTP
  6. 6. Regional equity analysis • Critical review – Geographic aggregation – Future vs. existing equity – Treatment of race 6 Karner, A. and D. Niemeier (2013). “Civil rights guidance and equity analysis methods for regional transportation plans: a critical review of literature and practice.” Journal of Transport Geography 33: 126-134. Rowangould, D., A. Karner and J. London. “Identifying environmental justice communities for transportation analysis.” Under review at Transportation Research: Part A. San Francisco County, California
  7. 7. Photo credit: Paloma Pavel Regional equity organizing: Equity, environment and jobs Scenario
  8. 8. Transit service equity 8
  9. 9. 9 Why do we have transit? • Image and aesthetics • To use federal funds (FTA’s New Starts) • Economic development (Chatman and Noland, 2013) • Congestion and air quality mitigation (Anderson, 2014) • To provide basic mobility for transit dependent populations (Grengs, 2005; Garrett and Taylor, 1999)
  10. 10. Who uses transit? 10 Transit dependents (bus users) Choice riders (commuter rail users) “Simply put, the bus is the mode of the poor.” Median income $22,500 $62,500 source: Taylor and Morris, 2015 using 2009 NHTS data
  11. 11. Transit goals in tension • Rail transit service has expanded faster than bus service over the past 25 years • Bus patronage declined from 2001-2009 as rail ridership grew • Bus and rail service and patronage converging over time • Shift to serving choice riders with premium service 11sources: Taylor and Morris, 2015; Wells and Thill, 2012; Grengs, 2005
  12. 12. Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act Legal basis for transit equity 12
  13. 13. “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act 13
  14. 14. Fund recipients may not discriminate “with regard to the routing, scheduling, or quality of service … furnished” to patrons. 49 CFR §21.5 Appendix C(a)(3)(iii) 14
  15. 15. Equity analysis practice • Transit agencies evaluate the equity of “major” service changes according to FTA guidance FTA Circular 4702.1B • Process has been contentious in Los Angeles and the Bay Area • FTA requires specific data and methods but these may not reflect actual ridership and afford wide agency discretion 15
  16. 16. image source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission Oakland Airport Connector • $500 million project • Doubles fare, no intermediate stops • $70 million withdrawn by Federal Transit Administration for civil rights violations Local bus service cuts • AC Transit disproportionately serves riders of color • 2008-11: 8% fewer service miles, 12% fewer trips, fares increased 11%
  17. 17. 17 July, 2010 Metro budget cuts 387,500 bus service hours Nov., 2010 Bus Riders Union files administrative complaint with Federal Transit Administration April 23, 2012 Metro found in violation April 5, 2013 New Metro service equity analysis June 27, 2013 Metro found in compliance Los Angeles
  18. 18. How well do existing methods work? 18
  19. 19. Study area: Phoenix, Arizona • 6th largest city in US (1.4 million people) • 12th largest metropolitan area (4.2 million people) • Urbanized area increased sevenfold from 1950 – 2000 • 2.4% of workers commute using transit (half the US average rate) 19 Congestion on Interstate 10 in Phoenix image source: ADOT
  20. 20. 20 Rapid Express Local Light rail
  21. 21. Typical analysis: 1. Establish service area demographics 21 total population people of color household income < $25K Valley Metro system demographics (buffers) 1,710,309 891,990 177,640 52% 28% Valley Metro system ridership 242,687 136,729 122,532 56% 50%
  22. 22. Typical analysis: 2. Establish affected population demographics 22 Route 39 – 40th St. white people of color household income < $25K 77% 23% 17% 3. Compare affected and service area populations white people of color household income < $25K Valley Metro system demographics (buffers) 48% 52% 28% Route 39 – 40th St. 77% 23% 17% 77% > 48% and 17% < 28% Potential impact
  23. 23. Typical analysis: limitations 23 • Either census data or ridership can be used • Most analyses based on demographics proximate to stops • Academic literature has taken a similar approach (Wu et al., 2003; Minocha et al., 2008; Mavoa et al., 2012; Al Mamun and Lownes, 2011)
  24. 24. Accessibility-based analysis? • Accessibility measures the potential to meet desired needs (Wachs and Kumagai, 1973; Handy and Niemeier, 1997) • Essential for understanding transportation system benefits (Martens, 2012; Martens et al. 2012) • Use to supplement demographic analyses 24
  25. 25. Research questions 1. How consistently do existing methods characterize the equity of transit-related decisions? 2. How can new data sources aid with equity determinations? – Incorporate accessibility 25
  26. 26. Observed ridership and census demographics 26
  27. 27. Data and methods 27 • Census demographics – 2010 SF1 (race) – 2008-2012 ACS (income) • Ridership – 2010-2011 Valley Metro On-board survey Karner, A. and A. Golub (In press). “Comparing two common approaches to public transit service equity evaluation.” Transportation Research Record.
  28. 28. 28 Rapid Express Local
  29. 29. 29 • White ridership higher than census on premium modes • Black ridership higher than census on local modes • Latino ridership lower than census in all cases
  30. 30. 30
  31. 31. 31
  32. 32. Modeling results dependent variable (ridership proportion) White Black Latino Asian < $25K > $50K census 2.1 2.1 24.8 N 92 92 92 92 92 92 R2 0.26 0.024 0.33 0.20 0.003 0.005 32 • Census demographics have some relationship with ridership for some groups
  33. 33. Modeling results dependent variable (ridership proportion) White Black Latino Asian < $25K > $50K census 2.1 2.1 24.8 N 92 92 92 92 92 92 R2 0.26 0.024 0.33 0.20 0.003 0.005 33 dependent variable (ridership proportion) White Black Latino Asian < $25K > $50K census 1.89 12.43 1.76 27.6 2.61 total ridership -0.0419 0.0343 0.0303 mean walk score along route 0.00829 -0.0184 0.0252 premium mode dummy 0.739 -1.479 -0.546 -1.77 1.58 light rail dummy 1.516 -1.418 -1.258 -1.94 N 92 92 92 92 92 92 R2 0.59 0.54 0.47 0.26 0.52 0.68 • Adding quality-of-service variables improves fit • Relationships differ by racial category
  34. 34. Modeling results 34
  35. 35. Implications for FTA equity analysis Rapid routes example Comparison populations white people of color household income < $25K 6,524 7,158 1,396 48% 52% 48% Reference population (buffers) 48% 52% 28% 35 Comparison populations white people of color household income < $25K 1,337 434 205 76% 24% 11.5% Reference population (ridership) 44% 56% 50% Census demographics Ridership 48% = 48% and 48% > 28% No impact under service improvement 76% > 44% and 11.5% < 50% Potential impact under service improvement
  36. 36. Conclusions • The demographic data used (census or ridership) can affect the conclusions drawn regarding equity • FTA considers both sources valid • Future work to understand when model results can be more widely applied 36
  37. 37. Equity in accessibility 37
  38. 38. 38 Maricopa Pinal Maricopa Association of Governments TAZ system ~1 sq. mile ~1/4 sq. mile ~1/10 sq. mile
  39. 39. Data 39 Pedestrian network OpenStreetMap Block-level demographics Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics Transit stops Transit routes GTFS Transit schedule
  40. 40. Methods 1. Calculate pedestrian service areas around stops (1/4 mi. bus, 1/2 mi. rail) 2. Develop service area demographics 3. Calculate travel time between all stop pairs (64 minute cutoff, ~95% of observed trips) 1. 2 hour morning peak, 24 random departures (22 GB, ~7 hours on consumer hardware) 2. ESRI network analyst with “Add GTFS to a Network Dataset” 4. Calculate stop- and route-level accessibility 40
  41. 41. 41 Origin Stopi Stop1 Stop2 Stopj Workersw Jobsw Travel time and geography General Transit Feed Specification … Demographics Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Jobsw Jobsw Transit route k 𝐴𝑖 𝑤 = 𝐸𝑗 𝑤 𝑒−𝛽 𝑡 𝑖𝑗 𝑗 Territorial accessibility 𝐴𝑖 𝑤 = 𝑊𝑖 𝑤 𝐸𝑗 𝑤 𝑒−𝛽 𝑡 𝑖𝑗 𝑗 Worker-weighted accessibility Sum over all workers for overall accessibility Take mean over stops on a route for route- level accessibility ti1 t12 t2j
  42. 42. Results: total accessibility 42 Territorial accessibility Worker-weighted accessibility
  43. 43. 43 Route-level territorial accessibility
  44. 44. 44 Route-level worker-weighted accessibility Scottsdale Neighborhood Circulators Glendale Urban Shuttles Scottsdale Neighborhood Circulator Glendale Urban Shuttles
  45. 45. 45 Implications for FTA analysis > average low-income riders worker-weighted route-level accessibility to low-wage jobs
  46. 46. Limitations • Coarse (and unchanging) LEHD thresholds – Low-wage jobs definitely low – Mid-wage jobs less clear • No consideration of unemployed 46 • LEHD also contains race, occupational category • Updated annually • Possible to open source the methods to some degree Opportunities
  47. 47. Conclusions • Valley Metro routes appear mostly equitable • New data allow for the development of refined indicators of public transit accessibility • Their application in concert with traditional demographic measures is likely to improve public transit decision making 47
  48. 48. Contact Alex Karner alex.karner@gmail.com http://www.alexkarner.com @AlexKarner Acknowledgements Funders Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives Centro de Desarrollo Sustentable Urbano California Endowment Resources Legacy Fund Sustainable Transportation Center, UC Davis Colleagues Deb Niemeier Parisa Fatehi-Weeks Aaron Golub Lindsay Imai Jonathan London Richard Marcantonio Sam Tepperman-Gelfant

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