30 years of transportation equity and all I have is a trailer in the desert

Norman Krumholz (1982) defined equity planning as an effort to provide more “choices to those… residents who have few,  if any choices.”

The Black community regardless of socioeconomic class has fewer choices in regards public transportation, walking, and cycling.  Facebook Post - Untitled Page

A 2001 study by NHTS found that 63% of transit riders are poor and/or Latinx or Black. A 2017 by APTA study found that the number of poor and/or Latinx and Black riders had dropped to 60% with Black still being the large group of riders at 24%.

The 2001 study spoke at length of the inequities of transit for non-white people who do not work downtown and live downtown and so did the Reconsidering Social Equity in Public Transit

1999 study:

Despite the fact that transit dependents are the steadiest customers for most public transit systems. transit policy has tended to focus on  recapturing lost markets through expanded suburban bus, express bus, and fuel rail systems.”

All of this talk about equity and wanting to include Black people in the conversation of urban planning and transportation equity has been going on for over 20 years and what have all these studies brought us.

What did transportation agencies and urban planners do with all of this information?

From where I stand it seems as if they used that information to double down on attracting white middle class consumers, not only in regards to public transportation, but also in regards to joining forces with development and real estate  to also add housing near urban cores to their tool box of inequities.

Black people have had to move farther away from job centers and Black people were already historically far from job, cultural, and education centers.

A study in the Twin Cities area and I bring this up Twin Cities because  Twin Cities was recently ranked as one of the shortest and least stressful commutes,  Black, Asian, and Latinx workers who rely on public transit spend the equivalent of roughly 4 work weeks per year more on their commute than white solo drivers.

Geographic segregation and the disparate rates of public transit use result in time penalties for commuters of color.

In a 2009 study the US Across all modes of transportation when compared to white commutes in the US:

Asian-American workers spend almost 29 more hours a year commuting.
Black workers spend almost 23.2 more hours a year commuting.
Latinx workers spend almost 15.2 more hours a year commuting.

To summarize a paper put out by DC Policy that the people who have choices because of income and race are those who get the reasonable option of walking and cycling to work and plentiful more pleasant public transit options so they do not have to drive.

Black people in DC are more likely to take the unreliable and unpleasant bus, because they are farther away and white people in in DC are more likely to be by the Metro train, so taking it is a breeze.

The most transit and bike friendly places according to WalkScore —owned by realtor RedFin– places like New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Portland, and Chicago are some of the most inequitable places for people who live in the quickly vanishing Black sections of town.

So what I ask now and will continue to ask of people in the fields of urban planning, transportation, and politics, how long are you going to put on this charade that you give a damn about Black people? How many more fake distracting fellowships are you going to give to the best and brightest? How many more carrots are you going to dangle? How many more Black keynote speakers do you need before we’re all cleared out of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland?

How much longer are you going to piss on the Black, Latinx, Native American, and Asian-American communities and call it rain and progress?

by Lark Lo

Leave a Reply