Visualize Transit Equity
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Well, as of today, in half a dozen large metro areas in the US, it is possible to very clearly measure how well transit helps achieve equity across place and race and gender. And the short answer is that it is helping, but there is a long, long way to go.
The Transit Equity Center has created a powerful set of dashboards that help measure and visualize access to essentials such as jobs, medical care, and other services. These dashboards are tuned to make it clear how easily those essentials can be reached depending on where you are coming from.
A typical finding is that moving by transit rather than private car quadruples the time it takes to reach medical care, and similarly reduces jobs that are accessible within any given commute time. Even among transit riders, if you are starting from a predominantly minority neighborhood your ability to reach jobs is substantially reduced relative to starting from a predominantly white neighborhood.
Electric bicycles are frequently faster than transit for in-town trips, and when you are allowed to take them with you on mass transit such as commuter rail, they can then make even long distance trips substantially faster by eliminating the need for additional transfers at either end of the journey.
As with education, voting, housing, and other essentials of public life where there are powerful and enduring consequences to inequality, it is high time that investments in transportation be seen through the lens of equality.
Here at FreeBike, we believe that there is no more affordable and flexible way to improve the transportation related aspects of equal access than to help people move at the speed of cities on their own schedule and with their own vehicle, in the form of a light electric vehicle such as an electric bike. We don't pretend that this is a complete solution, but it can carry us a long, long way, and is an important tool that definitely plays well with others.
We can measure the inequalities of today's transportation systems. Let's get busy managing them in the direction of equality.
For more information on the Transit Center's new dashboards, see: https://transitcenter.org/introducing-the-transit-equity-dashboard/