Moving Transportation Equity Beyond Title VI: Multimodal Equity Comparison Metrics Development

This project is intended to provide an analysis of equity in the provision of multimodal transportation services in California. A previous study by Mineta Transportation Institute looked at equity regarding transit services. This project will assess transportation equity from a multimodal viewpoint, looking at equity not only from the perspective of provision of transportation services, but also from the perspective of allocation of resources for transportation planning and data collection.

USDOT Priorities:

Alignment with RPA: Improving Mobility of People and Goods – Transit serves a critical mobility function for transit-dependent and choice (commuter) riders alike. However, transit often suffers in comparison to automobile travel in terms of financing, users, and resources. By identifying how transit compares to automobile travel in terms of equity, as well as how auto investments can have detrimental effects on transit performance and disadvantaged communities, this research will provide important information to transit operators, advocates, and multimodal transportation planners and policymakers to improve mobility overall.

Alignment with U.S. DOT Strategic Plan Goals – This research would serve the goals of

  • Economic Strength and Global Competitiveness by helping ensure the survival of the nation’s transit services for transit-dependent populations;
  • Equity by helping to re-focus transportation planning efforts to better serve transit-dependent populations; 
  • Climate and Sustainability by helping create a more effective and sustainable low-carbon transit system; and
  • Transformation by helping transit agencies re-design our transportation systems for the future that does a better job of allocating limited resources to the benefit of transit-dependent communities.
Principal Investigator: 
Christopher Ferrell, Ph.D.
PI Contact Information:

San Jose State University

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
December 2023 to December 2024
Implementation of Research Outcomes: 
  • Low-resource/high-value analysis methods for evaluating the comparison of equity impacts of autos versus transit services.
  • Guidance on policy and planning implications of the application of low-resource/high-value analysis methods.
  • Partnerships between the research team and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, and other public agencies involved in transportation planning and policy development.
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

There are several possible audiences for this study and the methods developed and the guidance generated will be targeted to at least one of the following end-users:

  • Statewide. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are responsible primarily for capital allocation decisions: i.e., project and program selection. The development of methods for measuring and comparing the equity performance of transit and autos has the potential for use by the state in allocation decisions for transportation capital projects, plans, and policies.
  • Regional and local. Metropolitan Planning Organizations/Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (MPOs/RTPAs) determine allocations of resources to transportation projects and programs as part of the regional planning process. New metrics designed to compare the equity impacts of various multimodal alternatives could be a powerful tool in the decision-making process of creating Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs) and Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs), among other MPO plans and policies. Similarly, local governments and/or transit advocates looking to promote funding from federal, state, and regional governments for a transit project that would replace or make unnecessary and auto project (e.g., highway expansion) could use these methods to show the superior equity benefits of a transit project.
  • Transit agencies make both capital and operating funding decisions. Both are determined mainly by what resources are available through public funding. Fare policy is determined by transit agencies and can have a significant effect on affordability of transit for those with low incomes. By comparing the equity of services offered by the transit agency to those offered by a proposed, new highway facility, for example, an agency could potentially make a stronger case for the equity benefits of transit.
Project Number: 



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