Defining and Measuring Equity in Public Transportation

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Defining and Measuring Equity in Public Transportation


Transit should serve all users, regardless of age, race, ability, or any other identity. Policies and planning must be conscious of inequities when defining and measuring equity in public transportation. This study was done to aid the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the state’s transit agencies in assessing transit service equity and assisting with evaluating past, existing, and future inequities. This report identifies and evaluates policies and practices associated with equity measurement in public transit from extant academic and professional literature sources. These include the Federal laws and regulations addressing Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the measurement tools (i.e., metrics) that are used to identify and evaluate equity impacts related to transit benefits and costs. The report identifies a list of candidate metrics and applies them to a test case in Santa Cruz County, California, and compares their results to those generated by the metrics required by Title VI (race and income) for transit equity analysis. From this comparison, the study evaluated the need for new metrics in transit equity. Findings suggest that these traditional Title VI measures do not correlate well with other potential measures of inequity. Hence, transit inequity is a multifaceted problem with several potential different measures, each revealing an aspect of inequity. Caltrans and other transit-related agencies need to reach beyond these traditional measures, finding metrics that address the specific, context-appropriate equity conditions of the communities they are measuring to ensure fair and equal public transportation for all.



Dr. Ferrell began his career in 1995 as a planner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). He completed his doctoral studies in City and Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley in 2005 and worked as a consultant with Dowling Associates, Inc. for 10 years before leaving to help form CFA Consultants in 2010. He is currently a principal, board member, and executive director of Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities Research and Policy Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. He has been the principal investigator for eight research projects for the Mineta Transportation Institute, where he has been a Research Associate since 2005. His research focuses on the relationships between transportation and land use, livability, travel behavior, transportation policy, and planning-related institutional structures. His research experience includes the study of multimodal transit and freeway corridors, the best practices for building successful transit-oriented development, the effects of transit-oriented development on surrounding property values, the effects of neighborhood crimes on transportation mode choice, and a set of methods, metrics, and strategies for evaluating transit corridor livability. As a practitioner, he has planned mixed-use, infill, and transit-oriented development projects; analyzed the impacts of specific and general plans; planned and implemented intelligent transportation systems; and developed bicycle and pedestrian plans. He has taught several quantitative methods classes in San Jose State University’s Urban Planning Department and a course in transportation and land use in the City and Regional Planning Department at the University of California at Berkeley. 


Mr. David Reinke is a transportation engineer/economist with over 40 years of experience in travel demand modeling, transportation economics, survey design and management, database management, and software engineering. He has worked on a number of leading-edge projects in travel demand and economics, including the development of activity-based travel demand models, the development of discrete-choice travel forecasting models, the development of microsimulation-based models for analysis of congestion pricing alternatives, and applications of economic methods to transportation policy analysis. His areas of expertise include policy analysis, advanced statistical methods, machine learning methods, economic analysis, survey design and management, and applications of advanced computational techniques to transportation. He is currently a Research Associate with the Mineta Transportation Institute where he has worked on studies of transit equity and transportation economics. David currently co-chairs the Education and Outreach Subcommittee for the Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Computing Applications (AED50) at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and is a past member of TRB committees on Statistics, Economics, and Travel Behavior and Values. He is also a member of the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society. 


John Eells is a transportation planner with 44 years of experience preparing comprehensive transportation plans and developing sustainable transportation projects at the local and regional level. John’s experience includes two years in the Legislative Analyst Office in the California State Legislature, five years with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), seven years as the Transportation Planning Coordinator for Marin County, and thirty years as a consultant. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. John has assisted in the preparation of Regional Transportation Plans for Sacramento and Lake Tahoe and reviewed Regional Transportation Plans throughout California for conformance with State greenhouse gas reduction requirements for the California Attorney General’s Office. He participated in a joint effort by Caltrans and the California Council on Science and Technology to develop a proposal for a new California Center for Transportation Innovation to coordinate transportation research activities in California. John has also managed major multi-modal transportation studies, evaluated the feasibility of proposal ferry services, and worked on the implementation of several rail transit projects including the Sacramento Light Rail project, the ACE Commuter Rail Service from Stockton to San Jose, the SMART Commuter Rail Service from Cloverdale to Larkspur, proposed AMTRAK service from Oakland to Reno, and the proposed high speed Maglev Service from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. 


After earning a degree in environmental policy from Seattle University, he returned to Santa Clara County, accepting a position at the City of Cupertino within its Safe Routes to School Program. This role ignited his passion for transportation as he witnessed its profound effect on daily life. Understanding the interconnected nature of planning and its impact on transportation, Matthew decided to pursue a Master of Urban Planning degree in 2021. During his studies, he served as a research assistant at the Mineta Transportation Institute, studying transit equity measurement for Caltrans. Concurrently, Matthew worked as a graduate intern at the City of San Jose, where he partnered with local business owners to install bike racks and lockers on private property. Recently, Matthew accepted a role at the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission and is responsible for legislative affairs and GIS analysis. 

September 2023
Public Transportation
Title VI



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