PRESS RELEASE: New Analysis Measures Racial and Economic Disparities in Transit Access Across Los Angeles
The Transit Equity Dashboard illustrates how longstanding patterns of segregation and discrimination in public policy have caused transit access for Black and brown residents to lag behind access for white residents to hospitals, grocery stores, parks, and colleges. LA’s recovery is also slower than other large cities.
An analysis released today measures racial and economic inequities embedded in the Los Angeles region’s transportation network. The Transit Equity Dashboard, produced by the national foundation TransitCenter, maps and quantifies the disparities in transit access caused by segregation and discrimination in land use and transportation policy.
The COVID crisis made racial inequities in public health and economic status very plain. Good transit helps address these disparities by opening up access to jobs, education, medical care, and other necessities. But disparities in transit access linked to race and economic status undermine transit’s function as a “ladder of opportunity.” Using data from transit agencies and the U.S. Census, the dashboard reveals these disparities in Los Angeles.
"Transit Center's new Equity Dashboard reveals how transit systems across the U.S. are failing Black and Brown communities and where we have opportunities to improve transportation access,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “On average Angelenos can access 2.8 million jobs in 45 minutes by car. However, Black Angelenos on transit can only access about 150,000 jobs within the same timeframe. That's 18 times less. When we talk about a just recovery from the pandemic, we mean ensuring that the people who are most impacted by this dual health and economic pandemic are at the center of our decision making, this cannot be done without data that captures the real-life challenges we must solve for, that’s exactly what the Transit Center has done with its Equity Dashboard."
“As we reopen our businesses, schools, parks, and public institutions in Los Angeles County, we must prioritize public investments that will shrink gaps in transit access and put the region on the path to a racially just recovery,” said Eli Lipmen, Director of programming and development at Move LA, an affordable housing and public transit advocacy organization. “Public transit is also key to addressing our climate crisis and the disproportionate impact it is having on frontline communities.”
In addition to job access, the dashboard measures transit access to hospitals, grocery stores, parks, and colleges, reflecting the fact that most trips are not commute trips, and that equitable transit enables people to access more than the workplace. Key findings include:
- Service cuts enacted during the pandemic disproportionately affected Black residents. As of February 2021, the average Black resident of greater Los Angeles could access 17,200 fewer jobs than in February 2020, a 10% decline. The average resident could access 8,300 fewer jobs than a year ago, a 5% decline.
- There is a need to significantly improve access for nearly all riders. In the Los Angeles region, residents can reach 2,878,605 jobs on average in 45 minutes using a car -- 17 times the average level of job access on transit.
- On a weekend morning, it takes nearly four times longer to reach the closest hospital using transit than using a car.
Achieving more equitable transit in the Los Angeles region will require changes to both the broad sweep of transportation and land use and the specifics of transit operations and fare policy. Advocates have proposed reforms to remediate the racial and economic divides in the region’s transit access and recuperate from decades of service deterioration, including:
- Increasing bus service 20% beyond pre-pandemic levels, and operating it more frequently throughout the week
- Street design changes to speed up bus service throughout the region
- Developing new programs, changing zoning, and increasing funding to expand affordable housing near frequent transit routes
Transit agencies and local governments in Los Angeles should also adopt new performance targets that measure inequities like those identified by this dashboard, and assess progress toward equitable transit access.
“The Transit Equity Dashboard shows how far we have to go to fulfill the promise of equitable access to abundant transit,” said TransitCenter Executive Director David Bragdon. “We hope it helps people advocate for better transit and provides transit agencies with a valuable new vantage point for measuring their performance.”
The dashboard tool is available at https://dashboard.transitcenter.org/
Many of us assume the only real climate challenge is reducing CO2.
If only that were true! But it isn’t.
There is an even more important challenge—especially in the short term—that can help buy us the time required to reduce CO2 as much as we need:
We have to reduce short-lived climate pollutants or SLCPs, otherwise known as super pollutants.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls SLCPs “near-term climate forcers”: greenhouse gases and other climate pollutants that have short atmospheric lifetimes compared to CO2 but per molecule have a much stronger warming effect than CO2.
This means that reducing them has a stronger impact on near-term warming. In fact, reducing SLCPs could slow the planet’s warming by about half a degree by 2050!Read more
Move LA has been working to provide LA County students with free or reduced fare transit passes for more than a decade. And the Metro Board voted on May 27 to make transit fare-free for all community college and K-12 students when schools re-open in August, and for all low-income riders in January 2022. But there are some stipulations, including that funding must be found before it can happen. So stay tuned. To find out how students feel about fareless transit you can click on the 5-minute video below.
We had a really, really good time at our Spring Forward LA event in March 2021, when we honored the leaders in business, organized labor, government and the nonprofit world who have worked with us on Measures R and M and so many other issues since 2008! We call them “Transit Transformers”: Metro CEO Phil Washington, former Duarte Mayor and former Metro Boardmember John Fasana, Long Beach Mayor and former Metro Boardmember Robert Garcia, LA County Business Federation (BizFed) CEO Tracy Hernandez, Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 300 Business Manager Sergio Rascon, LA Business Council (LABC) President Mary Leslie, and Skanska USA Executive Vice President Mike Aparicio.
This event booklet includes interviews we conducted with these seven honorees, as well as twitter “shout outs” to the sponsors who have also been essential to our success over 13 years. We are so grateful for your support! And let’s be honest—we also staged this event because we felt the need for a little “pick me up.” 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but spring has come and with it renewed hope for the future of LA County, California, and the rest of the world! READ THE BOOKLET HERE.
And we have much more work to do . . .
This past year we learned so many important lessons, especially the understanding that if we don’t come together to meet the challenges in front of us—even if, as with the coronavirus, these challenges demand bold and transformative change—we will not have the future to which we aspire. This is particularly true for Black, Indigenous and People of Color who continue to suffer the most from the pandemic and the recession that has followed it, and the affordable housing crisis that has forced so many people to live on the street.
We must make a concerted effort to “Build Back Better” by addressing the challenges in our future: from curbing climate change to the need to build more affordable housing to the public health hazard of dirty air to rescuing public transit and our transportation system as a whole.
Move LA is proud to have had more than a decade of success building broad-based coalitions to advocate for the bold strategies that are needed. And we are grateful that we have won the support of major business and philanthropic donors.
Thank you all!
On May 18, from 4-5 p.m., we invite community college students (and college staff) to join a Zoom call to talk about how we can convince the Metro Board of Directors to say YES to fareless transit for all low-income bus and rail riders, all community college students, and all K-12 students in LA County—by the end of the year!
The Metro Board votes whether to proceed with a “Fareless System Initiative” pilot project—that includes all community college students—on Thursday, May 27, and we also encourage you to call in to the meeting to provide public comment when it begins at 10 a.m. Speakers are only allowed one minute—that's about 130 words—so it’s easy!
It will be very important to have students speak up from as many community colleges as possible to win the support of board members representing different parts of LA County.
A majority of board members appear to be supportive of fareless bus and rail transit, though some have concerns about the cost. Federal legislation has been introduced that could help support Metro's fareless program if the bill becomes law: the Pressley-Markey “Freedom to Move Act” states that public transit should be considered a “public good” and be fare-free. (Data shows low-income families spend nearly 30% of household income on transportation expenses.)
Please join us on May 18 to learn more about what we can do, and please consider calling in to Metro on May 27 to tell board members why fareless bus and rail is important to you and why the board should vote YES on the Fareless System Initiative pilot project.
On the eve of Earth Day, we convened a panel of experts from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors for a very Move LA discussion on improving mobility and health through innovative transit technologies. Joining us will be leaders from Circuit, Edison, LADOT, L.A. Care Health Plan, LADWP, Metro, P3 Innovation Center, SoCalGas, and Tranzito who will share innovative pilots and models that will help us achieve our climate and public health goals in LA County (and beyond). Watch the full program on YouTube and then check out the resources provided by each of the speakers including research, videos, presentations, and more.
Action Alert: Tell Metro to Include ALL Community College students in the Fareless Transit System Initiative
On Thursday the Metro Board of Directors will hear a report about the feasibility of providing fare-free transit passes to all low-income residents of LA County (about 70% of all riders) as well as K-12 students from the LA Unified School District, starting in January 2022 and August 2022 respectively.
But last week Metro's Executive Management Committee discussed the possibility of making all community college students fare-free since 75% are low-income, and including the other 25% would not cost that much more. It would also relieve colleges, as well as Metro, of the burden of determining who is low-income and who is not.
We absolutely need support from students—and/or faculty, trustees, staff and other advocates—to make this happen. It's easy, since public comment is at the beginning of the meeting and only 1 minute of public comment is allowed per person. Instructions on how to join are below, followed by more information about Metro's proposal to make fares free—called the Fareless System Initiative or FSI.Read more
39 California Environmental, Environmental Justice, Transit Rider, and Labor Organizations Call on Congress to Increase Funding for Public Transit
On Earth Day, 39 California Environmental, Environmental Justice, Transit Rider, and Labor Organizations Call on Congress to Increase Funding for Public Transit
Frequent and reliable public transit is critical to reducing reliance on carbon-emitting cars and trucks, while also boosting economies and promoting racial justice
LOS ANGELES, CA -- Today, in recognition of Earth Day, 39 organizations representing environmental, transit rider, business, social justice, and organized labor groups sent a letter to the California congressional delegation urging them to increase federal investments in public transit “so that all Americans have access to high-quality, safe, affordable, and reliable public transit service and transit-friendly communities.”
“Reinventing the future of public transit infrastructure is key to tackling climate change,” the letter reads. “Over 28 percent of greenhouse gases in the U.S. come from transportation, making it the largest contributor of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In California, more than 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation and oil and gas sectors. Now is the time to invest in the public transit infrastructure for the future.”Read more
Join us Wednesday to Talk About Marrying New Technology with “Old School” Transit & Air Quality Solutions
Last year, as we sheltered at home, many of us noticed that for a few weeks the skies were clear, the birds could be heard chirping, and the weather was mild. Many of us knew this respite would not last, and we also know what needs to be done in order for us to live sustainably, reduce transportation emissions, and achieve not just good but great air quality.
Join us next Wednesday, April 21, at 11 am to discuss innovative pilots and projects in SoCal that marry new technology with “old school” transit and air quality solutions that could help bring the clear skies and chirping birds back even when we are not sheltering at home.
We are pleased to host 13 guests who will talk about their work and answer your questions. And we are pleased to also honor Dr. William Burke, who is retiring as Chair of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).Read more
While many are speculating about the future of public transit in the post-COVID world, others are working on innovations to integrate transit with both public and private mobility options—shared rides in cars and vans, on scooters and bicycles, for example—using the new tools that technology has made available.
The intent is to move away from the need for more cars on the road, to make transit more effective, and to help clean up LA County’s increasingly bad air. Many of these new programs are being deployed in disadvantaged communities that are particularly burdened with both limited mobility options and poor air quality.
Join us for this conversation about technology, transportation, and improving public health and air quality. We'll also be honoring Dr. William A. Burke, retiring Chair of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), and talking with State Senator (ret.) Vanessa Delgado, the new Vice Chair of the SCAQMD, and Veronica Padilla-Campos, Executive Director of Pacoima Beautiful and now a Board Member at SCAQMD.Read more