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/