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First/Last mile transit access as an equity issue

28 Jun, 2018 News Center 1,093

It is common knowledge that access to public transportation affects employment. However, no study has looked at the possibility of improving public transportation to improve employment chances by refining the first-last transit access. This concept has recently been explored by a joint research study and was presented at KDIS on June 27, by Eun Jin Shin, a current assistant fellow at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

A research team of four (Marlon G. Boarnet, Genevieve Giuliano, Yuting Hou, Eun Jin Shin) conducted research based on two questions: One, to what degree is employment transit by car is greater than transit by public transportation in low-income areas?  Two, how does the difference in accessibility in transportation change when the “first-last mile” access to transit is improved?

What is the “first-last transit access”? Simply put, it is the time spent while you move from station/bus stops to your destination. The study was conducted in San Diego Metropolitan Statistical Area – a region with a relatively poor transportation system. For the purpose of analyzing the low-income access by public transportation, two measurements were implemented: 1,) identification of the number of low-wage jobs within 30-minutes commuting time; 2) the outcome of the first step adjusted by the number of potential workers living within 30 min. Then, they simulated situations where the access to transit was reduced (riding a bicycle; reducing a waiting time etc.).

The results in San Diego show that when people who use public transportation walk to the transit areas (ex.: bus stop), the accessibility to low-wage jobs by car is 30 times bigger than that of the public transit. As a result, the research team came to a conclusion that changing the mode of access to transport stations is more effective in providing more equity in the access to jobs. Because the alternative policies of reducing the headway (waiting time at stops), which requires more vehicles and employees are too expensive.

The use of a system of shared bicycles, Dockless bikes (free-floating bikes), shared car services are the possible options of providing more accessibility to jobs, however, the limitation of such recommendations would be the obscurity of the cost of such programs and the absence of real-life evidence of their effectiveness.


By Ranat RYSBEK (2017 MPP, Kyrgyzstan)