Evaluating the Proximity of Jobs and Workers to High-Quality Transit

Research Lead: Evelyn Blumenberg

University: UCLA

Problem Statement: Ridership at many transit agencies in California is declining. Given that public transit systems aspire to increase travel options, reduce auto dependence, improve traffic flows, and enhance air quality, these downward ridership trends are concerning – particularly since in many parts of the state transit agencies are investing in major expansions to their networks. There are many potential explanations for the decline in transit ridership. One explanation for the loss in ridership may be the changing spatial location of low-wage work and workers in California away from transit-rich neighborhoods. Low-income households and low-wage employment has suburbanized over time making it increasingly difficult for workers to commute by transit. Consequently, transit-rich areas may capture a declining percentage of workers and jobs over time.

Project Description: A previous project supported by the UC ITS SB 1 research program drew on data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program (https://lehd.ces.census.gov/) to examine (a) the relationship between the growing jobs/housing imbalance in California cities and affordable housing and, related, (b) changes in commute distance between 2002 and 2015. The next phase of this work will build on this dataset to analyze these trends relative to transit supply. In particular, the research team will evaluate whether workers and jobs are less likely over time to be located in close proximity to high-quality transit. The analysis will include (a) the changing location of workers and employment relative to transit-rich neighborhoods and (b) the changing worker and employment characteristics of transit-rich neighborhoods themselves. In each of these component analyses, the research team will continue to examine the role of affordable housing in the locational patterns of both jobs and workers. Data for the state as a whole will be analyzed and compared to the largest five metropolitan areas.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $55,000