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

Research Team: Evelyn Blumenberg (lead), Madeline Wander, and Fariba Siddiq

UC Campus(es): 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: This project builds upon a previous study that 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. This project built upon this dataset to analyze these trends relative to transit supply. In particular, the research team evaluated whether workers and jobs are less likely over time to be located in close proximity to high-quality transit. The analysis looked at (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 examined the role of affordable housing in the locational patterns of both jobs and workers. Data for the state as a whole was analyzed and compared to the largest five metropolitan areas.

Status: Completed

Budget: $55,000

Associated Resources and Information: