Assessing the Incorporation of Racial Equity into Analytical and Modeling Practices in Transportation Planning

Research Team: Paul Ong (lead), Silvia Gonzalez, Chelsey Bryant, Jared Tadayon, Chhandara Pech, and Mark Garrett

University: UCLA

Problem Statement: Over the last year, public agencies have undergone a profound philosophical and normative shift, partly in response to the Black-Lives-Matter movement. Previous research finds that many existing transportation models (and associated land-use and economic models) are unable to identify, trace and estimate racial impacts from major infrastructure projects that contribute to gentrification and displacement in marginalized communities. These issues are not limited to race. There are similar data and modeling limitations in efforts to implement sustainable community strategies, which includes an equity component.

Project Description: This project examines if and to what extent state-level transportation departments in four states incorporate race and equity considerations into transportation planning technical analyses and modeling practices, particularly for long-range transportation plans, and how such equity-infused practices can be improved. The research team examined relevant literature, reviewed statewide long-range transportation plans for California and three other states, consulted with other experts, and conducted interviews with scholars and knowledgeable agency staff and practitioners. The findings indicate widespread acknowledgement that racial disparities in transportation exist, and state agencies have expressed a strong commitment to redressing the inequalities. However, while there has been progress in creating analytical equity tools to assess transportation projects and programs, they lack standardization. There have also been few noticeable revisions to existing regional transportation planning models to incorporate equity, and the profession lags behind what is technically possible based on the work of academic researchers. Technical staff need better training in regard to equity issues and agencies should encourage greater collaboration between equity and analytical units to develop and improve frameworks to assess equity performance in plans, programs, and projects.

Status: Completed

Budget: $20,000

Project Partner(s): California State Transportation Agency

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