Struggling to Connect: How Mobility on Demand Strategies Can Address the Suburbanization of Poverty

Research Team: Susan Shaheen (lead), Elizabeth Deakin, and Alexandra Pan

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: Low-income households recently displaced from denser urban settings due to high housing costs to more dispersed suburban locations (where jobs and other travel destinations are less accessible) may face unique transportation problems, such as longer commutes, limited transportation options, and higher driving costs.

Project Description: This research builds on a prior study conducted in the City of Oakland, which found that severe financial pressures were displacing low-income households to more suburban areas in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties. The research also found that Mobility on Demand (MOD) platforms integrating shared mobility and public transit with price discounts were attractive to low-income populations for trip planning and tracking expenses. To better understand how involuntary displacement affects mobility, as well as the opportunities and challenges for developing MOD platforms in suburban areas, the research team will conduct an accessibility analysis in select cities in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties (e.g., Antioch, Stockton). The research team will use GIS to measure spatial and temporal accessibility through the number of jobs/other key destinations that can be reached within certain time periods (e.g., 30-, 45-minutes) and distances (e.g., 5, 10 miles) by different modes, including public transit, driving, and shared modes (e.g., bikesharing, ridehailing) at different times of day. Costs to the user for different trip types will also be documented, including any subsidies provided per ride. Next, the research team will compare existing accessibility with that of a proposed MOD platform that is expected to be deployed by the Contra Costa Transit Authority in partnership with US Department of Transportation in late-2022/early-2023. The research team will also collect qualitative measures of “perceived accessibility” (i.e., ease of reaching key destinations) through an online survey (up to 400 participants) with low-income (defined as “rent burdened” households spending more than 30 percent of income on rent) and recently displaced households (defined as households who moved from Oakland within the past five years), interviews (up to 40 interviewees), and ethnographic shadowing (observing up to 40 volunteers in their naturalistic environment).

Status: In Progress

Budget: $80,000

Project Partner(s): Contra Costa Transportation Authority; San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority; TransForm