Evaluation of a Large Scale Universal Basic Mobility Wallet in South Los Angeles

Research Team: Caroline Rodier (lead), Madeline Brozen, Evelyn Blumenberg, Mollie D’Agostino, Brian Harold, Yunwan Zhang, Madeline Wander, and Tamika Butler

UC Campus(es): UC Davis, UCLA

Problem Statement: A lack of reliable and affordable transportation exacerbates socioeconomic inequities for low-income communities, especially people of color. Mobility wallets are a relatively new approach to addressing financial barriers to travel. Individuals are provided with funds to pay for a range of mobility options, including transit and shared modes (e.g., bikeshare, scooter share, ridehail), at their discretion. Currently, there are five mobility wallet pilot programs in the US, however, only two pilot programs (Portland and Sacramento) specifically recruit low-income households. In addition, these programs are all small (150-500 members), and only one has published a peer-reviewed survey analysis. On the other hand, three new equity-focused mobility wallet pilots will be implemented in Los Angeles (LA), Stockton, and Pittsburg in the next nine months. LA's Universal Basic Mobility Wallet Pilot is the most notable of these planned pilots, with at least 5,000 participants from South LA and monthly stipends that range from $24 to $150 loaded onto the local transit TAP card. LA Metro, the regional transit agency, has recruited local electric carshare, ride-hail, bikeshare, and scooter share services programs to accept the TAP card as payment.

Project Description: UC Davis and UCLA researchers will develop a mixed-method evaluation design, including quantitative and qualitative research. UC Davis will lead the quantitative evaluation of the program while UCLA will lead the qualitative analysis focused on an in-depth exploration of the effect of the mobility wallet on families of color. The proposed research seeks to answer the following questions about the mobility wallet: (1) Will the mobility wallet increase participants' access to destinations and travel? (2) Will the mobility wallet reduce participants' travel related-greenhouse gas emissions? And (3) Will the mobility wallet improve participants' economic and health outcomes? The sources of quantitative data include TAP card user data and a longitudinal survey (before, during, and at the end of the pilot). The qualitative data sources will include semi structured surveys and interviews with families of color (20 participants each in the treatment and control groups and conducted ten months apart).

Status: In Progress

Budget: $240,000