Community College Transportation Access: A California Case Study

Research Team: Susan Shaheen (lead), Joan Walker, Evelyn Blumenberg, Madeline Brozen, Adam Cohen, Aqshems Nichols, Rasik Hussain, and Nicole Matteson

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley, UCLA

Problem Statement: Community college students spend more on transportation than their counterparts at public and private four-year colleges, partly due to the lack of on-campus or nearby affordable housing. Recent research highlights how transportation challenges are an overlooked but basic need for community college students. While the empirical evidence is somewhat limited, there are established connections between transportation access and educational outcomes. For example, a study with Rio Hondo Community College in the Los Angeles region found that students who received deeply discounted transit passes had higher student success rates than their comparative peers. This evidence suggests that transportation investments for California’s community college students are worthwhile to explore in efforts to boost community college completion rates.

Project Description: This project will identify strategies for increasing transportation access to community colleges and trade schools by creating a typology and framework for understanding the available transportation options. The study seeks to answer the questions: (1) how can the range of community colleges in California be categorized to subsequently tailor transportation interventions, (2) what is the range of transportation services that are currently being offered, (3) what are the barriers to access community colleges, and (4) what strategies and policies could lead to key outcomes (e.g., students attaining high quality jobs or going on to four-year colleges). The researchers seek to understand what may be adding additional stressors (e.g., level of engagement in college activities) for community college with respect to the transportation barriers they face and how public transit and other options might help to address such barriers (e.g., public transit subsidies, ease of payment, carpooling).

Status: In Progress

Budget: $87,648