Urban Core Transit Access to Low-Income Jobs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - commuting, ridership - disadvantage, place - north america, mode - mass transit


low-income jobs, transit accessibility, improved economic welfare


In many areas in the United States, low-income jobs have followed patterns of suburbanization, with a resulting spatial mismatch between low-income workers residing in dense urban areas and low-income jobs located in suburban areas of the outlying urban periphery. This situation facilitates a need for auto ownership in core urban areas traditionally thought to be rich in transit supply and robust in transit accessibility. The resulting auto dependence is a substantial economic burden for low-income households and detrimental to those who have made residential location choices in an attempt to adopt a lifestyle that relies on public transit. This paper seeks to explain the various levels of households with low incomes and high rates of car ownership (LIHCO households) in the urban core by investigating their accessibility to low-income job locations. Two transit accessibility metrics geared toward low-income populations were derived and were applied. The first metric was based on the number of low-income jobs accessible by transit from the residential location; the second was based on late-night transit frequency at the residential location. These accessibility scores were then correlated with the magnitude of LIHCO households residing in each spatial unit of analysis. The results suggested a link between transit access to low-income jobs, late-night transit frequency, and the number of LIHCO households. It was concluded that improved transit access to low-income jobs and increased late-night transit frequency might reduce auto ownership in LIHCO households, with improved economic welfare as a result.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.