First/last mile transit access as an equity planning issue

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - car, mode - bike, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, mode - bus, infrastructure - station, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice, policy - equity


Job accessibility, Low-income neighborhoods, Modal mismatch (Car-transit access gap), Transit station access/egress


Previous studies have established that residents of low-income neighborhoods in major metropolitan areas have access to many more jobs by car than by transit. In this paper, we revisit this question and present evidence on how the mode of transit station access/egress (by walking, bicycling, or driving) can importantly influence the gap between car and transit accessibility in the San Diego region. We construct two accessibility measures to analyze low-wage job access by transit: (1) the number of low-wage jobs accessible within a 30-min commute and (2) the number of low-wage jobs within a 30-min commute adjusted by the number of potentially competing workers who live within 30 min. We then simulate several policy changes that could reduce the difference in transit vs car accessibility. Examples include using faster station access/egress modes such as bicycling and driving to or from transit stations and reducing transit service wait time. Our results demonstrate that in the San Diego region, if transit riders walk to/from transit stops, low-wage job accessibility by car is almost 30 times larger than low-wage job accessibility by public transit. We find that changing the mode of access and egress to and from stations is more effective at improving transit access to low-wage jobs than policies that reduce transit wait time or improve service headway. Given the transition of transportation to a “service” or “sharing” economy, these results have important implications for how to improve access to employment in low income neighborhoods.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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