Equity of transit accessibility across Chicago

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, ridership - demand, operations - service span, policy - equity, policy - social exclusion


Public transit, Accessibility, Equity, Transit operation, Justice, Transportation


This article studies the equity of transit accessibility in the City of Chicago. We measure the accessibility of different cohorts including minority and low-income populations, the elderly, people with disabilities, those with lower education levels, and households without a car to six different destinations by public transit. The destinations are jobs, parks, groceries, hospitals, schools, and libraries. We show that there are clear inequalities across cohorts in the distribution of benefits that the transit system provides as measured by the number of reachable valued destinations. The results indicate that areas of low accessibility have a higher percentage of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, low-income workers, low-educated citizens, and the elderly. The most affected cohort are low-income workers, for whom access to jobs, parks, groceries, hospitals, and libraries decline as their number grows. The findings also highlight that inequities are most severe, in order, to jobs, hospitals, and grocery stores when examining the different cohorts. While transit agencies must deploy service with the existing demand in mind, the observed inequities behoove decision makers to make accessibility and equity considerations explicit in transit service decisions.


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


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