Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: In Progress YEAR: 2019 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

Mobility, Accessibility and Disadvantaged Neighborhoods

Project Summary

Funding source: Caltrans
Funding amount: $113,940
Contract number: 65A0674 TO 031
Start and end dates: 3/15/2020 to 12/31/2020

Project description
The findings and products from the proposed project will help improve the allocation and targeting of transportation and other government investments to benefit disadvantaged neighborhoods. The State of California has made a commitment to equity as a part of its ambitious climate-change initiative (e.g., SB 535 and AB 617). Transportation is a key element, but the state appears to have been slow to implement policies and programs to improve the quality of life, public health, and economic opportunities in marginalized communities (California Environmental Justice Alliance, 2017). We do not have California-specific mobility information on how disadvantaged neighborhoods differ along urban-rural, suburb-exurb, ethnic-racial and other dimensions. The underlying diversity has real and profound implications on how best to close the mobility gap. The availability of geographically detailed and timely data can help state agencies to more effectively match funds to neighborhood-specific needs and opportunities. The proposed project will help fill this lacuna by empirically analyzing and documenting the diversity among disadvantaged neighborhoods in terms of transportation, land-use patterns, and accessibility. 

To understand the nature, pattern, and magnitude of commonalities and differences among neighborhoods in mobility and access to opportunities, the project will construct and analyze tract-level and transportation-mode-specific accessibility indicators to employment, quality elementary schools, and primary health care. The project will build on recent and current projects funded the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Air Resource Board (CARB), and conducted by UCLA's Center for Neighborhood Knowledge (CNK). Because of funding and resource limitations, this project will be conducted for two case studies, which hopefully can be expanded to cover the entire state in the future.

The proposed project will focus on an urban county and a rural county, Los Angeles (LA) and San Joaquin (SJ). The project will use bivariate and multivariate statistical methods to describe the variation in mobility and accessibility among policy-based definitions of disadvantaged neighborhoods. The project is organized around five tasks to be completed within one year.

Task 1 includes assembling transportation and accessibility indicators from existing sources, including those that were developed or currently being developed by CNK in partnership with CARB and Caltrans. Task 2 will develop additional indicators where needed and modify existing ones to reflect the specific characteristics of each of the two counties. Task 3 will statistically examine and measure the degree of heterogeneity in the transportation-accessibility indicators among all neighborhoods and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Task 4 covers the posting of the dataset on a website. The last task will produce a final report, a policy brief, and a set of papers to submit to academic and professional journals for publication.


Paul Ong
Research Professor and Director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge
5287, Public Affairs
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States
[email protected]