First/last mile transit access as an equity planning issue

Marlon G. Boarnet, Genevieve Giuliano, Yuting Hou, Eun Jin Shin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-310
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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