Lehman Center for Transportation Research at Florida International University

Transportation Mobility of Low-Income Workers – Where, When, and How?

  • Sponsor: Federal Transit Administration
  • Contact: Dr. Fang Zhao, (305) 348-3821, zhaof@fiu.edu
    or Dr. David Shen, (305) 348-1869, shenl@fiu.edu

  • Transit dependent populations face several difficulties in addition to a lack of access to cars. With continued urban sprawl, job locations are becoming increasingly dispersed. Compounding the problem is the limited ability of transit properties to provide high-level services to all destinations at all times. Additionally, the fast appreciation of property values in many parts of the nation, especially in Florida and California, limits the ability of low-income families to find affordable housing near potential jobs. Higher-level transit services are typically provided during the peak hours but many service jobs that are often taken by low-income workers do not follow a regular 9 am to 5 pm schedule. Transit properties usually provide low-level evening and night services to limited destinations. Without adequate information about the origin-destination (OD) and demand pattern in a day, transit properties are limited in their ability to optimize transit services for the off-peak periods. Not only does this limitation reduce the opportunities for low-income workers to access jobs, but it also results in inefficient operations.

    In the past, many studies have focused on the spatial mismatch of job and home locations of low-income workers, low-income single mothers’ travel needs, transit service planning for disadvantaged population, etc. The publication of the 2000 Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP) in late 2003 to early 2004 provides a rich source of information for analyzing the travel pattern of low-income workers. Combined with detailed employment information including locations, types, and sizes, as well as housing market information and other demographic and socioeconomic data from the census, the CTPP allows a better understanding of the spatial distribution of low-income workers and potential job locations. This understanding will help transit properties to improve transit services to better serve low-income workers.

    This project will utilize a combination of data sources including CTPP, employment, and housing data to develop a methodology to assess the transit markets in terms of the residential and job locations for low-income households, determine the temporal distribution of transit demand, especially for off-peak periods, analyze the housing availability to low-income families in relation to job locations, and evaluate existing transit services for improvements and potential development opportunities. The work tasks are described below.