According to the Federal Transit Administration, one in four Americans is unable to regularly and reliably access transportation to meet their daily mobility needs: a situation the agency calls “transportation insecurity.”
[Above image by FTA]
To find solutions for this issue, the FTA awarded a $6 million grant to the University of Minnesota to design a program that identifies and addresses the contributing factors leading to transportation insecurity.
“Transportation gives us the freedom our nation was founded upon,” explained FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez in a statement.
“Without reliable and resilient transportation, more people will end up in poverty, and fewer will be able to improve their lives,” she added. “This grant will improve access to jobs, food and healthcare – the ingredients to a better quality of life.”
[Editor’s note: A panel of state department of transportation experts provided a similar take on this topic during a knowledge session at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2022 Annual Meeting in Orlando.]
The university’s Center for Transportation Studies, Toole Design Group, and the Center for Neighborhood Technology and Urban Movement Labs will head up this research project – entitled the Mobility, Access and Transportation Insecurity: Creating Links to Opportunity or MATI program.
The FTA said the MATI program will develop and implement demonstrations that rely on public transportation to mitigate transportation insecurity and evaluate outcomes and effectiveness.
The team also will document the impacts and potential strategies to address transportation insecurity, such as improved access to job training that leads to improved work performance and often results in increased earnings.
As part of the research project, the consortium will establish partnerships with local community-based organizations to ensure cultural diversity and equity in the populations identified through the MATI research program.
A recent study conducted by the University of Michigan found “transportation insecurity” closely correlates to income level. More than half of people living below the poverty line experience transportation insecurity, according to the school’s data, which is higher than the rate of food insecurity among people in poverty.