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Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide (2020)

Chapter: Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 4 - Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25860.
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29 Following the identification of the populations for analysis, use public engagement and data analysis techniques to identify the existing needs and concerns of these individuals and groups. Agencies can make informed decisions about how to improve equity only if they first understand the perceived and actual inequities that are unique to the underserved indi- viduals of their region. This step focuses on understanding current conditions, which are to some degree a product of past agency actions. Step 3, which will be discussed in Chapter 5, will describe how to apply knowledge of current conditions to understand the impacts of the agency’s proposed actions (such as invest- ment decisions in the TIP). Current conditions and needs will bear examination at both the regional and neighborhood level. This guide recommends developing an under- standing of existing needs at a regional level before analyzing more granu- lar disparate impacts/DHAE within specific neighborhoods. By starting at the regional level, an agency can understand the most common concerns throughout its jurisdiction and identify locations indicating disparate impacts/DHAE with regard to key concerns such as health, safety, and mobility. This “big-picture” view and understanding can help the agency prioritize neigh- borhoods in which to conduct additional investigation. With the priority neighborhoods identified, the agency can repeat the process to evaluate conditions and identify needs at the neighborhood level. The essential elements of the needs analysis are essentially the same, but some units of measurement may differ between the regional and neighborhood scale. The ele- ments of the analysis are: • Identify and prioritize needs and concerns through stakeholder input, • Assess environmental health and safety conditions, • Assess gaps in access and mobility, • Validate results through stakeholder engagement, and • Document the findings for use in later steps. When assessing needs of underserved persons, it is important to consider three general categories of needs: (1) potential adverse effects to environmental health and safety; (2) poten- tial delays or reductions in the receipt of transportation benefits such as access and mobility; and (3) any other high-priority needs and concerns that have been identified through direct engagement with underserved persons. After successfully identifying the needs of underserved persons at the regional level (and to the extent possible, at the neighborhood level), the agency documents the findings in preparation C H A P T E R 4 Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns

30 Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes for subsequent steps discussed in this guide (Step 3, which involves measuring and assessing impacts, and Step 4, which involves understanding and assessing disparateness). In Step 3, the agency uses the understanding of existing needs and concerns to select appropriate measures for understanding the impacts of agency actions. In Step 4, the agency evaluates the data gathered in Step 2 and Step 3 to understand whether any differences in existing or forecast conditions are disparate or pose DHAE. Where disparate distribution of benefits or burdens or DHAE are found, Step 5 is then used to develop practical mitigation strategies for implementation. Identify Needs at the Regional Level This guide recommends that agencies use the following process for understanding the existing needs and concerns of underserved persons at the regional scale: 1. Gather input from underserved persons about the appropriate issues to analyze; 2. Assess exposure to the burdens of the transportation system, such as environmental health and safety conditions; 3. Assess access to the benefits of the transportation system, especially access to jobs and services via transit; and 4. Validate findings with stakeholder input. Gather Input from Underserved Persons About the Appropriate Issues to Analyze MPOs are advised to spend time reaching out to underserved persons to identify the most pressing issues before going into any technical analysis or modeling of existing environmental health, safety, and transit access conditions. By providing an opportunity for communities to share their needs and concerns, agencies ground their analyses in local priorities, thus ensuring that these analyses are meaningful to the communities they are intended to benefit. Chapter 2 of this guide provided details and ideas to help agencies lay the foundation for public engagement. Focusing more narrowly, this section recommends using one of two dif- ferent approaches, both of which can make good use of surveys and other methods for collecting input. The first and easier approach is to incorporate engagement of underserved persons into existing public participation efforts, such as those used for development of the MPO’s Long- Range Transportation Plan or TIP. The second approach is to conduct a special study focused just on the needs and concerns of underserved persons in the region. An MPO can fairly easily incorporate equity considerations into existing public participation processes for plans, programs, and other activities. Options the agency should consider include: • When collecting information (via surveys or public forums) from the public at large, ask for demographic information, and analyze the results to confirm that the respondents represent the full diversity of a region. • For surveys, oversample in areas with high numbers of underserved populations. Over- sampling helps ensure that the respondent demographics of the survey match those of the region. • When organizing open houses, roundtables, or focus groups on particular topics, be sure to hold some in venues that are accessible to the previously identified high-priority under- served communities, and include some events that focus specifically on the needs of under- served persons.

Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns 31 • Consider conducting a special study that specifically focuses on identifying the needs of underserved persons. Identify organizations in the region (such as churches and community centers) that serve underserved persons, and ask these organizations to assist with gathering data. Staff at the organizations can serve on focus groups to provide information about their clients’ needs. Ask if the organization could help distribute and collect surveys in which their clients identify transportation barriers or other concerns. It is important to acknowledge that not all community perspectives may be captured in a single engagement effort. For example, a retired person in an underserved community may have more time to attend community meetings or participate in community events than a working single parent. To supplement any gaps in identifying needs at the regional level, bolster the insights extracted from community engagement efforts with quantitative analysis (described in the subsequent sections, “Assess Environmental Health and Safety Conditions” and “Assess Gaps in Transit Access and Mobility”). Additionally, each community will have a variety of needs related to transportation. Measures such as “commute time to work” or “number of severe crashes” speak to potentially impor- tant issues but do not paint the whole picture of needs and concerns within a community. Some issues may be compounded by planned changes that would otherwise bring benefits. For example, a planned measure may be intended to increase transit access; however, if an increase in transit fares accompanies the increase in transit access, underserved persons might not be able to participate in the benefits provided by the increased access. Example in Practice: Conducting a Needs Assessment Oregon’s Rogue Valley MPO conducted a special study, titled Transportation Needs Assessment for Traditionally Underserved Populations, that involved partnering with 22 organizations to distribute and gather information. The study identified that lack of access to public transportation was a major impediment and that it would be necessary to expand transit service both geographically and temporally (RVMPO 2016). Assess Environmental Health and Safety Conditions For transportation agencies, assessing environmental risks generally means analyzing exposure to mobile source emissions and to vehicle crashes (especially crashes involving non- motorized roadway users) to determine whether the transportation system burdens under- served persons more than it burdens other population groups. To assess and ultimately remedy the largest health and safety risks related to exposure to environmental hazards, an agency needs to first determine the predominant locations of these risks. A variety of online tools exist to facilitate this, including the U.S. EPA’s web-based EJSCREEN tool, which overlays map layers of demographic data and environmental risk data (such as exposure to high levels of various roadway emissions). A user can run reports about the demographics and environmental conditions of a user-defined area to discover relationships between these variables. The various “heat maps” generated from EJSCREEN can be used to identify areas that are most at risk for environmental hazards. EJSCREEN is a quick method for identifying environmental hazards such as air pollution risks (and requires minimal training

32 Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes to use), but the tool has some limitations; for example, it only allows users to compare the environmental conditions of a selected geographic region to the state or national average (rather than the MPO regional average). In addition to air pollution risks, assess the frequency and distribution of high-crash locations to determine whether these crashes occur more frequently in underserved communities. Data on numbers of crashes involving fatalities are available from the federal Fatality Analysis Report- ing System (FARS), but state DOTs (e.g., in Florida) or other agencies in the area might collect more detailed data. Some MPOs, such as SCAG, are starting to develop their own databases of severe crash data, including the locations of crashes and the demographic characteristics of the persons involved. Assess Gaps in Transit Access and Mobility Several approaches exist for assessing the existing gaps in transit access and mobility across a region’s various demographic groups, and similar approaches can be used to assess access to other benefits of the transportation system. With any of these approaches, it is important that agencies: • Understand mode preferences. Through the use of travel surveys, determine the modal preferences of different population groups. • Understand access to transit. Understand disparate impacts/DHAE among differing demo- graphic groups with regard to access/proximity to transit stations (with proximity generally defined as a walkable distance of no more than a ¼-mile to ½-mile distance from a transit stop). The information that is gathered and assessed should answer the question, “Is transit available to underserved persons?” It is important to consider access in terms of contextual factors that affect trip speed and cost. Low-income persons may not benefit equitably from the travel-time savings offered by a new bus rapid transit or commuter rail service if the fares for the new service are significantly higher than those charged for slower, local buses. • Understand access to destinations by transit. Understand disparate impacts/DHAE among differing demographic groups with regard to their ability to use existing transportation infra- structure to access opportunities for jobs, education, health care, retail, services, and other essential daily activities. The information and analysis should answer the question, “How many opportunities can underserved persons reach within a reasonable travel time?” Transit mobility can be analyzed through general transit feed specification (GTFS) mapping, through travel shed analyses, and through travel-demand models. This guide recommends that, to the extent possible, agencies incorporate each of these approaches (described in more detail in the next sections of this chapter) in their analyses of identifying the needs of underserved persons at the regional level. Understand Travel Mode Preferences A variety of data sources are available for understanding mode choice. Federal data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau’s ACS and the FHWA’s National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), which can be used to identify mode split and other equity indicators such as the pres- ence of zero-vehicle households. Consider whether to conduct a local travel survey for a region, which many MPOs do to develop more detail than is available from national data. Although these surveys can be resource- intensive, the effort can be achieved at reasonable cost by developing partnerships with other organizations that have an interest in the data, such as transit providers, the state DOT, univer- sities, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations.

Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns 33 Understand Access to Transit and Other Community Assets To determine how many people have access to a transit facility, agencies with basic GIS tools can perform a simple “buffer analysis” of the numbers of households and jobs within proximity of transit stops. If the agency can gather data from local municipalities on sidewalk infrastruc- ture, it can use GIS tools to conduct a more robust network analysis such as route directness or level of quality around transit stops. Regardless of the level of detail, the agency can con- duct a comparative analysis between population groups to determine if different populations have equal access to the system; if overlaid with maps of high-priority underserved areas, these approaches can also help identify gaps in service that transportation agencies could work to fill. Agencies also can consider using this approach to determine access to other community assets, such as full-service grocery stores or medical facilities. Start by using GIS to draw distance buffers (e.g., ¼-mile or ½-mile radius areas) around transit stops to determine how many people (of each population group being analyzed) reside within a certain geographical distance of transit service. A PSRC assessment of low-income individuals and people of color within ¼-mile walking distance of frequent transit provides a useful example (see the text box, “Examples in Practice: Network Analysis and Mapping Walk Sheds”). Drawing buffers is a quick analysis that provides a rough idea of how many people live near transit facilities, but it does not account for the geography of roadway and sidewalks. For example, although a transit stop may be within ¼ mile of a home from a birds-eye-view, the actual walking distance to the transit stop is likely longer because the available pedestrian net- work rarely forms a straight line between the home and the transit stop. Recommendations to assess sidewalk coverage only apply to places that have already conducted a sidewalk inventory. To provide a more accurate insight into transit access, consider improving the analysis by using a network distance buffer that captures the actual walking distance to the transit facility. Using GIS of the available pedestrian network, mark out the distance buffers using the pedes- trian routes. Either approach—buffer or network analysis—can be used to analyze populations that live within walking distance of important community services, not just transit. Consider conducting the same analysis to understand access to schools, multi-use paths, full-service grocery stores, medical facilities, or other opportunities that are important to the equity stakeholders in a community. Example in Practice: Enriching Travel Survey Data To supplement the NHTS data, which often lacks sufficient sampling for reliable use at the neighborhood level, the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board (MATPB)—the Madison, Wisconsin, MPO—contracted with the Univer- sity of Wisconsin Survey Center (UWSC). The UWSC conducted a survey that oversampled in areas with significant numbers of minority persons, households in poverty with children, or older adults, to ensure that these underserved persons were adequately represented in the survey’s responses. Using this travel survey data, the MATPB conducted a mode split and travel-time analysis for the various population groups, finding differences as high as 30% when comparing rates of travel to work alone among different population groups (MATPB 2017).

34 Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes Examples in Practice: Network Analysis and Mapping Walk Sheds Network Analysis The PSRC performed a network analysis by mapping a ¼-mile walking distance (via the available network) to frequent transit, which they defined as routes with headways of 15 minutes or less. The PSRC then analyzed the demographics of the people residing within these areas under today’s conditions and under the forecast conditions for their 2040 Long-Range Transportation Plan. They found that 31% of the region’s population currently resided within the ¼-mile walking distance to frequent transit, including nearly 50% of low-income persons and of minority persons. With the 2040 plan improvements, the MPO forecast that 37% of the region’s population would be within the ¼-mile walking distance of frequent transit, including 60% of both low-income persons and minority persons (see figure) (PSRC 2018). Source: PSRC. 2018. Regional Transportation Plan, Appendix B: Equity Analysis Report Low-income individuals and people of color within ¼-mile walking distance of frequent transit. Mapping Walk Sheds The Rogue Valley MPO mapped a ¼-mile walking network distance around each transit route, sidewalk, bike lane, multi-use path, public school, and grocery store in the region’s high-priority areas. Although the analysis did not support comparisons among different population groups, it did offer important insights about the degree to which underserved persons have access to these community assets (RVMPO 2016). Understand the Access Transit Provides to Destinations To understand how useful the transit system is, consider measuring how many destinations a person can travel to from a specific location within a given time frame. In addition to comparing access for different population groups, consider comparing differences in travel time for transit relative to driving if transit is a mode that is highly used by underserved persons in a region. This guide provides two approaches for understanding access to destinations. One approach uses the region’s travel demand model and the other uses GTFS and GIS data.

Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns 35 GTFS is a standardized, open-source data source that enables transit agencies to share and continually update their network data, including route geographies, stops, fares, and schedules. By introducing the time components from schedules, the GTFS data can be used to develop maps of high-frequency transit and of the areas or opportunities that are accessible within a given transit travel time. An example of this approach is provided by the MATPB (see the text box titled “Examples in Practice: Travel-Demand Modeling and Using GTFS”). By combining GTFS and GIS data, an MPO can develop a variety of maps that respond to the interests and needs expressed by equity stakeholders. Such maps may show the following: • How much of the region is accessible via a 45-minute transit trip from high-priority under- served communities; • A 30-minute transit trip (or “travel shed”) to full-service grocery stores, which can then be overlaid with a map of high-priority underserved communities to identify communities in which grocery access could be improved; or • The travel sheds to other essential destinations, such as educational institutions, medical facilities, and major employment centers. The regional travel model is another useful tool for examining the current access by transit to destinations by various population groups. The travel model is also used to forecast regional outcomes, and Chapter 5, covering Step 3, provides guidance on how to conduct this analysis. Validate Results Quantitative analyses often overlook important contextual information. Ask equity stakeholders to review and critique or validate the assumptions and results of any quantitative analysis. Example in Practice: Engaging Stakeholders to Refine Assumptions After equity stakeholders criticized the Oregon Metro’s equity analysis, the MPO sought more proactive approaches to engage equity stakeholders and underserved persons in refining the assumptions and approaches for conducting equity analyses and addressing concerns (Oregon Metro 2016). Identify Needs at the Neighborhood Level After conducting a regional needs assessment, an agency might find some gaps where underserved persons or communities may not be equitably benefiting from the transporta- tion system, or may even be disproportionately burdened. The regional-level analysis may not provide sufficient actionable information for the agency to identify and support next steps. A neighborhood-level assessment can help the agency gain a better understanding of the con- ditions in those neighborhoods. Just as in the regional-level analysis, use public engagement and quantitative approaches to identify and understand needs at the neighborhood level. Some or all of the following tech- niques may be appropriate: • Use results of the regional analysis to identify areas to prioritize for in-depth study; • Conduct additional quantitative analysis at a smaller geographic scale; • Gather more input from underserved persons in specific, high-priority neighborhoods; and • Conduct on-the-ground audits, if necessary.

Examples in Practice: Travel-Demand Modeling and Using GTFS Travel-Demand Modeling: The MORPC used a population-weighted approach in its regional travel-demand model to build demographic profiles of each TAZ and to assess underserved persons’ accessibility issues such as access to destinations (jobs, shopping, and non-shopping opportunities) within a 20-minute auto trip or a 40-minute transit trip. The agency also calculated average travel times for trips (for work/school, shopping, other purposes, all purposes, and to the central business district) and the percentage of population with close access to a college, hospital, major retail destination, or central business district (MORPC 2017). Using GTFS: • The ARC overlaid the locations of various underserved communities with transit travel sheds for 60-minute trips to destinations like schools, jobs, and hospitals, and 30-minute trips to grocery stores. The ARC focused on transit sheds of underserved communities to better understand service gaps and found that most underserved persons were not able to access entry-level jobs within a 60-minute transit trip. This analysis highlighted where underserved communities experienced gaps in transit service, which could be used in guiding transit planning (ARC 2018). • The MATPB developed maps to approximate how far a person can travel by public transit within a given timeframe from a specific origin, such as from the center of a high-priority underserved area. The MATPB also looked at 15-minute bus access to full-service grocery stores. This measure was used to evaluate access from underserved communities to affordable and healthy food, which is essential for maintaining physical health and financial independence (MATPB 2017). Source: MATPB (2017), Regional Transportation Plan, Appendix B, “Environmental Justice Analysis” Access by a 30-minute bus ride from high-priority communities during weekday morning peak period.

Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns 37 This guide does not go into further detail on the first technique listed. Basically, this step simply implies that a neighborhood-level analysis is meant to supplement an already-conducted regional analysis. After the preliminary analysis sheds light on certain neighborhoods in the region, the agency can apply the same approaches to assess existing conditions on a more granular level. A regional planning agency may not have the bandwidth or capability to engage in frequent or comprehensive neighborhood-level analyses. This level of detail can be reserved for instances when an agency and its equity stakeholders believe that a regionwide analysis of equity-related needs and concerns does not adequately uncover the local context. An MPO can use resources such as Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) funds to partner with a municipality to collect essential data and conduct studies on local accessibility indicators such as pedestrian and bicycle network completeness and quality. Conduct Additional Quantitative Analysis After quantifying the health and safety risks across its jurisdiction and identifying high-risk areas, consider conducting a more in-depth analysis of high-risk areas. Once an initial regional analysis has been conducted, the use of GTFS data, GIS tools, buffer mapping, travel shed map- ping, and other previously mentioned software can simply be reiterated (though it may involve slightly different techniques) for a smaller subregion within an agency’s jurisdiction. To further improve the agency’s understanding, more complex approaches also can be developed given that the analysis need only cover a smaller portion of the region. If the regional-level transit needs gap analysis revealed the need for further investigation, con- sider using the travel model to gain additional understanding. A simple yet effective approach (used by the Memphis Urban Area MPO in Tennessee) is to use the model to assess a limited set of origin-destination pairs that are important to underserved persons, following these steps (Memphis Urban Area MPO 2016): a. Identify a subset of origin-destination pairs of importance to underserved persons in the region. Select origins corresponding to the region’s high-priority underserved communities. Select important destinations such as major employers (such as area airports and hospitals). Con- sider any other origins or destinations based on the findings of a regional assessment of transit accessibility. b. For those origin-destination pairs, pull the transit travel time and the automobile travel time from the model. c. For each pair, calculate the difference between the transit and automobile travel times. d. Identify which pairs had the most significant differences between transit and automobile travel times. Focus transit improvement efforts on improving those transit links. Another effective approach is to conduct a neighborhood-level travel shed analysis for specific areas of interest within an agency’s jurisdiction. This approach was successfully piloted by the MORPC. With the overarching goal of bridging first-mile/last-mile gaps and improving lives through increased access to transit, the agency assessed the characteristics and completeness of bicycle, pedestrian, and road networks in selected “mobility hubs” (e.g., in underserved areas) by obtaining answers to the following questions (MORPC 2017): • From an equity standpoint, what minority populations and low-income populations are currently served by the selected mobility hubs, and how do the numbers compare? • What are the numbers of jobs accessible within each of these mobility hubs by a given mode? • Where are the gaps or opportunity areas in the current networks? • What minority populations and low-income populations could potentially be served by strategic bike and sidewalk infrastructure?

38 Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes To address these issues, the following steps are recommended (MORPC 2017): 1. Assemble various geographic datasets (such as sidewalk and crosswalk inventory, bicyclist “level of comfort” data for each roadway, Open StreetMap highway network data); 2. Gather demographic datasets (such as U.S. Census Bureau surveys, Longitudinal Employer- Household Dynamics, Origin-Destination Employment Statistics); 3. Intersect/overlay #1 and #2 above; 4. Calculate the current and potential number of minority residents and low-income residents and jobs within specific travel sheds based on #3; 5. Identify which measures to implement to connect the greatest number of underserved persons with the benefits of transportation infrastructure; and 6. Through a public engagement effort, ask the people who live in those areas to validate the findings. Gather Input from Underserved Persons in Specific, High-Priority Neighborhoods Supplement analytical work with targeted engagement of underserved persons and within underserved communities, especially if the regional needs assessment identified communities that may be seeing a lot of burdens and/or not a lot of benefits from the transportation system. This effort may include conducting a survey that is tailored to staff and clients of local organi- zations, circulating questionnaires within a particular school, or engaging in meet-and-greets around local business to ask people how they typically commute. Examples can be seen in the Rogue Valley MPO’s Transportation Needs Assessment for Traditionally Underserved Popula- tions from 2016 (RVMPO 2016), and the public engagement activities that were conducted by the Polk County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) as part of its neighborhood- level audits (Polk 2015). Neighborhood-Level Audits Site-specific analyses of specific neighborhoods or blocks may be conducted where addi- tional investigation is warranted. One such assessment is a walkability audit. AARP offers a free online toolkit for hosting a walkability workshop and conducting a community walk ability audit (AARP 2018). Neighborhood-level approaches like this enable an agency to engage the public in gathering qualitative and quantitative data to uncover nuanced transportation needs and concerns that would not have been detected by analyses conducted from a distance. For walkability audits, agency staff and neighborhood volunteers catalog and map a variety of char- acteristics relating to pedestrian mobility and safety, such as whether pedestrian crossing signals at busy intersections offer sufficient time for pedestrians to cross safely. Document Findings for Use in Other Steps If they are sufficiently documented, the findings from these regional and neighborhood needs assessments can be used to inform agency decision making, including decisions about the other steps in the agency’s equity analysis. Moreover, the needs and concerns of underserved popula- tions can be tracked over time to assess the effectiveness of an agency’s actions over time and to hold an agency or regional decision makers accountable for efforts at mitigation. Following are some ideas for making the most of the information and findings documented from the needs assessments conducted in Step 2 of the equity analysis: • In Step 3 of the equity analysis (detailed in Chapter 5 of this guide), the agency must select indicators for measuring its impacts. The findings from the needs assessments can help the agency identify or create meaningful indicators to measure the impacts of proposed

Step 2: Identify Needs and Concerns 39 agency activity. For example, if the needs assessment reveals that underserved persons in the neighbor hood or region rely heavily on transit, then the impact indicators chosen by the agency might include investments in transit or forecast improvements in transit access. These meaningful indicators can be used to rank projects or in other decision-making activities. • In Step 4 of the equity analysis (discussed in Chapter 6), the agency must determine whether any population groups experience disparate impacts or DHAE. These impacts or effects might occur under current conditions, or they may result from the agency’s proposed actions (as will be discussed in Chapter 5). In either case, the findings from any needs assessments that involved comparative assessments among population groups should be included in an agency’s Step 4 activities. For example, if the assessment of exposure to mobile source emis- sions or vehicle crashes revealed differences in impacts between an underserved population and another population group, the agency can look to Step 4 for guidance on determining whether those differences are disparate or have DHAE. • In Step 5 of the equity analysis (discussed in Chapter 7), an agency develops strategies to avoid or mitigate inequalities. This step involves identifying and implementing mitigation of potential inequities. The findings of the needs assessments conducted in Step 2 can help the agency develop appropriate mitigation approaches. For example, these needs assessments can help the agency identify the most appropriate places to improve transit stops or service. Example in Practice: Extending Needs Assessments Throughout the Equity Analysis Process The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) in Kansas/Missouri mapped its crash data and learned that most bicycle and pedestrian fatalities were occurring in the region’s underserved communities. This new knowledge led the MARC to analyze the geographic distribution of its safety funding (an output indicator— see Chapter 5) as part of its equity analysis. When the MARC found that the safety funding was primarily going toward suburban communities that had a higher capacity to apply for the grants, the agency began developing safety countermeasures and related engagement with the underserved communities that were experiencing the high crash rates. Additional details from this example are provided in Chapter 7 under “Revise Project Evaluation Criteria” (MARC 2015). Resources AARP. 2018. AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit (and Leader Guide). Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/livable- communities/getting-around/info-2014/aarp-walk-audit-tool-kit.html. ARC (Atlanta Regional Commission). 2018. The Atlanta Region’s Plan. Retrieved from: http://atlantaregionsplan. com/regional-transportation-plan/. FHWA. n.d. National Household Travel Survey. Retrieved from: https://nhts.ornl.gov/. FHWA. 2013. Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook. Available at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ planning/performance_based_planning/pbpp_guidebook/ (accessed 3/6/2020). MATPB (Madison Area Transportation Planning Board). 2017. Regional Transportation Plan 2050 for the Madison Metropolitan Area, Appendix B: Environmental Justice Analysis. Retrieved from: http://www. madisonareampo.org/planning/documents/RTP_2050_Report_Final.pdf. Memphis Urban Area MPO. 2016. 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. Retrieved from: http://memphismpo.org/ sites/default/files/public/livability-2040-all-chapters.pdf. MARC (Mid-America Regional Council). 2015. Transportation Outlook 2040. Retrieved from: http:// www.to2040.org/.

40 Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes MORPC (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission). 2017. 2016–2040 Columbus Area Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Appendix 3, EJ Analysis. Retrieved from: http://www.morpc.org/wp-content/ uploads/2017/12/MORPCTIP2018-2021Appendix3EJ.pdf. Polk County TPO. 2015. Neighborhood Mobility Audits. Retrieved from: http://polktpo.com/what-we-do/ our-planning-documents/neighborhood-mobility-audits. Oregon Metro. 2016. Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity. Retrieved from: https://www.oregonmetro.gov/ strategic-plan-advance-racial-equity-diversity-and-inclusion. PSRC (Puget Sound Regional Council). 2018. Regional Transportation Plan. Retrieved from: https://www.psrc. org/our-work/rtp. Rogue Valley MPO. 2016. RVMPO Transportation Needs Assessment for Traditionally Underserved Populations. Retrieved from: https://www.rvmpo.org/images/plans-and-programs/needs-assess/TranspoNeedsAssessment_ FINAL_March2016.pdf. Smart Growth America. 2016. Dangerous by Design. Retrieved from: https://smartgrowthamerica.org/resources/ dangerous-by-design-2016/. U.S. Census Bureau. n.d. American Community Survey. Available at: https://www.census.gov/programs- surveys/acs/. U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Available at: https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data/fatality-analysis-reporting-system-fars. U.S. EPA. n.d. Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN). Available at: https://www.epa. gov/ejscreen.

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Transportation agencies that manage federally funded programs and projects are responsible for ensuring that their plans, programs, policies, services, and investments benefit everyone in their jurisdictions equitably.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Research Report 214: Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 1: Guide is designed to help Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) analyze and address equity effectively in long-range, regional, multimodal transportation planning and programming processes.

The guide walks through public engagement, identifying populations for analysis, identifying needs and concerns, measuring impacts, further understanding those impacts, and developing strategies to avoid or mitigate inequities. As the guide states, minority, low-income, and limited English proficiency populations have not benefited equitably from transportation investments and programs historically.

This report is followed by TCRP Research Report 214: Equity Analysis in Regional Transportation Planning Processes, Volume 2: Research Overview, which describes the results of the research effort and identifies ways in which equity in public transportation can be analyzed and adapted by MPOs in partnership with transit agencies.

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