Equity considerations for long-range transportation planning and program development

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Brodie, Stefanie R.
Amekudzi-Kennedy, Adjo A.
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Transportation planning has become increasingly more performance-based over the past several decades. In part due the mandate from the 2012 Federal Surface Transportation Program authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), agencies are adopting performance-based policies and programmatic frameworks to integrate the attainment of national goals into the transportation planning and decision making process. As agencies implement performance-driven decision making as a means to achieve national goals, local goals will become subject to the same framework. Although equity is not a national goal, transportation agencies continue to recognize it within their vision and planning goals. However, it is difficult to determine what constitutes equity, and to quantify and measure it. To plan for equitable outcomes in transportation therefore, it is necessary to develop evaluation methods that support the integration of equity in planning processes. The objectives of this research are to develop recommendations for procedures to formally incorporate equity considerations in transportation planning and program evaluation and to propose methodological revisions to existing analytical processes to enable evaluation of cumulative accessibility outcomes. A literature review -- drawing from the theories of equity, Federal regulations for addressing equity in transportation, performance management, and transportation and sustainability -- and practitioner interviews were used to gather information on the common and effective practices for addressing equity in transportation planning at the regional level. This information was an input in the development of a quantitative research approach to explore methodological limitations and planning gaps related to transportation planning for equitable outcomes. These results informed the development of a comprehensive approach to analyze and characterize cumulative impacts (i.e. accessibility) regionally. The approach is used to develop recommendations for regional transportation planning to influence equitable transportation outcomes for the full range of demographic groups over time. The research contributes to the knowledge base and professional practice of transportation planning by putting forward a construction for approaching equity in transportation planning and decision making based on equity theory, developing analytical methods to evaluate transportation investments for equitable outcomes, and offering a set of recommendations for moving transportation planning practices towards transportation planning for equitable outcomes.
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