Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy


Public transportation systems are essential components of urban infrastructure, providing connectivity that contributes to the quality of life for urban dwellers. Particularly important for low-income populations, public transportation systems enhance access to jobs, markets, services, education, healthcare, recreation, and social networks. While low-income populations and minorities make up a disproportionately high share of transit ridership, theories such as spatial mismatch, social construction framework, and Critical Race Theory maintain that public transportation systems may not provide equitable connectivity to all riders. We utilize GIS and regression models to examine the relationship between transit connectivity and poverty, asking whether connectivity is evenly distributed by social class. Atlanta, GA is a city with a significant low-income and minority population that is segregated from affluent, white neighborhoods. We exploit this spatial discontinuity to examine public transit access by socioeconomic status. We utilize ten years of General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) and census data, and a measure of employment and population connectivity for the period from 2012 and 2017. We find low public transit connectivity in high poverty and minority block groups, relative to other areas in the city. The findings underscore the need to fund public transit investments targeted at low income areas.

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