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Transportation barriers are regularly identified as persistent challenges to finding, securing and maintaining employment for lower-income workers and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participants. Specific barriers include: a mismatch between the location of jobs and affordable housing; access to reliable automobiles; limited public transportation routes; and lack of adequate coverage for shift, “off hours,” and weekend schedules. Research on these key issues is featured in the Transportation section of the SSRC, along with resources on different types of programs, such as car ownership programs, transportation subsidies, travel vouchers, and other State and local approaches to transportation access for low-income individuals.
View recommendations from the SSRC Librarian on Transportation and relevant Federal laws and regulations below.
Lack of access to reliable transportation--whether public transit or a privately owned car--can pose significant challenges for low-income individuals, especially those in rural areas, seeking stable employment. In response, community-based organizations and federal agencies have developed programs which provide transportation subsidies and vouchers to assist low-income individuals in traveling to job interviews and jobs. Subsidies and vouchers offered vary by program, with some programs providing support for purchasing a used car and others providing funds for public transit fares, gas, and/or repairs. Click the phrase below to view selected research and resources on transportation subsidies and vouchers.
This research combines knowledge in economics with spatial analysis and Geographic Information System (GIS) capabilities, and offers an improved understanding of this contemporary social problem. Improved methodologies such as the Enhanced Two-Step Floating Catchment Area method as well as other spatial tools bring new insights to the issue. The policy implications can potentially improve the distribution of resources for domestic violence victims as well as guide public policy decisions regarding shelter placement and other social welfare resources. (edited author abstract)
This paper develops a cost surface for auto, transit, and walking to determine the average travel cost to the nearest supermarket for each mode in Indianapolis using Spatial Analyst in ArcGIS 10.2. Given the results from ArcGIS, spatial lag models are used to model the proportion of household income spent on traveling to supermarkets as a function of socioeconomic variables. The results show that a higher crime density, no college degree, and living outside of I-465 are all correlated with poorer accessibility to healthy food. These explanatory variables had similar effects for driving and walking, but the transit network was less sensitive to education and crime and more location-dependent. For this study, working with the police department and community to reduce crime as well as expanding the transit network are both recommended as potential interventions. Results from this analysis can provide valuable insight into the reasons behind the existence of food deserts. (author abstract)
Access to cars and transit can influence individuals’ ability to reach opportunities such as jobs, health care, and other important activities. While access to cars and public transit varies considerably across time, space, and populations, most research portrays car access as a snapshot in time; some people have a car and others do not. But does this snapshot approach mask variation in car ownership over time? And how does access to particular types of transportation resources influence individuals’ economic outcomes? (author abstract)
Researchers argue that transportation expenditures impose a heavy burden on low-income households, many of whom experience difficulty managing their travel costs. However, relatively little research explores how low-income households manage their mobility needs. To address this issue, this study uses qualitative data from interviews with 73 low-income people living in and around San Jose, California. The interviews reveal the resiliency of low-income families in creatively managing their transportation costs. However, the transportation survival strategies of the poor can come at a high price—fewer miles traveled and, therefore, reduced access to opportunities that may lift them out of poverty. (author abstract)
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sponsored two major experiments to test whether housing choice vouchers propelled low-income households into greater economic security, the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing program (MTO) and the Welfare to Work Voucher program (WTW). Using data from these programs, this study examines differences in residential location and employment outcomes between voucher recipients with access to automobiles and those without. Overall, the findings underscore the positive role of automobiles in outcomes for housing voucher participants. (author abstract)
Legislative and regulatory requirements frame allowable programs and initiatives designed to increase low-income individuals' access to affordable, reliable transportation. Click the first link below to view legislative resources specific to transportation programs. Click the second link to browse additional self-sufficiency legislation and policy in the SSRC library.