Exploring the interaction effect of poverty concentration and transit service on highway traffic during the COVID-19 lockdown
Keywords:COVID-19, stay-at-home order, social equity, transit service, transportation, low-income people
During COVID-19 lockdowns, transit agencies need to respond to the decline in travel but also maintain the essential mobility of transit-dependent people. However, there are a few lessons that scholars and practitioners can learn from. Using highway traffic data in the Twin Cities, this study applies a generalized additive model to explore the relationships among the share of low-income population, transit service, and highway traffic during the week that occurred right after the 2020 stay-at-home order. Our results substantiate that transportation impacts are spread unevenly across different income groups and low-income people are less able to reduce travel, leading to equity concerns. Moreover, transit supply influences highway traffic differently in areas with different shares of low-income people. Our study suggests that transportation agencies should provide more affordable travel options for areas with concentrated poverty during lockdowns. In addition, transit agencies should manage transit supply strategically depending on the share of low-income people to better meet people’s mobility needs.
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