Social Equity — Transportation and Infrastructure

Transportation

Transportation and infrastructure projects are important issues for social equity. Community planners should always seek to determine the unique needs of disadvantaged communities when transportation or infrastructure initiatives are proposed. Fortunately, transportation and infrastructure projects can be modified or constructed to help reverse long standing impacts of past discriminatory practices.

Some useful websites that address this issue include:

Broadband

Internet access via high-speed broadband connections has become recognized as a social equity issue. In general, low-income communities have been historically slower to receive broadband. Furthermore, access to broadband can also be the result of environmental features and overall population density. Thus, rural communities whose population is spread out over large areas are commonly unable to access broadband. Landscapes that are mountainous or otherwise isolated from infrastructure grids are also less likely to have ample access to broadband. Information on the presence of internet or computers, at home can be found in the Education section.

Some useful websites that address this issue include:

Public Water and Sewer Systems

sewer

Historically, many disadvantaged neighborhoods have been underserved in terms of public drinking water and sewer service. In lower-income neighborhoods, proper maintenance and upgrades to water and sewer systems have not always received sufficient funding or attention. As a result, older systems are more likely to malfunction creating short term impacts to residents, and longer term impact to housing values.

Some useful websites that address this issue include:

Commuter Rail and Buses

Train

Commuter rails and bus systems are especially important in lower-income disadvantaged communities where owning a car can be unaffordable or impractical due to limited parking. Transit issues that involve social equity include creating bus stops or multi-modal transportation hubs that better allow residents of lower-income neighborhoods to access job opportunities in more affluent areas. Similarly, there are options for building new commuter train stations or restoring old stations that have been closed. With the rise in telecommuting after COVID-19, the near-term future of transit could change significantly, and these changes could also impact social equity.

Chester County Commuting Features

table

Source: US Census Bureau, 2020 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, S0802.

Some useful websites that address this issue include:

Sidewalk Access and Safety

Sidewalk

As noted above, there is generally a lower rate of car ownership in disadvantaged communities, and a higher rate of transit use. The result is that disadvantaged people are more dependent on walking as part of their commute. In urban settings, this means that aging sidewalks or sidewalks with cracks can pose tripping hazards. Also, high volume intersections built when traffic volumes were lower can be more prone to accidents. In suburban and rural areas, the lack of sidewalks can force pedestrians onto the shoulders of roadways, or onto grass medians where slopes may be steep and surfaces can be muddy when it rains.

Some useful websites that address this issue include: