16 minute read 06 February 2023

Delivering on equity with mobility technologies

How transportation agencies can promote equitable innovation

Anant Dinamani

Anant Dinamani

United States

Patrick Zubin

Patrick Zubin

United States

Kelley Schneider

Kelley Schneider

United States

Justin Porter

Justin Porter

United States


Without warning, The COVID-19 pandemic altered how our communities work, move, and connect. Three years later, some of these changes—such as the white-collar shift to remote work—have proven durable.1 Patterns of shopping, employment, and leisure continue to evolve, reflecting changing public preferences and anxieties.2

The transportation industry, responsible for keeping people and goods moving, has been on the frontlines of COVID disruptions and the emergence of new travel patterns. The pandemic’s impact, however, has been distributed unevenly across different demographics, sectors, and modes. Inequalities embedded in our transportation system have become clear to many observers, as has the important stabilizing role played by public transportation agencies.3

Throughout the worst surges and business closures, these agencies provided critical access to mobility for millions of “essential workers,” often low-income and minority travelers, who continued to travel to medical facilities, grocery stores, warehouses, and other critical sites daily. Inequities in where people worked and how they travelled highlighted new opportunities for transit and mobility agencies to address broader societal challenges, and as the pandemic progressed many agencies renewed their focus on their core ridership in service of broader equity and development goals.4 This focus now has become a societal imperative, particularly in view of the looming impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations and society at large.

To achieve a sustainable post-COVID recovery while meeting equity goals, transportation agencies should consider making a strategic commitment to real change. New technologies, service plans, and infrastructure projects can advance these objectives—and should be accompanied by meaningful performance metrics to measure success and guarantee accountability.

To limit the impact of future crises, this commitment will require adaptability. Developments in technology, performance measurement, and agency resources have produced a new array of tools and best practices that transportation agencies can use to make strategic decisions more quickly and accurately than ever before. But leaders must ensure that community needs remain at the center of planning.

Transportation agencies need a renewed framework to assess and measure these projects without diverting focus or resources from their core operations. This paper offers such a framework, incorporating cross-industry insights to provide leading practices for technology deployments that can enhance mobility and equity for all travelers.

Mobility technology advancement

Innovative technologies are changing the way transportation agencies plan for and operate services. For instance, advancements in simulation capabilities enable agencies to make data-driven decisions about service changes and extensions.5 Electric and fuel efficient vehicles present opportunities for operational and maintenance cost savings alongside contributing to regional climate goals.6 And an array of new mobility apps and micromobility solutions offer users different ways to plan and pay for travel.7 These technological advancements are driven by three factors: the need to adapt to travel behaviors, the need to advance sustainability goals, and the need to maximize operational efficiency. However, there is limited advancement on policies to guide equitable adoption of these technologies in communities.

Adapting to travel behaviors: Human travel patterns and behaviors have rapidly evolved in the 21st century, and COVID acted as both a disrupter of and catalyst for emerging mobility patterns.8 Technologies such as rideshare apps and real-time traffic data on maps have given travelers the expectation of transparency and flexibility in determining how and when they travel or receive their goods. At the same time, an expanding pool of mobility APIs offers companies and public agencies the ability to influence travel behaviors.9 When harnessed correctly, these tools can help reduce negative travel externalities such as congestion and emissions, by, for example, promoting shifts to different modes of travel. However, questions remain on data ownership, its completeness in representing the said population set, management, and how to distribute the benefits of incentivization equitably across communities in a given region.   

Advancing sustainability goals: Transportation makes up 27% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the United States, making it one of the top contributors to climate change.10 Advances in transportation technology like electrification and automation, therefore, play a key role in reducing emissions and promoting sustainability, even as the ability to travel continues to expand. However, left unchecked, some innovations can have unintended consequences that may harm sustainability. For example, autonomous vehicles offer increased efficiencies in traffic flow, thereby reducing emissions. However, an increased number of empty autonomous cars on the road in between ferrying passengers to and from destinations also risks increasing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and emissions.11 And as other analysts have noted, these adverse effects often fall on the most vulnerable communities. Ensuring beneficial climate impacts will therefore depend on cross-sector collaboration to establish policies that promote both efficiency and sustainability.

Maximizing operational efficiency: Public transportation agencies in particular face resource constraints that require them to optimize for efficiency. Advancements in planning tools, such as digital twin simulation technology, offer agencies the ability to rapidly test a wider variety of scenarios for infrastructure and service changes.12 Digital twins can also give agencies the ability to make data-driven decisions on which projects to prioritize and expected outcomes for performance monitoring and measurement. However, planners should take steps to help ensure that the data they are using for planning models are reflective of the community being analyzed, which can be particularly challenging for underserved populations. If data is not representative, agencies may risk unwillingness or inability to adopt these new technologies, as well as potential blind spots in the data that prevent them from assessing the true impacts and externalities of the solution.

To successfully harness advances in mobility technologies, public and private sector organizations alike should carefully monitor implementation and performance to identify and address unintended consequences.

The case for inclusive, equitable mobility

Equitable transportation systems provide travelers fair access and opportunities, eliminating historical and systemic barriers. True equity includes physical accessibility, of course, but also the types of destinations available to travelers and the freedom to use modes that best fit their abilities and preferences. People today have more mobility options than ever before, with new modes offering travelers more options on how—and when—to travel, and public agencies can play a critical role in ensuring these options are accessible to, and benefit, all travelers.

There is also a business case for regions to prioritize equity in transportation. An Urban Institute report found that planning for equity and economic development go hand-in-hand, and a Harvard study found that low-income communities with greater access to jobs within a 15-minute commute have higher upward economic mobility.13 In 2020, the American Public Transportation Association estimated that increased national investments in public transit could raise business productivity by US$1.2 billion annually with travelers gaining access to labor markets as congestion is reduced.14

The federal government’s Justice40 initiative directs federal agencies—including the U.S. Department of Transportation—to collaborate with states and local communities to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.15 This focus, when combined with new funding opportunities for traditional and technological infrastructure in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, makes the case for pursuing inclusive mobility innovations more compelling and more urgent.

Public transportation leaders should design systems that provide access to regional opportunities while simultaneously providing people with choice in the ways they can move within their communities. The typical U.S. metropolitan resident relying on public transportation can access only 30% of jobs in their region within 90 minutes. Is it any wonder that more than 75% of commuters drive alone? True choice requires a system that can offer travelers alternatives to personal vehicles to reach their destinations.

Many agency leaders recognize the need for a more agile and flexible transportation system, but it is difficult to achieve within traditional transportation and infrastructure planning processes. While transportation planning and management has evolved alongside the mobility market, the pace of public administrative timelines (e.g., procurement) still lags behind the emergence of technological innovations in the market. This has affected the public sector’s ability to plan for, partner with, or incorporate new mobility technologies into their own essential services. Federal requirements can exacerbate this divide; for example, assessing performance on measures such as passenger revenue miles or unlinked passenger trips do not account for actual impact on communities in a region.16

As new technologies continue to expand mobility options, transportation agencies should balance efforts to bolster traditional services and integrate new technologies and services to meet travelers’ mobility needs. Agencies should also ensure that the residents they serve can take advantage of services regardless of their income or ability. While this may be a formidable task, public transportation leaders should not be afraid to be pioneers. As IndyGo President and CEO Inez Evans says, “Sometimes agency leaders are going to have to be the ones to step out onto a ledge and bring their communities along.”17

Local transportation agencies have the reach to play this pioneering role in their communities, from regional service networks to street-level infrastructure. Their hyper-localized customer interactions can help match mobility innovations to community needs and support the adoption of new technologies, from bikeshare to in-station Wi-Fi. At the same time, agencies should be careful to begin by focusing on the priority issues the community faces, rather than the technology solution.

Monica Tibbits-Nutt, executive director of the 128 Business Council and former vice chair of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Fiscal and Management Control Board, notes that agencies can “have new technology solutions but still leave out marginalized populations if they’re not addressing the right challenges.”18 For example, agency passenger tracking and communication efforts will be wasted if travelers lack access to smartphones or consistent Wi-Fi—or if agencies lack the outreach structure to connect communities with those technologies. “Even with the most altruistic tech innovations, you can’t bridge mobility gaps without addressing foundational needs,” she said.19 Ultimately, technological change and advancement either can promote inclusion and equity or deepen the divide over time.

Transportation agencies can lead the charge in harnessing technology to promote positive outcomes alongside the private sector. If public regulations can keep pace with mobility innovations, pilot solutions can be more easily scaled as companies gain consistent regulatory guidance and ground rules. Agencies can set those policies to incentivize equitable access to these new services, while adopting emerging innovations into their own operations as well. The respective roles of agencies and the private sector are discussed below.

Balancing equity and innovation

To achieve the promise of more efficient, safe, and sustainable regional mobility, innovations need to be developed and implemented in ways that promote equity for travelers and communities alike. To do so, agencies should consider the unique needs and challenges of the communities they serve, while recognizing how they fit within a broader transportation ecosystem.

When planning new projects or operational strategies, transportation planners should take the time to understand not only the community’s physical environment, but also its socioeconomic and cultural characteristics, including disparities that may affect the way it connects with the surrounding region. Trust—fostered by community engagement—is also a critical component of implementing services, improving traditional operations, or deploying new technologies. Trust takes time to develop, and requires commitment, consistency, and adequate investments from regional leaders.

Transportation agencies should consider their unique position in helping to establish this trust. For example, transit agencies are well-positioned to lead the charge in community engagement due to the community reach they already have by providing local services. “Transit should be the ones facilitating movement, regardless of mode,” says IndyGo’s Inez Evans. “Transit can champion equity and access and help ensure that new developments or innovations meet the needs of our community.” 20 The key questions are how to incorporate community input in shaping technological development, and how to ensure that new tools promote equity while contributing to the overall optimization of the system.

Human centered design (HCD) is a leading methodology used to focus solutions on the end user’s needs.21 In transportation, HCD can be used to develop new technologies based on travelers’ needs, as identified, and prioritized by the community and relevant stakeholders. Putting people at the center of innovation helps each solution to:

  • Be physically accessible. Transportation should provide physical accessibility regardless of ability. Neither physical limitations nor a lack of digital literacy or access to technology should prevent travelers from choosing how and when to go where they need to.
  • Restore choice and provide access to opportunity. Transportation should offer all residents, including underserved communities, access to destinations that provide employment, education, leisure, and health services. A key part of that is to restore choice into mobility decisions for everyone. 
  • Promote sustainability. Services should not impose environmental harm on the community or the planet and should help correct the environmental harms of the past. Agencies should be able to mitigate any disproportional environmental impacts from current, expanded, or new services.
  • Protect data privacy. As agencies get closer to understanding the needs of their constituents, they will need access to data of higher fidelity. This is especially true in scenarios where transportation agencies are piloting dynamic incentivization techniques to influence traveler behavior. Public transportation agencies must safeguard any data they collect, and this protection must extend equitably to all populations, including communities with significant distrust of government and those unable to advocate for themselves. This may require increased engagement to introduce and explain the goals of and protection standards for data collection.

These four equity “pillars” should guide the design and implementation of transportation solutions in ways that ensure mobility for all: physical access, economic access, data privacy, and sustainability. To deliver human-centered mobility solutions, agencies must evaluate their solutions continuously against these foundational elements (figure 1).

Delivering on the “equity” pillars

Technology can be a key enabler to delivering on the principles. However, technological solutions rarely make broad access an initial priority. From Tesla to Uber, most recent mobility innovations began by targeting higher-income customers and only later moved to mass-market offerings.22 But government agencies have different stakeholders and different incentives. They are beholden to elected officials and ultimately the public at large, and as such must make sure that new technologies are accessible from inception. Reversing the normal, market-driven order of operations requires a different approach.

To adapt to smart mobility, transportation agencies must assemble an increasingly diverse set of ecosystem players to serve their constituents’ shifting needs, working to grow ridership as they modernize their systems. And they need to do it in a fiscally constrained environment that may see fluctuations in ridership while maintaining safe and reliable operations.23 It’s a daunting task, but one that can benefit from structure. Agile methodologies can help to evolve how transportation agencies plan for and execute technology-centric programs. Using the four pillars of equitable smart mobility outlined above, together with insights from industry leaders and experts, we developed a framework to help transportation agencies continuously plan and execute customer-facing technology projects in an agile fashion with community engagement throughout the process (see sidebar, “A human-centered approach to identifying, developing, and integrating innovative mobility solutions”). This framework provides a set of leading practices for agencies to consider throughout the lifecycle of a mobility technology project.

A human-centered approach to identifying, developing, and integrating innovative mobility solutions

Promoting equity across all four pillars is essential at every phase of a project, but agencies should take particular care to address capabilities specific to each pillar within each phase of a project.

Design: Center user needs

Implementing inclusive mobility technology begins at the design phase, by understanding the diverse needs of end users and engaging them in a cocreation process. Rooted in HCD, the initial design phase should develop a comprehensive view of how proposed technologies would affect users, including impacts on human health, urban design, travel behavior, and accident-related mortality. Solutions designed with equity in mind also can help address historical mobility disparities, such as the use of highways to reinforce racial zoning patterns and inhibit population migration.24 The decision-making process starts with a clear understanding of the mobility needs and challenges unique to the neighborhood/community while recognizing the community is part of a larger organism: It’s regional mobility technologies, undergirded by safe, reliable, and frequent transportation, that have the potential to serve as a catalyst for connecting previously disconnected communities to economic opportunity (e.g., the use of telematics to improve the performance of paratransit).

According to Inez Evans, local transportation agencies “have a duty and a responsibility as a community servant to make sure that they are reaching out to the service entities who are representing the demographics that they’re serving.”25 Such efforts can ensure that the data used for decision-making are representative, all-inclusive, and robust. When sharing data, wherein data goes both to and from communities, transportation agencies can better “build up relationships with community [and] partner relationships, rather than being extractive of community voices,” highlights Amar Cid, Race & Equity program manager at the California State Transportation Agency (Caltrans).26 Representative data and collaborative community relationships are critical to the design and delivery of equitable and inclusive mobility technology projects.

Implementation: Iterate and engage

Implementation must balance technological advancement with the needs of underserved travelers. To do so, transportation agencies should ensure that new technologies meet the end user needs identified in the Design phase by continually asking, “Is our technology working as intended?” during the rollout.

Consider a new wayfinding app, for example. Transportation agencies should create feedback mechanisms to determine levels of usage across communities and identify any physical or socioeconomic barriers that may emerge as customers begin to use it. Agencies should center the customer experience on evaluating the performance of the new tool (in this case, the app). This may involve the evaluation of mobility patterns, including new destinations that might provide economic benefits. Given the existing limited resources of transportation agencies, the implementation phase is most effective when started at the community level and then expanded to an entire region. And since every community has its own unique needs and challenges, it is critical to build trust while scaling the solution.

In addition, the implementation phase should involve different stakeholders and capabilities from across the mobility ecosystem. Tools like real-time data analysis and partnerships with private players can allow for more rapid scaling and a more accurate understanding of whether the technology is functioning as intended.

Reflection: Measure and improve performance

Data equity and privacy are the cornerstones of the reflection phase. While communities must be engaged from the design phase to establish clear, objective, and agreed-upon methods of data stewardship, the reflection phase is essential to ensure that the new technology bridges, rather than exacerbates, equity gaps. Agencies should perform a comprehensive analysis of its effects on the transportation system and can use existing tools to efficiently understand how different priorities may intersect. For example, California’s EnviroScreen shows community demographics and environmental factors in different jurisdictions.27

This is particularly important for agencies working with tools that employ artificial intelligence or machine learning, as algorithmic bias can reflect implicit human biases. Data can be “pre-processed” to avoid biases being incorporated into algorithms and existing tools can help streamline data collection and evaluation with an equity lens.28 For example, the Urban Institute’s Spatial Data Equity Tool can help agencies assess demographic and spatial disparities in their own data sets by comparing against baseline variables from the American Communities Survey. Tools like this can act as an important check in data gaps or biases; however, it is also critical for public agencies to incorporate in-person feedback into the reflection stage. Encouraging and acting on feedback from diverse local stakeholders can foster customer trust while promoting new tools.

As agencies complete project implementation, human-centered design can offer insights to accompany ongoing operations and maintenance. Agencies should periodically reengage with communities and travelers to obtain first-hand feedback on how the technology has affected travel both positively and negatively. In this way, the three phases operate as an iterative, continuous cycle. Transportation agencies should continuously reevaluate and reengage to further improve mobility technology and prioritize new technologies to address historic inequities.

Mobility innovations 

Transportation agencies across the United States have used a range of strategies to balance equity and innovation, keeping mobility ecosystems functioning and accessible while encouraging modernization. Successful efforts can be models for government leaders aiming to effectively put principles into practice. While the following examples represent only a small sample of mobility innovations in the marketplace, they offer useful lessons about adopting mobility technologies. As always, agencies should examine potential negative effects as well as best practices when integrating a new mobility solution.

Integrated payments: WMATA

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, or Metro) rolled out mobile payments using mobile phone “wallets,” allowing riders to pay for transit service simply by tapping their phones at gates, fareboxes, and Metro parking lots. Riders also can add to their mobile wallets without having to make a trip to a kiosk or retail location to purchase a card or add value.29 Importantly, WMATA’s mobile “SmarTrip,” like the plastic version before it, continues to be accepted for payment by all transit operators in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region, enabling seamless regional travel.

WMATA concurrently released its SmarTrip app, which provides an interface for card account management as well as transportation providers, including a view into card information, benefits, and passes. To ensure that riders without access to a smartphone or cashless payment method can continue to ride, WMATA offers SmarTrip cash payments through its ticket vending machines and at select retail locations.

WMATA continues to advance partnerships for both trip information and payments. Matt Hardison, senior vice president  of Planning and Business Transformation at WMATA, notes that the agency worked with ride-hailing companies to support integration of Metro services as a travel option in their apps and is working with its regional shared bike service on programs to advance shared bike use through Metro—eventually integrating with SmarTrip as well. “Our goal as an agency is to make sure people have the best transportation options possible to meet their needs,” Hardison says, “all the while improving our customer service and the value of our services.”30

Mobility data equity: Caltrans

To help California better allocate project funding while combating climate change and “supporting public health, safety, and equity goals,” Caltrans’ Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure outlines a number of strategies, action steps, and frameworks. For example, Caltrans is developing a transportation equity index to identify equity-based priority populations and plans to establish related metrics to evaluate transportation impacts. Currently, “there is no widely used transportation-based index to identify equity-based priority populations, nor a method to evaluate or prioritize transit agency project proposals,” says Amar Cid, manager of Caltrans’ Race & Equity Program.

Caltrans is seeking community and stakeholder input on the environmental, accessibility, and socioeconomic indicators it will use to evaluate transportation projects. This process will allow stakeholders to share data and evaluate projects from a health and equity perspective by layering together and weighting indicators from disparate sources. The tool includes indicators such as nonwhite and/or Hispanic population percentage, diesel particulates, traffic fatalities and serious injuries, so that Caltrans can prioritize projects with the most significant social equity benefits. To ensure the tool’s success—and break down silos to develop and prioritize regional approaches with positive social equity outcomes—Caltrans encourages local transit agencies to join forces and use the index. Cid notes that this collaboration can help “break down silos and develop regional approaches to mobility.” 31

Mobility-as-a-service: DART

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), serving a sprawling 700 square miles, faces different challenges than agency counterparts in denser regions, as it must address the needs of constituents in comparatively remote areas while serving a total population expanding faster than its transit infrastructure. DART looked to private transportation companies to fill the gap. In 2018, it launched a pilot first mile/last mile (FM/LM) partnership with Uber to explore ways to increase system access, ridership, and efficiency. The agency has since integrated the program as a booking option in its GoPass app, allowing DART to normalize fare methods—for instance, making riders eligible for reduced Uber fares due to their presence in a designated on-demand FM/LM service area.

However, app-based services can exclude riders lacking ready access to smartphones, credit cards, or banking abilities, not to mention those who are simply uncomfortable with new technologies. DART therefore needed to find a way to work with private partners to integrate new mobility technologies in a way that would provide FM/LM service to all potential customers. The agency now allows riders to book rides by phone and use multiple payment options, such as loading cash payments into the GoPass Mobile App through retail partners. According to DART’s chief innovation officer, Greg Elsborg, “We’re working to make sure cash-paying customers continue to have the same ease of experience as riders with digital payment methods, and we’re exploring additional opportunities such as upgrading our ticket vending machines to accept cash as well as cards to add digital account balances to our GoPass Tap Cards and Mobile App.”32

Transportation planning equity assessment: Broward MPO

In 2018, the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (Broward MPO) in Florida started developing a process to evaluate its plans more consistently and comprehensively against Title VI and other federal and state nondiscrimination policies. The goals of this assessment included greater consistency and efficiency in Broward’s planning process, as well as more meaningful community outcomes and the proactive identification of potentially adverse impacts. “We wanted to assess equity at all levels of the project lifecycle,” says Peter Gies, the agency’s systems planning manager. “We knew that looking at equity through just one lens doesn’t give the full picture.”

To perform the evaluation, Broward first analyzed demographic data to identify areas with a higher proportion of protected populations as part of a broader environmental justice process. This process was complemented by community engagement, including with Broward MPO’s Citizens Advisory Committee, which provided local feedback and due diligence on quantitative findings. The assessment mapped specific “equity areas” in the region, as defined by a composite equity score that can be used to accommodate planning efforts across a variety of regional agencies. The tool is designed to be iterative so that even as it serves as a model for other regions, it can remain flexible to community input and feedback.

A regional approach to equitable innovation

As travel patterns continue to evolve, transportation agencies should reevaluate their assumptions about planning, delivering, and maintaining services, including how to expand the mobility choices available to their customers. As other analysts have noted, obstacles to this goal are regional in nature, underpinned by governance and institutional constraints.33 To reach consensus on scalable solutions in the long term, transportation agencies need to develop solutions and policies across an integrated web of transportation partners. To take the first step toward building this network, transportation agencies should focus on iterative near-term collaboration at the regional level, powered by local connections. Local agencies that engage directly with customers and communities can build support for transportation initiatives, while regional agencies can tie together local outcomes to serve broader goals including equity and sustainability. The private sector is a key player in mobility innovation, and disruptions have previously served to highlight challenges in public transportation’s ability to quickly adapt to market movements.

Where should public transportation leaders begin with convening the mobility players needed to address equity, climate, community, and public health concerns? First, they must align their vision and goals for their regions and cultivate support for them. It’s important to include leaders whose organizations engage directly with constituents, to understand the mobility needs and challenges communities face. Next, leaders should evaluate the roles and space between transportation agencies in the region, identifying which are best positioned to develop and deliver innovative mobility solutions tied to their distinct roles, whether it’s front-end mobile apps or back-office billing platforms. These steps should be supported by an equitable, smart mobility framework and an iterative, human-centered design process that allows communities to cocreate alongside agencies toward a shared future vision.

Ultimately, “smart mobility” alone cannot solve the transportation challenges communities face; the future of mobility will require a transformation of government processes and a renewed approach to regional transportation planning and management. An equitable mobility ecosystem requires support from regional and local agencies, private partners, and the public if agencies are to transform the way our communities move and connect.

  1. Deloitte, “Executives share their plans for returning to the workplace,” 2021.

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  2. See, for instance: American Public Transportation Association, “On the horizon: Planning for postpandemic travel,” November 2021.

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  3. See for instance: American Public Transportation Association, “Moving the Nation Through Crisis: Mobility Recovery & Restoration Task Force Report,” October 2020.

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  4. Songhua Hu and Peng Chen, “Who left riding transit? Examining socioeconomic disparities in the impact of COVID-19 on ridership,” Transportation Research 90, January 2021; and Aarian Marshall, “Public transit systems refocus on their core riders,” Wired, January 3, 2022.

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  5. Tyler Orton,  “Spare labs nabs $1.8m from investors as demand surges for mobility options,” Business Intelligence for B.C., November 30, 2021.

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  6. U.S. Department of Transportation, “Benefits of zero emission buses.”

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  7. Contactless payment makes riding DART even easier,” Mass Transit Magazine, September 23, 2021.

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  8. Rick Grahn, Stan Caldwell, and Chris Henderickson, “Recommended policies for 21st century trends in US mobility,” Carnegie Mellon University, 2019.

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  9. U.S. Federal Highway Administration, “Expanding traveler choices through the use of incentives: A compendium of examples,” FHWA: Office of Operations, 2017.

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  10. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sources of greenhouse gas emissions, report, August 5, 2022.

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  11. Massar M, Reza I, Rahman SM, Abdullah SMH, Jamal A, Al-Ismail FS, Impacts of autonomous vehicles on greenhouse gas emissions-positive or negative?, Int J Environ Res Public Health, May 21, 2021.

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  12. Lauren Dyson, “Digital twin market to grow 22.6% annually in next decade,” Traffic Technology Today, November 3, 2022.

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  13. Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, The Impacts of neighborhoods on intergenerational mobility: Childhood exposure effects and county-level estimates, report, Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2015, pp. 70.

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  14. American Public Transportation Association, Economic impact of public transportation investment: 2020 update, April 2020, pp. 5. 

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  15. U.S. Department of Transportation, “Justice 40 Initiative,” September 13, 2022.

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  16. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, “National transit database 2020 policy manual,” 2020.

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  17. Interview with Inez Evans, IndyGo President and CEO, November 5, 2021.

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  18. Interview with Monica Tibbits-Nutt, executive director of the 128 Business Council, October 7, 2021.

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  19. Ibid.

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  20. Interview with Inez Evans.

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  21. Tiffany Fishman et al, “Elevating the human experience: Using human-centered design in health and human services programs,” Deloitte Insights, October 30, 2019.

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  22. See, for instance: Barnabas Hong, An equity analysis of the scooter share program in Seattle, WA, thesis submitted to the University of Washington, 2022.

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  23. National Academies, “Changing trends in public transit lead to innovative strategies,” June 2022.

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  24. See, for instance: Deborah N. Archer, “White men’s roads through black men’s homes: Advancing racial equity through highway reconstruction,” Vanderbilt Law Review 73, October 2020.

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  25. Interview with Inez Evans.

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  26. Interview with Amar Cid, Race & Equity program manager at Caltrans, November 4, 2021.

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  27. Described at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “EJScreen: Environmental justice screening and mapping tool,” April 1, 2022.

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  28. Described at Urban Institute, “Spatial equity data tool: Measure disparities in your data,” November 18, 2021.

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  29. Interview with Matt Hardison, senior vice president of Planning and Business Transformation for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, September 29, 2021.

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  30. Ibid.

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  31. Caltrans, Caltrans transportation equity index documentation, public discussion draft, October 2022; Interview with Amar Cid.

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  32. Interview with Greg Elsborg, chief innovation officer, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, October 29, 2021.

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  33. See, for instance: Alan Cole, “Why America can’t build quickly anymore,” Full Stack Economics, March 17, 2022.

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We would like to extend our greatest thanks to the public sector transportation leaders who provided their expert insight through interviews: J.R. Alexander, Amar Cid, Greg Elsborg, Inez Evans, Amanda Hamm, Matt Hardison, Monica Tibbits-Nutt, Chris Tomlinson, and Matthew Zych. We would also like to thank Angela Miller, Evan Mitchell-Cook, Lauren Layre, and Tiffany Dovey Fishman, without whose support and contributions this paper would not have been possible.

Cover image by: Sonya Vasilieff

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Anant Dinamani

Anant Dinamani

Principal | Deloitte Consulting LLP


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