The Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy has been contracted to do work for Neighbor-to-Neighbor, a community-based organization that is headquartered in Boston but operates in four other communities around the state: Holyoke, Worcester, Springfield, and Lynn. Although most of its members are Latino, N2N works on behalf of all low-income individuals and households. The Boston-based Barr Foundation has provided N2N with grant money to execute a study focusing on transportation justice and mobility obstacles in the state, and Dukakis Center staff have been hired by N2N to develop a survey, conduct focus groups, and carry out an analysis and review of the findings.
Earlier this spring, N2N canvassed its members to gauge and learn about the most frustrating or problematic aspects of daily transportation and mobility, including travel by cars and buses, for purposes of work or leisure. Each aspect of an individual’s daily transit needs were covered, from cost to accessibility to daily routines and behaviors. This information gathered from N2N members and community residents were supplemented with trends and observations highlighted in the scholarly literature, and four sets or ‘pools’ of concerns and areas of interest related to the mobility of low-income residents was identified: basic transportation options in terms of what form of transportation was available for people to use; commuting issues and obstacles, considering the limited mobility but great distances many low-wage workers must travel; accessibility issues, which concern more than just being able to get to and from work, but to and from grocery stores, health care centers, or family members; and travel costs, specifically related to how much people are spending on their transportation.
The Dukakis Center has developed and tested a survey instrument to be used for data collection, and recently conducted a training for community-based canvassers. Data collection is now underway in each of the four N2N communities across Massachusetts. It is our hope that using community members as data collection agents will help us collect more valid, substantive, and relevant information as well as fulfill our goal of increasing collaborative efforts with non-academic and local stakeholders in our research.