This project, undertaken with Neighbor-to-Neighbor MA, explored the travel behaviors and transportation needs of low-income Latinos in Massachusetts. This research clarifies the community’s concerns about transit equity, affordability, and accessibility.

Pull quoteThe Toll of Transportation

Good transportation is critical for everyone, but is particularly vital for low-income and working families struggling to manage and improve their daily lives. Getting around — to jobs and to classes, to buy groceries or to see a doctor — has been shown to be a challenge for low-income households and people of color. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how these families navigate transportation challenges on a daily basis. Large national datasets, state surveys, and transportation models frequently fail to provide enough information on localized transportation issues or on the travel needs and behaviors of smaller demographic groups within the general population.

To better understand this important issue, Neighbor-to-Neighbor-MA contracted with the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy to design and conduct a project that would describe the transportation needs and behaviors of Latino and working-class households living in Massachusetts. Dukakis Center staff worked with N2N-MA project administrators to design both a door-to-door, in-person survey and a follow-up series of focus groups, and N2N-MA members were trained as canvassers and data gatherers. Surveys and focus group were conducted in four Massachusetts communities where N2N-MA has chapters: East Boston, Lynn, Springfield, and Worcester.Figure 3

The door-to-door data collection effort lasted from November 2012 through January 2013, and the focus groups were held in each targeted community during March 2013. Following the data gathering and analysis process, the official release of the Toll of Transportation (Executive Summary) was held at the State House on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013.

Our report highlights the major findings of the project:

  • Low-income Latino residents lack good transportation options and must often choose between expensive dependence on automobiles and inadequate, time-consuming public transit;
  • Transportation challenges adversely affect people’s access to basic needs, broader opportunities, and overall quality of life; and
  • Low-income Latino residents of Massachusetts cities need better and more affordable transportation options, including more frequent public transit service that gets them to jobs and other important destinations in a reasonable amount of time and every day of the week.

Although the collaborative project has concluded, ReSET staff continue to investigate issues related to transportation use and transportation equity.

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