Research Team: PI: Evelyn Blumenberg Team: Hannah King
About this project:
Drawing on data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program the project will quantify changes in the spatial location of employment and workers from 2002 to 2015 in the five major California metropolitan areas. In particular, the analysis will include (a) the extent to which jobs and workers have decentralized over time by wage group (low, medium, high) (b) the changing location of workers and employment relative to transit-friendly neighborhoods and transit supply. The second part of the analysis examine whether rising rents in some regions of the state are pushing workers to live further from their workplaces over time.
What problem does this research aim to address?
Ridership at many transit agencies in California is declining. Given that public transit systems aspire to increase travel options, reduce auto dependence, improve traffic flows, and enhance air quality, these downward ridership trends are concerning – particularly since in many parts of the state transit agencies are investing in major expansions to their networks.
One issue raised in Falling Transit Ridership, but only lightly explored, is the changing spatial location of low-wage work and workers in California, and the implications of these changes for commuting and transit use. Transit commuting is highest in dense urban neighborhoods where residents live reasonably close to employment opportunities. However, low-income households and low-wage employment has suburbanized over time (Kneebone 2009; Kneebone, 2017) making it increasingly difficult for workers to commute by transit.
What are the expected impacts and benefits of the research?
Because public transit is used disproportionately by residents in low-income households, trends in the location and commute distances of low-wage workers is likely to shed considerable insight on public transit ridership trends, and in particular the links between the housing affordability crisis, commuting, and transit use. If low-wage workers are more likely to live (and work) farther from transit-friendly neighborhoods, and if they are commuting longer distances to those far-flung neighborhoods over time, then public policies to increase public transit use may well be linked to public policies related to increasing housing affordability. This analysis aims to shed light on these important questions.