A major component of creating a smart and equitable city is an efficient and affordable public transportation system. Public transportation is vitally important to residents, as it serves as a way for people to get access jobs and childcare. Building and maintaining a resilient transportation system that can endure climate change as well as natural disasters as they occur is imperative of all smart cities. The pandemic has highlighted many issues with public transportation systems. Infrastructure and inequity are prominent issues that need to be focused on if cities are committed to increasing their equitability.
Because cars are not imperative when living in a city, citizens are dependent on mass transit to get them to their daily destinations. Jesse Keenan, a professor at Tulane University and a co-author of a recent Bloomberg article says, “It’s critically important to prioritize the needs of historically marginalized communities”. The problem is derived from people in low-income communities not having the same transportation resources as citizens in higher income or middle-class communities. According to urban.org’s article, How Can Cities Create More Equitable Transportation Systems?, six solutions were identified to help remedy equity issues:
- Metro regions need to define transportation equity in partnership with historically excluded residents.
- Transportation departments need dedicated funding sources to allow for equitable and innovative transportation decisions.
- Transportation decisions need to include meaningful community engagement with low-income and other historically excluded residents.
- Local land use, zoning, and housing agencies must coordinate to ensure that transportation investments increase equity rather than exacerbate disparities.
- Land use planning, must keep equity as a guiding principle to make equitable transportation feasible.
- Cities should collect better data to track transportation equity and create tools to help them make transportation decisions with equity as a key consideration.
Improving the availability of public transit to all citizens in a given city is just as important as maintaining the infrastructure on which it is dependent on. According to a recent Bloomberg article, climate change is a prominent issue in the world and transportation systems are not able to sustain the changing times. The rising sea levels present issues because most public transportation systems are underground. Floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters that come with climate change should not have the ability to completely shut down public transportation systems. Fortunately, transit agencies received $30.5 billion in pandemic relief from the American Rescue Plan which was passed in March. In the Bloomberg article, executive director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University and an expert in transit resilience, Jon Carnegie, said that virtually all big-city transit systems have begun to execute on climate plans that go even beyond sea-level rise. “It’s about shade, air conditioning, impacts on the transit workforce,” he said.
Because public transportation is so important to cities and the citizens that live in them, the problems are more apparent. Using the strategies above along with other city specific approaches, will improve the public transit issue.
Kennedy Sampson is a marketing intern with ESI. She is currently studying Marketing at Morgan State University.