Transit & Health in Black Communities

Throughout our time talking about Project Connect, we’ve been clear that an investment in transit is an investment in equity.

What we mean by that is that public transportation ridership is heavily weighted toward low-income communities and people of color. And so when we improve our services, those benefits go toward the people who need them the most.

In addition, our country’s history has resulted in a landscape tilted against Black communities, who experience worse health outcomes, higher levels of air pollution and lower levels of public services overall. Good access to strong transit can help combat those issues and more.

Some of the most obvious benefits of transit are financial. It’s expensive to own, operate and maintain a car after all, and a monthly bus pass costs just $41.25.

Some of those are safety-related. Traveling by public transit is 10 times safer than by car.

Traffic safety also affects health outcomes, because people riding transit are in fewer collisions and therefore suffer fewer traffic-related injuries. Transit also brings improvements to the overall health of Black people and other communities of color in a variety of ways:

  • Transit takes cars off the roads, reducing air pollution from vehicles.
  • Transit combines with other active forms of transportation like walking and biking to and from stops or stations, enabling riders to get more exercise.
  • Transit connects people to medical centers, hospitals and doctors offices, giving more people access to regular healthcare appointments.
  • Transit increases access to healthier food options as well.

Public transportation can be a great equalizer for all communities and historically has been essential for Black Americans.

Cap Remap Explainer: FAQ Edition 

Cap Remap_Facebook Post Alt

Cap Remap is coming in just a few more days. After two years of planning, months of preparation and a couple of weeks at bus stops throughout our bus network — we’ve talked to more than 7,600 of you, face to face — it’s nearly here. 

In that time, we’ve heard some questions from y’all about how we came up with the plan and why. We’ve answered them as best we could, but we also wanted to gather a few persistent questions in one place to provide you answers. 

Before we get to them, however, we wanted to make sure you’re aware that we are developing pilot programs that might serve some of the areas discussed below that aren’t best served by regular bus service using large, 40-foot buses. It’s not certain what form that will take, but please stay tuned for more info as the pilots are announced. 

 

Route-10

Why won’t the Route 10 go into Hancock Center anymore? 

In order to provide reliable and frequent service on Route 10, we changed the approach to serving Hancock Center so that the bus will stay on Red River instead of driving into the shopping center itself. In the past, this wasn’t possible because there wasn’t a way for our customers to safely cross Red River, but now there’s a pedestrian beacon that customers can use to stop traffic and safely cross the street. It will be a longer walk to Red River than to the current bus stop inside the shopping center. However, the walk from the store to the street is similar in distance to how we serve every other H-E-B location in Austin. In addition, the time it takes to enter the parking lot and travel back to the street would prevent the new Route 10 from providing the frequent and direct service the majority of our customers have requested. 

Does Cap Remap serve low-income and minority communities better than the current network? 

Yes. An independent third party conducted an equity analysis of the Cap Remap service changes, and the Federal Transit Authority subsequently reviewed that analysis. The FTA found that, across the entire system, Cap Remap “substantially improved service for minority and low-income individuals.” The total minority population within 5 minutes of a bus stop with High-Frequency service will increase from 60,000 currently to 110,000, and while less than 1 percent of our existing customers will be farther than a 10-minute walk to transit service, 80 percent will have access to High-Frequency service (compared to 50 percent currently). 

Continue reading “Cap Remap Explainer: FAQ Edition “