What is the Problem?

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The Problem

Public transportation and vehicles provide a crucial connection between people and their needs, whether that be jobs, food, essential services, or leisure. However, public transportation is being done wrong here in Louisiana. According to a study conducted by RIDE New Orleans, a Louisiana transit equity advocacy group, the majority of people in the city of New Orleans do not live near jobs that are 30 minutes or less by walking distance. Near the central district of the city, only about 30% to 40% of residents can access jobs within 30 minutes of walking distance, while the rest of the city dwindles with about 10% to 20% of accessible jobs. About 1 in 5 New Orleans residents do not have access to a vehicle, indicating the urgency of reliable transportation in the city. 

While urban areas like New Orleans tend to have higher population and demand for public transportation, rural areas also display a high demand for more available and accessible public transportation. Rural areas in the United States exhibited a growth rate in public transit use three-times that of urban areas from 2007 to 2015. However, rural areas have a high number of elderly and disabled residents that would benefit greatly from robust transportation systems. The needs of Louisiana’s rural communities are often unmet demonstrating the importance of providing adequate and convenient public transit in rural parts of Louisiana. 

Finally, the lens with which we examine public transit needs a lot of work. Our blind spots are widened by the inherent exclusion of women from the conversation. Women are under-represented in the transport sector. Research finds bias against female engineers- especially among employers. The masculine bias influences the collection of data and gives disproportionate focus to infrastructure, traffic, and speed. Gender differences in transport needs are not well understood due to gaps in current data. One way women travel differently is their greater tendency towards multi-modal trips. Growing interest in sustainable development, climate change, women’s empowerment, and the changing roles of men and women has exposed these differences in patterns. The pandemic has only deepened and broadened the existing fault lines of inequality.