Improving Access and Efficiency to Transportation Affordable Programs in California

This project addresses the Caltrans research need as outlined in the 2022-2023 UC Davis Caltrans Research Grants described as follows: "Despite transportation being the 2nd largest expenditure category for low and moderate-income households, frameworks, and action for comprehensive transportation affordability support policies lag far behind other basic services (utility, housing, and food) sector programs offered at local, state, or federal levels. Existing assistance programs often function as discretionary rather than entitlement programs. These programs are first-come, first-serve, and often over-subscribed. They tend to use limited dollars to channel large benefits to relatively few beneficiaries, leave many eligible households unassisted, and are rarely evaluated.” The researchers will address these research needs through a three-part approach.

In Part 1, the research team will inventory and analyze the income-related discounts provided by major travel service agencies by reviewing agency websites and interviewing agency personnel in twelve (12) major metro areas in California. In addition, they will review California Air Resources Board (CARB) documents to quantify past, current, and future funding for clean shared mobility programs and electric vehicle (EV) purchase programs in underserved areas. For Part 2, the researchers will identify other entitlement programs (e.g., housing, food, and energy) for comparison and potential integration with travel discount programs. The objective would be to secure information consistent with that gathered in Part 1. During Part 3, The research team is assisting the San Joaquin Council of Governments and the City and County of Los Angeles (Metro and Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)) in developing their universal basic mobility (UBM) pilots. 

Information collected will be synthesized to compare metrics across metro areas, agencies' travel discount programs, relevant state entitlement programs, and UBMs. The analysis will straddle the near and long-term objectives by assessing the landscape of income-related multi-modal service discounts, comparing this landscape of non-travel entitlement programs, and developing lessons learned from UBM pilots/programs. Based on this analysis, the researchers will identify near and longer-term opportunities to provide more effective UBM programs. 

Research Area