Disparities in the distribution of transportation system benefits and burdens are significant and have persisted despite the efforts of many to reduce or eliminate them. Although transportation plans and projects must be assessed for their distributive effects in accordance with U.S. laws and regulatory guidance, these analyses rarely uncover findings that result in changes to decisions already made or the creation of entirely new projects or policies. This outcome is due in part to limitations associated with transportation governance institutions including metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), specifically those related to inequitable access to political power and representation. It is also due to methodological choices and limitations in the quantitative analyses that are conducted to understand (and ideally avoid or mitigate) impacts.
This policy brief summarizes findings from the white paper that assesses academic research and transportation planning practice to provide a shared understanding of the definitions, challenges, and opportunities in this field, thereby enabling often-conflicting parties to collaborate in achieving a common goal: transportation equity.