SUMMARY

In May 2021, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gather input on available data sources, methods, and assessment tools being used to measure transportation equity. The RFI was announced as an action step under President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which seeks to adopt a comprehensive approach to advance equity for all, including people of color, underserved communities, those impacted by persistent poverty, and other marginalized groups.  

The RFI contained 25 questions divided into three sections: 1) methods and assessment tools to measure equity, 2) equity data considerations, and 3) transportation workforce data. The overall purpose of the RFI was to assist the USDOT to develop national-level transportation policies and programs that distribute resources equitably to underserved communities and to gain insight into the ways in which previous federal transportation policies and programs have harmed communities of color and marginalized groups. The USDOT solicited input from public transportation agencies, non-profits, academic institutions, advocates, and other individuals working in the transportation sector. Over 300 public comments were submitted, including 11 from state DOTs. 

In November 2021, the USDOT released a summary of the 300+ public comments submitted in response to its RFI on equity. The Summary of Public Comments aggregates responses and highlights common themes under each of the 25 questions contained in the RFI. For the purposes of our scoping exercise, we propose to review public comments and organize them by respondent type, with specific attention given to the public comments submitted by all 11 state DOTs.  

 

RESEARCH

Building on SSTI’s previous research into project prioritization programs at 21 US transportation agencies, we propose to:

  • Review comments submitted by 11 state DOTs to the USDOT RFI on transportation equity 
  • Summarize state DOT responses and recommendations with specific focus on equity definitions and practices within project prioritization programs
  • Review and organize responses submitted by advocacy groups, academic institutions, and other transportation stakeholders into broad categories of alternative methods of measuring equity
  • Analyze responses for common themes and best practices  
  • Identify next steps and areas for future research

 

Project Partner:  Chris McCahill, Managing Director, State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI)
Faculty/Staff:  Liz Biskar, Assistant Director, CMC Policy Lab 
Research Assistants: Anika Kimme, Augusta Lewis

Transportation Equity