The Implications of Changing Demographics on Major Service Changes, 1980–2010

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Posted 7/17

When a transit agency proposes major service changes, planners conduct Title VI service equity analyses to assess whether the changes might unintentionally discriminate against protected populations. In general, the Central Transportation Planning Staff uses data from the most recent U.S. Census as one source to evaluate whether a change might have disparate impacts on protected populations. However, these equity analyses may not accurately assess the risk of discrimination because the demographics of the study area or region may be out of date or the project’s implementation may cause a change in demographics.

This study investigates whether planners conducting service equity analyses might draw different conclusions about how to restructure service and mitigate the effects of service changes depending upon whether they use current or recent demographics or projected demographics in their analyses.

Through a series of hypothetical equity analyses using census data from various points in time, we found that, while there were some benefits from using projected data when conducting service equity analyses, planners generally would have obtained the same outcomes if they used the most recently available data.

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