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Go In-Depth on Our Legislative Priorities: Equity in Public Transportation

In new transportation projects, cities should consider everyone’s needs.

April 13, 2023

Public transportation is vital for Texans to be able to access education, financial stability and healthcare services. The Texas Department of Transportation currently requires cities to consider the needs of people with disabilities and low-income workers when planning a new transportation project. During the 2023 Texas legislative session, lawmakers are considering whether to codify this requirement into state law.

Background on Equity in Public Transportation

For many Texans, public transportation provides vital access to work, healthcare and basic needs. While urban transit is typically used for work, one in four trips in rural Texas is used for healthcare visits. Adequate public transit improves access to employment and education, supports trips to preventive healthcare, increases food access and reduces isolation, particularly for older adults.

Limited transportation options weaken workforce engagement by blocking access to continuing education and apprenticeships. Government-funded employment assistance programs are also affected. More than 35% of SNAP Employment and Training Program participants reported transportation was a barrier to obtaining and retaining employment. Lack of access to transportation was the second most common reason eligible adults chose not to participate in SNAP’s E&T program.

Inadequate public transportation disproportionately affects people in poverty, and it also strains low-income households and those that earn above the federal poverty limit but not enough to afford basic necessities. (These households are known as “ALICE,” which stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed households.) These households often experience higher insurance rates based on their neighborhood, income and race. In 2016, there was a 52% gap in the resources needed to meet the basic transportation costs for Texas households below the ALICE threshold. There is currently no state funding for transportation directed toward ALICE and low-income families.

What’s Happening This Legislative Session

House Bill 4846 (Davis) would codify the current TXDOT rules that require each metropolitan planning organization seeking state or federal funding for a transportation project to submit evidence that they are considering the needs of people with disabilities and those participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s workforce training programs.

What’s New

We’ll be watching this legislation throughout the session. Check back here for important updates as this bill advances through the legislative process.


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