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167502-1 Report Abstract

Limits on Access in Low-Income Neighborhoods and the Travel Patterns of Low-Income Households

Kelly Clifton and Susan Handy, University of Texas at Austin, September 2001, 55 pp. (167502-1)

In many poor urban areas, retail and service establishments are not abundant and those retail centers that do exist often offer lower quality products at higher prices. To compound the problem, poor households lack the personal resources that might compensate for inadequate local access. They often don’t have the option of traveling to stores or other destinations beyond their neighborhood, and they can’t move to neighborhoods with better local access. Despite the constraints of inferior access and limited resources, the poor must nevertheless find ways to take care of their household needs as best they can, whether that means making do with the goods and services available within the neighborhood, finding ways to get to destinations outside of the neighborhood, or simply doing without. The travel patterns exhibited by low-income households should thus reflect, although often indirectly, the limited options they have and the ways in which they are able to go about their household provisioning. This study takes a look at levels of accessibility to basic services in low-income neighborhoods and explores the implications of limited accessibility and household constraints on non-work travel for low-income households for the case of Austin, TX. Key findings include lower auto ownership, lower trip frequencies, higher use of transit and walking, shorter trip distances but longer trip times, and less person-miles-traveled for low-income households. The results raise interesting questions about how low-income households make the most of their limited choices.

Keywords: Travel Patterns, Low Income Neighborhoods, Low-Income Households, Limited Access

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 326KBytes)