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161024-1 Report Abstract

The Effect of Public Transit on Social Opportunities for Ethnic Minority Populations: Case Study of Huston-Tillotson University Students

Talia M. McCray, Ana Julita Gomez Sanchez, Myung Kyung Chung, University of Texas at Austin, March 2011, 165 pp. (161024-1)

Travel time to destinations in the Austin area continues to rise during both peak and off-peak hours.  With increased congestion and higher gas prices, some individuals are traveling more selectively and viewing public transit as a cost-saving alternative to the automobile.  However, a substantial number of Austinites remain solely dependent on their automobiles for transportation.  This study analyzes the travel patterns of students attending Huston-Tillotson University (HT), an Historical Black College and University (HBCU).  This population does not utilize public transit, and is mostly car dependent.  Reasons given include the need to be independent, the inefficiency of Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus (travel time and routes), condition of bus stops, and the fear of crime while waiting for a bus.   During the Spring of 2009, focus groups were held on HT’s campus, and surveys were distributed to the broader student body.   From September 2009 – May 2010, an environmental analysis of the built environment surrounding 38 bus stops in three locations was performed using an established survey tool.  The researchers determined that both studies were necessary to test whether an environmental analysis would support the findings of the focus groups and student surveys.  Using GIS, a cluster analysis of bus stop environments, and cumulative distribution functions to explore bus travel time to reported destinations, the researchers found that the students’ perceptions were not always consistent with the environmental analysis.  The cluster analysis revealed spatial differences when identifying negative attributes.  However, none of the bus stop structures in the three areas were in very poor condition.  The researchers suggest that a transit training program for HT students would be beneficial in improving ridership.

Keywords: Public Transit, Disadvantaged Populations, Bus Routes, Bus Safety, Environmental Safety Attributes, Cluster Analysis, University Students, GIS, Cumulative Distribution Function, Historical Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Focus Groups, Bus Stops

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 8.9 MB)