As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Research Project Description

Transportation and Access to Opportunity:  Metropolitan Size, User Experience, and Employment Quality

University: University of New Orleans

Principal Investigator:
Catherine Lowe
Gulf Coast Research Center for Evacuation and Transportation Resiliency
(504) 280-6029

Project Monitor:
Jason Sappington, AICP
New Orleans Regional Planning Commission

Funding Source: USDOT

Total Project Cost: $23,317

Project Number: 600451-00115

Date Started: 9/1/13

Estimated Completion Date: 12/31/14

Project Summary

Project Abstract:
This project will deepen current understanding of accessibility to quality jobs for low-income residents in Louisiana and adapt access indicators for medium-sized metropolitan areas more generally. The project will 1) compare quantitative measures and qualitative accounts of low-income users’ experiences accessing jobs and opportunity; and 2) identify sustainable wages by parish, consider skills matches, and document transportation and other barriers to quality jobs. Findings will be useful for transportation, workforce development, and housing policy makers locally and for the field of transportation accessibility research more generally.

Project Objectives:
This research examines accessibility to quality, sustainable wage jobs and other opportunities in medium-sized metropolitan areas, providing an in-depth look at how quantitative assessments relying on secondary data align with or differ from the experiences of low-income households across different metropolitan sizes. It is part of an ongoing partnership to understand accessibility in varied contexts and provide information for policy makers in transportation planning, workforce development, and housing policy to ensure that policies are coordinated to best support expanded access and opportunity in Louisiana and beyond.

Task Descriptions:
Task 1: Pilot Interview Tool

Task 2: Sustainable Wage Analysis

Task 3: Qualitative Interviews

Task 4: Interview Analysis

Task 5: Final Analysis & Report

Implementation of Research Outcomes:
Through qualitative analysis, this study examined the role of transportation in the lives of low-income adults in two medium-sized metropolitan areas and how their actual, lived transportation experiences function as stressors with potentially compounding impacts. The study finds that job accessibility models that only account for travel time and location may not reflect the transportation time tax associated with accessing employment for some low-income households.

Products developed by this research:

Presentation:  Mobility Strategies and Employment in Secondary Metropolitan Areas, Kate Lowe and Kim Mosby, presented to the Urban Affairs Association Annual Conference, Miami, FL, April 9, 2015

Presentation:  The Conceptual Mismatch:  Rethinking Transportation Accessibility, Kate Lowe and Kim Mosby, presented to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA, October 30, 2014.

Journal Article Submitted for Review:  The Conceptual Mismatch:  A Qualitative Analysis of Transportation Costs and Stressors for Low-income Adults, Kate Lowe and Kim Mosby, submitted to Transport Policy.

Journal Article Submitted for Review: Keeping Cars “On the Road”:  A Qualitative Analysis of Car Ownership Dynamics among Low-income Adults, Kate Lowe, submitted to Transportation.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
Access to critical activities and jobs are important for all citizens, but especially challenging for low-income households. Results show the complexity of addressing these challenges and provide policy makers context for programs designed to improve the mobility of low-income populations.

Web Links:
Final Technical Report