Transit Dependence in the U.S. Cuts Across Geographies, Income Classes

Transit-dependent neighborhoods can be found in almost all major U.S. cities, according to a new analysis of Census data.

1 minute read

October 28, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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A recent analysis from Chris Winters found that in almost every major U.S. city–even the most car-dependent ones–a segment of the population lives without private cars, signaling a need for improved public transit in these neighborhoods. "In a whopping 1,660 census tracts, more than 50 percent of occupied households were carless." As Kea Wilson writes, "tracts with light rail lines tended to have higher concentrations of households without automobiles, though in some cities, like Baltimore, some of the most heavily transit-dependent areas weren’t being served by rail at all — consistent with recent research that shows that local transportation leaders are failing to prioritize convenient shared options for the Charm City residents who need them most." In other cities, "car-light neighborhoods were more heavily associated with concentrated poverty than robust transit investment."

"Winters acknowledges that truly auto-light havens are still few and far between in the United States, noting that there are only 350 census tracts across America where more than 75 percent of households are living without a car — and the vast majority of them (312) are located in his transit-rich New York City." Winters concludes that  "even the most car-dependent communities likely have more demand for transit than their leaders are answering, and not always in the neighborhoods they might assume."

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