Image courtesy of the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization.
All residents of the Wasatch Front should have access to the opportunities that are important to lead a productive, healthy, and fulfilling life.
WFRC, through its Council of elected officials and other community leaders, has adopted an organizational goal to “promote inclusive engagement in transportation planning processes and equitable access to affordable and reliable transportation options.” To advance this goal, WFRC will:
- Ensure inclusive engagement and participation in WFRC planning and decision-making processes
- Employ an Access to Opportunities framework as a primary lens to evaluate transportation, land use, and economic development initiatives.
Providing access to opportunities is core to WFRC’s work. Accessibility means people are able to easily, efficiently, and safely reach key destinations including jobs, schools, healthcare, childcare, parks, places of worship, and grocery stores. Access to opportunities can be increased by providing quality transportation options and by coordinating housing, land use, and economic development with transportation. This can have significant impacts on overall community livability, while breaking down barriers to individual and family upward economic mobility.
Planning with Equity Benefits Everyone
The curb cut effect asserts that an investment in equity can cascade out to others and be a substantial investment to the broader community.
First documented as the response to the advocacy of people in wheelchairs, these sidewalk indentations turned out to benefit many, not only those in wheelchairs but also families with strollers, cyclists, and other users.
Promoting affordable and reliable transportation options based on the needs of the populations being served — particularly populations that are traditionally underserved — is a WFRC priority.
WFRC, under the direction of its committees and Council, utilizes an Equity Focus Areas framework as an important input to its transportation planning efforts. For analysis purposes, Equity Focus Areas are those census block groups where any of the following criteria is met:
- Greater than 25 percent Low-Income — low-income populations are highlighted, as a lack of access to reliable and efficient transportation can be a major barrier to economic mobility.
- Greater than 40 percent Persons of Color— racial-ethnic minority populations comprise this criterion, as many land use and transportation investments in the U.S. have had disproportionate adverse impacts upon communities of color. WFRC pursues equity by considering transportation investments in these communities.
- Greater than 10 percent Zero-Car Households — zero-car households are included in this criterion as these are populations, which include those with disabilities, depend more on transit, paratransit, walking, and bicycling to reach employment and other destinations.
ATO can help us see gaps between residents and employment opportunities and other basic needs at a neighborhood-level. This is especially relevant for underserved populations that may benefit most from alternate forms of transportation in order to access key needs.
These maps show block groups identified meeting the WFRC Equity Focus Areas definition (left-most) and their workplace accessibility (TAZ-based ATO) scores for vehicle travel (center map) and the transit system (right-most), relative to the MPO region as a whole. Areas with higher ATO scores are shown in red and orange on the two maps. Areas where Equity Focus Areas have less workplace connectivity are shown in yellow, green, and blue. This interactive web map also shows the same datasets.
These maps highlight that access by transit is more limited for residents of Equity Focus Areas in western Salt Lake County, Layton and the surrounding area east of I-15 in Davis County, and eastern Weber County. This is due to gaps in a frequent transit network in more suburban parts of the region as well as the fewer number of jobs located in these areas. Access to jobs and services via car is more limited for Equity Focus Areas in eastern Weber and Davis Counties, again due to the relative lack of employment opportunities in these areas. Land use diversity, or locating non-residential developments closer to homes, would improve access for these communities.
- Diversity in Utah Data Book – Gardner Policy Institute (GPI)
- Health Equity Framework – Utah Department of Health
- UDOT Civil Rights & Title VI Program
- UTA Civil Rights & Title VI Program
- Utah Department of Cultural & Community Engagement
- Utah Department of Multicultural Affairs
- WFRC Public Participation Plan
- WFRC Title VI Plan and Resources
- Equity Story Map (coming soon)