Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Equity Focused Communities at Metro

This summer the Metro Board of Directors took a giant step towards defining and mapping high need communities in Los Angeles County, and applying this definition to evaluate planning efforts and resource allocations – namely NextGen and Congestion Pricing.

In June, the Metro Board unanimously adopted the motion, “Defining Equity Focused Communities,” from Directors Bonin, Garcia, Solis, Kuehl, Hahn and Dupont-Walker.

“This definition identifies two demographic factors that have historically been determinants of disinvestment and disenfranchisement: household income and race/ethnicity.”  


And Metro adds a third factor to the mix: households with low vehicle ownership. Using these 3 factors to create a map of high need neighborhoods and communities in Los Angeles County, Metro can now evaluate and prioritize where key transportation investments and policies can have the greatest impact on increasing access to opportunity. This is an important step forward for the agency, as you can not measure what you don’t define. This motion builds upon previous work from Metro and their 2018 Equity Platform, and takes the needed steps to operationalize and apply the Equity Platform. 

As Metro and local jurisdictions look to accelerate projects and leverage the nearly $2 Billion in tax dollars coming into the County each year for transportation investments – how are we ensuring that these investments will lead to a healthy, equitable region? Equity Focused Communities now changes that by providing an agency wide starting point to to do that (in the past Metro has been defining equity project by project – resulting in a huge variety of definitions, strategies, and impacts from Metro to address equity). 


“Adopting a working definition for use during the critical planning efforts underway, most notably the NextGen Bus Study and the Congestion Pricing Feasibility Study, would result in real benefits for communities that have waited a long time for their needs to be addressed equitably.”


This definition was developed as part of the Long Range Transportation Plan Draft Values Framework where Metro staff have been working with USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) research experts and the Metro Policy Advisory Council and other stakeholders.


Next Steps?

  • After adopted Equity Focused Communities as a working definition under the first pillar of the equity platform, Metro will be using it to evaluate scenarios on planning efforts currently underway – including NextGen and Congestion Pricing, along with supplemental metrics if necessary and appropriate.
  • Continue to refine the definition and applicability of Equity Focused Communities through the development of the Long Range Transportation Plan and in consultation with the Policy Advisory Council and Chief Equity Officer.


For more information:

The Long Wait for Better Buses

by Investing in Place

Got Shade? Bus Shelter Blitz

by Jessica Meaney