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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Meeting Travel Needs: Becoming Reacquainted with a Community’s Unmet Travel Needs


Our current examples of transportation needs assessments focus on existing and established travel behaviors to predict the needs of a community, but there are populations that face additional burdens that are not captured outside of surveys and data collection efforts in academia. The goal of this research is to identify the best practices to collect data on the unmet travel needs of a neighborhood, particularly for disadvantaged populations. This project is a mixed-methods approach involving a literature review, open-ended interviews with academics and professionals with survey experience, and focus groups with community members in Downtown Huntington Park. This study finds that the ideal approach for collecting information on the travel needs of a neighborhood combines the benefits of active and passive data collection using smartphone-based surveys and thorough outreach to ensure that the survey instrument works for underrepresented populations. The current efforts to study the travel needs of disadvantaged populations in studies occur at a smaller scale, but with a focused effort in relationship building and community context. There are quality resources, examples, and guides for community needs assessments that can serve as a template for agencies seeking to explore the needs of their communities, such as the Mobility Equity Framework and the University of Kansas Community Tool Box. Community members in Downtown Huntington Park conveyed a willingness to participate in a smartphone-based travel survey, expressed their car-dependent nature, and provided valuable feedback on how outreach could be conducted in their neighborhood.

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