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Equitable Transit Options

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An Equity Problem

Chicago's transit system is not equitable. Infrastructural improvements and maintenance favor areas of the city more frequented by tourists. How might we balance transit investments among areas that typically see less investment (yet equal population density)?

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Research

Our commitment to systems-thinking demands us to investigate root causes. With this in mind, our interview questions for users are shaped by some foundational questions that we ask ourselves as a team.

  • Shouldn't those with lower incomes have MORE transit options, since they are less likely to own a car?
  • If an area is only served by buses, shouldn't maintenance and beautification be focused there?
  • Aren't corridors between stations an easy target for business corridor/economic development?
  • While transit access in denser areas makes sense, wouldn't access in other areas catalyze density where it's needed most?

Context

This map mimics a "heat map" showing areas of the city serviced by train stations and/or train lines within a 1/2-mile (the maximum reasonable walking distance is about 12 min). The more intense the color, the more train station/line options there are to choose from.

The bus lines are underlaid to show "cool" zones, or areas which are only serviced by buses, if at all.

transit options heat map
We plan to add a layer showing population density coded by income levels, highlighting specific income levels within the transit option radii.

A person unfamiliar with Chicago would assume from this transit system that:

  • Most activity in the city occurs in the loop.
  • Bus connections are efficient/adequate & pleasant to transport people in "cool" zones to train stations.
  • There are more options for those who don't own a car.

These assumptions are inaccurate to various degrees.

We are currently in the Research Phase of this project.

Please contact us about how to get involved.