The Scranton Area Community Foundation led conversations with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and local stakeholders to build a common understanding of the issues regarding transit equity in the region and formed the NEPA Equitable Transit Council.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia conducted qualitative and quantitative research to assess, understand, and define the issues facing NEPA’s low- and moderate-income communities.
The NEPA Equitable Transit Council identified four action areas to pursue innovative policy solutions. Private sector businesses began to explore new partnerships and program models to increase transit access.
The NEPA Equitable Transit Council began to delegate work and facilitate conversations about potential pilots. A rideshare program to connect low- and moderate-income communities to health-care services was the first pilot.
What We Did: In partnership with the Scranton Area Community Foundation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia co-chaired gatherings of local stakeholders concerned about equitable transit. Over the course of several months, these meetings led to the creation of the Equitable Transit Planning Council. The council consists of private, public, and nonprofit organizations in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton area working to understand what equitable transit means and strategies to achieve it.
Through this discovery process, we learned that equitable transit touches all parts of the community and that solutions require partnerships across sectors and counties. We also learned that equity and accessibility are separate problems and that we needed to tackle the needs of low- and moderate-income communities to address the needs of all transit users.
- Bringing people to the table: View the video
- Mission and vision: Equitable Transit Planning Council
What You Can Do:
- Convene stakeholders interested in equitable transit.
- Understand user experience.
What We Did: To understand the issues facing NEPA residents in getting to jobs and other amenities, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia partnered with The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University to conduct a survey of transit riders. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia also used geographic information system mapping for a study that looked into what was preventing low- and moderate-income communities from accessing opportunity occupations, jobs that pay above the median wage and don’t require a four-year degree. The studies revealed that access to transportation for low-income communities wasn’t a major issue — in fact, most users rated the quality and affordability of the transit system well. But the length of the commute to work was a major obstacle. The research also showed that transit systems were not only important for jobs but for getting to health-care appointments, social services, and for basic needs like groceries.
- The Northeastern Pennsylvania Equitable Transit Study provided insights on accessing transit in the region. Through focus groups and supplemental interviews, 92 participants from Lackawanna and Luzerne counties participated in constructive discussions on this topic.
- Getting to Work on Time provided quantitative research and geospatial analysis to expand on the qualitative findings of the NEPA Transit Study. The study evaluated access to transit by assessing the physical proximity of homes and opportunity employers to bus stops.
- The NEPA Equitable Transit Summit agenda summarizes the topics covered at the summit.
What You Can Do:
- Conduct a survey of public transit users to better understand the primary reasons for using transit, as well as barriers and user experience.
- Conduct a quantitative analysis of transit and access to opportunity employment.
What We Did: Working with the NEPA Equitable Transit Council, the Federal
Reserve Bank of Philadelphia helped to identify key areas for the council to work on in the
initial “develop” phases. The council then split into groups and brainstormed around
action items in these areas.
To further this work, subgroups have been meeting to discuss possible innovations and solutions. Meetings with partners engaged the business community and developed best practices for business and transit partnerships to increase workers’ access to jobs.
Through this process we learned that solutions lie at the intersection between private, public, and nonprofit entities. We also learned that finding excited champions willing to launch a pilot can motivate and inspire other actors.
- Moving from Problems to Solutions: Brainstorm Facilitation
- Linking Employment and Transportation: A Resource Guide for Employers
What You Can Do:
- Communicate the business case for transportation and transit.
- Identify community champions willing to take a risk and pilot new ideas.
What We Did: The NEPA Equitable Transit Council began to delegate work and facilitate conversations about potential pilots. As a result of discussions and resources shared through this lab, the Health and Human Services subcommittee decided to pilot a rideshare program to connect low- and moderate-income communities to health-care services. The Scranton Area Community Foundation also hired a staff member to facilitate the council’s work, which institutionalized the partnership. The council will continue to evaluate and monitor the process as it moves forward, creating a space for innovation and exploring new projects.
- A Geisinger Health System and rabbittransit pilot addresses transit needs through a public–private partnership and aims to decrease patient no-shows and improve overall well-being.
- New partnership provides transit assistance to business parks.
- New transit line makes good on key NEPA Moves Initiative.
What You Can Do:
- Delegate key actions to partners and subcommittee leaders.
- Connect with national champions and share lessons learned.