Strong federal laws and guidance exist to ensure that the benefits and burdens of transportation infrastructure investments are fairly distributed across demographic groups. But the “transportation equity” analyses conducted by planning agencies to assess these distributions often shed little light on the conditions faced by disadvantaged populations. In this talk, Dr. Karner will present some of his recent research on transportation equity, including recommendations for meaningful analyses of transportation investment programs and a qualitative investigation into the 2014 expansion of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) into Clayton County. The Clayton case vividly demonstrates the potential for transportation equity advocates to effect meaningful change and the limitations of relying too heavily on quantitative analyses.
Dr. Alex Karner
Dr. Karner’s work aims to quantify the social equity, environmental, and public health implications of transportation projects and plans by using emerging data sources and developing new, open source methods. A deep commitment to practice undergirds his research and teaching; he routinely collaborates with community members, non-profit organizations and public interest law firms to identify pressing research needs and improve conditions in communities experiencing transportation disadvantage. Some of his recent projects include an analysis of realtime transit arrival data to understand disparities in service provision across the large metropolitan regions in the United States, developing high resolution indicators of public transit accessibility based on public census data and open source techniques and applying them to federally required transit service equity analysis, and tying underperformance on affordable housing provision to indicators of poor transportation performance. The overarching goal of this work is to identify areas where current planning and modeling practices fall short and demonstrate the superiority of alternative approaches. Because sound analysis is only one component that determines the success or failure of a particular planning effort or project, partnering with community-based organization is an effective strategy to ensure implementation and progress towards equitable, sustainable, and healthy futures.
Prior to joining the faculty at UT Austin Dr. Karner was an assistant professor at Georgia Tech. He has previously held postdoctoral research positions in the Department of Transport Engineering and Logistics at Universidad Católica de Chile and the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. His work has been funded by Canadian federal funding agencies (the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), non-profit foundations including the California Endowment, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Transit Administration, and University Transportation Centers at UC Davis and the University of Maryland.