U.S. DOT Requesting Comments on Programs and Policies that Perpetuate Systemic Barriers

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed the Executive Order, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government” (Equity E.O.). Through the implementation of this Administration priority, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) will assess whether, and to what extent, its programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups. These assessments will better equip the U.S. DOT to develop policies and programs that deliver resources and benefits equitably to all. The U.S. DOT solicits input from the public regarding available or potential data and assessment tools that could assist in the ongoing and continuous evaluation of Federal policies and programs concerning equitable services and safety in the transportation sector.

Comments are requested by June 24, 2021.

For more information, including how to submit your comments, click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/05/25/2021-10436/request-for-information-on-transportation-equity-data

Questions to the Public

Methods and Assessment Tools To Measure Equity

(1) What are feasible methods for the Department to assess equity in transportation, including whether, and to what extent, Departmental programs and policies perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for underserved communities?

(2) How should the Department assess equity in Federal funding distributions? What data sources would be required for such assessment? Do such data sources exist currently? What new data would need to be collected, whether formula, discretionary, or other funding?

(3) What assessment tools currently exist to analyze equity in transportation investments, policies, and programs? Can these tools be scaled to a national level? If so, please describe the nature and level of detail of the data and how the data are collected or retrieved. If possible, please discuss any privacy concerns or barriers for collection of these data.

(4) What assessment tools and best practices currently exist to analyze equity in state and metropolitan transportation planning processes?

(5) If the Department were to create transportation equity indices, that include important transportation and equity variables, what key indicators should they include? What is the suggested methodology and level of aggregation for this index? What is the appropriate geographic level? How could such measures be constructed to weigh the competing interests of different disadvantaged groups?

(6) Housing affordability in the United States is measured in terms of percentage of income (i.e., the current threshold is 30 percent of income). Is there a similar threshold for “transportation affordability” currently in use by planning practitioners and planning agencies? What are some methods and strategies that the Department can use for determining and assessing the level of a transportation overburden cost standard?

(7) How should the Department identify and measure the benefits and drawbacks (e.g., safety, wellbeing, and mobility benefits) of Federal transportation investments to underserved communities? How should the Department identify and measure the social cost of inequity in transportation projects or policies in underserved communities?

(8) Transportation plays a critical role in how people access what they need (e.g., jobs, school, healthcare) and facilitates the movement of essential goods. What methodologies exist for measuring access to goods, services, education, recreation, and employment; well-being; and transportation reliability for people of color and other underserved groups? What are the limitations of the current measures or methods? What data is needed to overcome those limitations? How should the Department capture transportation’s ability to contribute to opportunities that help improve equity for underserved communities or individuals?

(9) What methodologies can be employed to determine how well the Department’s programs comprised of engineering, enforcement, and education are affecting the safety and security of underserved people? What equitable planning methodologies can be employed by organizations with limited human and computing resources, especially in rural areas?

(10) What data or data collection methods can be employed or augmented to better capture impacts of transportation on the safety and security of underserved populations, especially when people from underserved populations are walking or biking?

(11) What assessment tools and practices are currently being used at any level of government that do not address equity or worsen disparities felt by underserved groups? What data are being used in a way that widens disparities in safety and access to transportation by traditionally underserved groups?

(12) What are the experiences of other countries in measuring transportation equity? Please share the types and granularity of data collected, analysis methods, and policy applications.

Equity Data Considerations

(13) How should the Department amend the transportation data it collects to meet equity analysis needs at the necessary spatial granularity (the geographic level of detail, i.e., national, state, local)? Since most of the Department’s funding is not directed at individuals, what is the appropriate level of spatial granularity to accurately evaluate the impact of transportation investments on underserved communities?

(14) What actions can the Department take with its data to make it more useful for equity research and analysis?

(15) What data exist that track people in historically underserved groups over time (i.e., panel surveys) that may be useful to evaluating transportation equity? What metadata is useful in determining that a data collection effort is equitable (e.g., demographic profile of the researchers, method of questionnaire administration, language of questionnaire)? What methods or data would be useful in addressing non-response bias in equity data collection?

(16) Transportation plays a large role in localized pollution and negative environmental outcomes for those living near certain transportation routes and facilities. These negative environmental outcomes can have disproportionately high and adverse effects on underserved populations. How can the Department better analyze these effects, what are the data gaps, and what data sources can help address this problem? For example, what data are needed to measure the impact of vehicle electrification on the shift from mobile-source emissions to point-source (e.g., power plant) emissions on disadvantaged populations?

(17) What data are required to model equity outcomes at the individual Start Printed Page 28191person level? How can the Department gather this information while protecting personal privacy?

(18) What are approaches that DOT can take to ensure that individuals from underserved populations are represented in our data collection efforts?

(19) How should the Department develop a data collection framework, gather new and existing data, set data standards, and analyze and aggregate it into useful information for policymaking?

(20) How should the Department engage industry on gathering more detailed data on advanced safety features in vehicles for evaluating if technologies and their benefits are disproportionately distributed among different income and demographic groups and whether such technologies have equitable predictive performance to improve safety for all citizens?

(21) How should the Department engage industry to increase the data available to understand electric vehicles and vehicle hybridization with the intent of understanding how these technologies can benefit different income and demographic groups; and to improve the distribution and fairness in the use of these technologies for all citizens?

Transportation Workforce Data

The Department is seeking input on data and assessment tools and best practices that may be used to understand and to strengthen the pipeline for more minority, women, people of color, people with disabilities and other underserved populations to access opportunities, develop a robust network, and build a supportive environment that addresses their structural barriers to opportunities and wealth.

(22) What high-quality career pathways programs or educational pipelines have state and local governments utilized or implemented to diversify their transportation workforce? What have the results been? How were the results of the programs measured?

(23) What practices has the transportation industry taken to increase diversity and retain individuals from underserved populations within its workforce? How should the Department measure the overall impacts, especially the diversity impacts, on the workforce through Federal funding, policies, and programs?

(24) What tools and best practices might the Department utilize to augment minority and disadvantaged business programs to create pathways for jobs in the transportation industry, and jobs of the future?

(25) What type of data should we collect to measure the success of workforce programs? How do we assess if we are placing underserved populations in these job programs and into jobs; how do we track retention rates and opportunities for advancement; and how do we assess whether these are good-paying jobs?