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Mobility Gaps between Low-Income and Not Low-Income Households: A Case Study in New York State

by Yuandong Liu, Md Majbah Uddin
Publication Type
Conference Paper
Book Title
International Conference on Transportation and Development 2023
Publication Date
Page Numbers
663 to 673
Publisher Location
United States of America
Conference Name
International Conference on Transportation and Development (ICTD)
Conference Location
Austin, Texas, United States of America
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

Understanding the travel challenges faced by low-income residents has always been and continues to be one of the most important transportation equity topics. This study aims to explore the mobility gaps between low-income households (HHs) and not low-income HHs, and how the gaps vary within different socio-demographic population groups in New York State (NYS). The latest National Household Travel Survey data was used as the primary data source for the analysis. The study first employed the K-prototype clustering algorithm to categorize the HHs in NYS based on their socio-demographic attributes. Five population groups were identified based on nine different household (HH) features such as HH size, vehicle ownership, and elderly status of its members. Then, the mobility differences, measured by trip frequency, trip distance, travel time, and person miles traveled, were examined among the five population groups. Results suggest that the individuals in low-income HHs consistently took fewer trips and made shorter trips compared to their not low-income counterparts in NYS. The travel distance gaps were most obvious among white HHs with more vehicles than drivers. In addition, while the population from low-income HHs made shorter trips on average (2.7 mi shorter per trip), they experienced longer travel time than those from not low-income HHs (1.8 min longer per trip). These key findings provide a deeper understanding of the travel behavior disparities between low-income and not low-income households. The findings could also support policymakers and transportation planners in addressing the critical needs of residents in low-income households in NYS and provide inputs for designing a more equitable transportation system.