[00:00:00] Announcer: The following research is part of the National Institute for Congestion Reduction funded by the United States Department of Transportation through the University Transportation Center program. Learn more at www.nicr.usf.edu.
[00:00:30] Wayne Garcia: Welcome to Out of my Lane, a podcast of the Center for Urban Transportation Research. At the University of South Florida in Tampa. I'm Wayne Garcia, your host. This podcast is devoted to making your time, getting from point A to point B, more efficient and more enjoyable. Each episode will look at a different aspect of mobility and transportation as we examine ways to make traffic less congested and travel options more plentiful and safe.
[00:00:58] Wayne Garcia: Our episode this month is titled Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Transportation. And our guest is Tia Boyd from the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research. We're going to talk to her about her work as part of the National Institute for Congestion Reduction or NICR. Tia, thanks for joining us.
[00:01:20] Tia Boyd: Hi Wayne. How are you?
[00:01:22] Wayne Garcia: A little bit more about Tia for those who have not met her yet, and she, this is her first time on the podcast. She is a research associate, with the Planning and Corridor Management program at CUTR. her research focus is on transportation decision making with an emphasis on equity in transportation planning.
[00:01:42] Wayne Garcia: She comes at this, we're talking before we turn the microphones on, in a way that's different from some of the people we've had in here, who are either engineers or, behavioralists. but Tia comes at this from an urban and regional planning background. that's what she has her master's degree in, and also, an architecture degree as an undergraduate.
[00:02:07] Wayne Garcia: Again, it's great to have you here, and we ask all of our guests the first time they're on to tell us about their daily commute. What is your commute like when you make it? I know we're all hybrid still, right?
[00:02:19] Tia Boyd: So, right now, I'm working from home, and I still have a bit of a commute with that. I have two kids in daycare. so, it's about, I drive. It's about a 10-minute drive and, there and back and then my husband usually picks 'me up at the end of the day. before I was working from home, I had about a 30-minute commute, into campus. usually once again, buy car because I still had to drop the kids to school and daycare. So, I'm a bit of a driver, but, hopefully once the kids are a little older we can try some other.
[00:02:55] Wayne Garcia: There you go. Got to get back to being multimodal.
[00:02:58] Tia Boyd: Absolutely.
[00:02:58] Wayne Garcia: As we say. So, You know, the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion, it fascinates me because, not only is it morally right to be fair and equitable to everyone in the community, but it really is there's an economic component to this.
[00:03:20] Wayne Garcia: So, talk to us about what does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean in transportation?
[00:03:27] Tia Boyd: So, in transportation, we could look at it in a few ways when we talk about diversity, equity, and, and inclusion. So, first we look at who's involved in the transportation planning process, who is sitting at the table, and not only who's sitting at the table, but do they have an opportunity to participate in a way that is meaningful?
[00:03:48] Tia Boyd: Secondly, does the transportation system benefit everybody fairly? So, we have that involvement component, and then we have that benefit. So, are all persons, everybody. Are they able to benefit or use the transportation system in a way that is affordable, that is accessible, that is safe and that meets their daily needs at a minimum.
[00:04:14] Tia Boyd: So, there, there's a few ways that we can, we can look at it. And also, speaking of affordability, So, we may have all these different components and modes available, but are people able to use them? Can they afford to use them? does it cost a burden? You know, when we look at, things like housing and transportation costs, which are the highest costs for most people, that can have a severe effect on people, for example, who are, low income or the working poor.
[00:04:46] Tia Boyd: If they can't afford to get to their jobs, or can't afford to go to the grocery store or to shop, or to go to the park, that causes some serious issues.
[00:04:54] Wayne Garcia: Yeah, and it's not just a matter of whether you can afford a car or not, which is sort of the dominant form of, of transportation, but even, you know, some of the alternatives we have using ride sharing, Uber, Lyft, whatever, takes both a cell phone that can do it.
[00:05:11] Tia Boyd: Exactly.
[00:05:11] Wayne Garcia: And not everybody has that. but also, you know, there's an educational curve and it, and it's not just, you know, older people who don't know how to use apps or things like that. There's a lot of people that those things are daunting and it cuts them out of that, out of those areas that they would have had options.
[00:05:31] Tia Boyd: Right, right. So, things like, like you mentioned, access to a cell phone or that technology, access to a credit card or a debit card or a bank. things like, English proficiency if instructions or directions or how to use these software, how to use these modes aren't available in their primary language.
[00:05:54] Tia Boyd: If, you have people who are, you know, immigrants who come in and are unfamiliar with some of these technology and software, do people have an opportunity to learn and understand and know how to use them to get to their needed destination? So, there are several barriers that do have to be overcome for, various groups of people.
[00:06:16] Wayne Garcia: If we look at, a timeline of the last century or half, half century, or even 20 or 30 years, how much progress and awareness have we made about the issue of equity and transportation. You know, I think about for many years, and certainly when I was a newspaper reporter, covering government, you know, the solution for people who couldn't afford a car or traditional sort of dominant forms of transportation was the bus.
[00:06:45] Wayne Garcia: and So, I think, you know, that created two problems. One, that, that, if that's your only option, that's not always a great option. It also, made it in a way, stigmatized, I think the bus system. So, how do you make progress on that and, and what progress have we made?
[00:07:03] Tia Boyd: So, I would say that there has been progress made, especially in the past, you know, year or two now we see, executive orders and guidance for, to integrate equity into policy, into funding. for example, with Justice 40, that requires that, 40% of all investment goes to, underserved or disadvantaged populations, and. The USDOT and the government is working to figure out how do we define underserved or, those communities that have been underinvested in.
[00:07:40] Tia Boyd: So, progress has been made, but it is a, it may be difficult to monitor because needs change constantly. So, as populations grow, as populations age, as needs change, as technology advances, we find that there are, for the problems that we may have solved or addressed, there are some new issues that are arising.
[00:08:10] Tia Boyd: So, we have to be quick on our feet. We have to be nimble in how we approach these various problems and realize that there's not always a one size fits all solution. So, what may work for one group may not work for another, and education is a big part of that as well in educating the public, there is benefits to walking and cycling and using transit and that we do not have to solely rely on a single occupancy vehicle.
[00:08:46] Tia Boyd: While there are benefits for long-range travel, for, varying needs, you know, we may need a car, but we need to be able to provide the option. We need to be able to provide people with a choice and we need to make that choice appealing and we need to educate them on the benefits of using one choice versus the other.
[00:09:06] Wayne Garcia: Because it seems to me most people are not super transportation aware. They're like, "I got a car, I get in it, I go here. maybe I use my, Google Maps function to tell me how to get there." But for the most part, you know, most people don't really think about all those transportation options.
[00:09:26] Tia Boyd: It's a little bit of, of, of lack of awareness.
[00:09:29] Tia Boyd: There is a need for education, but there's also, you know, when you, when you look back historically at when the automobile became the predominant mode of travel, There was a shift in mentality. There was a point where people would walk as their primary mode of tra… of travel. People would use transit as a primary mode of travel.
[00:09:52] Tia Boyd: When the automobile came aboard and we became very auto focused, there was a shift in mentality. So, there needs to be things in place, those educational components, those incentives in place that encourage people to want to try these other modes,
[00:10:13] Wayne Garcia: and people of all means not, not just...
[00:10:15] Tia Boyd: Right, everybody,
[00:10:16] Wayne Garcia: Wealthy folks on one end or disadvantaged communities on earth.
[00:10:19] Tia Boyd: Every, yes, everybody, everybody needs to be educated because, you know, there's on, on the positives of mult, of using these mul multiple modes, but also, on the potential adverse effects of only using a car. You know, what, what does that look like when we get in our car and we two, three-minute drive somewhere that we can easily walk to, you know, So, what, what are the pros or the cons? How are we benefiting or how are we contributing to the broader society?
[00:10:54] Wayne Garcia: You know, I think it's something that everyone who lives in some of these, neighborhoods or communities that weren't getting a fair share of not only transportation improvements or options, but also, a fair share of their say at the table of those things.
[00:11:10] Wayne Garcia: And you know, I remember even, you know, 30 years ago, people in neighborhoods knew when their sidewalks were terrible and you couldn't walk your kids to school and there were no bike lanes and people were getting hit, because of it. but they didn't really, I, I think there are larger concerns and certainly in civil rights organizations and everything.
[00:11:33] Wayne Garcia: So, h how far have we come, who's at the table now? because it seems like there's, a real renewal of interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
[00:11:44] Tia Boyd: Right. And I, I'm glad you brought that up with the, you know, from an, an infrastructure side, is there, is it safe? because, you know, previously there has been research done on, a lack of safe infrastructure in lower income or minority communities where there may be no sidewalks or discontinuous sidewalks.
[00:12:05] Tia Boyd: There may be no crosswalks, you know, in sometimes in, in those neighborhoods, there's a lot of, a lot of traffic, high speed traffic. So, it's not safe, it's not comfortable, it's not welcoming. And actually, research in the past few years has shown that there has been a conscientious effort by a lot of the local transportation agencies, a lot of the local governments, to take a deeper look at, at these low income, at these minority communities and identify where those gaps are and to figure out a, what do people actually need? Not just to say, hey, here's, here's what we're going to give you. But to say, what do you need? What are the issues? What is preventing you from being safe and feeling safe, and how can we help? You know, So, there has been a shift, and I think a big part of that shift has come in with involving the community and asking the community, what do you need?
[00:13:06] Tia Boyd: What are the issues that you are facing? Let me not just tell you what they are, but please communicate with me. Let's work together. Let's make this process collaborative between, you know, the agency staff and the community. So, it's really a partnership. I, I we're seeing a lot more of that shift towards a partnership with community members.
[00:13:28] Wayne Garcia: So, how far have we come, in terms of making sure the right people have seats to the table, that there's an equity in investment and that, you know, all of those options. I mean, knowing that you never quite get to a hundred percent, but in the larger picture of you fixing a lot of our transportation needs. How, how far have we come with these minority communities and their transportation inclusion?
[00:13:57] Tia Boyd: You know, that's, that's a little hard to say in terms of how far I would say, like I said, what progress has been made. We've made progress, but there's still work to be done. There's still a lot of, of things that we need to do to reevaluate and revamp the processes that we use to identify transportation needs, to resolve those issues, identify through these processes, and to continuously be innovative and creative, to find ways to involve all members of the community. So, progress has been made, but exactly how much is hard to say because we may look back 10, 20, 30 years and say, "We did great, but now there's some different issues or some new issues that we need to address because you know, unfortunately we can't see into the future." We can just do the best we can with the information that we have now and be and adapt as we go.
[00:15:03] Wayne Garcia: Well, you know, human behavior factors in and societal changes. Look what we just went through now. People don't want to work in the office or don't want to work in the office as much, so, right. It's, it's sort of like hitting a moving target. So, then, I'll, I'll ask you two parts of, of that question. The second part is going to be what do we need to find out? But the first part of it is, what do we know generally speaking about transportation equity right now on, on a general level across the United States, let's say, and we can narrow into Tampa Bay in a bit?
[00:15:34] Tia Boyd: Yeah. Yeah. So, on a general level, we do know and we're getting more information about, um those historic inequities. So, things that have happened in the past, how they are manifesting themselves now. So, issues with, where highways were constructed and communities were destroyed, you know, separated.
[00:16:00] Tia Boyd: we are, we are at the point now in transportation where, agencies, you know, all the people involved are realizing there's a problem here. How do we fix it? So, we're at the, how do we fix it stage in transportation and transportation planning. Let's look at what, what happened before. Let's see what went wrong and let's figure out a way to make it right moving forward.
[00:16:28] Wayne Garcia: So, like really understanding what urban renewal in the sixties and I4 in Tampa, you know, cutting apart a thriving, vibrant, multicultural neighborhood of Ybor City and north of Ybor City, is sort of the big example that everyone points to here in, in Tampa Bay. So, what do we need to know then?
[00:16:52] Wayne Garcia: tell, well, let's start with what are you working on next? as part of NICR you've got, you've got a project tee'd up, or getting, getting to the T? Yes. Tell us what you're gonna be looking at.
[00:17:08] Tia Boyd: Yes, So, the upcoming project is on equity and big data, So, we are looking at how is big data being used to address equity and also, what gaps are there that is presented in big data, that needs to be filled to fully address equity issues.
[00:17:28] Tia Boyd: So, we look at things like, who has cell phones, who has access to the internet? there has been a big push on, the digital divide is a term you hear a lot. So, we want to look at what, from an, from company perspective what are, what are the companies doing to better integrate equity data into their platforms?
[00:17:52] Tia Boyd: And then we also, want to look from the agency side. So, how are agencies using the data that they get to improve or to advance equity for the communities that they serve. So, we're hoping to do some interviews. We're hoping to do some, just very general research on what's, what information is available out there, and just kind of dig into what's being done and what are the gaps and how do we possibly if we can find that information, I hope we can. how do we fill some of those gaps?
[00:18:25] Wayne Garcia: Yeah, cut it's a tricky thing. the, the very group that doesn't have access to a lot of the data driven, tools for transportation apps, ways, Google Maps, those kinds of things. we also, have less data about them because they don't have those same things that track them, right.
[00:18:47] Wayne Garcia: That other people might have. And we've talked about. With some of your colleagues previously on this podcast that this is the golden age of data, and yet data has a blind spot if you're not generating data, if you're living an organic life, let's say, not a non-cyborg life. So, how do you, how do you do that?
[00:19:09] Wayne Garcia: Is that just, that sounds like a, a qualitative style project where you're, you're gonna talk to a lot of government people about the data they are getting and identifying what's missing.
[00:19:20] Tia Boyd: Right, right. Very qualitative, type of work looking and just asking the questions, "What are you doing and what do you need that's missing?"
[00:19:31] Tia Boyd: You know, very, at a high level. And the hope is that this will branch into, where we can look into those blind spots and look into those areas where we do have data missing. We do have information missing, and then we can help the, the companies and helped agencies figure out how to address those needs and how to fill those gaps.
[00:19:53] Wayne Garcia: you've done all kinds of different, curriculum for multimodal, you've developed, you've conducted mobility analyses and, and healthy community studies and things like that. So, what do you hear from people in these communities about their view of transportation? their engagement?
[00:20:15] Tia Boyd: Yes. we, I, I would say we have had great opportunity, myself and another colleague, Jason Jackman, in, the Tampa Bay, Citizens Academy for Transportation or TB-CAT, where we actually got to work with citizens. and these are people who, from various levels of knowledge about transportation, people who knew very little, and people who have been, advocating for their communities and transportation for many, many years.
[00:20:47] Tia Boyd: So, it was a very good mix of knowledge and what we realized was that people want to know more about transportation. They want to understand transportation. And through these courses, through the sessions in TB-CAT, we, what we heard back from them was that there was a lot that they didn't know. You know, a lot of people see transportation.
[00:21:13] Tia Boyd: They think, you know, roads, cars, bicycles. When it comes to things like funding, a lot of people didn't understand how funding worked when it comes to things like the processes, they didn't understand the process of how something goes from a, a plan to an actual, you know, something physical and tangible, actual infrastructure.
[00:21:38] Tia Boyd: So, those are the things that, I think the general public may not really be able to know without us offering that knowledge to them. And I think that's where, that's where probably the gap is with people know their, their individual needs. They know I need to get from point A to point B, and I know it's making that difficult. But when it comes from the agency side and agency working to make that happen, a lot of people don't see the inner workings of it. So, that, that program was very helpful in kind of getting that knowledge out there. And we had. Actually agency staff and leadership from these agencies come and speak to the participants, and that was one of the things that we heard back that was very valuable. Actually hearing from the people who do the work, it meant a lot to them.
[00:22:30] Wayne Garcia: Yeah. And that sounds like it's just great to make those connections between the people who are making decisions and running systems and the people who are using them and benefiting from them who nor who normally wouldn't have any way of interfacing at all.
[00:22:44] Tia Boyd: Right, right.
[00:22:45] Wayne Garcia: I know that among the things that you've worked on is developing curricula for, transportation equity. What's that look like and who's it for? Is this for kindergarten or are my college students?
[00:22:59] Tia Boyd: Yeah, So, we are, almost done working on a college level, university level, transportation equity curriculum for graduate students. The focus is for planning students for engineering students, but we also, made it, general enough So, that maybe public health students who have an interest in transportation or maybe a module on transportation can learn a bit more about equity and transportation. and in addition to the curriculwe've added a workbook.
[00:23:33] Tia Boyd: So, we have some applied exercises. That can be used to practice what we do in the field. How do you look at equity from different perspectives and different angles and actually get to use what they may use as a professional? They get to start doing that kind of work in the classroom.
[00:23:53] Wayne Garcia: Well, as a professor who has to come up with, exercises and all kinds of other things, bless you for making that workbook.
[00:24:01] Tia Boyd: Thank you.
[00:24:01] Wayne Garcia: This just sounds really great. And actually I think there's a lot of majors that could use that. So, when you look down the road at, like I, if you have a goal in, in your mind and you visualize it, what, what is a diverse, equitable, inclusive transportation system look like?
[00:24:21] Tia Boyd: If I look out into the future and, and see a transportation system that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, it is one that has all or as many members of the community involved as possible throughout the entire process from start to finish.
[00:24:41] Tia Boyd: It is one that has transportation that is not a barrier. It's a given that everybody has access to transportation. Everyone can afford to get where they need to go to meet their daily needs. And it is one that benefits all people. It's, it's one that, you know, allows people to focus on other things other than how am I gonna, you know, afford, you know, to get where I need to go. How am I gonna afford to get to work to make money? Yeah. You know, it just, it becomes, it kind of where transportation can kind of go to the back of people's mind and they can just get where they need to go.
[00:25:27] Wayne Garcia: Where it's more an automatic and they're, they're free to be fully self-actualized and creative and productive and enjoying their jobs and
[00:25:35] Tia Boyd: Right.
[00:25:36] Wayne Garcia: And all of those things. well, Tia Boyd from, the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research. Thank you So, much for joining us on the podcast. this is Out of My Lane. It is a podcast of CUTR as part of its involvement with the National Institute on Congestion Reduction or NICR. And, we will see you.
[00:26:03] Wayne Garcia: In our next episode. Bye-bye everybody.
[00:26:14] Announcer: The National Institute for Congestion Reduction, NICR, is a transportation research center focused on innovative congestion strategies. The center is composed of researchers from the University of South Florida, the University of California, Berkeley, Texas A & M University and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and funded by the United States Department of Transportation.
[00:26:36] Announcer: For more information, please visit www.nicr.usf.edu.