UTA professor's book says lack of transit access increases social inequality
University of Texas Arlington
26 October 2017
Photo courtesy of the American Society of Landscape Architects
College of Environmental Design alumna Diane Jones Allen (M.L.A. ‘84) says there are solutions to reversing transit deserts that exist in some of the nation's urban centers but could take decades of innovative planning to be successful. An associate professor and program director of landscape architecture in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Arlington and a 2017 recipient of the CED Distinguished Alumni Award, Allen’s new book, “Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form,” (Routledge, 2017) discusses how urban centers have created transit deserts across America and presents solutions on how to solve these transit woes.
Allen’s book specifically looks at case studies in New Orleans, Baltimore, and Chicago and compares their histories -- specifically their histories of transit -- in relation to race, access, and the suburban sprawl.
"The book investigates how housing and transportation policy have played their role in creating these transit deserts, places where it's increasingly difficult to access jobs, cultural destinations and preferred education centers," Allen said. "The book also looks at race and what role it plays in creating these barriers."
A transit desert is a space that has a high demand for public transit, yet there is a lack of high-quality transit available. In such areas, there is an assumption that individuals have the ability to drive a car to public transportation systems. That being said, “plopping down” public transit is not necessarily the solution.
"Alternatives to public transit abound, from traditional methods such as biking and carpooling to more culturally specific tactics, and are examined comprehensively [in the book]," Allen said.
Allen’s book offers advocates, academics, and practitioners with a plan in which communities can improve upon public transportation and create pathways to equitable neighborhoods.
Read more about Allen and “Lost in the Transit Desert” here or buy a copy of the book here.