Existing research has identified transportation challenges that low-income workers face, including a spatial mismatch between suburban entry level-jobs and urban low-income workers. These studies rely on travel models and secondary data and thus may not capture the temporal or other constraints that low-income workers experience. To better understand mobility patterns and accessibility as experienced, this analysis considers commute choices and perceptions of accessibility. Findings are based on open-ended surveys with 50 low-income workers in New Orleans and its inner suburbs. According to a sizable share of respondents (40%), transportation problems do not preclude applying to jobs. Black and centrally located respondents most commonly did not perceive transportation as a limitation to job opportunities. On the other hand, many respondents did describe an inability to get to suburban job opportunities. Even when missed job opportunities were not reported, almost all respondents cited transportation problems for some locations or activities, especially shopping. Losing a functional automobile was a common reason to change commute mode after Hurricane Katrina, indicating that low-income workers may shift in and out of car ownership, as well change home and job locations. A few respondents — mostly active mode users—were highly satisfied with their journey to work. Interviewees most commonly desired increased frequency and reliability as critical transit improvements. The mixed findings on perceived job accessibility demonstrate the need to better integrate transportation and workforce research and policy. In addition, more transportation research work on perceptions and actual challenges is needed, including the role of time in workplace demands and physical accessibility. Finally, given dynamic auto ownership status, jobs, and residential patterns, longitudinal study is needed.
Lowe, Kate and Marmol, Mariana E., "Worker Experiences of Accessibility in Post-Katrina New Orleans" (2013). UNOTI Publications. Paper 16.