Does Privatization Mean Isolation? Transportation Mode Use and Out-of-Home Activity Participation Trends Among People With Disabilities

Authors: Abigail L. Cochran*, University of California, Berkeley, Daniel G. Chatman, University of California, Berkeley
Topics: Transportation Geography, Disabilities
Keywords: disability, social isolation, privatization, transportation planning, TNCs
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Madison A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


People with disabilities experience a greater risk of social isolation and associated socioeconomic disadvantages than others. Transportation difficulties can contribute to isolation by discouraging people from leaving the house and engaging in travel and other out-of-home activities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which guarantees people with disabilities “equal access” to public transportation systems, requires that planners make transit services accessible for this population and provide complementary paratransit. Privately-provided mobility services, such as ride-hailing options offered by transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, now substantially supplement urban transportation services. Though TNCs are not subject to ADA Accessibility Guidelines, they nevertheless represent a potentially important mode for many people with disabilities. In this study I use data from the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) collected in 2009 and 2017 to investigate whether people with disabilities: (1) use TNCs at a greater or lower rate than the general population, and (2) spend more or less time participating in daily out-of-home activities, including travel, over time. I conclude that people with disabilities demonstrate much lower monthly TNC use than the general population, but that daily private mode use (Taxi/TNC) is comparable for people with and without disabilities. People with disabilities further show decreased participation in daily travel between 2009 and 2017. Together, these findings suggest that the transportation system has become less accommodating of people with disabilities as privatization has expanded. This may exacerbate people with disabilities’ experienced transportation difficulties and social isolation.

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