“Closing the Gaps in a Just City”, a forum hosted by Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, was a platform to discuss about the inequalities in access to public transportation according to various societal divisions.
Race was noted as an important determinant factor. Ayanna Presley, the first elected black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress, voiced out how the average commute time for a black person is sixty-six hours more than that of a white passenger. With lesser availability of public transportation to the areas inhabited by the blacks, there is also the burden of an increased waiting time. This in turn affects their job opportunities thus drawing them into a vicious cycle of underprivilege. Michael Dukakis, professor of political science at Northeastern University, pointed out how while some organisations in Boston have vacancies that they are not able to fill, the workforce with the potential to fill it are unable to reach out to these jobs.
Transportation is also linked to housing. People who lack transportation, Draisen from Metropolitan Area Planning Council says, do not live in privileged neighbourhoods. The two, thus, have a close connection.
Geoff Boeing, assistant professor of public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University, is in the process of developing a software to address this problem. The software will help the average citizen analyse the transportation networks in their neighbourhood, hoping to become a means through which less privileged people can show the authorities exactly what they need.
N Malavika Mohan