Equity issues in HOV-to-HOT conversion on I-85 North in Atlanta
Zuyeva, Lyubov I.
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This paper examines the issues of equity, as applicable to the HOV-to-HOT conversion project planned for the I-85 North corridor in the Metropolitan Atlanta Region. A review of literature is undertaken to describe the typology of transportation equity issues within the wider context of environmental justice, and to highlight socio-economic factors and local and national transportation funding factors that influence people's travel choices and their mobility and accessibility options. Demographic data on the I-85 corridor peak period commuters in Metropolitan Atlanta is analyzed, in addition to results of focus groups polling current Metropolitan Atlanta interstate commuters on the topic of managed lanes during 2008. The thesis makes a conclusion that a final decision about the equity impact of the I-85 HOV-to-HOT conversion is likely not possible without undertaking a Metropolitan area-wide analysis. Some of the equity findings that emerge indicate that there are no significant income differences between the the HOV lane users and general purpose lane I-85 commuters; that there are differences between median incomes of block groups represented by current I-85 commuters (both HOV lane users and general purpose lane users) and median incomes of block groups typical for the base geography; and that investing in Xpress bus service improvements would primarily serve those households with more vehicles than drivers, unless improvements to reverse commute options and feeder bus networks are made. The focus group findings suggest that current interstate highway users in Metropolitan Atlanta, originating in the suburbs, are generally accepting of the HOT concept and recognize the value of travel time savings.