Development of Framework for Identifying Mobility Desert

Transit Desert is a term stemmed from food desert and has been studied by some researchers in recent years, which is generally characterized by poor transit access and possibly poor bike, sidewalk, or road infrastructure. However, from a multimodal transportation perspective, while considering people’s access to workplaces and critical services, e.g., grocery shopping, health care, childcare, and other services, the research team shall not only look into transit desert, but “mobility desert” encountered by many low-income households. Mobility Desert means that households face constrained mobility access. These households in general have no reliable vehicles, are far away from bus routes, and do not have enough money to afford taxi/ride-sourcing and car-sharing/bike-sharing/e-scooter sharing services. Mobility Desert extends the idea of Transit Desert to jointly account for private cars, public transit, non-motorized transportation, and emerging mobility options. It is easy to see that Mobility Desert concept can identify mobility issues than Transit Desert because for those households with medium to high income, the impact of being in a transit desert is totally different from that of low-income households. For such households, the lack of mobility access drastically affected their job opportunities and shaped a loophole in preventing them from improving their financial conditions and the quality of life. In this study, the team proposes a framework for identifying Mobility Desert. The team will integrate geographic information system (GIS) tools and participatory mapping for demonstrating spatial information of the study cities. Participatory mapping is also called community-based mapping, which includes a set of approaches and techniques that combines the tools of modern cartography with participatory methods to represent the spatial knowledge of local communities. The team will also collect automobile ownership, transit accessibility, and other emerging transportation mode data. Together with the spatial information, the team will apply statistical tools and GIS functions to define and identify Mobility Desert. Identifying Mobility Desert is key to the development of regulations and policies for improving the mobility of the disadvantaged population. The team will demonstrate their framework by applying that to a couple of case studies.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $111597
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:


    Washington DC,   United States 
  • Project Managers:

    Kline, Robin

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of South Florida, Tampa

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    4202 E. Flowler Avenue, ENB 118
    Tampa, FL  United States  33620-5350
  • Principal Investigators:

    Zhang, Yu

    Chen, Peng

  • Start Date: 20201001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20211231
  • Actual Completion Date: 20211231
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01744717
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Center for Transportation, Environment, and Community Health
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747119
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 8 2020 7:30PM