Strategies for Advancing Equity in Transportation Planning by Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness in The Transportation Planning Profession

Understanding the actual and potential negative impacts of transportation decisions on minority populations, low-income households, women, and other historically underrepresented populations and taking meaningful action to resolve inequities are critical functions of transportation agencies. Transportation planners are central to the work of changing the trajectory of inequality in transportation. Transportation plans document the urgent needs of the community and lay out a blueprint for transportation investment and policies. These plans are based upon the data gathering, modeling, analysis, and public engagement conducted by planners working in or for state DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and transit agencies. Planners make fundamental choices about which questions are important to ask, how to ask them, and what to do with the answers, and they structure the planning process accordingly. If they are unaware of, misunderstand, or dismiss the questions that are important to underrepresented populations, a plan is less likely to address those concerns, and, at worst, could set the stage for investments and policies that harm these communities. If the planning team members are all from similar backgrounds and hold similar perspectives, it may be difficult for them to spot the presence of their own cultural biases, and to counter the potential negative effects of those biases on the development of a plan that meaningfully advances equitable transportation goals. The transportation planning and analysis field has been slow to incorporate racial/cultural and gender-related concerns into its methods meaningfully, and to identify potential biases and disparities within the practices of travel data collection, analysis, engagement, and plan development. Meanwhile, women and Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) have been, and continue to be, underrepresented in the field. They are less likely to study fields leading to transportation planning careers, less likely to promoted to leadership roles, and more likely to be subject to racism, sexism, and exclusion in the workplace. The extent and distribution of that underrepresentation with the planning field have not been consistently and clearly documented, and there is not a clear understanding on how it manifests itself and permeates the workforce. In order to address inequities in transportation decision-making, the industry needs a clear understanding of the extent to which women and BIPOC are excluded from meaningful roles in transportation planning; the ways in which this imbalance impacts the quality of equitable planning, analysis, and decision-making; and potential strategies for improving diversity, inclusiveness and equity within the transportation planning profession. The objective of this research is to fully understand the scope and causes of the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the transportation planning field, and to make clear and actionable recommendations to employers, leaders, professionals, and academics for effective strategies to achieve meaningfully greater diversity throughout the industry.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $350000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-152

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Hartell, Ann

  • Start Date: 20220607
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01772191
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-152
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 24 2021 3:13PM