Increasing research into unmet student needs has revealed a plague of long-unaddressed barriers to college persistence, including food and housing insecurity and untreated mental illness. New research from the Seldin | Haring-Smith Foundation sheds light on another long-overlooked community college student need—access to public transportation.
According to the foundation, “transit infrastructure is a critical component of community college access and affordability, but the absence of national analysis has hampered support for students.” In an effort to gain insight, the foundation created the SHSF Public Transit Map, a national analysis of transit accessibility at community and technical colleges.
“The (in)accessibility of community colleges via public transportation is a key equity issue that cuts across transit, workforce development, and higher education.” — Seldin | Haring-Smith Foundation
Some highlights from the project:
- 57 percent of community and technical college main campuses have public transportation stops within walking distance (one half mile).
- 18 percent of institutions do not have a transit stop within 4.5 miles.
- By extending the infrastructure, an additional 25 percent of community colleges could be made accessible by public transit.
The foundation notes that “as these institutions are typically located in areas without much of a pre-existing public transportation system, expanding accessibility through public transit may entail starting from scratch and therefore may be cost-prohibitive.” Yet, “car ownership is an implied prerequisite for attending many community and technical colleges.
The SHSF Public Transit Map highlights the opportunity to eliminate this hidden cost at more than 75% of public community and technical colleges in the United States. Equitable policy approaches to transit accessibility for community college students must address stops, schedules and routes, and subsidies.”
To access the executive summary and full report, visit the SHS Foundation website.