Different Ways to Get to the Same Workplace? How Workplace Location Relates to Commuting by Different Income Groups

This presentation examines commuting behaviours and income inequality in the Chicago metropolitan area. It uses the 2008 Chicago Regional Household Travel Inventory to examine the different residential and employment locations, and the resulting different travel behaviours, by different income cohorts. Lower income workers tend to have shorter-distance commutes and a higher level of public transit use. The commute differences are associated with low-income workers’ distinctive workplace locations, which are found in suburban areas away from the Central Business District (CBD). Based on the results, there is a need to improve transit services in workplaces where lower-income workers are employed, particularly in the non-CBD areas. We also emphasize considering workplace locations in formulating affordable housing policies – in terms of new housing location and affordability. There are clear lessons for many urban areas when considering new development, particularly where there are high levels of income inequality.

Lingqian (Ivy) Hu is an associate professor in the Urban Planning Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her areas of research interests include transportation planning and policy, land use, and urban economics. She has published in various urban planning and transportation research journals, such as Journal of American Planning Association, Urban Studies, and Transportation. Hu holds a Ph.D. degree in Policy, Planning and Development and a Master of Planning degree from the University of Southern California.