Public transit is shared passenger-transport available for the general public such as buses, trains, or subways. Transit improvement may include the addition of enhanced bus service during peak hours (e.g., morning, late afternoon), adding new stops or routes, and improving bus seating, shelters, and route schedule information.
Public transit use promotes walking and biking to work, shopping, and community services. In addition to increasing physical activity, it also increases access to healthy food opportunities like grocery stores or farmers markets. Public transit is particularly vital for those who don’t own a car and have to travel longer distances for work or for essential goods and services such as groceries or health care. Public transit strategies have the greatest impact and cost-effectiveness in urban areas where population density is higher, use of cars is more difficult or expensive, and more people are likely to use transit systems.
AARP Livable Communities: Dane County sheltered bus stops: In Madison, WI, the Department of Transportation added sheltered bus stops that provide a roof, seating, lighting, and a transit map and schedules.
Equity in Practice
Recognizing Inequity: Increased public transit access can significantly decrease health disparities. Underserved groups, including low-income residents and people with disabilities, often depend on public transportation for access to jobs, shopping, healthcare, social services, and other needs. However, it’s also important to consider how improved public transit might contribute to the displacement of lower-income households through increased home values and rents.
Advancing Equity: Adding additional routes, stops, and service times in low resource areas, as well as lowering fares, may increase usage and provide easier access to recreation opportunities, healthy food options, and co-benefits such as employment and social services. Analysis of potential effects on home and rent values to avoid displacing lower-income households should be part of the planning process.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation Transit Assistance page: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has links to a number of transit assistance grants and also has projects and studies related to public transportation.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Active Community Toolkit: This toolkit walks communities through the many aspects of an active community initiative, from planning to evaluation.
Centers for Disease Control Transportation page: The Centers for Disease Control transportation webpage has a number of useful resources, including recommendations for improving health through transportation policy and a transportation health impact assessment toolkit.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Active Community Toolkit: While not comprehensive, the Active Community toolkit has a number of assessment questions that can be used for public transit initiatives.