The Racial Transportation Gap of Madison

One of the main reasons that 75% of Black children in Madison are living in poverty is because their families lack the transportation resources necessary to access decent jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurship. With disparate travel times between Blacks and white Madisonians, we don’t have to wonder why it’s so much harder for people of color to be employed in our city.
One of the main reasons that 75% of Black children in Madison are living in poverty is because their families lack the transportation resources necessary to access decent jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurship. With disparate travel times between Blacks and white Madisonians, we don’t have to wonder why it’s so much harder for people of color to be employed in our city.

The following is based on an interview with Madison transportation director David Trowbridge.

One of the main reasons that 75% of Black children in Madison are living in poverty is because their families lack the transportation resources necessary to access decent jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurship. With disparate travel times between Blacks and white Madisonians, we don’t have to wonder why it’s so much harder for people of color to be employed in our city.

In Madison, communities of color follow the Paris model: placed in the outskirts, not the “inner city.” This means that to get downtown where the jobs are, you’re most likely going to need to transfer.

For Wexford Ridge, that means West Transfer Point. If you live in the Allied neighborhood or on the south side, you’ll often have to go through South Transfer Point. If you live on the East Side, you’ll have to go through East Transfer Point.

These scenarios are played out in the data as well. Low income communities in Madison like the ones above are statistically twice as likely to require a transfer (Meaning more than one bus for a single trip), according to a recent survey of Metro passengers.

These transfer times add up - oftentimes to an hour or more to and from work. This presents a major barrier to employment and entrepreneurship for Madison’s most vulnerable populations.

The solution involves placing low income communities on better bus routes. This could mean building Section 8 housing closer to the city or creating new bus lines that connect the outskirts directly to the city center.

By demonstrating an economic need for connecting low income people to better bus lines, we can urge our legislators to invest more in better busing for people of color. Currently, 80% of the Madison Metro’s budget is paid for by the state government - to fix the transportation gap, we must encourage our elected officials to increase their transportation budget.

To support our entrepreneurs of color, please stay engaged with Economic Empowerment Wisconsin by signing up for our email list in the bottom right corner.

More Articles