Study Links Lack of Transportation Options to Decreased Access to Care for Bay Area Residents
Accessing health care services for many low-income residents of Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties can be a "frustrating, time-consuming experience" because of a shortage of reliable public transportation, according to a new study released yesterday, the Contra Costa Times reports. Researchers from the Transportation and Land Use Coalition, People United for a Better Oakland and the Center for Third World Organizing surveyed 700 residents in 15 low-income communities throughout the three counties and used computer-assisted mapping to determine how many people in each neighborhood lack public transportation or are not within walking distance of health care facilities. The two-year study found that people in low-income neighborhoods in Contra Costa County had the most difficulty accessing health care. According to the study, 20% of those residents have transit access to a hospital, and 33% have access to a community clinic. Researchers found that the Monument Corridor neighborhood in Concord has the worst access to health care; residents have no access to public transportation to a hospital and just 1% have transit access to a health clinic. In Alameda County, more than 160,000 residents in low-income neighborhoods lack transit access to a hospital (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 10/25). According to the report, Santa Clara County had the best public transit access to health care facilities of the three counties (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25).
"Ironically, this poor access persists despite the presence of health clinics and a hospital only a mile or two away," Jeff Hobson, policy director of the Transportation and Land Use Coalition, said. The report's authors said that public officials "often overlook the needs of working-class neighborhoods" when they designate public funds for transportation, the Contra Costa Times reports. "Elected officials continue to propose new transportation investments that primarily benefit long-distance, white-collar commuters, leaving the needs of low-income communities of color unmet," the report said (Contra Costa Times, 10/25). The report recommends increasing funding for public transportation in the three counties and including people from low-income neighborhoods in planning any public transportation expansions (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25). Contra Costa County Supervisors Mark DeSaulnier and John Gioia, who attended a rally to announce the study's findings, said they will recommend that $500,000 in transit occupancy taxes generated by a new hotel at a local public transportation station be used to help move the Concord Health Center into the Monument Corridor neighborhood. DeSaulnier and Gioia also noted that Contra Costa County officials are expected to place a measure on the 2004 ballot that would seek approval to expand a transportation sales tax (Contra Costa Times, 10/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.