Unreliable Mass Transit and American Public Health

Source: Johns Hopkins University


In a country of suburban sprawl and endless highways, most Americans need a car in order to complete such basic tasks as going to work, getting groceries, and seeing the doctor. Those without cars are at the mercy of uneven sidewalks and unpredictable transit systems, meaning they don’t often get where they need to go, says Megan Latshaw, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Latshaw has examined the health and environmental impacts of unreliable transportation in Baltimore, including partnering with the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition (BTEC) to create maps on transportation, access, vulnerability, air pollution, and health. BTEC credits that report in part with helping to pass Maryland’s Transit Equity Act of 2023.

Latshaw is currently working on a new report that will expand beyond Baltimore City to the surrounding counties. She’s also partnering with an applied math team in the Whiting School of Engineering, led by Fadil Santosa, on an analysis of how many jobs the Red Line—a proposed light rail line to connect East and West Baltimore—would bring to Baltimore.

Here, Latshaw discusses a new CDC report showing that 5.7% of American adults didn’t have access to reliable transportation in 2022, a predicament that not only hampers mobility, but also has far-reaching public health implications.

Read more: Unreliable Mass Transit and American Public Health