Low-income households in the U.S. use transit more frequently than affluent households; however, they still rely heavily on vehicles to fill their mobility needs. Due in part to the high cost of housing near job and transit centers, many other low- and moderate-income individuals are stuck with long commutes in vehicles than are older, less efficient, and costlier to maintain than the average privately-owned vehicle. This is especially true in high-housing-cost states like California.

California is also at the forefront of progressive environmental initiatives, including many innovative transportation-related environmental justice programs. As environmental justice initiatives grow throughout the state, transportation programs are increasingly expected to both provide substantial emission reductions and serve distributional justice objectives.

The following research from the Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI) has informed the design and implementation of transportation equity programs in California.