ARC Releases Report on COMMUTE and Fight for Transit Equity in NYC

On November 6, 2013 Applied Research Center (ARC) was rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. The content on this page was published on the ARC website prior to the rebrand.

New Report Profiles COMMUTE and Fight for Transit Equity in NYC

03.24.2010 – Media Contact: Debayani Kar 510.338.4917 or

March 24, 2010:  Applied Research Center (ARC) is today releasing “Filling the Gaps: COMMUTE and the Fight for Transit Equity in New York City. ” The study tells the story of COMMUTE (Communities United for Transportation Equity), a multi-racial coalition of community organizations convened by the Pratt Center in New York that mobilized to improve transportation access for communities of color. As the case study shows, transit equity is a racial justice issue. It also shows that framing campaigns for better policies as equity issues, can help win better policies for everyone.

Visit to read and download “Filling the Gaps” and the Green Equity Toolkit.

“Unlike many environmental groups advocating for public transportation in New York, COMMUTE recognizes that the city’s transportation gaps scar communities of color,” says Seth Freed Wessler, Senior Research Associate at Applied Research Center and author of “Filling the Gaps.” “Fighting for transit equity means advancing racial justice while promoting environmental sustainability.”

According to data crunched by the Pratt Center, three quarters of a million New Yorkers lose two hours a day to their work commute. Two-thirds of those with long commutes have total household incomes of less than $35,000. COMMUTE is organizing to fill the gaps in public transportation that existed even before the current economic crisis. Their advocacy helped win a promise from government to expand Bus Rapid Transit, taking into account income and commute times, distance from nearest train lines and the location of important job centers outside Manhattan.

“Filling the Gaps” is part of the Green Equity Toolkit, intended to help community organizations, public agencies and individuals maximize and share the benefits of green economy jobs. The Toolkit provides a guide for creating high-quality jobs that are fully accessible to people of color and women.

ARC has carried out extensive research to define good, green jobs and demonstrate how communities of color and women can experience shared benefits. “Filling the Gaps” is part of a series of case studies highlighting model initiatives that advance race and gender equity in the green economy. Additional case studies can be downloaded at

FOUNDED IN 1981, Applied Research Center is America's leading think tank on racial justice. ARC investigates the racial consequences of public policy initiatives and develops new frameworks and solutions to address racial inequality. With offices in New York and Oakland, and staff in Chicago and Los Angeles, ARC engages in media and journalism, strategic research and policy analysis and leadership development. ARC publishes ColorLines magazine.