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UTA professor’s book says lack of transit access increases social inequality

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office: 817-272-7075, Cell: 214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

News Topics: architecture, sustainability, transportation, urban and public affairs

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An associate professor at The University of Texas at Arlington says there are solutions to reversing transit deserts that exist in some of this nation’s urban centers, but it could take decades of innovative planning to be successful.

Diane Jones Allen

Diane Jones Allen, program director for landscape architecture at The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Architecture Planning and Public Affairs, reccently wrote a book about how some of U.S. urban centers have created transit deserts.

Diane Jones Allen, the UTA director of landscape architecture in UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs, used case studies in New Orleans, Baltimore and Chicago to write “Lost in the Transit Desert: Race, Transit Access, and Suburban Form,” published recently by Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design.

“The book investigates how housing and transportation policy have played their role in creating these transit deserts, places where it’s increasingly difficult to access jobs, cultural destinations and preferred education centers,” Allen said. “The book also looks at race and what role it plays in creating these barriers.”

In transit deserts, a community are often designed to serve the privileged and require having a car to get to the public transportation system.

Simply plopping down public transit isn’t the only answer, Allen said.

“Alternatives to public transit abound, from traditional methods such as biking and carpooling to more culturally specific tactics, and are examined comprehensively,” Allen said.

Naomi Doerner, transportation equity project manager for Seattle, Wash., said Allen’s book offers advocates, academics and practitioners a roadmap toward a future where communities, big and small, can create pathways to fair and just neighborhoods to live, raise families and prosper.

“All we have to do now is act upon the solutions offered herein by the author, Diane Jones Allen,” Doerner said in the forward of the book.

Recently, Allen was named to a national panel to make public-policy recommendations to help communities better cope with climate change events through resilient design.

Allen has 30 plus years of experience in professional practice and the academic world.

She was a lecturer at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University and a tenured professor in Landscape Architecture at the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

In Baltimore, Allen was a member of the Urban Design Architecture Review Panel where she provided design guidance on major master planning and development projects in the city.

Allen is principal landscape architect with DesignJones LLC in New Orleans. The firm received the 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects Community Service Award.

She also was awarded the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at Berkeley. 

Allen is on the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation where she actively participates in the Climate Change and Diversity Committees.

Her research and practice is guided by the intersection of environmental justice and sustainability in cultural landscapes.