Investments in public transit infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean often aim to reduce spatial and social inequalities by improving accessibility to jobs and other opportunities for vulnerable populations. One of the central goals of Lima’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project was to connect low-income populations living in the peripheries to jobs in the city center, a policy objective that has not yet been evaluated. Building on secondary datasets of employment, household socio-demographics and origin–destination surveys before and after the BRT began operations, this paper examines the contribution of Lima’s BRT system to accessibility to employment in the city, particularly for low-income public transit users. We estimated the effects on potential accessibility to employment, comparing impacts on lower versus higher income populations, and assessed the changes in location-based accessibility to employment before (2004) and after implementation (2012) for treatment and comparison groups. We found that the BRT line reduced travel times for commuters to reach jobs, in comparison with traditional public transport in the city. However, the coverage of the BRT declines in areas with high concentrations of poor populations, limiting the equitability of accessibility improvements. The analysis by socioeconomic sub-groups found positive effects of the BRT system on accessibility for the higher income areas. Relative to the control group, accessibility increased in the 10-km boundary area of the BRT by 0.01, a seven percent increase relative to the treatment baseline accessibility index in the higher socioeconomic (SES) areas of the city. In contrast, in the areas with high concentrations of lower SES populations, the double difference estimate indicated an 11 percent decrease relative to the baseline accessibility index (0.09). We build on case-specific findings and international literature to reflect on policy avenues to include the poor in the mobility benefits of BRT systems. These measures include targeted fare subsidies for low-income groups, fare integration with other forms of public transport that reduce the cost of transfers, and the increase of coverage of the BRT through the integration of stations with non-motorized infrastructure.
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