How Do Families' Transportation Options Shape School Choice in New Orleans?
This study looks at the transportation options available to families in New Orleans and how these family resources shape the school choices families make. The study also examines whether families in neighborhoods with greater access to vehicles are more likely to request and enroll in schools farther from home.
Focusing on students entering Kindergarten and 9th grade from 2015 to 2017, we find the following:
- Having access to a car fundamentally shapes families’ school options. Families with a car can access essentially any school in a 40-minute commute regardless of where they live. The same is not true for families who rely on public transit or walking. Commute times to New Orleans’ highly rated schools are similar from high-poverty and low-poverty neighborhoods if families have access to the same modes of transportation.
- Providing school bus service makes schools considerably more accessible to families without cars who might otherwise rely on public transit. Many school bus routes are long and inefficient. Better school bus routing could further increase accessibility.
- Neighborhood-level car access is strongly associated with families’ school requests and placements. This is the case even after accounting for other neighborhood characteristics such as household income.