CETRAMs form a crucial part of the metropolitan transportation system, and the problems associated with them affect millions of transit-dependent lower-income households. Guerra (2017), in a recent study of MCMA household expenditures on transportation, found that, relative to households living in the city center, those located in the peripheral areas earn 30% less, have 40% longer commutes, and spend twice as much on public transport. Additionally, the poorest fifth of households in outer boroughs of the MCMA spend almost 25% of their income on transit (Guerra 2017). As such, the time wasted and additional costs implied by the need to transfer at CETRAMs fall disproportionately on lower income users that already depend on public transportation to make relatively long trips across state lines to reach jobs and other opportunities.
Transportation is an essential urban service, as it allows people to access their daily needs and wants — like education, jobs, or recreational activities — to survive and thrive. Poor public transit can deeply impact the quality of life of the transit-dependent, as excessive time spent on transportation takes time away from other activities. Poor urban transport and resulting long commutes have been linked to social isolation, health concerns, and overall lower well-being (Lucas, et al., 2016). Improving CETRAMs can alleviate daily burdens for a large share of the MCMA’s population. While various government bodies have expressed interest in CETRAM improvement projects, political constraints coupled with a lack of resources for construction, operation, and technology upgrades have hindered publicly initiated efforts.