This health impact assessment examined the transit extension connecting South Phoenix, a disadvantaged neighborhood, to the existing light-rail line of the city. Valley Metro, a public transportation provider in the Phoenix area, is the key decision-maker and has supported previous HIA work in Arizona. The HIA addressed improved access to health care services for the prevention and management of diabetes, the impact to asthma from reduction in air pollution, and the effect on the death rate from a potential reduction in motor vehicle accidents.
The assessment found that residents in the study area were more likely to be nonwhite and/or Hispanic, low-income, and transit-dependent. Having more public transportation options in the area could lead to improved pregnancy outcomes, fewer violent deaths, a decline in mortality, and reduced rates of chronic diseases. The proposed transit corridor was found to have particular implications for physical activity; stress and mental health; social cohesion; injuries; and access to employment, healthy food, recreation, and health care services. The report urged the city to improve opportunities for active transportation, such as installing bike share hubs near light-rail stations; protect access to affordable housing in the new transit corridor; support business retention and development during construction; ensure the system’s financial and physical accessibility to all residents; and improve neighborhood security. This HIA was undertaken in tandem with an environmental assessment to provide a more comprehensive approach to future transit planning projects.