Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Johnny Wilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Yawsoon Sim

Third Advisor

Dr. Hashim Gibrill


The study sought to examine whether the Plessy v. Ferguson decision by the Supreme Court in 1896 to control black access to public transit facilities remains, in fact, the primary vehicle used to purchase land, set schedules and deny blacks equal access to the transit systems. In 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case reversed the Plessy v. Ferguson decision and declared separate but equal facilities unconstitutional. Even though the municipal codes, laws, and ordinances regulating blacks equal accessibility to facilities were reversed, the writer has studied and documented how the outcome of the transportation policy-makers' decisions for the low­ income population remains similar to results during the Plessly v. Ferguson era.

The writer administered surveys to a sample of the transit riders in Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia to determine to what extent transportation decision makers utilized race, income, and class to determine available bus and rail transportation services for the community. Transportation is a key component in addressing poverty,

unemployment, and equal opportunity goals, equal access to education. employment. and other public services. Access to transportation is a social justice issue and adequate accessibility to transportation is an economic issue. The majority of respondents surveyed indicated that they have equal access to the transportation systems available in the Atlanta and Montgomery communities. However, the frequency of scheduled routes and the accessibility of the transportation services varied depending on the location. Respondents with income less than $10,000 indicated that the transportation services did not provide adequate accessibility and availability. A majority of the low-income respondents who resided in the central city area of Atlanta, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama indicated that they needed the local transit authority to provide more frequent and additional routes as well as schedules that will take them to jobs in the suburbs. The argument is that the central cities are not without job opportunities. but rather that the educational background and skills of low-income central city residents do not qualify them for the jobs they live near. Managerial and service oriented jobs tend to remain in the downtown area while the majority of the entry level, low skill jobs are located in the suburban area. The majority of the low-income residents surveyed did not have a vehicle and relied on public transportation. The residents surveyed with an income of less than $10.000 had limited or no access to personal transportation