In June 2019, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) launched a new incentive package aimed at making transportation more accessible for low-income households. In the "Transportation Wallet for Residents of Affordable Housing" pilot program, people living in affordable housing developments received access to free transportation options like transit passes, bike or scooter share memberships, rideshare and carshare credits.

Portland State University researchers evaluated the pilot program to find out how participants used the Transportation Wallet and how it helped them use different transport modes to get around.

A February 2021 paper in Transportation Research Record by Huijun Tan, Nathan McNeil, John MacArthur and Kelly Rodgers presents insights into the implementation and effectiveness of a transportation financial incentive program for low-income populations. Access the paper: "Evaluation of a Transportation Incentive Program for Affordable Housing Residents."

Main findings include:

  1. The financial support of this program encouraged some participants to use new mobility services (including Uber/Lyft, bike share, and e-scooter) that they had never used before.
  2. The program increased access for participants, helping them make more trips and, for some, get to places they otherwise could not have gone.
  3. Transportation fairs, where...
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Screenshot from a Zoom session of the 2020 summer camp, showing the faces of participating students in a grid layout.

On March 23, 2020, Oregon — like many other U.S. states — was placed under a stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At Portland State, we were faced with a decision: What to do about our 2020 transportation summer camps for Oregon high schoolers

Our camps, up to this year, have been defined by the in-person, on-campus experience. Previous cohorts toured Portland's bikeways, saw the inside of Multnomah County's bridges, and sat down with professional engineers and planners to talk about tricky traffic problems. Would the program survive the transition to a virtual format?

We had already received 52 applications from promising Oregon high schoolers, and decided the camp was too important to cancel. With the financial support of the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, we were able to shift to a virtual camp and still fulfill our objectives:

  • Introduce high school students to professionals in transportation 

  • Teach them about the broad range of transportation careers and sectors 

  • Present the social justice and equity issues within transportation and how they relate to students, their families and their neighborhoods 

  • Introduce students to transportation systems in Portland 

    ...
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View of North MLK Boulevard in Portland, Oregon with a pedestrian crossing near a mural.
MLK Boulevard in Portland, OR. Photo by Cait McCusker
Steven Howland, Portland State University

The historically Black district of Albina in Portland, Oregon, due to racist real estate practices, faced multiple displacement events between 1960 and 1990 with the construction of Interstate 5 through the heart of the neighborhood as well as wholesale destruction of hundreds of homes to make room for the Memorial Coliseum and various other urban renewal projects. Gentrification in Portland saw a mass displacement of Black households from Albina, largely to East Portland, a suburban area that was unincorporated...

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Paper Bike Share Equity Briefs Arranged on a Table
John MacArthurNathan McNeil and Joseph Broach, Portland State University

Last year, Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) released a 130 page evaluation comparing equity-oriented programs from over 70 U.S. bike share systems across the U.S. Bike share being a relative newcomer to the transportation system, the research team was not surprised to find that approaches to equity programs ranged widely. In the latest installment, funded by the Better...

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Image by Luije/iStock

Authored by Aaron Golub Director and Associate Professor, Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Join Aaron and John MacArthur on May 22nd for a PSU Friday Transportation Seminar sharing early results from the research presented here.

With many transit agencies across the country1 eliminating cash handling at ticket counters and on-board vehicles for obvious health and virus transmission reasons, one may wonder: who will be negatively impacted by this? 

Some riders can still use cash at ticket vending machines or at certain retail outlets, but for many, depending on where they live and which parts of the transit system they ride, this will be inconvenient. National data2 show clear disparities3 in access to alternatives to cash (credit and debit accounts) as well as the other tools needed to pay for things electronically (smartphones, cell data plans and internet at home and work). What these national data don't capture are the specific issues...

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Three people stand waiting for a train
Photo by santypan

Amy Lubitow and Julius McGee, Portland State University;  Raoul Liévanos, University of Oregon


What is the quality of travel data for underrepresented, marginalized populations? The issues go deeper than creating slicker algorithms: In a world with...

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Photo credit: Ian Sane
John MacArthur and Nathan McNeil, Portland State University

This article was authored by Stefani Cox of the Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP), and cross-posted from BBSP News.

This week, Portland State University’s Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) releases a new research report comparing equity-oriented programs across several U.S. bike share systems. The research finds a variety of methods in place, ranging from affordability to internal hiring practices and beyond. The report is assisted by Toole Design...

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Cover image
Principal Investigator: Aaron Golub, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page, or watching a recording of the January 2019 webinar.

Since 1994, every Federal agency must develop a strategy for addressing “environmental justice” (EJ) – the disproportionately adverse human health or environmental effects on low-income and minority populations (sometimes called “EJ Populations”). In transportation planning this means including those communities' voices in the planning process, and evaluating the social impacts early on in the planning and project development process.

But what happens if EJ Populations move or grow during the sometimes decade-long project development process?

"If you're in a community that is changing, can you rely on forecasting to look ahead and have a detailed view of EJ impacts into the...

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Principal Investigator: Aaron Golub, Portland State University
This Pooled Fund project will begin in 2019, with an anticipated completion in 2020.

THE NEW PROJECT

As transit agencies modernize their fare payment systems, opportunities to pay with cash diminish. This speeds boarding and lowers the cost of operations, while also creating new sources of ridership data. Arguably, service is improved for riders as well, where payment systems work across modes, and in some cases different transit providers, creating a more seamless and simplified experience. Still, about 15% of adults in the United States are without a bank account or credit card, and many rely on restrictive cell-phone data plans or don’t have access to a smartphone. These shares are even higher for public transit users. As transit fare technologies move further from cash, these digitally-excluded riders will find it more difficult to conveniently pay their transit fares.

In the latest project to be funded under the National...

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A bicyclists rides down a neighborhood greenway
Principal Investigator: Jenny Liu, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report, or watching the January 2018 seminar on the Project Overview page.

Portland, Oregon's 2035 Comprehensive Plan calls for “City Greenways” - a citywide network of park-like streets focused on moving pedestrians and bicycles safely. Such a connected network of safe, welcoming active transportation options could have significant benefits for residents—but which residents?

Benefits of bike and pedestrian infrastructure include environmentally sustainable transportation, livability, and improvements in economic development and public health. While these outcomes are well documented, it is also known that both transportation and environmental amenities are typically unevenly distributed in the urban context....

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