Navigating an unfamiliar place is uniquely challenging for people with disabilities. People with blindness, deafblindness, visual impairment or low vision, as well as those who use wheelchairs, can travel more independently in urban areas with the aid of effective wayfinding technology. A new report from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) explores how to leverage low-cost methods to enable people to more easily move through public, urban indoor and outdoor spaces.

The study, led by Martin Swobodzinski and Amy Parker of Portland State University, used focus groups, two case studies, and an in-person structured wayfinding experience on the PSU campus to find the most helpful ways of getting around. Tactile maps were found to be a very useful resource, with an accessible mobile app also showing promise as an orientation and mobility aid.

The researcher will share more details about this project in a free webinar on December 15: Individual Wayfinding in the Context of Visual Impairment, Blindness, and Deafblindness.

WHY IS THIS RESEARCH IMPORTANT?

Environments and...

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Researchers Ivis Garcia, Sadika Maheruma Khan, and Kevin Fagundo-Ojeda of the University of Utah with Miriam Abelson and Nicholas Puczkowskyj of Portland State University have published a new article in the November 2022 issue of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

Scholarship on gendered mobilities has shown that women experience transit differently than men do, particularly regarding personal safety. The article, "Harassment of low-income women on transit: A photovoice project in Oregon and Utah," makes a unique contribution to this body of literature because it shows that women feel targeted also based on their racial or ethnic identity and not only their gender. The article discusses women’s actions every day to increase their sense of safety.

Research has shown that low-income women who are...

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Researchers Jennifer Dill, Jiahui Ma, Nathan McNeil, Joseph Broach and John MacArthur of Portland State University have published a new article in the November 2022 issue of Transportation Part D: Transport and Environment. The open-access article, "Factors influencing bike share among underserved populations: Evidence from three U.S. cities," examines bike share use and interest among lower-income residents and people of color in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

There is evidence that lower-income and people of color (POC) in the U.S. do not use bike share as much as higher-income and white people. Using data from residents living near bike share stations in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the paper examines reasons for these disparities. Researchers looked at many factors that might explain bike share use and interest in lower-income, racially diverse, traditionally underserved neighborhoods. They focused on residents who live near bike share stations, so that proximity would not be a barrier.

A few key findings:

  1. People who are not members, but are interested in using bike share, including POC, are motivated to use bike share for fun, recreation, and social reasons (as opposed to utility).
  2. Knowledge of bike share and receiving information from interactive sources (for example,...
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When the COVID-19 pandemic first swept across North America and led to emergency shutdowns during the spring of 2020, the way people acquired food and household necessities was dramatically impacted. As stay-at-home orders minimized personal travel, transit services were reduced and many stores and restaurants either closed or modified their operations. 

Some of the gaps were filled by online retailers and delivery services. However, access to goods and services varied substantially depending on people's age, income level, and ability.

A new multi-university study funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the U.S. DOT-funded university transportation headquartered at Portland State University, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) captured how households responded as local, state, and federal governments imposed and lifted restrictions, brick-and-mortar establishments closed and reopened, and e-commerce and delivery services adjusted to the changing conditions.

The findings of this research are critical for emergency planning, but also for understanding the ever-changing mechanisms used to access retail and service opportunities (whether in person or online). The research identifies opportunities for future interventions to remedy barriers to accessing food, which will...

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Researchers Aaron Golub, John MacArthur and Sangwan Lee of Portland State University, Anne Brown of the University of Oregon, and Candace Brakewood and Abubakr Ziedan of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville have published a new journal article in the September 2022 volume of Transportation Research: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Rapidly-evolving payment technologies have motivated public transit agencies in the United States to adopt new fare payment systems, including mobile ticketing applications. The article, "Equity and exclusion issues in cashless fare payment systems for public transportation," explores the challenges facing transit riders in the U.S. who lack access to bank accounts or smartphones, and potential solutions to ensure that a transition to cashless transit fares does not exclude riders. Learn more about the project and read an open-access version of the final report.

The study asks: who is most at risk of being excluded by the transition to new fare payment systems and how would riders pay transit fares if cash payment options were reduced or eliminated? Researchers answer these questions using intercept surveys of 2,303 transit riders in Portland-Gresham, OR, Eugene, OR, and Denver, CO.

The...

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Incorporating transportation into the land development process is a big undertaking, with many important angles to be considered. Researchers are translating NITC research on this theme into a popular, easy-to-understand graphic format: comics. Led by an interdisciplinary team at Portland State University and the University of Arizona, they're illustrating transportation considerations in the land development process as a comic to reach a broader audience on this critical topic. 

Related: Read about the NITC Research Roadmap on Transportation and Land Use.

Still in development (the images here are early working drafts, illustrated by PSU student Joaquin Golez and Portland, OR illustrator Ryan Alexander-Tanner), the comics are based on research findings from several projects funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC). The project team is working with readers at neighborhood associations and nonprofits to test this unique approach in sharing research findings. We interviewed three of the project team members Kelly Clifton of PSU, Ryan Alexander-Tanner and Susan Kirtley of PSU to hear how it's going.

Can you share more about...

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Low-income residents, immigrants, seniors, and people with disabilities – these are people who stand to gain the most from new tools and services that reduce transportation costs and travel time. However, issues of affordability, technology adoption, banking access or other barriers can limit access to these new mobility opportunities.

In the latest report funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), New Mobility For All: Evaluation of a Transportation Incentive Program for Residents of Affordable Housing in Portland, OR, Portland State University researchers Nathan McNeil, John MacArthur and Huijun Tan worked with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to evaluate a local pilot program: the ...

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If you could securely pick up your packages on your commute by public transit, from any carrier—be it USPS, FedEx, UPS or other companies, would you? Transit agencies could be missing a potential strategy to increase ridership by offering common carrier parcel lockers at transit facilities. 

Mitigating the demands on our urban transportation networks by consolidating parcel deliveries at high trafficked transit facilities could also benefit retailers, logistics and carrier companies, and consumers. But how do we ensure the equitable distribution of these sites for disadvantaged populations, while keeping accessibility in mind?

Using real world data from the Portland, OR region, a new study from researchers at Portland State University (PSU) offers a multiple-criteria approach using accessibility and equity metrics, including ridership, mode of transportation, spatial distribution, and sociodemographic profiles of coverage areas. 

Limited Free Access: The article in Transportation Research Record, "Accessibility and Equity Analysis of Transit Facility Sites for Common Carrier Parcel Lockers," by Katherine Keeling, Jaclyn Schaefer and Miguel Figliozzi, will be...

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Research demonstrates that marginalized populations experience significant barriers in accessing transit. The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) and the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) at Portland State University are working with the University of Utah in a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) to understand how people from selected historically marginalized communities experience discrimination and harassment on transit and in public areas such as sidewalks, bus stops, and transit platforms when accessing transit.

The study will be conducted in two sites: Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. In Portland, the study population will include racially and ethnically diverse people experiencing homelessness and people who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming; and ride TriMet. In Salt Lake City, the study population will include people experiencing homelessness as well as diverse groups based on their gender, racial, and ethnic identity; who ride Utah Transit Authority. We are seeking transit riders to help inform the study through photos and interviews. Participants will be compensated up to $50 for their labor. The researchers will be recruiting participants for this study through the end of August. 

PARTICIPATION INVOLVES:

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Our multi-year study on automated transit fare collection offers a key finding that won't surprise you: Despite the convenience, the rush toward cashless fare systems has created barriers for lower-income riders seeking to use transit. Results from focus groups, surveys, and a review of current transit agency practices suggest that continuing to accept cash is a crucial way to keep transit accessible. However, dealing with cash has drawbacks: it’s time intensive and expensive. Using a detailed cost-benefit model, the researchers explored the costs for agencies to maintain some cash options and found that some simple approaches can be quite effective. The best bang for the buck? Cash collection on board buses.

Launched in 2019, the research project "Applying an Equity Lens to Automated Payment Solutions for Public Transportation" was supported by a Pooled Fund grant program from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and conducted at three universities: Portland State University (PSU), the University of Oregon (UO), and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). The other funding partners were City of Eugene, OR, City of Gresham, OR, Lane Transit District, Clevor Consulting Group, and RTD (Regional Transportation District) Denver....

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