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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A national non-motorized count data archive, BikePed Portal provides a centralized standard count database for public agencies, researchers, educators, and other curious members of the public to view and download bicycle and pedestrian count data. It includes automated and manual counts from across the country, and supports screenline and turning movement counts.

BikePed Portal was established in 2015 by Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) researchers at Portland State University through a pooled fund grant administered by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC). Other project partners include the Federal Highway Administration, Oregon Department of Transportation, Metro, Lane Council of Governments, Central Lane MPO, Bend MPO, Mid Willamette Valley Council of Governments, Rogue Valley Council of Governments, City of Boulder, City of Austin, Cycle Oregon, and Oregon Community Foundation.

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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...

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Principal Investigator: Aaron Golub, Portland State University

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 Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC)'s Pooled Fund grant program, researchers from...

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Automatic bicycle counter showing how many cyclists have passed today, and this year.
Principal Investigator:  Sirisha Kothuri, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by reading about the Pooled Fund research grant that started it, or the Project Overview page.

BIKE/PED COUNT SURVEY: CALL FOR INPUT

Researchers at Portland State University, University of Texas at Arlington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Toole Design Group are conducting a scan to identify locations where bicycle counts are taking place around North America, and hope to enlist your help! If you collect bike count data (or oversee counts) in your jurisdiction, please consider taking our quick survey to tell us a little bit about your count locations and data.

The survey can be accessed here: tinyurl.com/BikeCounterScan

THE NEW PROJECT

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Left: Bicycles on a trail; Right: Young woman buying transit pass

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is soliciting proposals for our two 2018 Pooled Fund projects:

RFP now open; proposals due Oct 1, 2018

This project will address the need of cities and municipalities to combine bicycle data from different sources (such as manual counts, automatic counts, and crowd-sourced data from apps such as Strava) to assess an accurate accounting of bicycle traffic on a network. Current work on data fusion techniques is limited and additional research is needed to fully understand the choice of weighting techniques, inclusion of spatial vs. temporal variation in the...

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To help maximize the implementation of U.S. DOT’s commitment to livable communities, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) has launched its third round of pooled fund research funding in 2018. Agency partners are invited to submit problem statements by May 15, 2018.

The pooled fund program offers a process by which cities, counties, MPOs and other regional or local agencies can pool relatively small pots of research dollars to then leverage NITC matched funds for a single, collaborative project.

We held an online information session on February 28, 2018. Watch the video to learn more about the funding process, identifying partners, and crafting an effective problem statement:

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