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....

Read more

Led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of the University of Utah (UU) and funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, researchers have created a web-based modeling tool (see GitHub repository built for the Utah Transit Authority) that enables U.S. transit providers to explore the impacts of changing over their systems to electric buses*. The researchers ran the model for TriMet in Portland, OR as well, with TriMet results and analysis presented in the final report (PDF).

"The interactive visualization platform lets users explore various electric bus deployment budget scenarios, so that transit agencies can plan the most cost-effective way to transition their fleet from diesel to electric buses – while prioritizing disadvantaged populations," Liu said.

The research team, at University of Utah, Portland State University (PSU), and University of California, Riverside, set out to answer three questions: 

  1. What costs and benefits are associated...
Read more

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...

Read more
A bicycle passes in front of a bus
Photo by Canetti
Miguel Figliozzi, Portland State University

When buses and bikes share space, it's complicated. Not only are there safety risks for cyclists, but also potential delays in bus service and stressful navigation for bus operators. The quest to increase bus speeds—and plausibly...

Read more
A screenshot from the STAT tool shows a map with embedded Tweets by location
Xiaoyue (Cathy) Liu, University of Utah; Ran Wei, University of California, Riverside; Aaron Golub and Liming Wang, Portland State University

With today's profusion of open data sources and real-time feeds, transit agencies have an unparalleled opportunity to leverage large amounts of data to improve transit service. Thanks to NITC researchers,...

Read more
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...

Read more
The Portland Streetcar
Principal Investigators: Kristin Tufte, Portland State University; Larry Head, University of Arizona
Project Overview: NITC Connected Vehicle Platform / Connected Streetcar Project (pending name change)

Learn more about this and other "Smart Cities" technology by registering for this September 14 workshop.

Connected Vehicle (CV) technology is coming to Portland, Oregon. We're excited to announce the first step in what could be a long-term game changer for the city: during the winter of 2018, researchers from Portland State University and University of Arizona will work with the City of Portland to deploy a test concept of CV tech on the Portland Streetcar.

Primarily funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Connected Streetcar Project is one of the Portland...

Read more
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing related presentations and download the full manual on the Project Overview page. Hear firsthand from the researchers by tuning in for the webinar on December 4 (recording available post-webinar).

Prepared by TREC, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has just released a Manual on Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections to Transit.

TREC Director Jennifer Dill and TREC researcher Nathan McNeil worked with the FTA to develop the manual, a guidebook to creating a robust network for active transportation and transit users.

From defining "access sheds" to linking up transit and bike share, the newly published manual is a rich resource for planners and engineers looking to boost their city's bicycle and pedestrian transit access.

Dill and McNeil built the manual with a special...

Read more
Principal Investigator: Patrick Singleton, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the related presentations and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

Normally we assume that travel is a means to an end, but the latest NITC report examines other benefits of travel—aspects that aren’t about reaching a destination.

One such benefit is travel-based multitasking. A good example of this is using time on a commuter train to listen to music, relax or get some work done. The simple enjoyment of a walk in the fresh air relates to another benefit, known as subjective well-being, in which the act of travel itself makes a person feel better. These intrinsic benefits can impact travel behavior and mode choice, but our current models don’t have any way to reflect this.

NITC fellow Patrick Singleton investigated the policy and planning implications of this in his dissertation, Exploring The Positive Utility Of Travel And Mode Choice.

"The way we analyze travel behavior assumes people want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. We don’t include the...

Read more
Principal Investigator: Lisa Bates, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the two-page Project Brief, related publications and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

Lead Investigator Lisa Bates gave a lecture at Portland State University in December 2017. Watch the video or ...
Read more

Pages