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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The Portland Streetcar and Portland MAX are visible, along with a green Bike Signal and a pedestrian walk button.

Photo by Cait McCusker

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) program has released its 2020 general research request for proposals. Faculty at NITC's partner universities* are invited to submit abstracts by March 23, 2020.


Through funding provided by the U.S. DOT, we will award up to $1,000,000 to research projects that support NITC’s theme: improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities. Our theme includes a few key topics:

Increasing access to opportunities.

Well-connected regions and communities can improve social equity by providing access to jobs, services, recreation, and social opportunities. Research should examine barriers to access, including the connections between transportation, land use, and housing. It should look at how to overcome these barriers and improve accessibility, affordability, and equity in our communities.

Improving multi-modal planning and shared use of infrastructure.

Improved mobility requires a range of options for moving people and goods. As concepts of mobility evolve, research is needed to understand how people and firms make mode choices so that we can design better multi-modal systems. Research should examine how...

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A view of the ballroom with attendees eating lunch during the Summit keynote

The 11th annual Transportation and Communities Summit 2019, held at Portland State University (PSU) on September 19–20, drew attendees from 14 states across the U.S. Over 250 people joined us for the Summit day, and nearly 60 took part in the deep-dive workshop day. We hope the event offered new opportunities for collaboration and synergy between researchers, practitioners, and community members.

Peter DeFazio, the U.S. Representative for Oregon's 4th congressional district, kicked off the day with a video welcome message for the summit attendees, followed on the main stage by TREC director and urban planning faculty Jennifer Dill. 

At lunchtime Ben Wellington, the data...

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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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People on e-scooters

The National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) research consortium, led by Portland State University, has awarded $1.035 million in total funding for ten research projects spanning five universities. This year we focused funding on micromobility, traffic, meeting the transportation needs of underserved populations and people with disabilities, and the intersection of transportation and housing.

Led by Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, Nicole Iroz-Elardo and Arlie Adkins of the University of Arizona
 
Led by Yao-Jan Wu of the University of Arizona, Xianfeng Yang of the University of Utah and Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University
This multi-university collaboration builds upon previous research led by Yao-Jan Wu in multi-modal traffic monitoring, as well as...
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Pedestrians cross near a light rail amid mixed-use development

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) program has released its 2019 general research request for proposals. Faculty at NITC's partner universities* are invited to submit abstracts by March 29, 2019.


Through funding provided by the U.S. DOT, we will award up to $1,000,000 to research projects that support NITC’s theme: improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities. Our theme includes a few key topics:

  • Increasing access to opportunities
  • Improving multi-modal planning and shared use of infrastructure
  • Advancing innovation and smart cities
  • Developing data, models, and tools

2019 RESEARCH PRIORITIES

The NITC Advisory Board has provided input into several research priorities that relate to multimodal transportation data and the transportation-land use-housing connection. NITC is prioritizing the funding of proposals that directly addresses research questions related to:

Developing Data, Models and Tools. Agencies are confronting a plethora of new mobility options along with new data sources to support transportation research, planning, and analysis. Several priority research areas have been identified to increase understanding: 

  • Collection of multimodal data...
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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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People talking and looking at materials in a workshop

We held our annual flagship professional development event, Transportation & Communities, on September 13 and 14. In honor of the event's ten-year anniversary, we changed up the format: Rather than a typical conference with one-hour sessions and a keynote gathering, we offered a selection of intensive half-day workshops. See photos from the event.

The workshops gave practitioners a chance to take a deep dive into new skills in order to walk away with new tools or frameworks that could be applied to their work. We offered a review of congestion mitigation strategies, universal access and equity in pedestrian planning, and discussion on how smart technology could be implemented in suburban communities. Several workshops were based on findings from new research by the National Institute for...

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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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Stock image of bicycles

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) program has released its 2018 Small Starts request for proposals (RFP). Faculty at NITC's partner universities* are invited to submit abstracts by September 17, 2018.

The Small Starts grant assists researchers (based at NITC partner universities) who are interested in transportation but have not had an opportunity to undertake a small project ($20,000 or less). Read about the Small Starts projects that were funded in 2017. Projects must be consistent with NITC's theme of improving the mobility of people and goods to build strong communities.

Our theme includes a few key topics:

  • Increasing access to opportunities
  • Improving multi-modal planning and shared use of infrastructure
  • Advancing innovation and smart cities
  • Developing data, models, and tools

Key Dates

  • RFP Opens: July 18, 2018
  • Proposals due: September 17, 2018
  • Award Selection: Sept-Oct 2018
  • Projects begin & funds...
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