Homes, Not Offices: Researchers Recommend Changes to Transit Station Area Development After COVID-19

posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2024

A new report offers lessons for post-pandemic transit policy and planning. Notably, it calls for planners to downplay the role of offices in transit station areas and increase the opportunity for people to live in them. Researchers Arthur C. Nelson and Robert Hibberd published "Transit Station Area Development and Demographic Outcomes (PDF)," updating their longitudinal analysis of the impacts of development near transit stations.

The new report includes a foreword by U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer. An excerpt reads:

"In this report, Arthur C. Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning and Real Estate Development at the University of Arizona, and Robert Hibberd, a doctoral student, chronical numerous economic and demographic changes that occurred in transit station areas between the Great Recession that ended in 2009 and the pandemic that started in 2020. Through detailed analysis of 57 transit systems operating...

Read More

According to new research, transit-oriented development (TOD) can address the equity challenge of "spatial mismatch," where urban residents are isolated from relevant employment centers, and significantly improve employment access.

"Job-Worker Balance & Polycentric Transit-Oriented Development: Toward Indices and Spatio-temporal Trends," funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), examines how transit-oriented development (TOD) affects employment access and addresses urban equity challenges, particularly in the context of essential workers and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition to demonstrating that TOD can help mitigate spacial mismatch, the study also highlights that TOD can lower transportation costs and enhance job-worker balance by providing more accessible central locations. Additionally, higher levels of spatial density and land use mix can aid in managing pandemics by improving access to essential jobs, which often involve low-income occupations that require face-to-face interactions.

The dissertation's author, Robert Hibberd, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona (UA). An Eisenhower Fellow and NITC Dissertation Fellow, Hibberd devoted his doctoral research to exploring how the spatial distribution of resources and infrastructure in cities affects access to employment and essential services, ...

Read more

Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) maintains two large, public transportation data lakes: PORTAL and BikePed Portal. The latest round of funding for PORTAL, in the amount of $1.6 million, was awarded in February 2024 and will cover PORTAL's activities through the next five years. BikePed Portal, too, recently received $100K for another year of funding, and both are the focus of some exciting innovations in transportation data.

The two centralized data repositories, unique both in their size and in the fact that they are accessible (PORTAL is freely available to the public, and BikePed Portal has limited public access as well), are supported by multiple federal, state, and regional agencies. Federal funding for PORTAL comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'s Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funding, suballocated by Metro’s ...

Read more

Portland's Old Town neighborhood is getting a new skatepark, and a team of PSU transportation students were instrumental in bringing the project from idea to reality. 

Given the project of activating a vacant lot on the west side of the Steel Bridge by transforming it into a community skatepark, students in the Spring 2023 bike-pedestrian planning class created a set of design options, a weighted decision matrix, and a memorandum of existing conditions for the site. They also developed performance measures to determine how best to meet the project's objectives of activating the space, creating a welcoming environment, and stimulating local business activity.

Their work provided a basis for ongoing conversations with stakeholders around the project, which ultimately resulted in a green light: Funding for the new skatepark was announced in January by Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation. Work is slated to begin this spring on property acquisition, community engagement and design of the 35,000 square foot facility.

"Getting to see this skatepark regularly...

Read more

When you think of your dream home, what do you think of? Perhaps you envision a house with enough space for your whole family to be comfortable. Maybe you’ll be close to your extended family…or maybe you won’t, depending on your personal family dynamic. It will be in a safe neighborhood, perhaps with access to amenities that promote a healthier lifestyle, like green spaces and walking trails. School, work, grocery stores, and the doctor’s office will be easy to access. The home won’t cause you financial stress. It will feel like yours.

You may not be surprised to hear that many people look for these qualities when considering a place to live. With the study “Housing Choice, Transportation Equity, and Access to Opportunities in Refugee and Immigrant Communities,” professors at the University of Texas at Arlington sought to collect qualitative data about factors and values that caused refugee and immigrant populations in Dallas County, Texas to want to move. This demographic makes up a significant part of Dallas County’s population; almost one fourth of people who live there were born outside the United States. By better understanding the needs of this population, policies could be set in place that address inequity and make the community a more welcoming, accessible place for all. The paper focuses on the roles that primary and secondary mobility play in the housing choices of immigrants and...

Read more

The trip to and from school is made by nearly every child in Oregon every school day. Bike and walk buses, organized groups of school children, parents, and ride/walk leaders, seek to encourage biking and walking to school. A new research project at Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) will gather information on bike buses nationwide, inspired by the success of Sam Balto's bike bus initiative at Alameda Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.

Balto, a physical education teacher, catapulted into the limelight in 2022 after establishing a weekly bike bus involving over 100 students commuting to school on two wheels. Its success and popularity prompted a broader initiative to understand and promote the benefits of bike and walk buses across the United States.

Researchers John MacArthur and Nathan McNeil, along with Evan Howington, a student in the Master of Urban and...

Read more

The 103rd annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) will be held January 7–11, 2024 in Washington, D.C., and NITC transportation faculty and researchers will be sharing their expertise at the world's largest transportation conference. The TRB annual meeting attracts thousands of transportation professionals from around the globe to address transportation policy, practice, and plans for the future.

Below are a few highlights of research being presented by transportation experts from our participating NITC-funded campuses: Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), University of Utah (UU), University of Arizona (UA), and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Check out our full NITC guide for all of the sessions:


*Due to the evolving status of speaker attendance and TRB programming, please check your TRB schedule for the most current information in the event of changes.*

NITC Research Highlights at TRB 2024

University of Texas at Arlington

Monday, January 8 - Older Adults, Travel Options, and Barriers to Accessibility

In this lectern session, Juana Perez, Mohammad Rashidi, Jobaidul Boni and Kate Hyun of the University of Texas, Arlington...

Read more

We're proud to announce our 2023 Outstanding Student of the Year, Justin Delgado of the University of Utah. This award is presented during the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) banquet at each annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, where the U.S. Department of Transportation honors an outstanding graduate student from each UTC. Justin Delgado will be presented with the award for NITC at this year's CUTC award ceremony. See past NITC Students of the Year.

Justin Delgado, University of Utah

Justin Delgado is a master’s student in the City and Metropolitan Planning Department at the University of Utah. He has been selected as the 2023 NITC Student of the Year and will be presented with the award at the Council of University Transportation Centers banquet at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January 2023. Justin’s interest in transportation began through his negative personal experiences as a pedestrian and cyclist. His recognition of the inequitable distribution of safe infrastructure between mobility types led him to advocate for the right to travel safely for all types of mobility. Justin currently works as a dual Graduate Assistant for the Physical Enterprise Planning and Development Office (formerly PDC) and the Active Transportation branch of...

Read more

Eleven students attending partner universities of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) are receiving Eisenhower Fellowships presented by the U.S. Department of Transportation at this year's annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). Meet this year's NITC Eisenhower Fellows:

Ashley (Ash) Avila, University of Arizona

Ash Avila is a graduate student in the Accelerated Master’s Program in Urban Planning at the University of Arizona with a focus on transportation and environmental planning. She is currently a graduate research assistant studying the effects of heat and other weather patterns on travel behavior as part of a larger ... Read more

Nathan McNeil, a Research Associate at PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), and co-authors Keith Bartholomew and Matt Ryan (University of Utah), have been selected for a Charley V. Wootan Award for their paper "Transportation Academies as Catalysts for Civic Engagement in Transportation Decision-making." They will be presented with the award in January at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

The paper, published in Transportation Research Record (TRR): The Journal of the Transportation Research Board, draws on findings from a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), with additional support from Salt Lake City Transportation Division; Wasatch Front Regional Council; Utah Department of Transportation; Utah Transit Authority; University of Utah; Salt Lake County, Regional Planning and Transportation; and the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Read more about the project: Launching the Wasatch Transportation Academy.

The article will also appear in a promotional issue of the TRR journal, physical copies of which will be available in the TRB Annual Meeting Exhibitor Hall in Washington, D.C. during the annual meeting. Stop by the TRR Journal booth for a copy.


Read more

After 17 years of service to TREC, Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center, associate director Hau Hagedorn is moving on to a new position as the Community Investments Manager for Oregon Metro. We will miss her as a colleague, as a model for transportation photos (here she is on the cover of our 2022 Annual Report) and as a seemingly inexhaustible source of energy and inspiration!

During her time at TREC, Hau devoted tireless efforts to improving access to transportation and mobility for people of all ages, communities, and incomes. Her perseverance and commitment have been recognized in the form of numerous accolades and awards. In 2020, she received the CUTC-ARTBA Award for Administrative Leadership from the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and the same year she was appointed ...

Read more