How Older Vietnamese Immigrants Get Around Town: Research Addresses Transportation Struggles

posted on Tuesday, June 6, 2023

How do you get from point A to point B? Maybe you bike or take public transit to get to work or school. Perhaps you drive to places that may be farther away, like medical appointments or friends’ houses. Imagine that you didn’t have access to many transportation options—maybe you were unable to drive a car, or the nearest bus stop was several miles away. This is the reality for many folks as they grow older, and their loved ones must then help them get where they need to go.

Older immigrants often live in low-density urban environments, or places where they need to use an automobile of some sort and have limited access to public transportation (like the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex). This could potentially add stress to both the older folks and the private ride providers who help with transportation. The providers may be at risk for the burden and stress of caregiving, and the older immigrants may lack transportation to important social or health opportunities if the providers they rely on are not available.

Researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington and the University of Connecticut teamed up to fill a gap in the knowledge of the elderly Vietnamese immigrant population in DFW. They sought to learn about the transportation behaviors not only of the Vietnamese adults but also of their ride providers. By increasing knowledge of the transportation...

Read More

No matter where you live, but especially if you live in a big city, you have likely seen people experiencing homelessness (PEH) using public transportation services. PEH use public transportation not only to get from place to place but also as shelter. Unfortunately, the relationship between the homeless populations, homeless services providers, and transportation providers is not well understood, making it difficult to pinpoint the best ways to accommodate those experiencing homelessness.

Conducted by a research team at the University of Texas, Arlington, the latest National Institute for Transporation and Communities (NITC) project served to determine the needs of people experiencing homelessness in order to advise transportation providers on how to best support this population.


The research team asked four main questions:

  1. How does Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) meet the daily needs of PEH?
  2. What are the nationwide services provider practices for providing mobility for PEH?
  3. Why do PEH not use public transit?
  4. What are the reactions of PEH and homeless services providers to potential transit agency interventions identified in earlier research?

To answer these questions, the research team conducted in-person interviews with willing PEH at a Dallas County homeless services provider. They also gathered data with a quantitative survey...

Read more

In recent years, there has been a nationwide push to move from using cars to using other modes of transportation. The benefits of active transportation (that is, walking, biking, and even using public transit) are widely known. Not only can these modes of transportation increase people’s physical and mental well-being, but they also cut down on the negative effects of cars (like their contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution).

In an effort to encourage more people to use public transportation, and to reduce disparities among riders of varying incomes, Portland, Oregon’s TriMet system developed a low-income fare option for its Honored Citizens Fare (HCF) program. The purpose of the paper—titled “Do Travel Costs Matter? Using Psychological and Social Equity Perspectives to Evaluate the Effects of a Low-Income Transit Fare Program on Low-Income Riders”—was to determine if the low-fare option works to increase access to transit and improve well-being among low-income riders in comparison to other riders. If it does, then it is an effective way to identify and meet the needs of this population and distribute the benefits of transportation investments more fairly.

The HCF program reduces the fare of the public transportation that TriMet provides, which includes buses and...

Read more

Farzana Rahman Chowdhury is an associate consultant traffic engineer at WSP USA. She earned a master’s in transportation engineering from Mississippi State University in 2019 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in summer 2022. Her research focuses on network modeling, traffic engineering, and transportation planning. 

Connect with Farzana on LinkedIn

As a PhD student, you worked with Dr. Li on the NITC project "Pedestrian Behavior Study to Advance Pedestrian Safety in Smart Transportation Systems Using Innovative LIDAR Sensors," Tell us about that work?

I worked with Dr. Li on this project as part of my doctoral dissertation. As a part of the project, we installed an industry-level LIDAR sensor at 2 separate intersections in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region with significant amount of pedestrian traffic. Although only one has voice-assisted infrastructure to help pedestrians cross. This aim of this study was to gather exact pedestrian data using LIDAR sensors and evaluate pedestrian behaviors such perception-reaction time, waiting time, and crossing time at crossings in conjunction with traffic signal statuses.

As an outcome of the research, we proposed a dynamic flash...

Read more

Justice P. Tuffour is a recent graduate of the Master of City and Metropolitan Planning program at the University of Utah. He specialized in smart growth, transportation, land use, and accessibility planning. Justice is a dual recipient of the Department of Planning (CMP) and College of Architecture and Planning (CA+P) scholarships. In the CMP Department, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and a Research Assistant at the Metropolitan Research Center (MRC). Justice is currently working as a Planner and GIS Technician for the city of Holladay, UT.

Connect with Justice on LinkedIn & Research Gate

Tell us about yourself?

Before moving to the University of Utah during the winter of the 2020 pandemic, I pursued most of my education in Ghana where I obtained a Master of Philosophy degree in Planning, and an honorary Bachelor of Science (First Class) in Human Settlement Planning. Two things that I love are spending time with my family and playing soccer....

Read more

Peirong (Slade) Wang is a PhD student in transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). He currently works as a graduate research assistant in UTA's ACTION (Advanced Computing in Transportation, Information, Operations and Networks) lab and serves as president of UTA's ITE student chapter. He earned a master's of science from Mississippi State University, where he also worked as a research assistant, and a bachelor's of science from China Agricultural University.

Connect on LinkedIn

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Peirong (Slade) Wang, and I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to joining UTA, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in both Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering and completed a master’s degree in Civil Engineering. At present, I am working as a graduate research assistant at the ACTION (Advanced Computing in Transportation, Information, Operations and Networks) lab, where I am engaged in cutting-edge research topics related to transportation. Additionally, I have the privilege of serving as the President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) student chapter at UTA.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

My father, who is a traffic...

Read more

Pedestrian safety is critical to improving walkability in cities. To that end, NITC researchers have developed a system for collecting pedestrian behavior data using LiDAR sensors. Tested at two intersections in Texas and soon to be tested at another in Salt Lake City, Utah, the new software created by a multi-university research team is able to reliably observe pedestrian behavior and can help reduce conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles at signalized intersections. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is already working on implementing this new system to improve data collection at intersections.

Learn more in a free webinar May 18. 

The LiDAR system can especially improve multimodal travel at intersections with permissive left turns, which are indicated by a flashing yellow arrow. Previous research has shown that where a flashing yellow arrow, or FYA, is present, cars searching for a gap in traffic may not look for pedestrians. To remove the risk to people walking, some signals are programmed to turn off the FYA when a walk button is pushed. But...

Read more

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce a new Dissertation Fellow, Adrian Cottam of the University of Arizona. Cottam's doctoral research project, Machine Learning and Big Data-Based Approaches for Quality Freeway Volumes, will focus on improving the quality of freeway volumes and expanding their spatial availability.

"I was drawn to Transportation Engineering because it is a field where you can make major impacts to better your community. I found that by merging my passion for Computer Science with Transportation Engineering, I could use data to obtain more information on how local transportation could be improved through Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and performance measurement. Throughout this process, I found that it was frequently a challenge obtaining high-quality data, or having access to data where you need it. This drove me to focus my dissertation on using machine learning techniques to improve data quality, and estimate traffic parameters where sensors were unavailable. My research is specifically focused on freeways, and seeks to use available data sources, such as crowdsourced data, to estimate data that isn’t always available. I am a firm believer in applied research, and hope to better my community through my research efforts. As such, I seek to develop methods that can be applied in a practical way, so...

Read more

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce a new Dissertation Fellow, Farzin Maniei of the University of Texas at Arlington, and his doctoral research project: Unsupervised Approach to Investigate Urban Traffic Crashes Based on Crash Unit, Crash Severity, and Manner of Collision.

"Knowing that there has not been a day without a fatality on Texas roadway since November 7th, 2000, I have been encouraged to focus my dissertation on traffic safety analysis and traffic crash prediction models to mitigate the socioeconomic burden of traffic crashes. Typically, traffic crashes have been investigated using one or two of three major traffic crash characteristics: number of vehicles involved in the crash (crash units), manner of collision (crash type), and crash severity. Leaving out any of these characteristics may negatively affect our understanding of traffic crash patterns. My dissertation aims to investigate the pattern of traffic crashes across highways and freeways by including all three major traffic characteristics simultaneously. The study attempts to capture various groups of traffic crashes, identify their corresponding hotspots, and understand their associated contributing factors. The study will propose an advanced data-driven tool for decision-making using artificial intelligence. Also, the method provides an automated, scalable process to...

Read more

The transit industry is rapidly moving toward battery electric bus fleets because of the environmental and financial benefits they offer. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, transit agencies have several questions to consider: What is the most cost-effective and equitable way to make the transition to electric buses? How can the buses' charging needs be incorporated into the existing city power grid? In which parts of the city should electric buses be introduced first, and what impacts will all this have on transit operations? A new modeling and visualization tool can help agencies answer those questions.

With funding from a National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) "Translate Research to Practice" grant, a team of University of Utah (UU) researchers led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu and Jianli Chen have created a model—a "bi-objective optimization framework"—which takes both cost and environmental equity into consideration, helping transit agencies achieve their desired environmental and public health-related outcomes in the most cost-effective way. The flexible framework is a helpful tool for doing cost-benefit analysis on a range of transit-related objectives. The research team also created two products to help transit agencies use the model:

  • A step-by-step guide to implementing the model: ...
Read more

Survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) experience transportation disadvantages, sometimes due to financial constraints caused by their abusive partners, which can keep them from accessing essential resources. Sarah Leat of the University of Memphis School of Social Work has published an article in the December 2022 Journal of Transport & Health examining how shared mobility services could help fill this transportation gap. Leat, who earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), began researching transportation challenges among IPV survivors when she was a National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) Dissertation Fellow at UTA.

The Transport & Health article, "Exploring the feasibility of shared mobility services for reducing transportation disadvantage among survivors of intimate partner violence," is related to Leat's doctoral research project, "Identifying and Measuring Transportation Challenges for Survivors in Intimate Partner Violence Shelters."

Highlights from the article include:

  • Sheltered survivors of intimate partner violence often lack the financial means to afford personal modes of transportation.
  • Shared mobility services may be viable solutions for survivors of intimate partner violence who reside in shelters.
  • ...
Read more