University of Utah Researchers Partner with Utah Transit Authority in Areas of Persistent Poverty

1222 - iStock-1195942209.jpg

Building upon a body of work on electric vehicle adoption funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), a U.S DOT funded university transportation center, University of Utah researchers Xiaoyue Cathy Liu and Nikola Markovic will assist the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in designing a dynamic service with zero-emission transit vehicles to enhance service equity and efficiency for a vulnerable population. Dr. Liu's earlier NITC work has helped transit agencies transition their fleets to battery electric buses, improving air quality with an eye toward environmental justice.

The UTA has received a new grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) "Areas of Persistent Poverty" program, aimed at creating better transit for residents who have limited or no transportation options. Liu and Markovic are partnering with UTA to improve its paratransit service, which uses gas-powered vehicles and requires passengers to call 24 hours in advance. Working with Andy Hong in UU's Department of City & Metropolitan Planning, the researchers will assess the feasibility of a more dynamic service that would run on zero-emission vehicles. The system would improve transit access, be more convenient, enhance service equity and efficiency, and represent a positive step toward cleaner air and better health for a vulnerable population.

The grant was one of 40 projects in 32 states and two territories funded through the FTA's Areas of Persistent Poverty (AoPP) program. The FTA grants the awards on a competitive basis to state and local governments, transit agencies, and nonprofit organizations to create better transit for residents who have limited or no transportation options. The program supports the Biden-Harris Administration's Justice40 initiative and general goals of advancing racial equity and improving public health and the environment through transportation planning that results in new or better transit service. 

Photo by Oleksandr Filon/iStock

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is one of seven U.S. Department of Transportation national university transportation centers. NITC is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. This PSU-led research partnership also includes the Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Arlington and University of Utah. We pursue our theme — improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities — through research, education and technology transfer.

Share this: