How can relocating services away from a downtown center change the transportation decisions and patterns for persons experiencing homelessness? And how do those changes affect access to the services they need? New research from the University of Utah (UU) examines the impacts of decentralizing homeless service locations through a case study in Salt Lake County, Utah.
Prior to 2019, resources for people experiencing homelessness in the county were concentrated in a single location: The Road Home – a nonprofit social services agency located downtown within the free fare zone for TRAX light rail. In 2019, Salt Lake County transitioned to a decentralized, scattered site model with multiple shelter locations. The downtown shelter closed and three new Homeless Resource Centers (HRCs), operated by various providers, were opened outside of downtown Salt Lake City.
Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), researchers Sarah Canham, Jeff Rose, Ivis Garcia Zambrana, and Shannon Jones of UU surveyed clients of the three new HRCs (106 respondents) and conducted qualitative interviews with 19 HRC clients who had previously accessed services at the old downtown shelter. They also interviewed 24...Read more
Dr. Joey Iuliano of the University of Arizona, a 2020 NITC dissertation fellow who earned his Ph.D. in 2021, has published a journal article in the March 2022 issue of Cogent Social Sciences: Where and how Tucsonans ride and implications for cycling infrastructure.
Drawing from cycling ethnographic work, Dr. Iuliano used video recordings of three groups of cyclists (commuter, recreational, and athletic) in Tucson, AZ, to contextualize their movements and interactions with the built environment, drivers, and other cyclists. Cycling can be utilitarian for commuters and a social, leisure, and athletic activity for recreational and athletic riders. Depending on their reason for riding, cyclists utilize infrastructure to suit their needs and protect themselves from drivers. Confidence levels also influence where and how people ride. For example:
- Commuters rode defensively and sought out less-trafficked facilities.
- Recreational riders rode solo on paths and in groups on open roads.
- Athletic riders claimed space from drivers by riding in packs while being mindful of group safety.
Video ethnography helps improve the understanding of the different reasons for cycling and those experiences. With this information, planners can provide more accurate maps and overcome pushback from some cyclists by designing...Read more
Jennifer Leslie is a City and Metropolitan Planning graduate student at the University of Utah. She earned a BS in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Utah in 2019, and completed an internship at the National Park Service helping to manage the increasing visitation to parks across the country through collaboration in multi-agency projects. She has also volunteered as a surveyor for the University of Utah's Outdoor Education, Recreation and Tourism Lab. Jennifer is currently working with researchers Kristina Currans and Danya Rumore on a Research Roadmap for the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).
Tell us about yourself?
I am a first-year masters student of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah. Before graduate school, I studied parks, recreation and tourism at the U of U. I am an environmental advocate and passionate about how natural spaces influence communities. My favorite way to experience the outdoors is through backpacking.
What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?
As someone that cares about access to parks and trails, I have been very interested in active transportation and accessibility to green spaces. As I become more involved in the...Read more
The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce our newest Dissertation Fellow, Austin Drukker of the University of Arizona, who was awarded $15,000 for his doctoral research project: How Essential is Essential Air Service? A Welfare Analysis of Airport Access for Remote Communities
Mr. Drukker will study the welfare implications of Essential Air Service (EAS), a federal government program that provides subsidies to airlines that provide commercial service from remote communities. Congress established EAS after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, which gave airlines almost total freedom to determine which domestic markets to serve and which fares to charge, fearing that the newly deregulated airlines would shift their operations to serve large, profitable markets, leaving remote communities without access to the national passenger airline network and the markets and opportunities that come along with such access. By combining novel data containing information on airline passengers’ home location with cutting-edge econometric techniques, Mr. Drukker will study the value that EAS community members place on having access to their community airport as revealed by their actual choices. Mr. Drukker’s preliminary findings suggest that passengers who live in communities with subsidized service have a plethora of choices available to them and many if not...Read more
In recent years, shared electric scooters (e-scooters) have taken cities around the world by storm. But how are people using this new mode of transportation? Seeking to understand the potential impacts of e-scooters on land use, infrastructure and sustainability goals, researchers have some new interesting data to share on e-scooter users, exploring the interplay between demographics, behaviors and trip purposes.
Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and led by Kristina Currans and Nicole Iroz-Elardo of the University of Arizona and Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, the study combines a user survey with on-the-ground observations to characterize the use and safety of e-scooters. The research team also included students Dong-ah Choi,...Read more
Dr. Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of the University of Utah is leading research efforts to help facilitate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). In 2021, she completed a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), Bi-objective Optimization for Battery Electric Bus Deployment Considering Cost and Environmental Equity, which was aimed at helping transit agencies transition their fleets to battery electric buses while focusing on improving air quality—with an eye toward environmental justice.
"The blocking piece is one of the more unique and helpful elements of this tool. We are making investments based on her recommendations, from the model and the tool, for five more high-powered chargers in our system.... You can optimize to a lot of different factors using her model. It's a really good tool in that you can use in multiple ways to make better business decisions for both your agency and the community."
-Manager of Systems Planning and Project Development, Utah Transit Authority
"This research made me aware of always communicating and addressing equity issues, even in small projects. I'm working on implementing small electric community shuttle systems and...Read more
Christine Highfill is a PhD student and graduate research assistant in social work at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). She retired as a military spouse in 2014. She has since earned her master's in social work from UTA in 2019, and a master's of arts in human services counseling with a focus on military resilience from Liberty University in 2016. Her primary research interests are social determinants of health and military-connected spousal abuse.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Christine Highfill. I’m a third-year social work doctoral student at the University of Texas at Arlington. My main research emphasis is social determinants of health across the lifespan; within that, I’m most interested in policy related to military-connected domestic abuse. Social work research is my second career. During most of my adult life I was a military spouse raising a large family during the Global War on Terror. I see my research as a way to give back to the Military and its families.
What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?
I had not considered transportation as a research path until I began my graduate research assistantship with Dr. Noelle Fields. Although I have personally experienced latent transportation demand in the past...Read more
Imagine you've just been released from prison. You don't have a phone yet, or a car, but through your reentry service, you are set up for now with a place to stay. They also got you a job interview for next Monday, but it's across town. You also have mandatory mental health, medical health, and parole-related appointments to make it to this week, so right now— transportation is your biggest problem. You have three complementary bus tickets, and you need to figure out the best way to use them.
"I can't imagine trying to navigate my way through a city, tackle the bus system and find my way around without a smartphone - in a community that I haven't been in for ten, twenty, however many years," said Dr. Stephen Mattingly.
That's the scenario facing roughly 2,000 former inmates who return to communities every day in the U.S.
To help them to reintegrate into society, researchers Anne Nordberg, Jaya Davis and Stephen Mattingly of the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) leveraged funding from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) on ...Read more
Transportation and land use planning, as a field, is shifting away from segregated uses connected by highways and streets to more compact, mixed-use developments connected by high-quality transit. This new paradigm has brought special attention to transit-oriented developments (TOD), which are sometimes touted as being among the most affordable, efficient places to live. But how affordable are they, and who has the power to effect change?
Is Transit-Oriented Development Affordable for Low and Moderate Income Households?, a study funded by the National Institute of Transportation and Communities (NITC), examines housing costs for households living in TODs. Led by Reid Ewing of the University of Utah, the team examined the housing affordability of TODs in U.S. cities across 23 regions. Register for a February 15 webinar to learn more about the project.
The analysis of housing costs revealed a lot of variability across different regions. Of all the examined housing developments, only 16 projects/developments out of 117 across 85 TOD sites were deemed 100% "affordable" – meaning that ...Read more
Three students from partner universities in the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) have been awarded WTS Portland scholarships. Congratulations to Caroline Crisp of Portland State, and Cynthia Roe and Caroline Schulze of Oregon Tech!
The WTS Portland Chapter, established in 1985, offers six annual scholarships to high school seniors, junior college, undergraduate, and graduate students to support women seeking leadership opportunities and pursuing transportation careers. This is a highly competitive scholarship with applicants from colleges and universities throughout Oregon and Washington.