Developing Data, Models, and Tools to Enhance Transportation Equity

Amy Lubitow, Portland State University



Despite recent improvements in transportation accessibility assessments and transportation survey methodologies, there are still challenges in engaging hard to reach populations in transportation surveys, such as low-income, minority, and transit-dependent populations that are protected classes under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 12898.  Because travel survey data are used to forecast demand, inform transportation investments, and craft urban policies, it is critical to understand how the travel behavior of these populations is reflected in survey data. Gaps between data collection and analytical techniques may lead to underrepresentation of disadvantaged populations and the extent of their transportation accessibility in transportation surveys, which could in turn impede policy implementation related to transportation equity.  

The proposed project critically examines household travel survey methodologies and the resulting data in combination with other data on transportation accessibility to address shortcoming in established practice of transportation equity analysis. Specifically, it will consider equity in terms of transportation accessibility and demographic, spatial, and behavioral representation of household travel surveys for two cities located in the top 11 of the most populous U.S. metropolitan areas in regards to transit accessibility to jobs: Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. We will pair a variety of secondary data sources with travel survey data in these cities to determine  (1) where race, class, and/or transit-dependent inequalities arise in transportation accessibility, (2) the extent to which populations and geographic communities experiencing those inequalities are represented in transportation survey data, and (3) which populations and geographic communities could be targeted for in-depth qualitative study of their circumstances and included in data collection efforts to more effectively assess transportation needs and transportation disadvantage. 

The project will result in a comparative analysis of the extent to which exiting travel survey data collection efforts represents low-income, minority, and transit-dependent groups in two major U.S. cities. The team will produce a clear set of strategies or interventions to adapt transportation survey questions, distribution techniques, and broader strategies of outreach and engagement to generate more inclusive measures of transportation behaviors.  

Photo by santypan,


We expect that the clear set of strategies or interventions will be beneficial to state and city agencies conducting future transportation surveys. We hope to be able to point out potential challenges in the data collection instrument and data collection procedures and offer suggestions that will inform future practices. 

We are continuing our process of outreach to various transportation agencies in order to better understand their ideas around equity. It is presumed that meaningful discussions and potential collaborations may result from these discussions. 

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
September 30,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 1
UTC Funding: