Marginalized Populations’ Access to Transit: Journeys from Home and Work to Transit

Marisa Zapata, Portland State University



Research demonstrates that marginalized populations experience significant barriers in accessing transit. Much research related to marginalized populations focuses on fares, costs, and locations to utilizing transit. More recent studies look at how transgender and gender-nonconforming community members experience discrimination and harassment while riding transit, and how that impacts their choices to access transit. In this study we build on findings from these studies on harassment on mass transit for a specific population, and seek to understand how people from selected historically marginalized communities experience discrimination and harassment on transit and in public areas such as sidewalks, bus stops, and transit platforms when accessing transit. The study will be conducted in two sites: Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. In Portland, the study population will include racially and ethnically diverse people experiencing homelessness and people who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming. In Salt Lake City, the study population will include people experiencing homelessness as well as diverse groups based on their gender, racial, and ethnic identity. 

This study fits into the NITC theme of “improving the mobility of people and goods to build strong communities” in several ways. The study focuses on questions of access to transit for marginalized community members, and examines barriers that traverse transit use, walkability, and commercial and residential land-use types. This study will employ a qualitative method not common in transportation studies: go-along interviews. Using this method, researchers accompany research participants on their journeys from home or work to and then on public transportation, asking them to describe the factors that shape their travel behavior, and allowing for direct observation of their transit use. The findings from this study will help transit system designers better understand how experiences of harassment and discrimination across the entire users’ journey affects the riders’ decisions about whether and when to take transit, and to help create transit systems that serve all community members equitably.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
June 30,2022
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 4
UTC Funding: