The National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) research consortium, led by Portland State University, has awarded $485,456 in total funding for seven new research projects spanning five universities. With the extension of the FAST Act, NITC received one additional year of funding, and given this limited time frame, we emphasized projects that were relatively short in length, relied on existing expertise, and would yield specific outputs and outcomes. Several of the projects have an equity focus, and much of the research aims to make it easier to get around multimodally and/or by walking. The seven new projects are:

Led by Danya Rumore of the University of Utah and Philip Stoker of the University of Arizona
  • Rumore and Stoker focus on the unique transportation challenges of 'gateway' communities, or small towns adjacent to natural areas that attract large populations. Their previous...
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How can we use a variety of data-driven speed management strategies to make transportation safer and more efficient for all modes–whether you’re driving, walking or taking transit?

The project was led by Yao Jan Wu, director of the Smart Transportation Lab at the University of Arizona. Co-investigators were Xianfeng Terry Yang of the University of Utah, who researches traffic operations and modeling along with connected automated vehicles, and Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University, whose research has focused on improving signal timing to better serve pedestrians. Join them on Sept 15, 2021 for a free webinar to learn more.

"We want to improve mobility for all users, be it pedestrians, vehicle drivers or transit riders, and there are different strategies to do this. How do we harness data to drive us to these strategies?" Kothuri said.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), this multi-university collaboration addressed the question from three angles:

  • Wu and his students in Arizona looked at the impact of speed management strategies on conventional roadways...
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Research demonstrates that marginalized populations experience significant barriers in accessing transit. The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) and the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) at Portland State University are working with the University of Utah in a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) 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; and ride TriMet. 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; who ride Utah Transit Authority. We are seeking transit riders to help inform the study through photos and interviews. Participants will be compensated up to $50 for their labor. The researchers will be recruiting participants for this study through the end of August. 

PARTICIPATION INVOLVES:

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We're proud to announce the publication of a new NITC dissertation: "Methodologies to Quantify Transit Performance Metrics at the System-Level," by Travis Glick of Portland State University.

Performance metrics have typically focused at two main scales: a microscopic scale that focuses on specific locations, time-periods, and trips; and, a macroscopic scale that averages metrics over longer times, entire routes, and networks. When applied to entire transit systems, microscopic methodologies often have computational limitations while macroscopic methodologies ascribe artificial uniformity to non-uniform analysis areas. These limitations highlight the need for a middle approach. This dissertation presents a mesoscopic analysis based around timepoint-segments, which are a novel application of an existing system for many transit agencies.

In the United States, fix-route transit is typically defined by a small subset of bus stops along each route, called timepoints. For this research, routes are divided into a consecutive group of bus stops with one timepoint at the center. Each timepoint-segment includes all data collected in that segment during one hour of operation. Visuals for congestion and headway performance, based on the aggregated datasets, are designed to...

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Our multi-year study on automated transit fare collection offers a key finding that won't surprise you: Despite the convenience, the rush toward cashless fare systems has created barriers for lower-income riders seeking to use transit. Results from focus groups, surveys, and a review of current transit agency practices suggest that continuing to accept cash is a crucial way to keep transit accessible. However, dealing with cash has drawbacks: it’s time intensive and expensive. Using a detailed cost-benefit model, the researchers explored the costs for agencies to maintain some cash options and found that some simple approaches can be quite effective. The best bang for the buck? Cash collection on board buses.

Launched in 2019, the research project "Applying an Equity Lens to Automated Payment Solutions for Public Transportation" was supported by a Pooled Fund grant program from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and conducted at three universities: Portland State University (PSU), the University of Oregon (UO), and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). The other funding partners were City of Eugene, OR, City of Gresham, OR, Lane Transit District, Clevor Consulting Group, and RTD (Regional Transportation District) Denver....

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Last month, Portland State University announced the 2021 awards for faculty and staff excellence for research, graduate mentoring and research administration. The awards are among the university's highest honors. The 2021 Presidential Career Research Award recipient is Jennifer Dill. Dill is a professor in the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Director of the Transportation Research & Education Center at PSU, and Director of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, a national university transportation center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

TREC Communications Director Cait McCusker interviewed Dr. Dill last week to learn more about the origin and trajectory of her career in transportation research at PSU.

What led you to choose transportation research as your career?

Growing up in the 1970’s, I was surrounded by environmental issues. It was the time of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the EPA, Earth Day, pollution, the oil crisis...all of that shaping my view on the world. When I went to undergraduate at UC Davis I knew I wanted to do something related to environmental policy and cities. Cities held a certain fascination for me, and in college I started...

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Jai Daniels is a first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student at Portland State University, currently working with PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) as a Graduate Research Assistant under faculty advisor John MacArthur. She is interested in urban livability, bicycle and pedestrian planning, transit planning, and the intersection between urban planning and the environment.

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Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, often referred to as 'Mayberry.' Living near the Blue Ridge Parkway and not having much to do, apart from spending time outside, largely influenced both my passion for environmental conservation and my desire to travel. This in turn influenced what I chose to study. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a degree in environmental studies and minor in city and regional planning. Now, I live in Portland and am in my first year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State University. Outside of school, I enjoy listening to podcasts, watching movies, taking film pictures, and hiking.

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

As an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, which sparked my...

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Led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of the University of Utah (UU) and funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, researchers have created a web-based modeling tool (see GitHub repository built for the Utah Transit Authority) that enables U.S. transit providers to explore the impacts of changing over their systems to electric buses*. The researchers ran the model for TriMet in Portland, OR as well, with TriMet results and analysis presented in the final report (PDF).

"The interactive visualization platform lets users explore various electric bus deployment budget scenarios, so that transit agencies can plan the most cost-effective way to transition their fleet from diesel to electric buses – while prioritizing disadvantaged populations," Liu said.

The research team, at University of Utah, Portland State University (PSU), and University of California, Riverside, set out to answer three questions: 

  1. What costs and benefits are associated...
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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce a new dissertation fellow: Kelly Rodgers of Portland State University. Four other NITC dissertation fellows were announced in summer 2020. Our NITC Dissertation fellowships applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Kelly’s dissertation project will focus on "The use and influence of health indicators in transportation decision-making."

Research on health and transport has increased significantly in the past 20 years, both across health and transportation fields. Researchers and practitioners have called for the use of health indicators in transportation, which come amidst the growing emphasis on the use of indicators for transportation plans and projects in general. The underlying hope is that new procedural arrangements, such as measuring and tracking indicators, can turn policy goals into practice. This research project will explore the use and influence of health indicators in transportation using a mixed methods approach.

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The world's largest transportation research conference is celebrating its 100th birthday online, with over 14,000 RSVP's. TRB 2021 officially began this week, and while we're not out roaming the snowy streets of D.C, we’re still able to enjoy each other’s expertise from our homes. So instead of bemoaning what we'll miss, we’re celebrating the NITC-funded researchers who are presenting their work. On January 6, 2021 the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) honored NITC Student of the Year Gabby Abou-Zeid, along with Hau Hagedorn, NITC associate director, who won the CUTC-ARTBA Award for Administrative Leadership.

VIEW THE ONLINE GUIDE TO NITC AT TRB 2021

DOWNLOAD NITC PRESENTATION FILES

NITC AT TRB 2021 HIGHLIGHTS

We’ve compiled an online NITC...

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