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...

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Transportation systems play a critical role in maintaining supply chains for effective post-disaster recovery. The March 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns coincided with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah, resulting in supply chain disruptions throughout the region. A team of researchers collaborated with local agencies and transportation organizations to use this event and the community's response to evaluate the challenges faced by local business owners and the actions they took to manage the disruptions. Their new report assesses the potential economic impacts of a catastrophic earthquake in the region of Salt Lake City, with an eye toward helping small and medium-sized businesses increase their resiliency.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), Divya Chandrasekhar and Sua Kim of University of Utah’s (UU) City & Metropolitan Planning Department worked with John Downen and Joshua Spolsdoff of UU’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute to survey local businesses about their recovery actions after the March 2020 disasters. The researchers noted that while increasing risk awareness among businesses, the events of March 2020 had not translated into concrete preparedness or mitigation actions. Based on the...

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Transportation can have a significant impact on vulnerable ecologies, especially in rapidly urbanizing regions such as Dallas/Fort Worth. In order for future professionals to balance the needs of sensitive environments with the mobility of people and goods, they must have the proper tools – among other things, a good grounding in regional mapping technologies.

To introduce high school students to geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial reasoning skills, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) developed a four-week training workshop in ArcGIS and other emerging regional mapping technologies. The workshop was incorporated into an existing high school course focused on the transportation network and environmental justice issues in the communities along the Trinity River. 

Led by the research team from UTA's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (Joowon Im, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Alan Klein, Director at Institute of Urban Studies, Amruta Sakalker, Graduate Assistant in Planning), they partnered with CityLab High School in the Dallas Independent School District to pilot this workshop. The curriculum, which can be replicated for use by other teachers, introduces students...

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Would monetary incentives encourage more people to buy e-bikes? 

Portland State University (PSU) researchers are examining how purchase incentive programs can expand the current e-bike market, and the latest product to come out of this research is a white paper released earlier this month: “Using E-Bike Purchase Incentive Programs to Expand the Market – North American Trends and Recommended Practices (PDF)

The paper offers methods of identifying the most effective program structure for the incentive provider's priorities, and helpful information on how to administer and track the program. 

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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...

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For governments and clean energy advocates looking to encourage people to use e-bikes for transportation, a new online tool from Portland State University researchers offers an overview of the existing incentive programs in the United States and Canada.

The E-Bike Incentive Programs in North America table tracks e-bike purchase incentive programs and key details that can provide a point of reference for the development of future e-bike incentive programs and policies, or for further research on the topic. Read a recent article about the tool in BikePortland.

John MacArthur, researcher at PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), led the development of the tool with the help of PSU transportation engineering masters student Cameron Bennett, a 2021 Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellow.

COMPARING TYPES OF E-BIKE INCENTIVE PROGRAMS

While the tracker shows a wide variety of approaches, Bennett identified Saanich, BC as demonstrating an especially...

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An unpaved trail on grass with a yellow flower nearby
Photo by Matthew Sleep
Matthew Sleep, Oregon Institute of Technology

Approximately 7,700 years ago—in a cataclysmic event which the Klamath people retold and passed down for over 300 generations—Mount Mazama erupted, forming Crater Lake in Oregon. With molten rock reaching temperatures of up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, complex chemical reactions ensued. The resulting Mazama ash holds some properties that are similar to those in portland cement.

Today, most construction projects use portland cement, which takes an excessive amount of energy to create. Materials are mined from several different sources and transported, then...

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Mt. Mazama ash being poured into a yellow bucket
Principal Investigator: Matthew Sleep, Oregon Institute of Technology
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

The latest Small Starts study from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) offers sustainable road building materials for rural infrastructure, from an unlikely source.

Approximately 7,000 years ago, the eruption of Oregon's Mt. Mazama blanketed the Klamath Basin region with a thick layer of volcanic ash. Matthew Sleep, an associate professor of civil engineering at Oregon Tech, investigated the use of this ash as a natural pozzolan for soil stabilization and unpaved roadway improvement. He found that the ash, prevalent in Southern Oregon, has the potential to be used for gravel roadway dust abatement. 

Portland cement, the current industry standard, is a basic ingredient in concrete and mortar. A caustic material that causes chemical burns, it was first developed in the 19th century. It’s time for a new approach.

A...

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Principal Investigator: Danya Rumore, University of Utah
Learn more about this education project by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page. Hear firsthand from the investigators by registering for the upcoming April 26 webinar.

A newly published NITC education project offers tools for teaching collaborative regional planning in communities close to national parks and other natural attractions.

Referred to as Gateway and Natural Amenity Region (GNAR) communities, these unique places have their own set of challenges and opportunities. They are often located near small towns or rural areas with limited transportation networks, but  due to the periodic influx of visitors, can experience “big city problems” like congestion and sprawl.

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