How can relocating homeless services away from a downtown center change transportation patterns for people experiencing homelessness? Researchers Sarah Canham, Jeff Rose, Shannon Jones, Alannah Clay and Ivis Garcia of the University of Utah (UU) have published an article in the September 2022 issue of Health & Social Care in the Community.

The article, "Community perspectives on how decentralising an emergency shelter influences transportation needs and use for persons experiencing homelessness," offers evidence to support the need for no-cost transportation options for persons experiencing homelessness.

The findings draw on the ongoing project Understanding the Impact of Decentralizing Homeless Services on Transportation and Mobility in Salt Lake County, funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).

Despite steady increases in homelessness in the U.S., only recently has research on transportation needs for persons experiencing homelessness been the focus of research endeavours. To fill this gap in the literature, the research team conducted a qualitative study in which 24 professionals working in planning, transportation, local government, and the homelessness services sector were engaged in in-depth, semi-structured interviews.

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Researchers Ivis Garcia, Sadika Maheruma Khan, and Kevin Fagundo-Ojeda of the University of Utah with Miriam Abelson and Nicholas Puczkowskyj of Portland State University have published a new article in the November 2022 issue of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

Scholarship on gendered mobilities has shown that women experience transit differently than men do, particularly regarding personal safety. The article, "Harassment of low-income women on transit: A photovoice project in Oregon and Utah," makes a unique contribution to this body of literature because it shows that women feel targeted also based on their racial or ethnic identity and not only their gender. The article discusses women’s actions every day to increase their sense of safety.

Research has shown that low-income women who are...

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Anna Maki is a second-year masters student in the City and Metropolitan Planning department at the University of Utah. She currently works as a graduate research assistant for the university, and as a transit community outreach and marketing intern at Park City Municipal Corporation. Anna is serving as president of Point B, UU's student transportation group, for the 2022/23 academic year, and has also worked as an active transportation intern for UU's sustainability office. She earned her BS in environmental studies from Utah State.

Connect with Anna on LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

I moved from Boise, Idaho to Utah in 2013 and have lived, and adventured, in Salt Lake City for the past five years. I’m currently in my second year of the Metropolitan Planning (MCMP) program and am working as a research assistant creating a walkability audit with an instructional module to be taught in the U’s classrooms. I’ll also be collaborating with the Wasatch Front Regional Council on conducting a walkability and urban design audit in South Salt Lake.

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

I grew up with great access to the outdoors, which generated an interest in sustainability, accessibility, and bicycling. This in turn led me to an active transportation internship with the University of Utah’...

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How can community members become more engaged in transportation decision making?

Individuals and groups can learn to effect powerful change, but success requires some familiarity with how civic processes work. Community Transportation Academies, or CTAs, provide a basic technical understanding of how a city or region’s transportation system operates, along with the decision makers and decision-making processes that determine how the system is shaped.

Supported by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the new Wasatch Transportation Academy (WTA) at the University of Utah was piloted in 2022 in the Salt Lake City region. The research team developed a course vision, topics, and logistics for the WTA by interviewing stakeholders in the Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front Regional Council. Led by Nathan McNeil of Portland State University and Keith Bartholomew of the University of Utah, the WTA used the established Portland Traffic and Transportation class in Portland, Oregon as a framework. 

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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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How could a free transportation class for people living in the Salt Lake City region strengthen community conversations and advocacy around local priorities in transportation policy? Researchers at Portland State University (PSU) and University of Utah (UU) explored that question by bringing a well-known learning model from Portland, Oregon to SLC.

For over 25 years, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has partnered with PSU to offer the Portland Traffic and Transportation Course – a free 10-week course designed to provide local community members the skills and knowledge to participate in transportation decisions affecting their neighborhoods. This model has proven to be a success story in public agency-university partnership in community education. Building upon a 2015 project that documented the Portland course and developed a curriculum handbook, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) has provided more funding for a pilot community transportation class–the Wasatch Transportation Academy– in Salt Lake, City Utah. Their first class was held on January 24, 2022 (view class recordings here) and ran through...

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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...

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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).

Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn


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...

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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,...

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