Dr. Eleni Bardaka is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. She is part of the team working on STRIDE Project A2 titled “Changing Access to Public Transportation and the Potential for Increased Travel”. Dr. Kari Watkins of Georgia Institute of Technology is the lead principal investigator on this project.
Dr. Bardaka’s specializes in transportation planning and economics with two main research directions: 1) the study of causal social and economic impacts of transportation investments and policies; and 2) the analysis of aggregate and individual travel demand, preferences and needs related to public transportation systems, smart mobility systems, and land-use and infrastructure financing policies. As for how she became involved with the project, it was a natural fit born out of her research interests.
“I got involved with this STRIDE project after discussing with Dr. Noreen McDonald of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about my research ideas,” she said. “She introduced me to Dr. Watkins and Dr. Ruth Steiner of the University of Florida, and we decided to work together because we had common interests with respect to public transportation and access.”
Her role on the project was to quantify and compare transit accessibility for the low-income population over time and space to understand the combined impacts of poverty suburbanization and transit expansion on their level of access.
“We investigated whether transit improvements in the Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill region, North Carolina in combination with changes in the spatial distribution of low-income population have resulted in higher or lower transit accessibility for the low-income population,” she said.
Dr. Bardaka said the results suggest that there was a substantial increase in poverty rate in suburban areas between 1990 and 2000, while the poverty rate in rural areas and city centers declined during that period. She also found that between 2000 and 2013, poverty rates increased in the entire study area.
With respect to changes in access over time, she said the study team found that accessibility to transit increased over time for all population groups, while the accessibility to qualified jobs by transit decreased across the study area for all population groups between 2006 and 2015. Dr. Bardaka says the results indicate that the expansion of the transit network in recent years has not improved the accessibility between residential locations and employment locations.
“We believe that our analysis can provide insights to public agencies and the general public interested in understanding how the expansion of a transit system over time has contributed to changes in accessibility for vulnerable populations while considering the changing geography of poverty in a given region,” she said.
A paper related to this project titled “Suburbanization of Poverty and Changes in Public Transportation Accessibility in the Triangle Region” was presented at the North American Regional Science Council (NARSC) on November 15, 2019.
Another paper related to the project will also be presented at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, Lectern Session 1711 from 10:15 am to 12 pm. The paper is titled “Suburbanization of Poverty and Changes in Transit Accessibility over Time”.
The completed report will be available on the STRIDE website at https://stride.ce.ufl.edu/research-2/final-reports/.