Subid Ghimire is a doctoral student at North Carolina State University working under the guidance of Dr. Eleni Bardaka. Ghimire is specializing in transportation planning. His research focuses on studying the determinants of travel behavior of individuals/households which are disadvantaged (i.e., those who don’t own a car, the elderly, the disabled, and those who fall in the low-income category).
As a master’s student, he worked on a STRIDE project titled Emerging Mobility Services for the Transportation Disadvantaged led by Dr. Bardaka. His work on this project focused on understanding the difference in travel behavior of people in different households, those that differ in income, vehicle ownership, and residential location. The research team utilized the past three National Household Travel Surveys (NHTS-2001, 2009, and 2017) as the data source for this study.
“From the travel behavior/mobility outcomes, we attempted to understand the disadvantage that people in low-income and carless households experience,” he said. “We also examined how the prevalence of active travel such as cycling and walking, has varied differently over time and across geographical locations for different household categories.”
This type of reach is right up Ghimire’s alley because his interests reside in finding better ways to improve the transportation system for the disadvantaged. For example, when a person does not own a car, they are confronted with limitations for access to healthcare, jobs, grocery shopping, and more. These barriers affect their economic opportunities and standard of living.
“Understanding the nature of the transportation disadvantages faced by different socioeconomic groups is crucial to developing solutions to enhance mobility and accessibility outcomes,” Ghimire said. “My research largely concentrates on understanding and quantifying transportation disadvantages and coming up with new as well as contextual mobility solutions to address the disadvantage.”
Ghimire’s work on this STRIDE project also reflects his interest in the interdisciplinary nature of transportation planning. He was initially interested in civil engineering because of his fascination with bodies of water, reservoirs, and dams. However, it was not until he took a class as an undergraduate student in transportation engineering that he began to see the connections between transportation and improving the lives of people and society.
“I learned the concepts of travel demand modeling, traffic engineering, and how transportation and land use affect each other,” he said. “In essence, I realized that transportation is not just a technical subject but an interdisciplinary domain that affects and gets affected by built environment, sociocultural factors, economics, urban planning, and other related aspects.”
As for his work on Dr. Bardaka’s STRIDE project, research activities generated some interesting findings: 1) while “trip-making behavior” increased from 2001 to 2017 among people in households without cars, it has decreased among people in low income households with cars, including those in the higher income bracket, showing that people on average are traveling less; 2) people in low-income and carless households perceive of cycling and walking as a means to reduce financial burden associated with travel; 3) cycling and walking increased over time among people in low-income and carless households, particularly in low-density suburban and rural areas; 4) active travel is not primarily an urban activity and could be a promising alternative to reduce transportation-related inequalities; and 5) publicly owned microtransit could also provide an equitable mobility alternative in suburban and rural areas.
The results of the study are expected to provide valuable information for equity planning and analysis. The results can potentially help transportation/planning agencies determine which areas to focus resources on in order to address inequities in transportation.
“Our findings also suggest that transportation professionals should focus on making cycling and walking more conducive and appealing in low-density suburbs and rural areas,” Ghimire said.
For more information, contact Dr. Eleni Bardaka at firstname.lastname@example.org.