STRIDE Project A2

STRIDE Project A2

Changing Access to Public Transportation and the Potential for Increased Travel

Research Team

Kari Watkins, Georgia Institute of Technology
Noreen McDonald, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Eleni Bardaka, North Carolina State University
Ruth Steiner, University of Florida
Ilir Bejleri, University of Florida
Simon Berrebi, Georgia Institute of Technology

Project Description

With nationwide declines in public transportation ridership, transit may be falling behind in its ability to help cities deal with congestion. Increasing real-estate values are causing the economic displacement of low-income populations, those most closely associated with transit ridership. A plethora of new mobility options are providing alternatives for transit riders who can afford them and even for those who require subsidy. But how will access to transit, ridership, and congestion be impacted by these shifts in demographics and the introduction of new mobility services? This project includes researchers from four universities in the STRIDE partnership that together will address access to public transportation issues with specific contributions in suburbanization of poverty, Transportation Network Companies, healthcare access, and vulnerable populations.

In thrust 1, the team will assess the impacts of low-income individuals and families moving to the periphery of communities, i.e. the suburbanization of poverty, on public transit. In addition, this thrust will provide a detailed analysis of sociodemographic and accessibility changes over time. In thrust 2, the study team develop a novel approach to understand how TNCs, levels of transit service, and demographics impact transit ridership on a highly specific spatial and temporal scale. In thrust 3, the study team will develop a better understanding of the interactions between public transit and TNC providers. In thrust 4, the study team will document the rapid evolution of paratransit services available to access healthcare. Although the research in all four thrusts focuses on specific areas of the southeast US, the results will be applicable nationally to aid transit and regional planning agencies.


  1. The accessibility methodology shows how easy or hard it is for low-income populations to access transit and access employment by transit from different locations (city center, suburban, rural).
  2. A process for cleaning passenger counter data was developed that can be used by agencies to undertake similar analysis.
  3. The ridership model shows how increasing or decreasing the number of bus trips on a route may affect the number of passengers. It also shows the difference in demographics among neighborhoods where transit ridership is declining the most.
  4. The geospatial model identifies gaps in transportation services for transportation disadvantaged (TD) populations.

Chang Liu, Eleni Bardaka, The suburbanization of poverty and changes in access to public transportation in the Triangle Region, NC, Journal of Transport Geography, Volume 90, 2021, 102930, ISSN 0966-6923,

Simon J. Berrebi, Sanskruti Joshi, and Kari E. Watkins. “On bus ridership and frequency,” Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 148, 2021, Pages 140-154, ISSN 0965 8564,

Simon J. Berrebi, and Kari E. Watkins, “Who’s ditching the bus?”, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 136, 2020, Pages 21-34, ISSN 0965-8564,

Steiner, R. L., Bai, X., Bejleri, I., Han, M., and Yan, X. (2021; forthcoming).  Partnerships between Agencies and Transportation Network Companies for Transportation Disadvantaged Populations: Benefits, Problems and Challenges. Transportation Research Record; Accepted for publication to the The Journal of the Transportation Research Board.

Wolfe, M.K., McDonald, N.C. Innovative health care mobility services in the US. BMC Public Health 20, 906 (2020).

Mary K. Wolfe, Noreen C. McDonald, and G. Mark Holmes, 2020:Transportation Barriers to Health Care in the United States: Findings From the National Health Interview Survey, 1997–2017. American Journal of Public Health 110, 815-822,