Assessing the barriers to equity in smart mobility systems: a case study of Portland, Oregon

There is an active debate about the potential costs and benefits of emerging “smart mobility” systems, especially in how they will serve communities already facing transportation challenges. This paper describes the results of an assessment of these equity issues in the context of lower-income areas of Portland, Oregon, based on a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research. The study found that by lowering costs and improving service for public transit, ridesharing and active transportation, smart mobility systems could address many of the needs of transportation disadvantaged communities. Similar to those found in other case studies, significant barriers prevent smart mobility technologies from benefiting all communities. For example, lower income survey respondents and respondents of color had significantly lower access to the “smart mobility ecosystem” including bank accounts and credit cards, they rely more heavily on paying cash for transit tickets, had lower access to internet at home and work, and were more likely to reduce data use or cancel cell plans because of cost or data restrictions. Respondents were also concerned about information security, as the impacts of loss or theft, especially identity theft can be devastating for lower-income residents. Since integrating payment systems and relying on internet and cell data for mobile applications is a core feature of smart mobility ecosystem, these disparities are significant barriers to the equitable transition to smart mobility. Policy recommendations to address barriers include expanding free and public WiFi, better real-time transit information, improved training, and language translation for phone applications, among other things.


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  • Accession Number: 01728354
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 28 2020 9:44AM