New PSU study will explore discrimination for marginalized transit users

People of color experiencing homelessness and those who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming face discrimination accessing transit. 

A new study from Portland State University and the University of Utah will shed light in hopes of change thanks to a $93,115 grant from the Transportation Research and Education Center and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities.

“Understanding the lived experiences of marginalized people accessing and using transit will help us create mobility and transit justice for all,” said Principal Investigator Marisa Zapata who leads PSU’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative.

The study is looking at the deep lived experiences of people of color and those who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming. This look means walking together on their journey, not just on TriMet, but from their front door. 

"By following along with them as they use transit this research will allow us to know more about the barriers that people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, especially people of color and trans people, face as they try to move around the city in their everyday lives," said co-investigator Miriam Ableson, PSU associate professor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

This study will look at the discrimation that marginalized people face in public spaces on the way to and on transit in order to understand the whole journey.

“Discrimination in transportation systems is lived by homeless, racial, ethnic, transgender groups and others that have been historically underserved and underrepresented,” said co-investigator Ivis Garcia, City & Metropolitan Planning assistant professor with the University of Utah. 

The study will draw comparisons between Salt Lake City and Portland so planners, engineers, and homeless service providers in both cities can listen to voices that they usually do not hear from at public meetings or hearings. 

“The goal here is first to understand the experiences of diverse groups using and accessing public transportation,” Garcia said. “And second, be able to propose solutions that effectively address the root causes of deep-seated transportation inequities.”