Emerging Transportation Technologies, User-Institution Dynamics, and Prevailing Inequities

With rapid technological advancements and progressive steps in policymaking, emerging transportation technologies such as autonomous, connected, electric, and shared (ACES) mobility systems have been tested, demonstrated, and deployed in selective scenarios. It is fathomable that these technologies are on the horizon for full-scale deployment and operations in urban and non-urban areas. STEMS Lab has extensive experience conducting studies assessing public opinions and sentiments on these futuristic technologies - both from an agency and a user perspective. We are interested in assessing the benefits of these systems in equitably bridging the gap between accessibility and mobility for jobs and healthcare, and the role they would play in fostering upward mobility. We are also curious to investigate the effects of state-wide policies and legislation on the market penetration of these transportation technologies.

Recent years have also paved the way for newer business models in vehicle ownership, making it possible to partake in a sharing economy and reduce vehicle ownership costs without compromising on flexibility, comfort, and convenience. While these systems promise a new dawn, peer research reveals how far these systems are from becoming inclusive and equitable transportation options. As such, communities considered transportation disadvantaged have been excluded from partaking in the benefits of the sharing economy. We are also intrigued to explore connections between existing policies and barriers to entry for shared mobility systems among members of transportation-disadvantaged communities.

Sustainable Transport Planning and User Responses to Shocks in the System

As proponents of a sustainable future with reduced emphasis on vehicle ownership and shared use of resources, STEMS Lab has deep interests in transportation planning and transportation's impacts on equity, health, and well-being. STEMS Lab also possesses expertise in understanding how users respond to shocks in the transportation system. Shocks, human-driven or climate-driven, severely impact travel behavior and future travel demand. For instance, our recent work investigated COVID-19 impacts on travel behavior, trip-making, and activity participation. We continue to be involved in data-driven investigations on the impact of mass evacuations (triggered by climate hazards such as hurricanes and wildfires) on vulnerable populations who may face challenges evacuating – either due to reduced resources or significant other constraints (such as health and mobility). Additionally, we have also conducted studies on the impact of transportation choices on longer-term lifestyle decisions such as residential location, health/well-being, and social welfare. 

In our quest to play a role in creating equitable, inclusive transportation systems, we are currently looking at identifying travel behavioral challenges faced by users with travel-restricted medical conditions and the potential for emerging mobility systems to bridge mobility and accessibility gaps of these disadvantaged segments. We have also conducted past assessments on estimating transportation system/project impacts on air quality, equity, health, and well-being and are always looking to work more for our communities. Lastly, we are also interested in exploring the role of sustainable transport systems on community access to healthy foods, jobs, and healthcare.

Research Sponsors

Our work has received generous funding from many sponsors, and we thank them for their unwavering support in delivering high-quality research.