First Advisor

James Strathman

Date of Publication

Winter 3-16-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Transportation -- Oregon -- Portland -- Case studies, Choice of transportation -- Oregon -- Portland -- Case studies, Local transit accessibility -- Oregon -- Portland -- Case studies, Minorities -- Transportation, Poor -- Transportation, Women -- Transportation, Commuting, Urban transportation policy, Gentrification -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 127 pages)


This dissertation examines unequal outcomes of urban transportation policies in the neoliberal era. It focuses on inequalities in the Portland, Oregon metro area between 1994 and 2011 as measured in three key areas: 1) access to public transit; 2) the journey-to-work; and 3) "household-serving" trips. Growing concern over the harmful impacts from an increasing dependence on cars has led planners in the U.S. to encourage a modal shift from private car to public transit, bicycling, and walking. The required policies to make this modal shift possible, however, might inadvertently be benefiting "choice" riders at the cost of transport disadvantaged groups. Other contributing factors to this unequal benefit appear to be the suburbanization of poverty, an ongoing gentrification of central areas, and market forces that make it difficult for low income groups to afford housing in transit-rich neighborhoods. The Oregon Household Activity and Travel surveys are used to answer the three major research questions in this dissertation: what has been the effect of neoliberalism on access to public transit?, how do gender, race/ethnicity, and income inequality affect the journey-to-work in Portland?, and how do household-serving trips vary by gender in Portland? Six hypothesis are tested in answering these questions. Those related to access to transit draw on Fred Block's theory of the capitalist state and the "urban growth machine" concept, both of which predict spatially unequal outcomes from neoliberal ideology. Hypotheses about the journey to work draw on a rich body of literature around social relations in the household and the job market, as well as residential location. The final question, about household-serving trips, draws on theories of gender socialization. Findings showed that: (i) individuals in the Portland metro area had less access overall to bus public transit in 2011 than in 1994; (ii) impoverished dependent riders have lost access to transit service over time, whereas choice dependent riders increased their access to public transit; (iii) low income groups have been "forced" into greater car-ownership, in part due to the lower access to public transit; (iv) women in Portland have shorter journey-to-work trips than men; (v) Blacks have longer journey-to-work trips than Whites and Latinos; (vi) low-income individuals have shorter journey-to-work trips than higher income individuals; and (vii) women with children make more household-serving trips than men in similar family structures.


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