University of Vermont

Community Participatory Action Research Network

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Project Profile

Transportation, Equity, and Communities at Risk: Refugee Populations and Transportation Accessibility in Vermont

Academic Partner

Pablo Shiladitya Bose 
Assistant Professor - Geography

Other members of the Transportation Research Center, UVM

Community Partner(s)

Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, State Refugee Coordinator (Agency of Human Services, State of Vermont), Association of Africans Living in Vermont

Research Objective(s)

  • To understand how refugee communities, their advocates, and service providers evaluate the current state of transportation in Vermont in relation to their specific needs
  • To identify specific modes of transportation that refugees have access to, which they favour, and what options they may prefer for the future
  • To understand where refugees are located in relation to existing transportation infrastructure
  • To examine the distance between refugee homes and key destinations
  • To examine what role refugees and their advocates see themselves as having in terms of opportunities for input and decision-making in regional and local transportation planning

Research Process

The framing and organizing principle for this research is that it is action-oriented, participatory in nature, uses qualitative tools, and is community-based in both design and execution. This has meant engaging with several community partners through their leadership and maintaining a dialogue with them on the research approach, including adjusting research strategies in order to refine both research questions and the appropriate methods of investigation, reporting back to communities and making publicly available research findings. The specific research tools utilized for the study have included interviews with key informants, participant observation of service provider meetings, and two sets of surveys, one with service providers and another with refugee community members. As is often the case with participatory projects, the researchers responded to the priorities and ideas articulated by the partner organizations and shifted some of its original focus and design throughout the course of the study

Results and Impact on the Community

Given the significance that transportation plays within the resettlement process, our study suggests that considerable further work needs to be done on the question of refugees and transportation in Vermont.  As some of the service providers and refugees have earlier noted, further study is required to understand the specific impact of transportation on the experiences of women; to this we would add that further research is required on the experiences of children (especially vis-à-vis early childhood education and enrichment opportunities), the elderly, and the physically challenged within refugee communities.

Our research team is fully cognizant of the particular constraints –economic, political and social – in which public officials and both urban and transportation planners find themselves with regard to addressing the inadequacies of the transportation system in Vermont more broadly (not just for refugees).  But in terms of more short-term measures, our study suggests several modest initiatives that could be considered by various stakeholder groups:

  1. Improve communication
  2. Improve driver’s education opportunities for refugees
  3. Provide an expanded bus pass system
  4. Arrange special stops with the CCTA
  5. Work with employers to provide shuttles

Read more about this research and findings.

Last modified March 09 2011 11:01 AM

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