Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Keith Christiansen

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Timothy Riesen

Third Advisor:

Robert Morgan

Abstract

Transportation plays an essential role in social inclusion and participation, subjective well-being, and overall quality of life. A lack of private transportation options may make individuals with disabilities more dependent on public transportation systems. Despite increased use, people with disabilities continue to report barriers accessing public transportation services. Interestingly, little is known about these barriers at the regional transportation district level. The purpose of this study was to better understand the barriers and perceived accessibility of the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) public transportation system for individuals with disabilities living within the UTA service area.

Using an online survey, data were collected from 327 individuals with disabilities, family members of individuals with disabilities, or others who work with individuals with disabilities. This study found that individuals with disabilities generally have neutral to somewhat positive (accessible) views of UTA’s transportation services though there are differences based on disability type, modes of services used in general and specifically regarding fixed route service modes, and frequency of ridership are considered; that despite these neutral to somewhat accessible perceptions, barriers to accessing UTA’s fixed route and paratransit services exist, though there are differences based on disability type, modes of fixed route services used, and ridership frequency; and local and national policy changes may be necessary to resolve these barriers. The findings of this study have implications for UTA, other regional transportation districts, local and national transportation policy stakeholders, and the research community. For example, additional research is necessary to fully understand the specific system components which make UTA’s public transportation more accessible than has been indicated in previous studies, including an understanding of how these accessible practices could be generalized to other public transportation providers. Findings from future research could, in turn, be used to improve access to public transportation for individuals with disabilities. It is recognized that this study’s focus on electronic data collection and the potential influence of small subsamples underscores the need for additional research on the topics of perceived accessibility of public transportation and barriers to using public transportation services for individuals with disabilities.

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