Pilot study initiative to explore the transportation needs of the low-income population in the Portland tri-county area

Initiative Proposal

To initiate a pilot study for three years, to explore the possibility of including car-ownership as part of the transportation choices offered to the low-income and minority population in the tricounty area.

Main Objective of This Initiative

The population composition of the Portland area has changed in the last 5 years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000, 8.5% of families and 13.1% of individuals in Portland were below the federal poverty level. In 2005, 11.8% of families and 17.8% of individuals in Portland were below the poverty level. The minority population also has increased, both in Portland and statewide.

The demographic group known as the working poor is also growing. Following the welfare reforms of 1996, though Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cases have gone down comparably, a significant pool of working poor are still struggling to reach family-wage jobs.

The proposed Wheels to Wealth initiative is an attempt to incorporate the working poor, and the minority population, in the regional transportation plan by giving them better access to job markets and consumer services. An additional aim is to maximize the use of the existing public transit system in Portland. While counter-intuitive, the Wheels to Wealth initiative likely would increase public transit ridership by providing a means for individuals to gain access to the bus and rail network.

About the author: Sreya Sarkar is Director of the Wheels to Wealth Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free-market think tank. Ms. Sarkar received a Masters in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, with specialization in Comparative Politics and Non-Profit Management. Prior to joining Cascade, she was a Lecturer in Political Science in Milli Al-Ameen College in India. She also has worked as a Development Associate for Hitoisha, a Kolkata (India) based non-profit, and as a freelance journalist. Ms. Sarkar received her first Masters in Political Science with specialization in Public Administration from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She received her Bachelor in Arts with honors in Political Science from Presidency College, University of Calcutta.

About Cascade Policy Institute: Founded in 1991, Cascade Policy Institute is Oregon’s premier policy research center. Cascade’s mission is to explore and promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. To that end, the Institute publishes policy studies, provides public speakers, organizes community forums and sponsors educational programs.

Cascade Policy Institute is a tax-exempt educational organization as defined under IRS code 501(c)(3). Cascade neither solicits nor accepts government funding and is supported by individual, foundation and business contributions. Nothing appearing in this document is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of Cascade or its donors, or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before any legislative body. The views expressed herein are the author’s own. Copyright 2007 by Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved.

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