Getting Around in a College Town: A Case Study of Transportation Barriers Faced by International Students at the University of Alabama


  • Riffat Islam The University of Alabama, USA
  • Sanaa Rafique The University of Alabama, USA
  • Olga A. Bredikhina The University of Alabama, USA
  • Steven Jones The University of Alabama, USA



Automobile-Dependency, Mobility, International Students, Accessibility


University students' day-to-day lives largely depend on transportation. Public transit alternatives are not widely available in small-town, rural, and suburban collegiate environments in the United States (U.S.). In this study, an online survey was conducted among international students studying at The University of Alabama (UA) campus located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The objective of this research was to investigate and analyze international student travel experiences in a city with a significant college-affiliated population, as well as to highlight, in particular, some of the transportation issues in the area. The survey results show that international students face various challenges in transportation in and around the campus, finding it difficult to travel within Tuscaloosa without a personal vehicle, as other modes of transportation including walking, biking, and using public transportation are not always convenient or reliable. The study findings may be of interest to transportation experts, city planners, university administrators, and college students who want to better understand travel-related challenges experienced by international students.   


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Author Biographies

Riffat Islam, The University of Alabama, USA

Riffat Islam is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama. Prior to joining UA, Riffat served as an Assistant Engineer at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. Her research area includes new perspectives on the role of transportation systems in disaster resilience. Email:

Sanaa Rafique, The University of Alabama, USA

Sanaa Rafique is a Senior Management Associate at Proqura Technologies. Sanaa worked as an Assistant Research Economist for the Alabama Transportation Institute at The University of Alabama. Prior to joining ATI, she interned at the Planning and Development Board of the Government of Punjab (Pakistan), the City of Baltimore, and the Texas Education Agency. She also worked as a Curtis W. Meadows, Jr. Social Enterprise Fellow with Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC) to assist with disaster recovery efforts.  Her research interests include social and education policy, empirical analysis, and public decision-making. Email:

Olga A. Bredikhina, The University of Alabama, USA

Olga A. Bredikhina is currently working as an Assistant Research Economist for the Alabama Transportation Institute at the University of Alabama. Previously, Olga was a research assistant with the Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET), an NSF-funded project at the University of Maine. Olga’s research interests include transportation policy, econometric modeling, geographic information systems, and public decision-making. Email:

Steven Jones, The University of Alabama, USA

Steven Jones, Ph.D., is the director of Transportation Policy Research Center, and deputy director of Alabama Transportation Institute at the University of Alabama. He has more than 20 years of experience in transportation engineering and planning. His experience spans both academic and consulting appointments working with government agencies and private sector clients. He participated in transportation projects throughout the United States and Europe as well as several in Africa and Asia. The Professor at The University of Alabama’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, was recently named a Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador. Email:


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