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Mahtot Gebresselassie

Mahtot Gebresselassie

Assistant Professor


PhD, Virginia Tech

MA, University of Waterloo

BSc, Addis Ababa University

Research Keywords

Smart mobility and equity; travel behavior; disability; older adults; accessible urban and digital spaces; human-computer interaction (HCI); Uber and Lyft; accessible transportation; extreme weather; platform work; urban design.

Graduate Supervision

I supervise students in the graduate programs in Environmental Studies, Geography, and Science, Technology & Society (STS)

Contact Information

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J1P3

416 736 2100 | ORCiD

Research Interests

I am an architect, urban planner, educator, and social-science researcher. Most of my research focuses on Uber and Lyft and transportation equity in relation to people with disabilities and poor households. I also do research on extreme weather and other unusual events and travel behavior. 

 I have research and/or industry experience in the following: 

  • Disabled accessibility in information and communication technologies (Human-computer interaction) 
  • Smart mobility (smart cities) policy and governance
  • Accessibility in urban design and architecture 
  • The platform economy in transportation and broadly 

The goal of my research is to contribute towards solving urban transportation problems. I do both qualitative and quantitative research. When the research question calls for it, I use mixed-methods approach – I am very passionate about it. It is my belief that the complexity of urban challenges necessitates an approach that allows for the mixing of methods (qualitative and quantitative) in collecting and analyzing data without the constraints of philosophical assumptions. 

Research Projects

  • Black Research Seed Grant – Disability, Race, and Transportation Access
  • Extreme weather and travel behavior in collaboration with Dr. Dwayne Baker, Queens College, City University of New York
  • Understanding difference and similarities between the travel behaviors of older adults and people with disabilities in collaboration with Dr. Andy Hong, City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah.
  • Transportation apps and disability in collaboration with Dr. Melanie Baljko, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University 

Research Output

Gebresselassie, M., Alavi, M., Hong, A. (2024). How and Where Do Older People Travel Before and After COVID? Insights from WMATA’s SmartTrip Card Data in DC. Transport Findings. 

Gebresselassie, M. (2023). Wheelchair Users’ Perspective on Transportation Service Hailed Through Uber and Lyft Apps. Transportation Research Record, 2677(5), 1164–1177.

Gebresselassie, M. (2019). Planning Education in Accessible Transport for Persons with Disabilities. Transport Findings. doi: 10.32866/7029

Gebresselassie, M., & Sanchez, T. W. (2018). “Smart” Tools for Socially Sustainable Transport: A Review of Mobility Apps. Urban Science, 2(2), 45doi:10.3390/urbansci2020045

Gebresselassie, M., Burke, P. (2024). Addressing Toronto’s Congestion Will Take More Than Technology. Spacing.

Gebresselassie, M. (2024). A B.C. class action may prompt Uber and Lyft to ensure accessible services for wheelchair usersThe Conversation.

Gebresselassie, M. (2023). Transportation apps can help people with disabilities navigate public transit but accessibility lags behind. The Conversation.

Gebresselassie, M., Michalek, J. Nock, D., Harper, C. (2022) Impact of heat waves on TNC-usage rates in low- and high-income neighborhoods in New York City. Policy Brief, Carnegie Mellon University

Buliung, R, & Gebresselassie, M. (2022). Local Host Article Series: Disabling Toronto. News & Press: ACSP Annual Conference News.

Gebresselassie, M., & Sanchez, T.W. (2019, September 5). [Review of the book Inequality In Transport, by D. Banister]. doi: 10.1080/01944363.2019.1641385

Gebresselassie, M., & Sanchez, T. (2017, Winter). The role of smart city technologies in equitable and inclusive transport. Planning & Technology Today, (116), 16-17.

Recognition & Awards

  • Non-Resident Fellow, The Healthy Aging and Resilient Places (HARP), University of Utah
  • Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, Virginia Tech
  • WSP USA Women in Leadership Scholarship
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25th Anniversary Scholarship, American Publication Transportation Foundation
  • Shirley DeLibero Scholarship, American Public Transportation Foundation
  • VTGrATE Fellow: Virginia Tech Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Excellence
  • Global Perspectives Program Scholar: Trends in Doctoral Education in Europe and the U.S., Virginia Tech
  • Woman Who Moves the Nation Scholarship, COMTO
  • Women in Transportation Seminar - DC Chapter, Graduate Scholarship
  • Rob MacIsaac Fellowship Scholarship, Metrolinx


Course CodeTitle
ENVS 6101Skills in Planning Research & Practice
ENVS 6128Transportation Policy and Planning
ENVS 4225Designing Sustainable Cities
ENVS 3222Urban and Regional Infrastructures: A Critical Introduction