By now you may have heard about the derailment at the Portland, Oregon, freight train that killed five people and injured more than a dozen others.
The derailment occurred at an intersection in a remote part of the state where many residents live in poverty, and it’s not uncommon for people to be at the edge of their homes when a train hits.
For those who live in neighborhoods where there are no public transportation options, that’s not a problem, but for people who have to use a public bus to get to work, it’s a big problem.
For the Portland metro area, the situation is more complex.
Because the region has the highest poverty rate in the country, the rail line that runs from downtown Portland to the suburbs of Bend, Eugene and Springfield is an essential link in the region’s transportation system.
But for those in poverty or in areas without access to public transportation, that line is often too dangerous to travel.
“It’s a critical link, and I’m very proud of our rail system,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves on the Transcontinental Transportation Committee of the Portland-based City Council.
Hales said the area has seen a significant increase in rail traffic, with about 10,000 passengers a day using the Portland Metro system, and more than 1.4 million people riding the rail system in 2014.
“The problem we have is that we have a system that is too small,” Hales told Fortune.
“When we see the train going up a hill and it goes up into a tunnel, the people who are going up are not in that area.
And if there is no train coming from Portland, the train will have to be pushed into that area.”
There are many people living in poverty in Portland, but there are also many people who live there who are dependent on the railroad for transportation.
According to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Portland residents are three times more likely than those living in the surrounding suburbs to live in households that rely on public transportation.
“In many cases, this is because they are able to access public transportation that is very limited in the areas they live,” said Hales.
The lack of affordable, reliable public transportation is also a problem for some communities that rely heavily on the train for their daily commutes.
The Portland metro region has about 1.8 million residents and a population of about 641,000.
But many communities that have historically relied on public transit for their transportation also face some of the highest levels of poverty in the United States.
For example, Portland has one of the most segregated poverty rates in the U, with a median household income of $34,000 in 2014, compared to a median income of about $41,500 in the neighboring cities of Portland, Eugene, Eugene-Springfield and Springfield.
That disparity is particularly stark in the Portland area, where one in four people live in an area that relies heavily on public transport.
“We are the most racially and ethnically diverse metropolitan area in the world, but when you are living in an urban area like Portland, it is just a reality that is often hard to deal with,” said Michael Lips, a researcher at the Brookings Institution.
“There are people that are homeless, and there are people who aren’t able to afford to take the bus, so it is a difficult situation for people that rely upon public transit to navigate.”
The problem is compounded by the fact that people living at the edges of the city can be forced to rely on private cars to get them to and from work.
“They can’t use public transportation because of the trains,” said Lips.
“So when the train is going down the hill, they have to walk or take the train to the next area that they can use.”
The lack and the threat of rail in the metro area has been a topic of discussion in recent years.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC) has been working on a new transportation plan to improve access to rail transit and expand the region as a whole.
That plan, called the National Transit Infrastructure Plan (NTPIP), is expected to be released by 2020.
But in addition to the rail project, NRPC is also working on ways to improve the way the region does business.
“Our transportation planning process is about developing a system where there is a clear pathway for transportation, and that is how we should be planning for rail,” said Rob Linnell, executive director of NRPC.
“If we want to create an economy that works for everybody, then we should invest in transportation.”
Linnel said the rail plan is a start, but it needs to be extended to include other transportation options as well.
“I think that rail should be part of a wider package that includes other modes of transportation, such as buses and subways,” Linnill said.
“But right now, rail is the only transportation option that is available in our region.”
For those living outside the region,