Mineta Transportation Institute wins grant to fund transit research across the nation

by Mar 4, 2013 5:50 pm Tags: , , ,

The National Transit Research Consortium, led by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) won a two-year $3.49 million grant through a competition by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2011 to fund transit related research. 

The two-year grant will be extended to accomplish transit-related research for the nation, according to Rod Diridon Sr., executive director of the institution.

“The transit research will focus on making mass transportation more effective and safe in the U.S.,” he said.

MTI is the leading institute in a consortium, or association of nine universities with common objectives, that make up the newly formed National Transit Research Consortium, according to Diridon.

The consortium’s areas of expertise include alternative fuels, safety and security, public policy, finance, workforce development, livable communities, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, new modes, and many other critical factors essential to sustainable mobility, according to report on the MTI website. 

The nine universities that make up the consortium are SJSU, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rutgers University, Howard University, Penn State University, Bowling Green University, University of Toledo, Grand Valley State University and University of Detroit-Mercy, according to Diridon.

MTI currently has 37 research projects and 229 total certified PhD. research associates, with half currently working on these research projects, according to Diridon.

Some examples of the projects that are being funded include safety on commuter rails, and more effective bicycle sharing and access on roadways, according to Diridon.

“If the policies are accepted, the nation will have better access to better quality transportation,” Diridon said. 

Undeclared sophomore Marcus Chau said he looks forward to the research funding as a commuter.

"I think its great," he said. "I ride my bike to school and every day I have a problem with cars sharing the road. Hopefully, they can improve that."

MTI is a University Transportation Center that specializes in research, education and technology transfer activities, according to Karen Philbrick, deputy executive director and director of research at the institute.

“MTI brings a wide breadth of expertise to the many facets of transportation research,” stated Philbrick in an email.

Most recently, MTI led the nine-university consortium to successfully compete in the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 to be named a Tier 1 Transit-Focused University Transportation Center, which awarded the consortium the two-year grant, according to Philbrick.

She said the institute receives oversight from a board of trustees who represent all major surface transportation modes.

Philbrick said the board provides policy direction, assists with needs assessment, and connects the institute and its programs with the international transportation community.

“MTI’s focus on policy and management came from a board assessment of the industry’s unmet needs,” she stated in an email. 

The institute and its consortium partners address both policy and technical challenges with an emphasis on livable communities, she said.

“MTI realizes the importance of public transportation to seniors, low-income people and those with limited mobility,” she stated in an email. “Often, this is a primary tool for employment and independent living. MTI and the Consortium partners will continue to investigate ways to ensure that transportation services remain accessible and available for all Americans.”

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