Keeping Up With Public Transportation Research From TRB: Finding Publications, Conferences, Hearings, And RSS Feeds

The Transportation Research Board’s Public Transportation Research website is a treasure-trove of great resources for what’s happening in transportation innovation and progress. This site highlights recently released TRB reports, meeting announcements, requests for proposals, and other announcements related to public transportation.

In addition, it includes links to selected public transportation research-related activities taking place at the federal and state levels, and within the academic and international transportation communities. Finally, this page also highlights and provides links to TRB programs and activities.

Here’s a look at just a few of the most recently available resources from the TRB Public Transportation Research website.

Transportation’s Role In Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions (605p. PDF) examines greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels and trends from the transportation sector and analyzes the full range of strategies available to reduce these emissions. These strategies include:

introducing low-carbon fuels
increasing vehicle-fuel economy
improving transportation system efficiency
reducing carbon-intensive travel activity

While the report does not provide recommendations, it does analyze five categories of policy options for implementing the strategies:

an economy-wide price signal
efficiency standards
market incentives
transportation planning and funding programs
research and development

Another recent publication of note is Estimating Soft Costs For Major Public Transportation Fixed Guideway Projects (144p. PDF). This report defines and describes soft costs and provides a new suggested methodology to estimate soft costs based on historical projects. The report also examines detailed technical information about the data collection, methodology, and statistical analysis that was used to develop the suggested methodology.

Yet another recent publication garnering a lot of attention is the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials‘ report that explores what is changing in America and the impact of those changes on the demand for new transportation capacity. The Case for Capacity: To Unlock Gridlock, Generate Jobs, Deliver Freight, and Connect Communities is the first volume published in a projected three volume set titled Transportation Reboot: Restarting America’s Most Essential Operating System. Several underlying factors are currently undermining our ability to mitigate gridlock.

These include some startling considerations, like U.S. population growth since 1956 (when the Interstate Highway Act was enacted) increasing by 140 milion, that America’s population is forecast to increase from 308 million today to more than 420 million by 2050, and that close to 80% of America’s growth and economic development has concentrated in metropolitan areas.

AASHTO’s four-pronged approach to “restarting” our transportation network include: preserving and modernizing the system, improving system performance, shifting trips to other options (such as intercity passenger rail, transit, bicycles or walking), shifting freight from trucks to rail, and adding the highway capacity needed to sustain America’s future.

On April 21, 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing to explore security issues related to the nation’s surface transportation systems. Opening remarks, witnesses’ submitted testimony, and a video of the hearing are now available online.

In conference news, TRB is sponsoring a Transportation Systems For Livable Communities Conference on October 18-19, 2010, in Washington, D.C. The livability concept embraces cognate notions such as sustainability, quality of life, the character of place, the health of communities, and more. The conference is designed to bring together researchers and practitioners interested in this topic and will provide a timely opportunity to share research results, explore practical challenges, and identify potentially promising directions for future research.

It can be challenging to keep up with the voluminous and valuable content on the Transportation Research Board’s public transportation website, let alone the entire TRB site. A comprehensive list of RSS feeds is available to keep you informed of new research and publications in topics of interest.

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