Research

Transportation Research in DUSP focuses on three inter-related areas critical to creating better places. An important theme woven into our work relates to the role of advanced mobile communication and computation technologies.

  1. Improving our understanding of the dynamic relationships between human behavior and the built, social, and natural environments. Examples of research include:

  1. The evolving demand for automobiles in China and preference shaping and travel demand in London (UK).

  2. The relationships between urban form and automobile vehicle miles traveled in Boston and automobile ownership and use in Santiago de Chile,

  3. The relationships between urban form, relative location, social settings and traffic safety and the travel behavior of older adults in Boston, MA

  4. Using novel mathematical approaches to discerning human activity patterns in Chicago and, more recently, Singapore.

  5. New techniques for collecting behavioral data and carrying out user-driven field data collection via smartphones.

  1. Developing new tools and techniques to improve urban mobility planning in an uncertain world. Examples include:

    1. Developing “next generation” urban simulation tools, deeply grounded in consistent behavioral and economics theories, and focused on collaborative information infrastructure platforms and applying new methods for identifying robust policies. This research continues in Singapore and Boston.

    2. Developing new tools for predicting neighborhood-level energy use of alternative urban designs in China.

    3. Testing how new planning methods might change underlying institutional relations among stakeholders.

  1. Identifying viable policies, programs and initiatives to effectuate real change towards better urban mobility systems. Examples include:

    1. Using digital technologies for mapping informal transit in Nairobi and Dhaka and opening those data up for improving services and innovation.

    2. Understanding and designing new policy tools such as pay-as-you-go auto insurance scheme in Massachusetts and mechanisms for managing motorization in China

    3. Using new data sources for improving public transit management possibilities in London.

    4. Examining of how bus rapid transit can be used to leverage better urban growth patterns in Boston and Santiago de Chile.

    5. Envisioning how parking can be rethought and redesigned to push the “parking lot” into the 21st Century.

Underlying this research agenda are a range of relevant classes taught by faculty, including the crowdsourced city, policy and behavior connections in transportation, joint urban planning studios, integrated land use transportation planning, and quantitative spatial analysis.

Collaborations across the Institute and beyond form an important foundation for the Transportation Research in DUSP. Our faculty members are currently involved in research initiatives in Singapore through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, with the Masdar Institute, the University of Nairobi, the MIT Portugal Program, and the BRT Centre of Excellence, to name a few.

MIT/Transit Professional Development Program

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This Program, within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, houses much of the MST student work tied to client-based transit research. Current clients include the Chicago Transit Authority and Transport for London. Previous clients include the Tren Urbano project in Puerto Rico. MCP students are sometimes involved with the group, and may also seek summer internships with the group's clients.

MIT Portugal Program (MPP) Transportation Systems

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The MPP involves faculty, researchers and students from MIT and a number of Portuguese universities in collaborative research and education activities. One of four MPP Engineering Systems Fields, Transportation Systems focuses on the design of integrated intermodal transportation systems enabling sustainable development. To work towards this vision, the initial activities include research in regional transportation planning, high speed rail, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and airports, as well as the development of a new Master of Science (MSc) degree in Transportation to be offered jointly among the participating Portuguese universities.

Urban Form and Travel Behavior

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Several current research projects examine the relationship between the built environment and travel behavior, including: travel behavior, neighborhood selection, and urban form among "baby boomers" in the Boston Metropolitan Area; land uses and vehicle miles traveled in Boston; modeling transportation and land use interactions in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area; neighborhood form and household travel energy use in Jinan, China; and the relationship between gated communities and travel behavior in Latin America.

Center of Excellence on Bus Rapid Transit

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A consortium including MIT-Portugal Program Transportation Systems collaborators at MIT and IST-Lisbon have been awarded a $3.5 million, five-year grant from the Volvo Research and Education Foundation (VREF) for a Center of Excellence on Bus Rapid Transit. MIT's participation in the center draws on the new Transportation@MIT initiative, a collaboration between the School of Engineering, the School of Architecture + Planning, and the MIT Sloan School of Management.MIT News Article.

Previous Research Projects

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Previous transportation research has included sustainable transportation and environmental quality in Mexico City and Bangkok, network modeling with the Malaysian University of Science and Technology, and the planning, policy, and design of the Tren Urbano project in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Several MCP, dual-degree (MCP/MST) and PhD students have worked on these projects.