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

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

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

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

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

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.



Recent Theses (click to view)


  • Jinhua Zhao, Ph.D. 2010 Preference accommodating and preference shaping : incorporating traveler preferences into transportation planning Download
  • Eva Kassens, Ph.D. 2009 Transportation planning for mega events : a model of urban change Download
  • Jiawen Yang, Ph.D. 2005 The spatial and temporal dynamics of commuting: examining the impacts of urban growth patterns, 1980-2000 Download
  • Arturo Adila, Ph.D. 2004 Transit planning in Curitiba and Bogota: roles in interaction, risk, and change Download
  • Mizuki Kawabata, Ph.D. 2002 Access to jobs: transportation barriers faced by low-skilled autoless workers in US metropolitan areas Download
  • Ming Zhang, Ph.D. 2002 Conditions and effectiveness of land use as a mobility tool Download
  • Sumeeta Srinivasan, Ph.D. 2000 Linking land use and transportation: measuring the impact of neighborhood-scale spatial patterns on travel behavior.


  • David Block-Schachter, MCP/MST The myth of the single mode man: how the mobility pass better meets actual travel demand Download
  • Jess Burgess, MCP 2009 Interrogative Possessors and the Problem with Pied-piping in Chol Download
  • Shan Jiang, MCP/MST 2009 Finding ways out of congestion for the Chicago Loop : a microscopic simulation approach Download
  • Michael Kay, MCP/MST 2009 Transportation megaproject procurement : benefits and challenges for PPPs and alternative delivery strategies, and the resulting implications for Crossrail Download
  • Kate Sylvester, MCP 2009 New priorities for old roads : re-thinking roadway preservation Download
  • David Uniman, MCP/MST 2009 Service reliability measurement framework using smart card data : application to the London Underground Download
  • Francis Hebbert, MCP 2008 Local travel habits of baby boomers in suburban age-restricted communities Download
  • Carlos Mojica, MCP/MST 2008 Examining changes in transit passenger travel behavior through a Smart Card activity analysis Download
  • Justin Antos, MCP 2007 Paying for Public Transportation: The Optimal, the Actual, and the Possible Download
  • Meredith Judy, MCP 2007 The Potential for Bus Rapid Transit to Promote Transit-oriented Development: An Analysis of BRTOD in Ottawa, Brisbane, and Pittsburgh. Download
  • Tejus Kothari, MCP/MST 2007 A Comparative Financial Analysis of the Automobile and Public Transportation in London Download
  • Francesca Napolitan, MCP 2007 Shifting Urban Priorities: The Removal of Inner City Freeways in the United States Download
  • Jeremy Shaw, MCP 2007 Standard Values: Change in Urban Arterial Street Design Download
  • Ritesh Warade, MCP/MST 2007 The Accessibility and Development Impacts of New Transit Infrastructure: The Circle Line in Chicago Download
  • Marlon Aranda, MCP 2006 Transit-oriented development and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail: shaping urban design patterns in northern New Jersey. Download
  • Giorgia Favero, MS 2006 Fiscal decentralization and urban public transport Download
  • Stephanie Groll, MCP 2006 Reviving upside-down architecture: using a historically transitional form of parking to reduce the impact of cars in mixed-use commercial areas. Download
  • Holly Krambeck, MCP/MST 2006 The global walkability index Download
  • Jodie Misiak, MCP/MST 2005, Regional parking fee: a potential funding source for transit? Download
  • Heather Richardson, MCP 2005 The parking policy and smart growth disconnect : obstacles to establishing and implementing smart growth parking policy Download
  • Julie Kirschbaum, MCP/MST 2004 Paying for transit operations : challenges and solutions for the Chicago Transit Authority Download
  • Anjali Mahendra, MCP/MST 2004 Congestion pricing in cities of the developing world: exploring prospects in Mexico City Download
  • Jumana Nabti, MCP/MST 2004 Leveraging infrastructure: sustainable bus rapid transit route planning in Beirut, Lebanon Download