The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is pouring money into transit research at universities nationwide, among them the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA).
The federal agency is giving millions in grant money to UTSOA and its partner schools to fund transit research in so-called megaregions, rural-to-urban geographic areas that share environmental features, infrastructure, and economic futures.
The funds will be disbursed over five years, beginning with a $1.4 million grant for UTSOA’s 2016-17 fiscal year. Dr. Ming Zhang, associate professor of community and regional planning at the School of Architecture and researcher at the university’s Center for Transportation Research will lead the four-school “CM-2” consortium (CM-2 stands for Cooperative Mobility for Competitive Megaregions). The group includes researchers from Louisiana State University, Texas Southern University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
“Support from the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow us to advance our research, education, and technology transfer initiatives that work to improve the mobility of people and goods in urban and rural communities of megaregions like the Texas Triangle,” said Dr. Zhang, in a statement. “CM-2 seeks innovations in institutional cooperation for transportation planning, multi-modal integration for increased access and equity, and better transportation investment decisions and public engagement achieved through improved information technologies.”
UTSOA’s DOT grant is one of 32 from the agency that fund research at University Transportation Centers (UTC) programs. UTC works with transportation agencies and the private sector to study the field from all angles. CM-2 will lead workforce development and education, carry out mobility research, as well as investigate how technology could be used to enhance mobility and economic vitality in megaregions across the United States. The group’s research will focus on transportation policy and regional planning, increasing equitable connections across regions, thinking about modeling for fast-growing regions, and coming up with new multi-modal planning strategies.