Center for Transportation Studies

The Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) was established in 1973 to develop and coordinate the wide range of transportation-related activity at MIT. It provides a focal point for transportation education, facilitates transportation research, conducts an outreach program to the transportation industry, and encourages a sense of common purpose among the many departments, centers and laboratories involved in transportation and logistics at MIT.

On the center's web site, there is a wealth of information about the center and its programs In addition, the site includes descriptions of current research projects in transportation, and a listing of MIT theses in transportation since 1980. Transportation faculty and research staff are also listed with their areas of interest, along with connections to other interesting resources on the web.


Fourteen new students arrived on campus this fall to enter the center's new Master of Engineering in Logistics program, an intensive nine-month degree track preparing graduates for logistics management careers in manufacturing, distribution, retail, transportation and logistics organizations.

Again this year, because of the high quality of applications, qualifying for graduate admission for transportation studies was increasingly difficult. This year, 159 applications were received for graduate studies in transportation—including the Master of Science in Transportation (MST), the Master of Engineering in Logistics (MLOG) and the Ph.D. programs—and 78 students were enrolled in 2000-2001. Funding was found for 59 percent of the students.


During the past academic year, almost 200 projects were posted on the center's current research listing, organized in ten categories and representing the work of more than 50 researchers in more than a dozen departments and research centers. Many of those entries were research programs which included within them still more individual projects.

Major New Projects

Collaborative Program with the Chicago Transit Authority

A collaborative research program has begun between MIT and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), aimed at helping the CTA leverage new technologies, urban development patterns and institutional funding structures to its best advantage. The program of research, strategic advice and professional staff development is inspired by the ongoing collaborative program involving MIT and the University of Puerto Rico in support of Tren Urbano, the introduction of a new urban rail system in San Juan.

To help the CTA make maximum use of all its potential, the research collaboration is focused on four primary areas—operations, facility design, decision support and future transit funding. MIT students are invited to develop research proposals in any of these topic areas—the work to be conducted in close conjunction with the CTA staff—and the ultimate product of each project will normally be a master's thesis.

During the first six months of the program, which began in January, two second-year masters students were included on a part-time basis, students who were already well along in their thesis research, and who could quickly contribute to the CTA research priorities. Their projects were Identifying Rail Line Strategies for Improvement, and Improving Connections between Transit Stations and Neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, seven MIT students are working as CTA interns in Chicago this summer, continuing research begun this spring on the following projects: Control Center Operations; Making the Connection at the CTA; Zoning Measures; Identification of Rail Line Strategies for Improvement; Contributing Factors and Control Strategies for Bus Bunching; The Economics of Transit in the Chicago Metropolitan Area; and Improving Access to CTA Rail Stations.

Those projects will continue this fall, and two new projects will begin: Impact on the CTA of Compliance With Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Elderly Access Standards; and Effective Implementation of Bus Rapid Transit Systems. Other initial projects are Improving CTA Accessibility and Use by Bicyclists and A Multimedia Strategic Planning Tool for Rail Transit Infrastructure.

Driver 20/20 Explores Technology for Older Drivers

The AgeLab has undertaken a program of research called Driver 20/20 focused on whether, since older drivers have different cognitive and physical capabilities, the panoply of new information technologies in the car will actually be of help to them. The program is the largest critical mass of effort in this area anywhere in the United States, outside of government efforts.

With funding through a consortium of the American Association of Retired Persons, Electronic Data Systems, Fiat, the Hartford Insurance, Peugeot and Volkswagen, the program is something of a new brand of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) research-a convergence of social issues with digital technology, demographics and society. It is also bringing new range to the Center for Transportation Studies, involving new researchers from Aeronautics and Astronautics, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Management, and the Health Sciences-as well as people from the medical schools at Harvard, Tufts and Yale.

In general, the research is seeking to reconcile the auto of the future with the older driver of the future. To a large extent, the future of car manufacturers depends upon their success at differentiating their products. And because that is getting harder to do, many of them are developing cars that combine infotainment with their safety and security systems. But a potential problem arises here, stemming from the natural impulse to make use of new technologies without necessarily stopping to consider whether they're really needed, or what their downside might be. The AgeLab is trying to put the problem first, looking to see what the needs and preferences of the older driver might be.

System for Assessing Aviation's Global Emissions

A major new research program was begun with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the Logistics Management Institute to develop a System for assessing Aviation's Global Emissions (SAGE). Sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, the program aims to create an internationally accepted computer model that can be used for predicting and evaluating the effects of different policy and technology scenarios on aviation-related emissions, costs, aircraft performance and industry responses.

The need for such a model is driven by the rapid growth in aviation and its associated emissions: it is estimated that in 1992, aircraft were responsible for 3.5 percent of all anthropogenic radiative forcing of the climate, a figure which is expected to grow to between 3 and 12 percent by 2050. But while the impacts of air transportation are global in scope, changes are costly and slow to incorporate. And there is currently no comprehensive methodology for determining global aviation-related emissions impact or for evaluating policy and technology alternatives at national or international levels. The SAGE model will be capable of analyses on aircraft, airport, regional and global levels.

return to top

Major Meetings

Managing Inventory in the Internet Economy (November 28-29) featured speakers Tim Thomas, Health Imaging Director of Process Excellence, Eastman Kodak Company, and Sean Willems, Assistant Professor of Operations Management, Boston University ("Designing the Next-Generation Health Imaging Supply Chain"); Shelley Lin, Vertical IBSG Manager, Manufacturing Vertical, Cisco Systems ("Networking the Extended Enterprise for Supply Chain Success"); Ed Schuster, Director, Affiliates Program in Logistics ("Manufacturing Capacity vs. Inventory and Advances in Continuous Replenishment Systems"); Professor Steven C. Graves, Abraham J. Siegel Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management ("Optimizing the Supply-Chain Configuration for New Products"); David Brock, Principal Research Scientist, Auto-ID Center, MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering ("The Internet of Things").

Global Logistics in the World Economy (March 14-15) featured speakers Hank Marcus, Professor of Marine Systems, MIT Department of Ocean Engineering ("Liner Strategies in the International Containership Industry"); Rob Quartel, CEO, ("International Freight Execution: The Black Hole in the Digital Supply Chain"); Richard Baron, Vice President, North America, e-Commerce Logistics ("Opportunities for Distribution of Branded Products in Asia/Pacific"); Ed Schuster, Director, Affiliates Program in Logistics ("A Review of Research and Trends in International Logistics"); Bruce Arntzen, Vice President, Supply Chain Sciences, Avicon Group, Inc. ("Creating Internet-Driven Supply Chains for Global Commerce"); Nariman Behradesh, Chief International Economist, Standard and Poor's ("The Outlook for the Global Economy in 2001: A Bumpy Odyssey").

return to top

Smaller Functions

Distinguished Speaker Series

The Distinguished Speaker Series featured the following: November 3, Fred Salvucci, MIT Senior Lecturer: "Observations on the Big Dig"; November 17, Robin Chase, CEO and Co-Founder, Zipcar: "Challenges of a Transportation Entrepreneur: Founding Boston's First Carsharing Organization."; December 1, Frank Kreusi, President, Chicago Transit Authority: "CTA in Motion"; December 8, Jeffrey Sriver, Manager, Resource Planning, Chicago Transit Authority: "Tokyo's Transportation System and What the US Can Learn from It"; March 2, Ben Hamilton-Bailie, Loeb Fellow 2001, Harvard Graduate School of Design: "Reconciling People, Places and Transportation-Stealing Ideas from Northern Europe"; March 9, Allan Kiepper, Principal Consultant, PB Consult: "The Human Side of Management"; March 16, Dr. Vukan R. Vuchic, UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation, Department of Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania: "The Future of High Speed Ground Transportation: Prospects for Acela, High-Speed Rail and Maglev"; April 6, Don Pickerell, Chief Economist, US DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center: "Do Zero-Emission Vehicles Make Sense?"; April 20, John Bennett, Vice President, Transportation Planning and Policy, Amtrak Northeast Corridor Strategic Business Unit: "The Promise of High Speed Rail and the Challenge of Survival"; April 27, Marc Cutler, Vice President, Cambridge Systematics: "Twin Cities Ramp Metering Shutdown Study"; May 4, George Farrar, Associate, Booz-Allen & Hamilton: "BART to San Francisco Airport and Beyond: The Key Role of Community Outreach in Major Construction Projects"; and May 11, Richard Capka, Executive Director, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority: "Discussion of the Big Dig."

AgeLab Seminar Series on Technology And Healthy Aging

The following were part of the AgeLab Seminar Series: February 26, A.K. Nandakuman, Senior Health Economist, Abt Associates and Brandeis University: "International Demography of Aging-Facts, Challenges and Opportunities"; and March 12, Alessandro Coda, Centro Ricerche, FIAT: "Mobility for Everybody: Designing the Future of Transportation for the Disabled and Elderly."

Related Seminars

David Boyce, Transportation Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago: "Isn't it Time for a New Urban Travel Forecasting Paradigm?" (February 28, Experimental Study Group [ESG] Seminar Series).

Leif Johansson, President, AB Volvo, and CEO, Volvo Group: "Environmental Issues as Part of Business Strategy"(April 9, The Wallenberg Lecture on Sustainability and the Environment).

Joseph Sussman, Michael Gilat and Georges Darido: "Public Transportation, Mobility and the Environment in Mexico City" (April 10, Mexico City Project Spring 2001 Seminar Series).

Jonathan L.S. Byrnes, Chairman, Swift Rivers; former President, FastShip Atlantic: "FastShip: Developing a New Ocean Shipping Company" (April 25, Shipping Club Seminar).

Thomas Sattelberger, Executive Vice President and Member of the Board, Lufthansa German Airlines: "Virtuous Virtuality-The Practice of Airline Alliances and Other Current Aviation Issues" (May 9, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives Seminar).

Transportation Research Board Reception for Students and Alumni

On January 8, the Center held its annual reception for students and alumni in conjunction with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting. This year, the reception featured the authors of recent MIT books: Professor Joseph Sussman, Introduction to Transportation Systems; Professor David Simchi-Levi, Designing and Managing the Supply Chain Concepts, Strategies, and Case Studies; and Professor John B. Miller, Principles of Public and Private Infrastructure Delivery.

Open House for Students

An open house was held for prospective students in November to offer the opportunity to learn more about the center's degree programs in transportation, and to meet some of the faculty and staff.

return to top

Affiliates Program in Logistics

The Affiliates Program in Logistics was established in 1981 to develop relationships between MIT and the private sector transportation and logistics industries. The program helps support research which is of particular interest to private sector organizations and which contributes significantly to improved educational programs for private sector management.

Every year, one of the members hosts the rest of the group at a two-day meeting and tour of one of its facilities. This year the United Parcel Service (UPS) played host in October at their facilities in Louisville, KY. A total of 80 people, including members of the MIT program, guests and UPS staff, were on hand to hear presentations by senior UPS managers including Jim Kelly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Mike Eskew, Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President. The topics of the presentations ranged from an overview of the core 'small package delivery business', for which UPS is famous, to new business ventures designed to provide a wide range of eCommerce and logistics services. The program also included a presentation by David Simchi-Levi, newly appointed Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT, on trends in e-Commerce and supply chain management.

Four new firms joined the program this year: Cisco Systems is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, providing end-to-end networking solutions that customers use to build a unified information infrastructure of their own, or to connect to someone else's network; Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products, and services for government and commercial customers; W.R. Grace is a global company with market-leading businesses in catalysts and silicas, construction products and container products; and Shippers Network, headquartered in Carlsbad, CA, was created in 1999 to establish a comprehensive, web-enabled transportation system designed to meet all the requirements of the shipping community.

return to top

Integrated Supply Chain Management Program

Since its inception in FY1995, the Integrated Supply Chain Management Program has grown to ten members—Avaya, Helix Technology, Intel Corporation, Lucent Technologies, Monsanto, Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Texas Instruments, Transcentric (previously Union Pacific Technologies) and Volkswagen AG. In addition to the 15+ research projects that had been initiated in the first six years of the program, the 2001 Program continued collaborative work with the Leaders for Manufacturing Program and the Center for Coordination Science. There were also 25+ collaborative exchange and senior executive events held at sponsor sites and the MIT campus.

return to top

Professional Education

Logistics and Supply Chain Management—eCommerce Meets eLogistics (July 17–21); Modeling and Simulation for Dynamic Transportation Management Systems (July 31–August 4); Public Transportation Service and Operations Planning (August 7–11); Airport Systems: Strategic Planning and Detailed Design (October 2–6); Internet-Based Supply Chain Management (January 31–February 2); Logistics and Supply Chain Management—Fundamentals and Thought Leadership (June 25–29).

return to top

Personnel Changes

Meyer and D'Ambrosio joined the research staff. Two new researchers have been added to the center's staff to support the driving research at the AgeLab: Joachim Meyer, a human factors psychologist, and Lisa D'Ambrosio, a specialist in consumer behavior and survey research.

return to top

New Faculty Books

Principles of Public and Private Infrastructure Delivery by John B. Miller, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in November. The book puts project delivery, finance and operation together in a practical new formulation of how both public and private owners can better manage their entire collection of infrastructure facilities. In tracing the history of infrastructure development and finance in the United States, it provides the basis for a new, integrated strategy for managing infrastructure assets in the 21st century. New tools are presented that permit simple comparisons of different project delivery and finance strategies; practical approaches are provided that allow owners to compare capital program alternatives for entire collections of infrastructure facilities; and practical legislative strategies for organizing the delivery of public infrastructure are presented and described. It puts infrastructure asset management in an entirely new and more productive light, and establishes a new paradigm for steady improvement in the quality and cost performance of public and private infrastructure networks.

Moshe Ben-Akiva traveled to Greece and Sweden this fall to partake of ceremonies related to two recent public distinctions. In Greece, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Aegean, presented in conjunction with their autumn graduation, at which he addressed the class about the planning and management of transportation systems. In Sweden, he attended the Nobel Prize ceremonies as a guest of Daniel McFadden, winner of this year's prize in economics; Ben-Akiva was cited, along with MIT colleague Steve Lerman, in the announcement of McFadden's award.

Joseph Coughlin, founder of MIT's new AgeLab (and Director of the University Transportation Centers Program here) was asked by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe to lead an international task force on technology for older drivers-a three-year study by global experts on older adults and vehicle-based information technology. Coughlin also shared the podium this fall with the Keynote Speaker at COMDEX-Dick Brown, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EDS, a leading global information systems company-where they both discussed the future of transportation that is 'beyond e' (i.e., beyond the simple integration of novel ITS devices in the car to the next generation of innovative services to the driver).

Henry Marcus, Professor of Marine Systems in MIT's Department of Ocean Engineering, was appointed to the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council (MTSNAC). Chartered by the Department of Transportation in January 2000, the Council serves as a non-Federal deliberative body to advise the Secretary on matters related to the marine transportation system-waterways and ports, and their intermodal connectors. The council consists of 26 members representing every element of our marine transportation system. Its objective is to promote a safe and environmentally sound, world-class marine transportation system capable of responding to projected trade increases. Six subcommittees have been formed to address specific issues, and Marcus has been appointed Co-Chair of research and development and information technology, responsible for identifying relevant R&D projects to support the MTS vision. Marcus has also been appointed a member of the Federal Transportation Advisory Group created in June 2000 by Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer Downey.

David Simchi-Levi's new book Designing and Managing the Supply Chain (with P. Kaminsky and D. Simchi-Levi, Irwin/McGraw-Hill, IL, 1999) won the Book-of-the-Year Award, and Outstanding IIE Publication Award, given in 2000 by the Institute of Industrial Engineers. The book provides state-of-the-art models, concepts and solution methods important in the design, control, operation and management of supply chain systems. In particular, it attempts to convey both the intuition behind many key supply chain concepts, and to provide simple techniques which can be used to analyze various aspects of the supply chain. The book was written to serve as a textbook for MBA-level logistics and supply chain management courses, as a textbook for BS and MS industrial engineering courses on logistics and supply chain management, and as a reference for teachers, consultants and practitioners involved in any one of the processes that make up the supply chain. It includes two software packages — the Computerized Beer Game and the Risk Pool Game &@8212; which help to illustrate many of the concepts discussed in the book.

The New England University Transportation Center (UTC) at MIT chose Jennifer Farver, PhD candidate in transportation, as its UTC Outstanding Student of the Year 2001. Ms. Farver was selected in a regional competition that included graduate students from MIT, Harvard and the six New England state universities. She was honored, along with all of the national UTC award winners, at a US Department of Transportation (DOT) special awards ceremony in Washington DC in January. Ms. Farver also received a $1000 cash prize for this honor. She is a doctoral candidate in the Algorithms and Computation in Transportation Group under the supervision of Professor Ismail Chabini. Her master's thesis is in the area of dynamic traffic assignment with an emphasis on analytical, continuous-time dynamic network loading and dynamic shortest paths algorithms for a particular class of input functions.

MIT students Ryan Park and Michael Gilat were among those honored at a recent awards ceremony for a National Bus Rapid Transit Vehicle Design Competition focused on high-capacity buses to help relieve congestion and crowding. The new style buses, to be used in high-capacity 'bus rapid transit systems' demonstrate how new bus designs can be integrated with imaginative approaches to transit to better serve communities across America. Concepts from the winning designs will be integrated into several bus systems throughout the country. The competition was co-sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration and Westart, a non-profit corporation dedicated to encouraging the design and implementation of new transportation technologies that are environmentally responsible and improve the quality of life.

Yossi Sheff

More information about the Center for Transportation Studies can be found online at

return to top
Table of Contents