MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Center for Transportation Studies 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.

The Center's Web address is <>. In addition to a wealth of information about the Center and its programs, 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.


Much of this year was spent in preparation for the new Master of Engineering in Logistics program (MLOG), which will admit its first students in September: a new director for the program was hired (see "Personnel Changes"), new curriculum was developed (including five entirely new subjects and two others which were substantially modified), $120,000-worth of new fellowship funding was secured and 1470-square-feet of new student space is now being renovated. In September, 12 students will enter the new program.

The MST committee worked on a proposal to modify the Master of Science in Transportation Program. A proposal was submitted to the Dean and it will hopefully be funded by the new Engineering Systems Division. The new curriculum is based on five modular half-semester courses.

Again this year, because of the high quality of applications, qualifying for graduate admission for transportation studies is increasingly difficult. This year, 81 applications were received for graduate studies in transportation -- including the MST, the MLOG and the PhD programs -- and 45 students were enrolled. Funding was found for 82% of the students.


During the past academic year, 138 projects were listed in the Center's current research listing, 28 of which had been started since last year's listing was published. Sponsored research volume remains level again this year.


Personal mobility is a private problem of public importance. Private automobile use is frequently cited as a public cost - - building and maintaining infrastructure, environmental degradation and congestion. However, individual isolation is less often recognized as a societal cost. Yet, the relative isolation of seniors has been linked to increased health care costs for the aged, reduced productivity of adult children who are employed caregivers as well as the cause of lost human capital that might have contributed to extended family, the work place, charities and other volunteer services.

National survey data indicate a decrease in the number of trips taken by people as they age. Those seniors 75+ exhibit the fewest number of trips. Although it has been argued that retirement from full-time employment is an explanation, journey-to-work travel only accounts for approximately 25 percent of trips - - a remaining 75 percent of trips are for other activities such as shopping, health care, religious and civic activities. This project examines the role of transportation alternatives, and its interaction with selected social, economic and physical factors, on the activity patterns of seniors.

Bidding and Awarding Motor Carrier Traffic. A look into the bidding and award practices of the US Defense Logistics Agency. Comparison of shipper-carrier relationships in the public and private sectors. Sponsored by the US Defense Logistics Agency.


Nearly 100 professionals from North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand convened at MIT in August for a four-day International Workshop on Computer-Aided Scheduling in Public Transportation. About half of those assembled were public transit operators bringing practical experience of what has worked and what has failed in the field with current scheduling software; the rest of the group, about evenly split, were academic researchers and software developers introducing the next wave. The workshop was structured around the presentation of 36 papers by the researchers and developers, focusing on proposed solutions for various industry problems, followed by discussion of the operators' reactions.

As part of its commitment to the development of the logistics profession, in September the Center hosted a roundtable discussion on "Logistics for the 21st Century". The discussion was the centerpiece of a project conducted by the Center -- in cooperation with Logistics Management and Distribution Report (formerly Logistics Management Magazine) and Mercer Management Consulting -- to find out what leading logisticians think the state of the art might be in the year 2007, in order to help today's logistics managers prepare for the future. Results of the effort were published in the January issue of Logistics Management and Distribution Report and, later, in Supply Chain Management Review. Participants in the roundtable represented six important sectors of the economy -- automotive, consumer, high-tech, industrial, health care and retail.

In September, more than 100 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club for a retrospective look at the first ten years of research conducted by the New England University Transportation Center (UTC), headquartered at MIT. Participants represented the federal government, state and local governments of the New England region, university researchers and consultants. Focused on the strategic management of multimodal transportation systems, the conference featured simultaneous sessions presenting research results in four areas -- transportation policy and strategic management; ITS and transportation technology; public transportation; and transportation systems modeling.

About 40 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in December for a day-long meeting on transportation services for the elderly. Sponsored by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (US DOT), and the Federal Transit Administration -- in conjunction with WFD, Inc. (formerly Work/Family Directions of Boston), a consulting firm that specializes in balancing work and family demands on employees in the workplace -- the meeting drew a combination of federal, state and local officials who deal with issues concerning transportation and the elderly, and private sector providers of hardware for intelligent transportation systems. The meeting was part of the National Science and Technology Council Working Group on Transportation, a committee formed in response to the Clinton Administration's targeting of the needs of the elderly as a priority in transportation research and development.

About 60 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in December for a two-day meeting exploring the art of infrastructure development and questions of where it might go from here. Presented by the Center in conjunction with MIT's new Infrastructure Development Group, the meeting was attended by both public and private officials involved in the design, construction and finance of public infrastructure such as highways, bridges, water treatment plants and even stadia.

Over 80 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in January for a day-long talk among shippers, carriers and third party logistics providers to explore the state-of-the-art in bidding and transportation procurement. Attendees were evenly split between representatives of carriers, shippers and third party providers, and people from the US Department of Defense. The conference was part of a research project currently being conducted by the Center in collaboration with the American Trucking Association and The SABRE Group, to analyze and evaluate the Guaranteed Traffic Program at the US Defense Logistics Agency. In addition to analyzing the DLA's current practices, that study aims to benchmark transportation procurement practices throughout the commercial sector and generate recommendations to improve DLA's practices.

About 90 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in March for a two-day affiliates seminar focused on excellence in customer service. The meeting was organized in response to a growing interest among the members on how to leverage customer service as a competitive advantage and included presentations by Yellow Freight, Fidelity, British Airways, America Online and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Those presentations were augmented with talks by faculty from the Sloan School of Management -- Gabriel Bitran on the elements of service operations quality, John Van Maanen on the sociology of customer service at the Disney Worlds, and Maurice Segall on customer service as a strategic issue.

Over 60 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in June for a two-day affiliates seminar focused on The Impact of Logistics on Corporate Performance. Along with an overview of related research, the seminar featured presentations from several corporations at the forefront of professional practice, describing their current state-of-the-art in assessing the contributions of their logistics and supply chain management functions to corporate goals. The topic was identified as a major issue on the minds of senior logistics managers at the roundtable discussion held last fall, sponsored by the Center in conjunction with Logistics Management and Distribution Report and Mercer Management. MIT will be tracking this topic over the next year to watch for important developments to report in a follow-up seminar.


As usual, the Center sponsored a reception at the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington in January. This year's event was attended by about 150 alumni and friends. Every semester the Center sponsors a luncheon seminar series featuring transportation experts from the public and private sectors, and from academia, discussing current issues in the transportation field. Open to the public at large, the seminars draw an audience made up not only of students and faculty from the Institute, but also of representatives from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in nearby Kendall Square, from other universities, and from business and research organizations in the area. This year the series included Kelley Coyner, Administrator (Acting), U.S. Department of Transportation; William Zollars, President Yellow Freight Systems; Rick Adante, Vice President Materials Management, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; Hank Dittmar, Director, Surface Transportation Policy Program; William Millar, President of the American Public Transit Association; Gordon Linton, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration; Mort Downey, Deputy Secretary of Transportation; and Lawrence Dahms, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for the San Francisco Bay Area. Another series of luncheon seminars featured MIT faculty and research staff presenting their current work for discussion and feedback. Participants in the series this year were Markos Papageoriou, Visiting Professor, MIT; Fred Salvucci and Jose Gomez-Ibanez, Senior Lecturer, MIT and Professor, Harvard, respectively; Joseph Coughlin, Director, UTC Program, MIT; Allan Sloan, Visiting Fellow, McCormack Institute; Bob Dial, Operations Research Analyst, Volpe; Doug Lee, USDOT, Volpe; Suzanne Rasmussen, City of Cambridge; Frank Hassler, Director, Office of Strategic Programs and Resource Planning, Volpe; Kenneth Gwilliam, Principal Transport Economist, The World Bank; Peter Metz, Deputy Director, CTS; and Alan Bing, Senior Consultant, Arthur D. Little, Inc.


The Corporate Affiliates Program maintained a membership of 35 this year. The new members are Wisconsin Central, NestlÈ USA, Polaroid and SEMA. Continuing members are British Airways, Canadian National Railways, Canadian Pacific Railway, Caterpillar, Conrail, Crowley Maritime, CSX Transportation, Cummins Engine, DuPont, Emery Worldwide, Federal Express, General Electric, Gillette, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Honda, International Business Machines, Mars, NYK, Osram Sylvania, P&O Nedlloyd, Procter & Gamble, Ryder System, The SABRE Group, Sea-Land Service, Sony, Unilever, Union Pacific, United Parcel Service, United States Postal Service, Volkswagen and Yellow Freight.

Every year, as part of the Center's Corporate Affiliates Program, 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 meeting was held at the US Postal Service in Washington DC. In addition to their logistics people, some of the affiliates sent people involved in their own mail operations -- MIT brought along its director of mail services too -- and there was also a healthy representation from the Center's Public Affiliates Program.


Since its inception in Fy 95, the MIT/Industry Integrated Supply Chain Management Program has grown to nine members -- Caliber Logistics, Cummins Engine, Monsanto, Procter & Gamble, Quelle AG, Siemens, Solutia, Volkswagen AG, and Xerox. In addition to the sixteen research projects that had been initiated in the first three years of the program, the 1998 Program research agenda included a collaborative effort with the Center for Coordination Sciences. There were also fifteen quarterly collaboration meetings held at sponsor locations, and the third annual executive seminar has been conducted, attracting over 35 senior managers from sponsor companies for a two-day session.


Every summer for the past thirteen years, the Center has offered an intensive week-long seminar on Logistics Analysis for Carriers and Shippers. Attended by representatives of carriers, shippers and third-party logistics providers, the course is structured around a series of lectures and case studies and involves intensive interaction among the participants. This year the course was attended by 55 participants.


Last July, Dr. Joseph Coughlin joined the staff of the Center as the new director of the New England University Transportation Center (UTC). Before coming to MIT he worked as director of transportation and logistics research at EG&G, where he served on assignment to the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, helping develop national transportation plans and policy options; as part of that effort he served as the primary policy resource on university research.

Late in June, Dr. James Masters joined the staff as Director of the Master of Engineering in Logistics Program. Prior to this, he spent ten years teaching and conducting research in the development and application of quantitative techniques to the solution of logistics problems at Ohio State University.

Professor Cynthia Barnhart was awarded tenure in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Barnhart's research work aims to bridge the gap between optimization theory and transportation practice by improving the design and operation of scheduled carrier systems


Center Director Yossi Sheffi was presented with the Distinguished Service Award of the Council of Logistics Management at their annual meeting in Chicago in October. The award, presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the art and science of logistics management, is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual for achievements in logistics, according to the Council.

Also at the CLM meeting in October, MIT alumnus Christopher Caplice (PhD'96) was presented with CLM's 1997 Doctoral Dissertation Award for his paper's "originality, technical competence and contribution to the logistics knowledge base." His thesis, An Optimization Based Bidding Process, developed a new framework for shipper/carrier contracting in the motor carrier industry. Caplice's thesis advisor at MIT was Yossi Sheffi.

Carl Martland, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was honored as the sixteenth recipient of the Transportation Research Forum's Distinguished Transportation Researcher Award. The plaque for this lifetime achievement award was inscribed "In recognition of pioneering the planning and costing techniques that are now commonly used by many US railroads; his research has in a small way aided the revitalization of America's railroads, improving their efficiency, productivity, and service quality."

Constantinos Antoniou, a 1997 graduate of the Master of Science in Transportation program, was presented with the Milton Pikarsky Award in January by the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC). Presented at CUTC's annual meeting, the award was given in recognition of his thesis, "Demand Simulation for Dynamic Traffic Assignment", which addresses the problem of estimating the effects of new developments in traffic management, such as ATIS and ATMS, on travel demand. Antoniou's thesis advisor was Moshe Ben-Akiva.

JR East Professor Joseph Sussman received the Effective Teaching Award of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for 1996-97, based on student course evaluations. Sussman is director of the AAR Affiliated Laboratory at MIT.

The Tren Urbano Project, a joint MIT/University of Puerto Rico (UPR) program created to work on an urban rail transit system in San Juan, has been so successful that the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) designated it as a model project for its national technology transfer program. The agency sponsored a symposium on the topic in Baltimore in November.

More information about the Center can be found on the World Wide Web at

Yossi Sheffi

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98