MNTRC Newsletter Vol 19, Issue 1: Summer 2012

Message from the Executive Director

Rod Diridon, Executive Director

Rod Diridon, Sr.

Rod Diridon
Executive Director, MNTRC

Welcome to our first newsletter for the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC). We are very proud to have been designated by the US Department of Transportation’s (US DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) as one of the nation’s two new transit research consortia.

Competition: The reviewers described our proposal as outstanding, and we know that each member of our new consortium took the competition very seriously. Our centers were carefully chosen to meet US DOT’s identified needs by gathering compatible and not overlapping transit research skills provided by highly reputable universities. We also looked for wide geographic distribution. The nine member universities extend from the Northeast to the heartland and the West Coast.

We also sought a mix of highly reputable traditional research institutes and dynamic, emerging research centers. Minority-serving institutions are also very important. For example, Howard University traditionally serves African American students, while San Jose State is designated an Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander-serving university.

Not only did the proposal respond precisely to issues in the request for proposals (RFP), but it was also supported by a broad cross-section of the national transportation community leadership, many of whom serve on the MNTRC / Mineta Transportation Institute Board of Trustees. Those include Secretary of Transportation (ret.) Norman Mineta, former Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer Downey, and many international and national surface transportation association leaders.

Research: All subcontracts between the lead institution and the consortium members have been processed and are in effect, thanks in great part to the remarkable efforts of MTI Deputy Director/Research Director Dr. Karen Philbrick. FTA and RITA have approved the first round of individual university research projects, and most of those are now under contract. That allows the consortium to compile a strong body of work, needed by our US and State DOT clients, prior to the expected 2013 re-competition.

Education: An MNTRC Shared Education Task Force is being assembled with representatives from each consortium member. Working with MTI Education Director Dr. Peter Haas, the Task Force will identify each member’s unique transit education programs. The Task Force will then design technical and administrative procedures for sharing those special programs among the consortium members. The objective is to have those programs available for enrolment by the spring of 2013.

Outreach: Using the system maintained by MTI Communication Director Donna Maurillo, every research report will be broadly distributed using targeted electronic distribution lists as well as the MNTRC/MTI web sites. Last year the MTI web site garnered over three million individual uses and over 800,000 downloaded documents. In addition, national summits and regional forums will be sponsored in cooperation with the national associations to promote the use of MNTRC research. We are determined that a research project is not complete until the product is used.

Thank you: Credit for this remarkable success goes to each of the consortium university directors, including Dr. Leo Hanifin, University of Detroit Mercy; Dr. Donald Hayes, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Dr. David Klinikowski, Penn State University; Dr. Ashok Kumar, University of Toledo; Dr. Hokey Min, Bowling Green State University; Dr. Errol Noel, Howard University; Dr. Robert Noland, Rutgers University; Dr. Karen Philbrick, San Jose State University, and Dr. Charles Standridge, Grand Valley State University. Selection as one of only two national transit consortia carries a special trust and major responsibility. To MNTRC falls the task of identifying the best practices to be implemented by our brightest young minds to guide our national transportation system to a more sustainable future. We dare not fail.