Newsletter of the Mineta National Transit Research ConsortiumSpring 2013: Vol. 20, Issue 1

Message from the Executive Director
by Rod Diridon, Executive Director, MNTRC

Rod Diridon, Executive Director

Rod Diridon, Sr.
Executive Director, MNTRC

Welcome to MNTRC’s current edition of World in Motion, with updates on our latest research and activities.

Join us at APTA Rail in June

  MTI/MNTRC will produce the first day workshop at the APTA 2013 Rail Conference in Philadelphia. Please attend on Saturday afternoon, June 1, at the Philadelphia Marriott for the Norman Y. Mineta National Transportation Policy Summit on Transit Finance. With nearly all of the other industrialized nations spending more per capita on transportation infrastructure, with American Society of Civil Engineers giving the current US infrastructure a D+ grade, and US urban transportation demand already vastly outstripping capacity nearing gridlock, how can the US transportation system’s former world-leadership be reestablished?

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Board Member Profile

Bud Wright, CEO, AASHTO

Board member Bud Wright, CEO, AASHTO

Bud Wright

Bud Wright, the newest addition to the MTI/MNTRC Board of Trustees, is executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). He will contribute his knowledge from many years managing transportation issues and projects, primarily in a variety of roles with the Federal Highway Administration, for which he won several awards. For the past four years, he has been a consultant to Lindsay Transportation Solutions/Barrier Systems, Inc. Mr. Wright holds a BA in economics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg VA

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grand valley State University

Li-Ion battery research targets bus sustainability
by Charles Standridge, PhD, Professor and Assistant Dean, Padnos College of Engineering and Computing

Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) School of Engineering and the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) are continuing their research on remanufacturing, repurposing, and recycling lithium-ion batteries from transit vehicles such as buses. Sybesma’s Electronics is a private industry partner. This third-generation family-owned business in Holland MI will ensure that the work has practical industrial applications. The overarching goal of the project is to provide better economic value to transit operators who use electric vehicles and thus increase the sustainability of public transit. 

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Penn state University

Battery study will help electric vehicle fleet acceptance
by David Klinikowski, Director, Center for Bus Research and Testing

Equipment for creating thermal management model.

Researchers hope to create models for electrical and thermal management.

Greater efficiencies and wider adoption of an electric vehicle fleet are the goal for a study about battery packs. Researchers hope to improve the ability to predict state of health (SOH) and state of charge (SOC), along with improved thermal flow management, in the energy storage systems (ESS) of electric buses and other heavy vehicles. A battery pack from a bus manufactured by Proterra, Inc., will be studied using the Larson Institute’s environmental chamber and Aerovironment AV900 power processing equipment.

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Research to help develop prototype bus specs

Low-floor bus.

An advanced low-floor bus designed for long life.

A new research project at Penn State will test nimble, long-life buses that are expected to be in service for up to ten years and 350,000 miles. Investigators plan to identify and quantify the technical characteristics of a new breed of transit bus that is accessible, versatile, reliable, durable, and efficient in all operating environments. It is expected that such a vehicle will help US manufacturers expand their product lines and move into international markets, which in turn will enhance competitiveness and provide opportunities for workforce development and training.

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Rutgers University

Dr. Smart to join Bloustein faculty at Rutgers
by Robert B. Noland, PhD, Professor and Director, Voorhees Transportation Center

Michael Smart, PhD

Michael Smart, PhD

Fulbright scholar Michael Smart, PhD, is joining the faculty of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy in September. His current research explores the ways in which social networks embedded in neighborhoods of particular affinity groups (immigrants, gays, etc.) influence their behaviors. He is also heading two other research projects – one on public participation in transportation projects in immigrant neighborhoods, and another on the effects of bicycle-sharing on mode choice in downtown Los Angeles.

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San Jose State University

MTI researchers publish two new reports

by Karen Philbrick, PhD, Director, Research

High-speed rail crash site, Eschede, Germany, 1998

Rear passenger cars in the 1998 Eschede, Germany high-speed rail crash, caused by a fatigue crack in a wheel.

As part of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s (MTI) continuing research on high-speed rail (HSR) security and safety, the Institute has just published Formulating a Strategy for Security High-Speed Rail in the United States. The report analyzes information relating to attacks, attempted attacks, and plots against HSR systems. At the request of the California DOT (Caltrans), MTI also has published 2012 Census of California Water Transit Services.

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MSTM alumni, faculty enjoy career success

by Peter Haas, PhD, Director, MTI Education Program

Alva Carrasco (MSTM ’08) has accepted a promotion to Vice President of Transportation at VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio TX. MSTM student Martin Barna accepted the position of Transit Service Development Specialist for the Valley Transportation Authority's (VTA) Service and Operations Planning Department. In January, he was named MTI’s CUTC/US DOT “Student of the Year” in Washington DC. Alumna Robin O’Hara (MSTM ‘12) was promoted to Director of Transit Access Pass (TAP) Technologies in the TAP Operations division at L.A Metr

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LaHood featured at high-speed rail workshop

by Donna Maurillo, MSTM, Director, MTI Communications and ITT

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood delivers keynote.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood addresses the high-speed rail workshop.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood delivered the keynote address at a day-long high-speed rail (HSR) workshop in Washington DC in January. The Transportation Research Board invited MNTRC and MTI to present the workshop at its annual meeting. Secretary LaHood emphasized that HSR will happen in the US, and that rail transit is growing more popular as younger people give up cars. Other featured speakers included FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo, Deputy FRA Administrator Karen Hedlund, former Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mort Downey, and many other national and international transportation leaders.

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UNiversity of nevada, las vegas

AREMA holds seminar on practical railway engineering
by Hualiang "Harry" Teng, PhD, Associate Professor, Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering

Students of AREMA Practical Engineering seminar in the field.

From left, Edward Neumann (professor at UNLV), Kondala Rao Mantri (UNLV alumnus), and John Green (UNLV alumnus, now with CH2MHill) attended the AREMA conference

For the second year, UNLV was happy to host the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-way Association (AREMA) on March 13-15 for its seminar, “Introduction to Practical Railway Engineering,” in the Stan Futon Building. In total, 29 students attended the seminar, which also attracted professionals from several states across the US.

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Rod Diridon discusses high-speed rail

Rod Diridon, Executive Director of the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium and the Mineta Transportation Institute, delivered a distinguished seminar for UNLV on March 21. “High Speed Rail, Internationally and in California” attracted more than 40 attendees from private and public agencies and the university in Las Vegas. Following the seminar, Thomas Wolch, president of ITE-Nevada Chapter, said, “Today was one of the most inspiring presentations I have experienced at an ITE meeting…”

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University of Toledo

Is biodiesel cleaner than conventional diesel?
by Ashok Kumar, PhD, Chair, Department of Civil Engineering

Collecting tailpipe particulate matter on filter paper.

Filters on the exhaust systems help researchers analyze emissions.

Biodiesel is an alternative fuel with growing use in transportation. But is it cleaner than conventional diesel? Researchers at the University of Toledo are testing the particulate matter emitted in the exhaust of certain bus models used by the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. Early results show that biodiesel is indeed a cleaner fuel. Research results are expected to contribute to a better understanding of biodiesel combustion chemistry and to a further reduction of biodiesel emissions.

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