Newsletter Spring 2011: Volume 17, Issue 2

From the Executive Director

by Rod Diridon

Rod DiridonWelcome to MTI’s new electronic newsletter. We hope this format will be easier on the environment and more convenient for you to read and use as a reference. One of the most important benefits is that we now are including links to our research documents, which you can download at no cost. Please feel free to pass this newsletter along to anyone who could use the research and the other information.

Welcome Trustee Julie Cunningham

Rarely does the MTI Board have a vacancy. But Jane Chmielinski was required, by her added international travel as AECOM President, to resign. We'll miss Jane's thoughtful involvement. After an extended review of over two dozen find candidates, Chair Don Camph and the Nominating Committee recommended and the Trustees unanimously approved the election of COMTO Executive Director Julie Cunningham to the Board. We look forward to Julie's typical dynamic involvement.

Farewell President Kassing and welcome to President Qayoumi

SJSU has been blessed with a sequence of fine presidents with Don Kassing the most dynamic and effective in recent history.  Don and Amy will return, after his third stint as president, to their home in Phoenix and an expanding group of grandchildren. They will be missed by MTI, the campus and the community.

President-elect Mohammad (Mo) Qayoumi helped birth MTI in the early 1990s as an Assistant VP at SJSU and has served with distinction as President of California State University East Bay more recently. Mo has already sent his regards.

Annual MTI Trustees Meeting and Graduation Banquet

MTI was founded by legislation in 1991 and hosted annual trustees' meetings and scholarship events every year since. Our 20th annual Board of Trustees meeting occurred on Saturday, June 25, from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM at the San Jose Diridon Station’s CalTrain conference room.  That evening the graduation celebration began at 5:30 and concluded at 9:00 PM at the SJSU Barrett Ballroom.

Mineta National Policy Summit on Transportation Finance

Hosted with the Commonwealth Club of California at their headquarters at Second and Market Streets in San Francisco, the Mineta National Policy Summit on Transportation Finance took place on Friday, June 24, and was keynoted by US Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Polly Trottenberg. The program panel was lead by MTI Chair Mort Downey with Dr. Asha Agrawal, MTI Trustees Steve Heminger and John Horsley, and Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon.  View the complete program or Secretary Trottenberg’s presentation online. The videos will be distributed nationally for radio and TV.


Board Profile

Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads

Ed Hamberger, one of MTI’s newest trustees, serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). He contributes more than thirty years of direct experience in public policy through his work in both the executive and legislative branches of the United States government, as well as through his career as an attorney.

Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads 
Edward R. Hamberger, left.

Before he joined AAR in July 1998, Ed was the managing partner of the Washington, DC office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman & Caldwell, one of the nation’s largest law firms. He came to the firm in 1989 after having served as Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs at the United States Department of Transportation.

Mr. Hamberger began his career in transportation in 1977 as General Counsel for the National Transportation Policy Study Commission. In 1985, he was appointed as a member of the Private Sector Advisory Panel on Infrastructure Financing, and in 1994 served as a member of the Presidential Commission on Intermodal Transportation. Most recently, he served on the Blue Ribbon Panel of Transportation Experts, appointed by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission.

Mr. Hamberger received his Juris Doctor, along with a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science, in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Because of his deep knowledge and insight about surface transportation, MTI is honored to have him join its Board of Trustees.


MTI Releases New Research Reports

by Karen Philbrick, PhD, Research Director

Emergency Responders at accident sceneIf you’re involved with surface transportation, MTI research reports are a valuable resource to help planners, policy makers, transit administrators, and many others excel in their work. All MTI reports are available for free download from our site.

One of our most recently released reports, The Intersection of Urban Form and Mileage Fees: Findings from the Oregon Road User Fee Pilot Program, asks whether mileage fees and land-use planning are mutually supportive.

Another recent report, Getting Around When You’re Just Getting By: The Travel Behavior and Transportation Expenditures of Low-Income Adults, investigates how people manage their mobility when they have limited financial resources.

A third report, An Investigation into Constraints to Sustainable Vehicle Ownership: A Focus Group Study, asks what factors come into play when even self-identified environmentalists do not purchase more “earth-friendly” vehicles.

See the complete list of downloadable free research reports.


MTI Graduate Students and Faculty Earn Several Honors

by Peter Haas, PhD, Education Director

MTI GraduatesIf the expected boom in transportation careers happens anytime soon, many of the beneficiaries will be MTI graduate students and faculty. The Master of Science in Transportation Management (MSTM) degree is sharpening the skills of a new group of mobility professionals. Here are just a few who already have shown great results.

MSTM student Sarah Swensson was invited to London to make a presentation in March at the Showcase Event for the INSTINCT technology demonstration in aviation security. The event is in conjunction with the Home Office Scientific Development Branch 2011 UK Innovation for Global Security exhibition in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.

This workshop began in New Jersey with about 40 students from prestigious U.S. colleges and universities. Only 15 of those students, including Sarah, were invited for a subsequent workshop in December in London. As this research development part of the workshop comes to a close, Sarah was one of only two students from the U.S. invited back for the final presentation. She is a Public Communications officer for the Orange County (Calif.) Transit Administration (OCTA).

Joel Krang, a Certificate in Transportation Security Management student, was asked to strengthen emergency planning at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency(SFMTA). He drafted a new Emergency Operations Plan and coordinated Incident Command System training. Subsequently, he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the SFMTA Board of Directors; he was asked to coordinate upcoming “Terrorist Activity Recognition and Reaction (TARR)” training for about 3000 SFMTA employees; and he was named Configuration Manager for SFMTA’s Safety, Training, Security & Enforcement department.

Rashidi Barnes was selected by the American Public Transportation Association APTA for its 2011 “Leadership APTA” program. Each year, the Leadership APTA Committee selects 25 individuals to participate in a year-long program that includes intensive workshops, conferences, class leadership projects, teleconferences, online meetings, and web-based events. The program develops and supports the next generation of leaders for APTA and public transportation. Rashidi is Western Sales Manager for theTransit Marketing Group, Long Beach, Calif.

In December 2010, MSTM student Edel Vizcarra was promoted to Planning Deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, the most senior-serving member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

MSTM student Martin Barna won the monthly advertisement design competition sponsored by the American High-Speed Rail Alliance in February.

Certificate in Transportation Management graduate Kris Murray was elected to theAnaheim (Calif.) City Council in November 2010. Anaheim is developing some of the largest municipal transportation projects in California and the U.S. Kris also represents the city on the Board of Directors for the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Orange County, the governing board of the county’s toll road network.

MSTM faculty member Frances Edwards, PhD, was awarded a $280,000 grant from the US Department of Homeland Security in July 2009 to study Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government in the wake of disaster. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) served as a test bed. Caltrans was so impressed with Dr. Edwards' work that in February they awarded her team an additional $147,000 to develop scenarios and training materials to be delivered in the form of Eight-Hour Standardized Emergency Management Systems (SEMS) training courses in five of their state districts.

MSTM alumna Lisa Fabish and I presented the paper, Measuring the Performance of Livability Programs, at the January 2011 meeting of the Transportation Research Board(TRB) in Washington. The paper was subsequently accepted for publication in the refereed TRB publication, The Transportation Research Record.

MSTM faculty member Nick Compin, PhD, also co-presented a paper at the January TRB meeting. It was also accepted by The Transportation Research Record.


MTI’s NTSCOE Preparing for Disaster-Resilient Transportation

by Frances Edwards, PhD, Deputy Director, MTI’s NTSCOE

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew ashore at New Orleans and crumbled its levees, inundating the city for days. Critical infrastructure components from electrical transmission to interstate highways, from cell towers to bridges were destroyed. A lasting image is the cluster of people marooned on a freeway overpass, awaiting rescue.

But rescue was slowed by the loss of government services at the local level, as first responders were victims, and the National Guard was in a flooded armory. Along the Mississippi coast, in Alabama, Florida and Texas, critical infrastructure damage was the legacy of Katrina’s passage as it created destruction in an area the size of England. The loss of freeway bridges and road surfaces created unreachable victims in small coastal areas like Waveland, Mississippi, and left East New Orleans inaccessible.

All disasters are local. The U.S. Constitution forbids federal authorities from entering a state without the request of the governor or legislature unless the Catastrophic Annex of the National Response Framework is invoked. The Department of Homeland Security has partnered with local and state governments to improve their Continuity of Government (COG) and Continuity of Operations (COOP) capabilities to avoid such catastrophic consequences in future events. To address this issue in California, the Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Security Center of Excellence (NTSCOE) researchers have partnered with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to train staff and update plans to ensure a rapid and organized response to future disasters.

California has been called “America’s disaster theme park.” Tsunami damage from the Japanese earthquake is the latest challenge to the state’s highway infrastructure. Two other recent examples include a 40-vehicle fatal accident caused by rain unexpectedly turning to snow, and a freeway overpass destroyed by a tanker truck fire. These no-notice events required uninterrupted response by Caltrans.

To enhance Caltrans’ internal emergency response capabilities that support field response to the public, NTSCOE staff is providing Incident Command System/National Incident Management System (ICS/NIMS) introductory training, and an eight-hour scenario-based emergency operations center (EOC) course. This training is intended to ensure that Caltrans has a robust basis for emergency response to any event.

Caltrans’ COOP/COG plan was written in 2006, following Hurricane Katrina, with an emphasis on its information technology needs. Over the past several years, exercises and real events have demonstrated the need to better document the role of the Emergency Relocation Group (ERG), the interface between the EOC and the alternate facility where essential functions are maintained, and the role of the Caltrans headquarters in delivering emergency response services in the field while also supporting the Governor’s Office and other executive functions of state government.

NTSCOE’s researchers have updated the threat assessment on which emergency planning is based, worked with Caltrans staff to better document interfaces, researched ERG responsibilities, looked for best practices, and developed transportation department-specific COOP training for the ERG members. Over the next several months, they will facilitate a tabletop exercise for the ERG members to refine their checklists and procedures, and complete a template COOP plan for a state level transportation agency that includes ERG materials. The research report will include chapters on their research on the role of a state level transportation agency COOP/COG program, the interface between the EOC and the COOP alternate site, and ERG staffing, development and deployment.

The lessons of Katrina were cautionary, leading to a reinvigoration of the COOP/COG program. The lessons of the recent Japanese tsunami, including their rapid debris removal and road access development, reinforce the importance of planning and training. Keeping the roads open - even in a disaster- is a critical emergency response element for any community. Caltrans COOP/COG program, facilitated by NTSCOE researchers, is designed to ensure that California roads will be open to support the rapid response to any disaster.

Related materials by Dr. Frances Edwards are free for downloading in PDF format:


MTI Goes Electronic

by Donna Maurillo, MS, Director, Communications & ITT

As a University Transportation Center (UTC), the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) must concern itself with how many ways it can put its research reports into the hands of people who need that information. MTI uses taxpayer money for its research, so it would follow that the taxpayer must receive a decent return on that investment.

Some time ago, before the Internet was the “go to” place for information, MTI did what most organizations did – it published hard copies of its research reports for distribution through the mail. Of course, that can become expensive, especially in a time when funds are harder to come by. More

Over the past few years, MTI has taken a different approach. A small supply is printed in hard copy, while the bulk of our distribution is online. With creative marketing, MTI has been able to boost its document downloads significantly within a relatively short time. Many of our titles have garnered a healthy download rate for two or three years, or even longer, beyond their publication dates.

When MTI researchers and staff attend conferences, they often carry along a supply ofresearch briefs to distribute. These are one-page summaries of MTI research reports, with information about how to download the full version. It helps promote MTI’s work while boosting the web site metrics. Equally important, it means that booth visitors won’t be given yet another publication, adding more weight to their carry-on bags. And of course, this newsletter is another example of moving away from paper while making our publications more useful, portable, and searchable.

However, creative marketing alone isn’t a silver bullet. MTI has been making many improvements to its web site. Those efforts have been showing good results as the upgrades continue, making the site more user-friendly and topically relevant. It’s still a work in progress, and it will take a bit of time because the regular daily postings can’t be left on the wayside. But MTI’s goal is to have an ADA-compliant site with rich content – something that all of you will find useful.


MTI Education Director Wins Award

Dr. Peter Haas, MTI’s Education Director, has won the annual Austen D. Warburton Award of Merit from San Jose State University’s College of Social Sciences. The award recognizes faculty whose record of scholarly and professional achievements has been sustained and worthy of national or international recognition.
 Dr. Haas joins a group of prior distinguished recipients, including Dr. Terry Christensen, Dr. Larry Gerston and Dr. Constantine Danopoulos. This is one of the most prestigious awards the College of Social Sciences presents. He was recognized at an all-college event on April 29.