ADD40 and Collaborative Research

21 12 2013

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with members and friends of the Sustainable Transportation Committee (ADD40) at the TRB 93rd Annual Meeting in January. During the conference we will hold the inaugural Sustainability Research Subcommittee, ADD40(2), meeting on Tuesday, 14 January, 1:30pm – 3:15pm (Hilton, Kalorama).

As you may know, in ADD40’s Triennial Strategic Plan we made the decision to promote and support research that integrates the three dimensions of sustainability. One important step in achieving this goal will be the extent to which we can develop collaborative research relationships with other TRB standing committees that have an interest in sustainability. Our objective is to try and broaden the scope of TRB research to ensure a more balanced treatment of environmental, social, and economic concerns.

ADD40 FlyerThe TRB Annual Meeting presents a unique opportunity for members and friends of ADD40 to reach out to other relevant standing committees and begin the process of reviewing sustainability-related research needs statements and/or developing new statements. To assist with this task, we have developed the adjacent flyer that can be used to inform other committees about our mission and interest in developing collaborative research projects.

During the main ADD40 committee meeting from 8am-12pm on Monday, 13 January (Hilton, Monroe), everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to brief the committee on which TRB standing committees they plan to reach out to during the annual meeting. This will enable the committee to identify the coverage we have at the annual meeting and will provide those in attendance with an opportunity to identify others who may have a shared interest in working with a specific committee.

During the research subcommittee meeting ADD40(2), I look forward to learning about the collaborations that are already underway or are planned and beginning the process of developing several new research thrusts that ADD40 will lead. If you have any ideas for transportation research projects that integrate all three dimensions of sustainability, please either send me an email ( prior to the annual meeting or join us on Tuesday, 14 January.

Analysis of TRB RNS Database for Sustainability Research

7 01 2013

As part of my role as the research chair for the TRB Transportation and Sustainability Committee (ADD40), I undertook with the support of my graduate research assistant Erin Puckett, an analysis of the TRB Research Needs Statements (RNS) database ( to determine the extent to which the topic of sustainable transportation is addressed in the proposed research projects listed in the database.

Figure for blogThe intention of this exploratory analysis was to identify the type and scope of projects being proposed and which TRB committees are supporting sustainability-related research proposals in one or more areas. The results from this analysis should help the Transportation and Sustainability Committee (ADD40) determine which proposed research needs to support, which committees to initially engage with, and where opportunities exist to propose new research projects.

Overall, it was found that many RNS records address some area of sustainability, whether openly acknowledged or not. It was much less common to find records proposing research that truly addresses sustainability in a comprehensive way, with emphasis on environmental, social, and economic impacts.

Over the last six years there does not appear to have been a steady increase in the number of records that are related to sustainability (see Figure 4 above). Further, while there seems to be an overarching idea that transportation research should have some sustainability-related focus, individual records do not always address this explicitly in their goals or objectives. Perhaps this is partially due to the lack of an overall guiding definition of sustainability/sustainable transportation that all TRB committees can adopt.

This analysis has led to several recommendations for advancing the research portfolio of the Transportation and Sustainability Committee that are included in the full report. The raw data that was used to support the analysis is also provided below.

Full Report (PDF)

Raw Data (Excel file)

Presentation (PDF)