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Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative

The Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative (METSI) provides grants that fund current and emerging urban transportation research and technical assistance and education required by other Illinois transportation and planning agencies.

METSI was created in 1999 by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). This ongoing source of funding gives the UTC the resources to find answers to some of the state’s most challenging transportation problems.  UTC Director Dr. P.S. Sriraj serves as Director of the METSI program.

Through METSI, UTC faculty and staff, affiliated UIC faculty partners and graduate student researchers study these and other transportation issues:

  • Transportation efficiency and safety
  • Reducing traffic congestion
  • Enhancing mobility
  • Economic development and smart growth
  • Transportation workforce development

METSI funds provide an avenue for technical assistance in all areas of transportation to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), various IDOT departments and other Illinois planning and transportation agencies. The educational component includes workshops, conferences, training courses, presentations, seminars and webinars, as well as student education, assistantships, and development.

The current theme for METSI is “Livability and Sustainable Transportation.”

Here is a list of selected completed or underway research studies funded completely or partly through the METSI program:

  • Intercity Bus --A study was launched in 2020 to determine unmet intercity bus needs that may require Illinois’ intercity bus funds. The UTC contacted intercity bus transportation providers operating within Illinois to better understand intercity bus services leading to improved connectivity and service. The study was completed in 2023 and noted the pandemic curtailed intercity bus travel. Read this news story to learn more and access the report.
  • Grade Crossing Safety -- Site inspections were made at railroad grade crossing sites in two south Chicago suburbs as part of a study to improve safety and help mitigate delays. The project, sponsored by the South Suburban Mayor’s and Managers Association, also addressed implementing “quiet zones” at crossings near schools, businesses and homes.  This news story provides insight on findings.
  • IDOT Organizational Structure -- Officials from five state departments of transportation shared information for a study on the role and function of planning within DOTs. The scope of the research is to gain knowledge on the value behind organizational restructuring within DOT departments to better support multi-modal projects and performance-centric planning.  Read the abstract and access the complete report.
  • Transportation Needs for Older Adults in Illinois — Researchers presented population projections for the older adult population in Illinois and assessed housing, transportation, and mobility characteristics throughout Illinois to identify need and offered conclusions and recommendations for improvement.
  • Mapping Accessibility Online Tool — A new digital resource, the Metropolitan Chicago Accessibility Explorer, will give planners and policymakers a tool to better evaluate accessibility by four common transportation modes to many types of destinations in the urban environment.
  • Shared Use Rail Corridor — Learn about completed UTC research that led to development of a hypergraph based, two-level model that may help minimize the impact of delays resulting from shared passenger and freight rail corridors.
  • Framework to Rank Pedestrian/Cyclist Projects — This study centered on the feasibility and value of new transportation improvement projects for pedestrians and cyclists. The result was a ranking methodology and measurement technique to score each improvement project.
  • Study Into Commuting Habits at Hospitals —  To better understand the commuting patterns of healthcare workers, researchers explored commuting behaviors, identified ways to reduce transportation-related environmental impacts,  and suggested policy interventions.
  • Public Transit to Public Lands — Research dubbed “The Nature Express” resulted in an index to identify the target population that is likely to be disadvantaged due to the lack of access to forest preserves in Cook County.
  • Central Area Transit Circulation Efforts — A paper addressed the plans that originated in the late-1980s to build the new surface rail system, the Chicago Central Area Circulator, and the evolution of the city’s Central Area transportation network in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more information on the program, please contact Dr. Sriraj via email or call 312-413-7568.