What We’re Researching: A Glimpse of Research Underway by the Urban Transportation Center

UTC-final-logoUTC faculty and staff researchers have more than 20 research projects underway involving transportation data development, freight, safety and other topics.

Here are overviews on 10 projects we’re researching right now.

1. Illinois Intercity Passenger Transportation Study. The focus of this study is to examine bus and rail transportation in Illinois that does not originate or terminate in metropolitan Chicago in order to identify strategies on how to improve service for residents in rural communities.

2. “Green Hospitals” Phase II: How Can Healthcare and Municipal Planning Lead to Greener Transportation Outcomes. The second phase of this research takes on a more national perspective as researchers study commuting pattern data from hospitals nationwide. The goal is to identify how hospitals can promote ways to reduce the impact on the environment through more effective transportation practices for workers.

Big build hospital (done in 3d)3. Pedestrian/Cyclist Grade Crossing – CTA Rail Safety Phase II. This research will continue a previous rail safety study completed in mid-2013 that addressed Metra and freight crossings. The focus here will center on analyzing pedestrian and cyclist behavior at Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit trains stations with grade crossings.

4. Public Transit to Public Lands: The Nature Express. This project is being undertaken in partnership with the Cook County Forest Preserve District. Researchers will develop transit strategies to connect people who lack reliable public transit with options to visit Cook County Forest Preserves.

5. The Veterans Transportation and Community Livability Initiative. A “one-click” website to assist Illinois veterans in accessing existing public and specialized transportation services targeting specific needs is the goal of this project. It will integrate local public transportation, intercity travel, and specialized services such as ride sharing, car sharing and volunteer driver programs.

Train weather compressed6. Transit Agency Adaptation to Extreme Weather Events.  The focus here: Greater details about the decision process, costs, perceived risks and tradeoffs transit planners and managers consider when coping with potentially damaging weather. Findings are intended to be a resource to the engineering/construction industry and provide a possible approach for minimizing the construction time frame.

7. Return on Investment for Passenger Rail: A team of researchers is studying the potential return on investment for all modes of rail transportation — passenger, commuter, heavy freight and light freight — across the nation. The project includes a literature review and development of a survey. Last mile chart

8. Next Generation Passenger Intermodal 1 Transportation System. Completing the “last mile” – or the first or final leg of a trip on public transit – has long been identified as a challenge for travelers. This research will identify factors that commonly contribute to last mile barriers between public transportation and reaching the final destination and offer some suggested solutions.

9. Connector Transitway White Paper. UTC researchers will collaborate on a report to provide insight on the need to expand the Chicago public transit system. When completed, the report will include suggested transit routes, the technology required and proposed financing mechanisms.

10. Divvy and Its Impact on Transit. Since its introduction in 2013, the Divvy bicycle sharing system has proved to be very successful in Chicago. Through this research, the UTC will analyze rental patterns and determine any relationship to transit modes and ridership patterns in the city.

Want to learn more about UTC transportation research and get access to completed research reports, white papers and other documents?

Of course, we welcome thoughts and comments. Please contact us.