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With increased urbanization, providing for mobility is an issue that cities around the world are struggling to deal with. Transit is becoming an increasingly important means of addressing urban mobility issues. Professors Koutsopoulos, from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Northeastern University, and Zhao and Wilson from the MIT Transit Lab and the MIT Urban Mobility Lab have formed the Transit Mobility Lab in order to promote innovation in public transportation.
The initiative, building on the long history of MIT’s Transit Program, aims at promoting innovation in the day-to day practice of transit agencies around the world, and developing strategic directions and priorities based on identified opportunities. Transit data analytics, taking advantage of the vast databases that are becoming available at many transit agencies, is at the core of the research activities.
A number of transit agencies are industry partners in the program. CTA (Chicago), MBTA (Boston), and WMATA (Washington DC) are currently sponsoring research activities in a number of areas of mutual interest. These global partnerships are the centerpiece of this collaborative applied research program, and facilitate a highly effective two-way educational process and knowledge transfer. A critical aspect of the program, that plays an important role in technology transfer, is that participating graduate students spend several weeks per year as interns at the sponsor’s location working closely with the key agency staff. The approach exemplifies experiential philosophy of learning. The program also promotes propagation of best practice among agencies, promoting cross-fertilization of ideas, methods, and experiences, and, consequently, improving the agency’s intellectual capital.
Director Bio: Haris N. Koutsopoulos is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, and research affiliate with the Transit Research Program at MIT. He also holds a position as Guest Professor of Transport Science at KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He has extensive experience in modeling Intelligent Transportation Systems and developing simulation-based dynamic traffic assignment methods, traffic simulation models at various levels of resolution, simulation tools for the analysis of urban transit operations, and methods for processing and using data from opportunistic sensors for monitoring and control of transport system operations (traffic and transit). At KTH he established the iMobility laboratory. The lab receives real time floating car and other traffic related data (e.g. traffic counts and speeds, weather), archived transit AFC and AVL data, and uses models to support applications such as monitoring and management of transport systems and multimodal travel planning services. For the work related to the iMobility lab he received the IBM Smarter Planet Award in 2010. He also received TRB Traffic Simulation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and IEEE ITS Outstanding Application Award in 2011, for the development of two influential simulation models, MITSIMLab and DynaMIT, as well as research on driving behavior models that are embedded in these tools.