OnTrackNorthAmerica Announces Collaborative Research Relationships

Influential Rail Transportation Scholars to Provide Program and Development Resources

Philadelphia, PA, November 13, 2015

OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit action think tank, today announced new working relationships with Dr. Pasi Lautala from Michigan Tech University and Dr. Mingzhou Jin, Director of the Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain Engineering  lab at the University of Tennessee.  “We are fulfilling our mission by facilitating intellectual collaboration” said Michael Sussman, OTNA President and Founder. “With our academic partners we are extending the boundaries of knowledge in the field of transportation planning and investment strategy while leveraging our industry experience to guide in-the-field application.”

Dr.-Jin-3Dr. Jin’s efforts focus on the formulation of OTNA’s National Transportation Lifecycle Costs and Benefits Project. Dr. Jin summarizes his efforts: “As an author of several papers about transportation performance measurement development and a principal investigator who has conducted more than a dozen projects for US DOT and several state DOTs, I still observe that measures used in practice are very different across transportation modes and government agencies.  There is a need to conduct a comprehensive study to provide a unified life-cycle costs and benefits analysis framework for evaluating transportation systems and facilitating performance-based decision making.”

OTNA and Dr. Lautala’s collaboration is based on recognition that for capital investment in infrastructure to be productive and profitable, it is necessary to develop andimage56401-pers agree on a set of measures and values to guide these major investments public and private purposes. As yet, the measures, data, and analytical method have not been gathered and agreed on across agency, community, and sector lines. Therefore, system-level as well as individual transportation project investments are challenging to evaluate in cases where researchers, consultants, and decision-makers are unable to agree on a full set of lifecycle costs and benefits. “It’s OTNA’s mission to bridge these gaps and enable us to make better decisions, with broader positive social impact, in a timelier manner” noted Mr. Sussman.

Founded in 2007, OnTrackNorthAmerica is an action think tank for expanding the capacity and footprint of rail transportation within an optimal system in service to the environment, economy, and quality of life. In partnership with industry, academia, and government, it develops programs for more intelligent, sustainable, and resilient transportation systems

 

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It’s Time to Embrace Collaboration

By Michael Sussman

”Preserving competition in the marketplace,” by itself, is an incomplete regulatory principle that must be augmented with thoughtful collaboration if we are to produce an optimal, sustainable transportation system. When we saw the need for paving muddy roads to and from the railroads in the early 20th century, we missed the opportunity to thoughtfully integrate the newly developing freight highway system with the highly developed rail system. The resulting competition in commerce and public policy triggered a disastrous long-term shrinkage of the geographic footprint of the rail network leading to a suboptimal transportation system.

Coordinating across industries, companies, agencies, and indeed political parties requires respect, collaboration, and consensus-based decision-making processes. Our governing system, however, is structured to manage competing “factions” instead. Competition in the marketplace, competition for government attention, and competitive debate, rather than thoughtful deliberation, have stifled our collective ability to address the thornier issues of our day.
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Decreasing Transportation Impacts on Land Use and Environment in California

By Michael Sussman

In July, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Executive Order B-32-15 directing numerous state agencies to collaborate on and develop an “integrated action plan” by July 2016 that establishes clear targets to improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies, and increase the competitiveness of California’s freight system. Caltrans and other state agencies have already solicited comments and are now fully engaged in the development of the action plan. OnTrackNorthAmerica’s intention is that the action plan implement strategies that better deploy freight rail’s economic and environmental benefits.

OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA) has been working throughout 2015 to contribute its expertise in freight transportation land use planning to the state’s progress. In light of the significant projected increases in the state’s freight traffic over the next 25 years, California must focus on the optimal integration of freight transportation and land use. Lower emission truck and locomotive engines alone will not be enough. Conserving highway capacity and road maintenance expenses requires an optimal modal balance between truck and rail modes.
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