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METRANS Receives $3.7 Million Volvo Grant To Establish Center

Published: May 15, 2013

The METRANS Transportation Center, a joint partnership of CSULB and the University of Southern California (USC), recently received a $3.7 million grant from the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations to establish a Center of Excellence in urban freight research.

The center, called METROFREIGHT, will research ways to streamline the transportation, handling and storage of goods in city centers while working to reduce the impact on traffic congestion, air quality and urban livability. An international Center of Excellence, METROFREIGHT will work with university partners in Los Angeles; New York; Paris; and Seoul, South Korea. METRANS is internationally recognized for its research on urban freight modeling and simulation, environmental regulation, port/city interactions, economics of the trucking industry, and routing and delivery.

CSULB faculty involved with METROFREIGHT include Seiji Steimetz, associate professor of Economics. Thomas O’Brien, director of research for CSULB’s Center for International Trade and Transportation, will coordinate METROFREIGHT’s professional education efforts including the development of courses for industry and policy makers and a curriculum guide for faculty looking to develop urban freight coursework.

“I think that this prestigious recognition from the Volvo Foundations reflects the work that we’ve done trying to help develop urban freight as a distinct area of study,” said O’Brien. “METROFREIGHT allows us to take our work to the next level by connecting us with new partners around the world including users of the freight system, the people who plan for and develop those systems and the researchers that try to make sense of it all.”

Among some of the center’s research priorities are:

• Congestion and heavy truck traffic in Los Angeles, New York and Paris, where local deliveries by truck typically account for one-sixth of all urban traffic, but potential solutions such as the consolidating freight across firms or off-hours deliveries have been rarely implemented.

• Air quality and emissions, with areas including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest shipping hub, where urban freight emissions currently account for half of all particulate emissions.

• Less advantaged and minority communities in Los Angeles and New York that suffer more exposure to freight-generated air pollution and noise.

In addition to building a global network of scholars, this award will enable the center to contribute to the field more broadly by widely disseminating data, information, results and education materials on the challenges of urban freight.

“CSULB and USC have been partners in the METRANS Transportation Center for over a decade and have conducted numerous joint research projects related to transportation and freight issues,” said Jeet Joshee, Dean for CSULB’s College of Continuing and Professional Education. “The new grant from the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations will allow us to better understand the problems of heavy truck traffic and find strategies to deal with these problems. It will allow USC and CSULB to continue to do the outstanding educational and research projects they have been doing together for a long time and open a tremendous opportunity for faculty from both institutions to collaborate.”

–Shayne Schroeder