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CSULB Receives Three METRANS Grants

CSULB recently received three grants from METRANS: one to study the movement patterns of homeless; one to study traffic-mitigation policies; and another to investigate truck financing and the ability of port truckers to operate cleaner vehicles. The three grants total $233,000.

METRANS is a University Transportation Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Established in 1998 through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, METRANS is a joint partnership of the University of Southern California and CSULB.

Geography professors Christine Jocoy and Vincent Del Casino received a one-year, $84,980 grant to study the movement patterns of Long Beach’s homeless.
The study focuses on the chronic and transitional homeless people and seeks to discover how often they use public transit, where they go, what bus routes they use and their reasons for using public transit. Analysis of the data will highlight the extent of homeless mobility, the accessibility of transportation routes, including holes in service, and the differences in use among different types of homeless riders.

Part of the grant funds will go toward the participation of two CSULB graduate geography majors. Three additional undergraduates will work 10 hours a week mixed with five hours a week of volunteer service.

Seiji Steimetz, an assistant professor of economics at CSULB, received a one-year, $65,000 grant to study traffic-mitigation policies at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex.

Steimetz is particularly interested in how prices can be used to alleviate congestion on roads leading to the port complex and within the complex itself. The ports implemented a traffic mitigation fee of $100 for each 40-foot container moved during daytime operations. His project looks to establish a framework for evaluating the economic efficiency of this policy to see whether $100 is the appropriate price.

Economics’ professor Kristen Monaco received an $83,000 grant to investigate truck financing and the ability of port truckers to operate cleaner vehicles at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“Grants like these reinforce the teacher-scholar model of the university and encourage faculty collaboration,” said Monaco. “Both Noel Johnson (Economics) and Bonnie Gasior (Romance, German and Russian Languages and Literatures) are working with me on this grant.”

Surveys prepared both in English and Spanish will be given to truck drivers supporting the port to not only determine how they finance their vehicles but to assess the viability of truckers either purchasing new model trucks or retrofitting their existing trucks.

Though government programs exist to help port drivers replace their trucks with newer, less-polluting vehicles, many drivers are economically unable to take advantage of these programs. The median earnings of port drivers was $25,000 in 2004. Monaco hopes to find a middle ground between no purchase and a costly one by examining the idea of retrofitting existing trucks with scrubbers.