Transportation

New Transportation Research Program Looks At Houston’s Place In The Megaregion

If traffic in Houston isn’t bad enough, just take a look at what going on all over the area. Researchers say the city needs to consider itself part of a bigger picture as technology changes the way we get around.

Texas Southern University’s Department of Transportation Studies teaches logistics and technology along with public policy and security issues. It offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. 

The program is now about to take part in a bigger effort. It’s been designated as a “Beyond Traffic Innovation Center” by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Heading that effort is Transportation Studies Professor Dr. Lei Yu.  

“We will transfer the traditional and the new technologies to our future transportation workforce,” says Yu.  And we will closely work with USDOT to seek optimal and applicable solutions to transportation challenges in our megaregion.”

Yu says when you’re talking about megaregions, you’re actually looking at how Houston fits in the bigger picture.

“It’s very interesting that Houston is part of two megaregions,” explains Yu. “One is the Texas Triangle region. Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, etc. Houston is also part of the Gulf Coast megaregion and  this covers the entire Gulf Coast area along I-10. And we have to understand that a megaregion is not a concept about population. It’s a concept about connection of economies.”

And to see exactly how people are moving around these megaregions, researchers have a lot of material to work with that they didn’t have before. 

“You have a lot of data today,” adds Yu. “You have cellphones data and you have the data from Uber and you can easily analyze the behavior of people’s travel so that you can design your systems better, so you can accommodate the need from the point that people leave their homes to the point where people arrive at their destination. And how to connect, what mode of transportation should they use.”

And Yu says those modes of transportation are now poised to change dramatically.

“My personal estimate is that it will happen more quickly that people anticipate,” says Yu. “If you look at what is going on with the internet, how many people have predicted Uber?  It’s just unbelievable. It just happened overnight. Technology is unbelievable. If you read the news a lot of tech companies have invested in automated vehicles, autonomous vehicles, connected vehicle technology. I just believe that in the next couple of years — you have seen the testing already. And the vehicle is on the road now in some cities, both at home and also abroad. And you can see a lot of testing. And I just believe it will happen.”

More information: 

Beyond Traffic 2045

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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