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1 Introduction Transportation is a major sector of the U.S. economy, with transportation- related goods and services accounting for some 10.2 percent of the gross domestic product in 20111 (RITA 2013). Transportation also plays a key role in determining quality of life, with a wide variety of transportation services supporting both personal mobility and economic prosperity. But because of economic transformations and population growth, both at home and abroad, U.S. transportation needs have changed dramati- cally over the past half-century. International trade has mushroomed, going from 13 percent of the U.S. economy in 1990 to 30 percent in 2010, and trade patterns continue to evolve in response to globalization of the marketplace and evolving supply chains (AASHTO 2010). Demand for domestic transportation services has also changed as a result of population growth and shifting demographics. The population of the United States rose from 181 million in 1960 to 309 million in 2010, and the mean age has been steadily increasing (U.S. Census Bureau 2013). This aging trend is projected to continue, with those 65 and older expected to constitute about 19 percent of the nation’s people in 2030 (U.S. Census Bureau 2008). The resulting changes in work and lifestyle patterns, includ- ing nontraditional retirements in which individuals continue to work part-time beyond retirement age, are likely to have substantial impacts on travel patterns and demands2 (ICF International 2008). 1 This is the most recent year for which complete figures are available. 2 Other examples of major trends shaping the future and their interrelationships with transporta- tion are discussed in the report Long Range Strategic Issues Facing the Transportation Industry (ICF International 2008). 5

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6 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future ROLE OF RESEARCH The impacts of transportation research touch the lives of all Ameri- cans. For example, today’s highway pavements, built with highly mecha- nized processes and materials that meet rigorous quality standards, are “incredibly more durable, more resistant to traffic and weather, safer, smoother, quieter, and more economical” than those of the 1950s, which were “essentially hand-built from native materials of uncertain quality” (TRB 1996, 10). These improvements in highway pavements were based on research, as were major advances in traffic control, trucking, high- way safety, railroad freight, motor vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions reductions, and public transportation during the second half of the 20th century (TRB 1996). Unlike medical research, however, transportation studies are often not perceived by the general public as an important part of the nation’s research agenda. Despite major progress in U.S. transportation systems and services, particularly since the 1950s and 1960s, further improvements are needed if the nation is to continue competing effectively in the global market- place and enhancing its inhabitants’ quality of life while simultaneously meeting increasingly stringent requirements for sustainability. The sur- face transportation system in particular is a major target for overhaul, given that the nation’s cars, light trucks, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for more than 85 percent of the transportation sector’s petroleum use and associated carbon dioxide emissions (TRB 2011b). Examples of challenges facing the U.S. surface transportation system are listed in Box 1-1.3 Research is expected to play a major role in addressing the challenges facing U.S. surface transportation, and technological developments are likely to influence this research in two ways. First, new technologies may offer new solutions to transportation problems, as in the case of ongo- ing efforts using communications technology to improve road safety by alerting motorists to impending collisions or dangerous road con- ditions. These efforts depend on connected vehicle technology, a form of dedicated short-range wireless communication that allows vehicles 3 In accordance with the committee’s charge (see the third section of this chapter), this report focuses on surface transportation rather than on transportation as a whole.

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Introduction 7 BOX 1-1 Examples of Challenges Facing the U.S. Surface Transportation System • Congestion. In 2011, the urban auto commuter traveling dur- ing peak periods experienced an average total of 38 hours of congestion-related delays—equivalent to four vacation days (Schrank et al. 2012). The best available estimates of the truck hours of delay for the worst truck-freight bottlenecks show that “each of the top 10 highway-interchange bottlenecks cause over a million truck-hours of delay per year, costing $19 bil- lion overall” (AASHTO 2010, iii). • Safety. “Nearly every high-income country is today reducing annual traffic fatalities and fatality rates faster than is the United States, and several countries where fatality rates per kilometer of travel were higher than in the United States 20 years ago are now below the U.S. rate” (TRB 2011a, 12). • Mobility. “For old, young, poor, or disabled people, for whom personal vehicles may not be a viable option, today’s [public] transportation system is neither convenient nor accessible” (Bradley et al. 2011, 40). • Transportation security. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has invested heavily in improved transportation secu- rity, both for passengers and freight, but the high price and the resultant barriers to international commerce and global trade raise significant concerns (Mueller and Stewart 2011). • Environmental quality. Highway vehicles are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. Furthermore, carbon dioxide emissions from highway vehicles increased by 23.5 percent between 1990 and 2011, the largest percentage increase for any mode of transportation over the same period (Davis et al. 2013).

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8 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future to communicate with each other and with nearby infrastructure (www. its.dot.gov/safety_pilot/pdf/safetypilot_nhtsa_factsheet.pdf). Second, technological developments may modify the nature of transportation challenges themselves. For example, new natural gas extraction technol- ogies, notably shale gas extraction (fracking), have resulted in “enough domestic natural gas to greatly increase its use for the transportation sector without significantly affecting the traditional natural gas markets” (NRC 2013, 8). This increased availability of low-cost domestic natural gas could stimulate interest, and research, into greater use of natural gas as a fuel for light-duty vehicles, particularly if environmental issues associated with fracking were to be resolved. MAKING WISE RESEARCH INVESTMENTS Given the critical role of research in increasing transportation’s quality, availability, and affordability, it is essential that the nation’s investments in transportation research make the most out of every dollar spent. The challenge facing decision makers, particularly in the current resource- constrained environment, is made all the more difficult by the multifac- eted and complex nature of transportation research; by today’s research agenda, which often appears fragmented and disorganized; and by the messy nature of the innovation process (Skinner 1997). Multifaceted and Complex Research Transportation is an “area of human activity that involves an incredibly diverse array of technologies and systems” (Skinner 1997, 4). It addresses vehicles, fuels, infrastructure, and transportation users, as well as the inter- actions among them. Transportation also cuts across many fields of knowl- edge, from traditional transportation disciplines such as engineering and materials science to less traditional areas, such as information technology, behavioral science, human health, and the environment. The outcomes of transportation research are similarly diverse, leading not only to a wide range of tangible achievements (such as bridge designs, quiet pavements, and alternative-fuel vehicles), but also to new or improved methods and strategies for supplying, operating, and managing transportation systems

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Introduction 9 and services (such as traffic-simulation models and pay-at-the-pump insurance). Fragmented Agenda The U.S. transportation enterprise is highly decentralized, involving “tens of thousands of institutional and corporate participants” in the public, private, and academic sectors (Skinner 1997, 4). Much of its research responds to the specific needs of individual organizations or groups of organizations, such as transportation providers, automobile manufactur- ers, and state departments of transportation, and it is often focused on individual modes (e.g., highway or rail) rather than on broader system- wide needs. Faced with this patchwork of diverse and localized research activities and lacking a clear, comprehensive, and integrated picture of regional or national needs, decision makers face challenges in identifying and prioritizing the research required to support development of the U.S. multimodal transportation system as a whole. The Nature of Innovation Decisions about research investments are also complicated by the often haphazard way in which knowledge gained through research finds its way into practical real-life applications. Innovation in transportation is frequently a two-steps-forward-one-step-back process rather than a neat and orderly transition from knowledge acquisition to knowledge imple- mentation (Skinner 1997). Different types of knowledge tend to have dif- ferent paths and likelihoods of deployment, with technological advances often more apt to be quickly embraced than policy innovations. In the former case, deployment depends mainly on the potential costs and ben- efits, but in the latter it is typically a function of the public response and political decision making. Moreover, many potential policy innovations are controversial or simply not amenable at present to widespread accep- tance. For example, congestion pricing, a concept developed in the 1920s, is attracting more attention now that transponder technology is available for cost-effective implementation, funding constraints are growing ever tighter, and fewer options are available for solving the nation’s increas- ingly serious congestion problems. Nonetheless, congestion pricing

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10 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future continues to raise questions about equity, or fairness, as well as privacy (TRB 2011c). Research into policy options can provide a much-needed means of exploring opportunities and implementing them when and where they make the most sense. For electric vehicles and advanced fuels, for exam- ple, investigating a portfolio of alternatives allows researchers to retain sufficient flexibility to accommodate a variety of future scenarios and to identify the options that are technically and economically feasible in each case (Christensen 2011). Given the challenges facing transportation and the need for more rapid and efficient research, development, and deployment, this report looks to other nations and other sectors to identify possible models and strategies to improve U.S. surface transportation research. In efforts to broaden and, when possible, optimize the U.S. transportation research agenda there is no need (pun fully intended) to reinvent the wheel. The purpose of this report is thus to explore opportunities for improving the productivity of U.S. expenditures on surface transportation research by building on lessons learned from transportation research in other countries and from research in nontransportation sectors in the United States. CHARGE TO THE COMMITTEE In April 2008, a team of transportation research and policy experts from the United States visited Belgium (home of the European Commission), France, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Sweden to review and assess the administrative practices of transportation research programs (Elston et al. 2009). Originating from discussions among research man- agers at state departments of transportation, and responding to their commitment to “improving the effectiveness of research-program activ- ities and increasing the stewardship of the resources directed to research” (Elston et al. 2009, 1), this scanning tour sought policy options and pro- cess advances that could potentially enhance the organization and out- comes of transportation research in the United States. The scanning team identified various successful practices in the host countries that could potentially be applied to the United States, and the

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Introduction 11 team developed an implementation plan that identified major items and strategies for putting such practices into action (Elston et al. 2009). Two of these items—developing a nationally coordinated transportation research framework4 and strengthening the innovation process—were developed into National Cooperative Highway Research Program prob- lem statements. These objectives were combined into a single project, and the Standing Committee on Research of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) subsequently referred this project to the Policy Studies Division of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). The Policy Studies Division then organized the Committee on National Research Frameworks: Application to Transportation, which was tasked with considering whether and how experience in the devel- opment of strategic research frameworks in the transportation sector internationally and in nontransportation sectors domestically could be applied to surface transportation research in the United States. In par- ticular, the committee was asked to • Identify and assess promising models and frameworks for transpor- tation research, development, and deployment (RD&D, or simply “research”)5 in other nations; • Identify and assess U.S. examples of national RD&D strategic plan- ning in sectors other than transportation; and • Describe and evaluate potential frameworks and institutional models for the United States for transportation RD&D, including agenda setting, coordination, partnerships, and knowledge creation and application. The term “research framework” is used extensively in the report on the 2008 scanning tour (Elston et al. 2009), but it is never defined explicitly by the report’s authors. Further, because the committee was unable to find a widely accepted definition of the term in the scientific and technological 4 See the definition of “research framework” below. 5 For ease of reading, the term “research” is used throughout this report as shorthand for RD&D, unless otherwise noted. The different activities leading to innovation (such as basic research, applied research, and development) are defined in Chapter 3, both generally and in the transpor- tation context.

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12 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future literature, it elected to adopt the implicit definition used by the scanning team. For the purposes of the present report, therefore, a research frame- work is defined as comprising the social, political, and organizational structures within which research is conducted and the processes by which it is accomplished. The concept of a research framework is discussed in detail in Chapter 2. Consistent with its charge, the committee addressed certain areas of surface transportation research rather than transportation research in general. In addition, to render its task more tractable with available resources, the committee focused on highways, rail, and public transpor- tation and excluded pipelines, inland waterways, and coastal shipping, even though these latter modes fall within the conventional scope of surface transportation. COMMITTEE’S APPROACH From the outset, the committee’s intent was to identify ways of improv- ing the inefficient practices and processes of the current U.S. surface transportation research enterprise while retaining its effective aspects. To inform this approach, the committee conducted a high-level appraisal of the American approach to transportation research, as it is, to identify its strengths (i.e., features to be retained) and weaknesses (opportuni- ties for improvement). In subsequent discussions with representatives of research organizations in other nations and other sectors, the commit- tee sought to correct those weaknesses by discerning potentially useful approaches and procedures that, if applied to U.S. surface transportation research (perhaps in modified form), could enhance it. In seeking to learn from transportation research organizations over- seas, the committee was wary of inappropriate transfers of policies from one country to another. Dolowitz and Marsh (2000) identify three fac- tors that can contribute to the failure of policy transfer efforts in general: • Uninformed transfer. The borrowing country has insufficient informa- tion about the policy or institution and how it operates in the origi- nating country; • Incomplete transfer. Elements crucial to the success of the policy in the originating country are not transferred to the borrowing country; and

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Introduction 13 • Inappropriate transfer. Insufficient attention is paid to the differences between the economic, social, political, and ideological contexts of the transferring and borrowing countries. Thus, when considering the transfer of successful policies from other countries to the United States, factors that merit careful attention include the different decision-making processes in those countries’ governmen- tal systems; the influence of parliamentary systems of government in particular (which combine executive and legislative functions); and the countries’ basic cultures, which may place greater emphasis on societal (as opposed to individual) good than is standard practice in the United States. Such differences do not necessarily imply that successful policies from other countries are inapplicable to the United States, but rather that introducing them here may not be straightforward. For example, a recent report comparing traffic safety strategies in the United States and other industrialized countries noted that “no country’s institutions match the thousands of U.S. entities with independent authority for public safety and for road maintenance and operation” (TRB 2011a, 215). As a result, certain safety strategies that are effective in countries with highly centralized governments and a national police force respon- sible for traffic-law enforcement may be difficult to implement in the United States. One of the challenges that the committee faced in developing its rec- ommendations, therefore, was to suggest actions that could improve the U.S. surface transportation enterprise but that also would be feasible within the constraints imposed by current U.S. institutional structures and budgetary processes. Other expert groups have concluded that major structural and procedural changes are needed if the nation’s surface trans- portation system is to meet future demands for the safe, efficient, and sustainable movement of people and goods. The National Surface Trans- portation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, for example, endorsed “changes in the structure of the USDOT [U.S. Department of Transporta- tion] that would reinforce the functional orientation of . . . new recom- mended programs rather than the current modal orientation” (NSTPRSC 2007, 37). However, in the present study the committee was not charged with reorganizing federal agencies or with investigating changes to related congressional budgetary processes. Hence the report’s recommendations

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14 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future entail practical steps that, in the committee’s judgment, are potentially achievable within the current institutional and political contexts. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT Chapter 2 describes the functions (e.g., agenda setting and research evalu- ation) that make up a research framework and presents attributes (e.g., stakeholder involvement and support of research partnerships) that the committee identified as influential in a framework’s performance. Chapter 3 summarizes the main features of the current U.S. surface transportation research enterprise, presents examples of the different types of programs that constitute the research portfolio, and identifies strengths and weak- nesses of the current system along with opportunities for improvement. Chapter 4 outlines the committee’s strategy for gathering information on transportation research organizations in other countries, briefly describes the organizations considered, and highlights features of these research frameworks that might help strengthen surface transportation research in the United States. Similarly, Chapter 5 explains the committee’s approach to gathering information on research frameworks in domestic nontrans- portation sectors, describes the organizations and initiatives considered, and presents the lessons learned. Chapter 6, the final chapter, discusses the potential value to the United States of a cohesive national surface transportation research framework that, as in many other countries, links transportation and transportation research to broad national goals. The committee offers its recommenda- tions for building and implementing such a U.S. framework, enumerat- ing in particular its proposed actions for strengthening the federal role. REFERENCES Abbreviations AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials NRC National Research Council NSTPRSC National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission RITA Research and Innovative Technology Administration TRB Transportation Research Board

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Introduction 15 AASHTO. 2010. Unlocking Freight. Washington, D.C. http://expandingcapacity. transportation.org/unlocking_freight/images/FreightReportFinal_7710.pdf. Bradley, B., T. Ridge, and D. Walker. 2011. Road to Recovery: Transforming America’s Trans- portation. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. Christensen, D. 2011. Transportation Energy in the U.S.: Directions. Presented to Com- mittee on National Research Frameworks: Application to Transportation, Transpor- tation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., Oct. 24. Davis, S. C., S. W. Diegel, and R. G. Boundy. 2013. Transportation Energy Data Book, 32nd ed. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn., July 31. http://cta.ornl. gov/data/index.shtml. Dolowitz, D. P., and D. Marsh. 2000. Learning from Abroad: The Role of Policy Transfer in Contemporary Policy-Making. Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 5–24. Elston, D., D. Huft, B. T. Harder, J. Curtis, M. R. Evans, C. W. Jenks, L. McGinnis, H. R. Paul, G. Roberts, E. Wingfield, and J. B. Wlaschin. 2009. Transportation Research Pro- gram Administration in Europe and Asia. Report FHWA-PL-09-015. Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. http://www.international.fhwa. dot.gov/pubs/pl09015/pl09015.pdf. ICF International. 2008. Long Range Strategic Issues Facing the Transportation Industry: Final Research Plan Framework. NCHRP Project 20-80, Task 2. Fairfax, Va. Mueller, J., and M. G. Stewart. 2011. Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security. Oxford University Press Inc., New York. NRC. 2013. Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels. National Academies Press, Wash- ington, D.C. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/18264.html. NSTPRSC. 2007. Transportation for Tomorrow. http://www.transportationfortomorrow. com. RITA. 2013. Pocket Guide to Transportation 2013. U.S. Department of Transportation. http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/publications/pocket_guide_to_transportation/2013. Schrank, D., T. Lomax, and B. Eisele. 2012. TTI’s 2012 Urban Mobility Report. Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University System, College Station. Skinner, R. E., Jr. 1997. Ten Theses About Transportation Research. TR News, No. 189, March–April, pp. 3–5. TRB. 1996. The Transportation Research Board: 1920–1995. TR News, No. 182, January–February. TRB. 2011a. Special Report 300: Achieving Traffic Safety Goals in the United States: Les- sons from Other Nations. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr300.pdf.

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16 Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future TRB. 2011b. Special Report 307: Policy Options for Reducing Energy Use and Green- house Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/ sr307.pdf. TRB. 2011c. Special Report 303: Equity of Evolving Transportation Finance Mechanisms. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C. http:// onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr303.pdf. U.S. Census Bureau. 2008. U.S. Population Projections. U.S. Census Bureau. 2013. Population Estimates Archive. http://www.census.gov/popest/ archives/pre-1980/PE-11-1960.pdf.