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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transit Research Analysis Committee Letter Report: November 11, 2016. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24616.
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1 November 11, 2016 Vincent Valdes Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Federal Transit Administration U.S. Department of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590 Dear Mr. Valdes, The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Transit Research Analysis Committee (TRAC) met on September 23–24, 2016, for briefings and discussions on the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) research priorities and to provide feedback to you in this letter report. I wish to thank you, Executive Director Matthew Welbes, and Deputy Associate Administrator Jamie Pfister for initiating the briefings and leading the discussions. Thanks also go to Mary Leary and the rest of your management team for providing an informative set of program briefings and to Faith Hall for her hard work in reestablishing FTA’s sponsorship of TRAC and scheduling the 2-day meeting. The TRAC membership, meeting agenda, and list of participants are attached. As you know, TRAC consists of 13 members appointed by the National Academies for their wide-ranging expertise in public transportation. TRAC’s interdisciplinary committee of experts from industry, academia, and the private and public sectors is charged with recommending actions that FTA can take to ensure that its research and innovation program is relevant, timely, and effective in meeting the diverse and changing needs of the public transportation community. TRAC’s standing charge is contained in Box 1. As required by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, FTA is developing a strategic research plan scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. The 5-year term of the strategic plan covers the authorization period of the FAST Act. As explained by you, the strategic plan will lay out the rationale for the agency’s research investments and define the research priorities that will guide them. It will specify major program goals and research-to-practice implementation strategies intended to further each goal. To inform the plan’s development, FTA has sought input from many sources, including the September TRAC meeting and this follow-on letter report. In preparation for the meeting, you wrote TRAC asking the following questions:  Does FTA have the right research priorities today?  If yes, then what types of research projects should have the highest priorities?  If no, what additional priorities does the committee recommend? The committee’s responses to these questions appear after a summary of what members learned about the program from the meeting briefings and a review of the Section 5312 Research Report.

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TRB's Transit Research Analysis Committee (TRAC) has delivered a letter report to Mr. Vincent Valdes, Associate Administrator for Research, Demonstration, and Innovation, Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The November 11, 2016 report provides guidance to FTA on the administration’s research priorities as the administration authors its five-year strategic research plan.

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