Institute for Transportation Systems
Professor Neville Parker, Director
Program Office: MR - 909 / ST - 134
Tel.: (212) 650-8054 / 8516
The CUNY Institute for Transportation Systems has been established at the City College in cooperation with the other units of the City University of New York in order to respond to the need for interdisciplinary education of transportation professionals.
The primary objective of the Institute's academic programs is to train transportation planners, engineers and managers to plan effectively, design optimally, operate efficiently, and manage skillfully transportation systems that are capable of satisfying the needs of society. This must be done with full awareness of the human element and in such a way as to optimize the use of financial resources, while protecting the environment and energy resources, and causing minimal social disruption.
Transportation is one of the most vital services in the United States and in the world; it can be compared with the human body's circulation system. Like veins and arteries, our railway, waterway, airway, and highway and street networks facilitate the movement of materials and people to and from houses, offices, plants, farms, mines and a variety of educational, cultural and recreational activities. Everyone is familiar with the difficulties that a transportation malfunction causes. These range from minor delays and aggravation when a street segment is closed for construction, to major disruptions of activities and shortages of goods when there is a major strike or snowstorm. Just as the human body cannot be healthy without a perfectly functioning circulatory system, economic and social activities cannot be carried out without an efficient transportation system.
The importane of transportation is not restricted to its function of serving society's mobility needs; the transportation industry has an economic impact both as a consumer of resources and supplier of jobs. Over 20% of the nation's gross national product is spent on transportation-related activities; these activities employ over ten million people, about 11% of the civilian work force. Transportation consumes more than one half of all refined petroleum products; it is responsible for 15% of all atmospheric pollutants and for the deaths of over 40,000 people annually, mainly as the result of automobile accidents. Obviously, finding ways to improve transportation systems is worthwhile, not only because it can reduce the cost of goods to consumers and help farmers and manufacturers compete for their share of distant markets, but also because it can enhance the quality of life. Benefits accrue to both urban and rural populations in the form of a cleaner environment reduced energy consumption, and lives saved.
The significant role of transportation clearly indicates the need for educating transportation professionals. They must not only be able to meet the technological challenges of new systems, they must also be capable of fitting these systems into social, economic and physical environments in such a manner that the quality of life will be improved for all. Well-educated transportation professionals include civil engineers to build structures; mechanical engineers to design vehicles; electrical engineers to develop vehicle and guidance system controls; chemical engineers to utilize materials and fuels to best effects; industrial engineers to evaluate the interaction of people with machines architects and artists to fit facilities aesthetically into their environments; urban planners and designers to understand the impact of transportation systems on other activities; economists to evaluate alternatives and price services; financial experts to secure funds for both new and existing systems; lawyers to interpret regulations; psychologists to understand human behavior; sociologists to comprehend group dynamics; educators to teach people to change habits; politicians to reconcile the divergent demands of special interest groups; and above all, effective managers to orchestrate the efficient coordination of people and resources.