$20M Grant Renewal for National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Research to Focus on Equitable Decarbonization of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, housed at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, will receive $20 million to lead a group of seven universities studying transportation effects on the environment. The award reinforces UC Davis’ standing as the nation’s leading university center on sustainable transportation.

The funding was granted as part of the Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program. This year’s grant competition drew 230 applications, the most ever in the programs 35-year history. The Davis-based center is one of only five national transportation centers awarded under the University Transportation Centers Program, and the only one focused on the Department of Transportation, or DOT, research priority of “Preserving the Environment.”

The $20 million grant ($4 million per year over five years) will allow researchers at UC Davis and other consortium member universities to focus on accelerating equitable decarbonization that benefits both the transportation system and the well-being of people in overburdened and historically disadvantaged communities.

3 critical domains

Susan Handy, woman by bicycles
Susan Handy, director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, led by UC Davis.

Research activities will concentrate in three critical domains: vehicle technology, infrastructure provision and reshaping travel demand to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Finding a way to decarbonize transportation that does not exacerbate existing inequities is one of the most significant societal challenges we face,” said Susan Handy, UC Davis professor and director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, or NCST. “I am thrilled that we will have the opportunity to work with the U.S. Department of Transportation on this challenge and continue the important work we’ve been doing for the last nine years. With the new grant, we will expand our focus on equity and justice and launch new initiatives on rural mobility, vehicle electrification and sustainable freight.”

Expanded consortium

The new grant also enables the center to expand its consortium. “We are delighted to welcome Texas Southern University to our partnership,” Handy said. TSU joins the original consortium members: California State University Long Beach; Georgia Institute of Technology; UC Riverside; University of Southern California; and University of Vermont.

“TSU is honored to join the highly prestigious team of NCST and is truly excited for the opportunity to make contributions to research and education that promote a sustainable and equitable transportation development,” said Lei Yu, professor of Transportation Studies and director of TSU’s Innovative Transportation Research Institute.

Transforming transportation

This round of funding marks the second time UC Davis has been able to renew its status as the host of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.

Since its establishment in 2013, the NCST has helped to organize and fund research addressing urgent and critical transportation challenges, and its researchers have partnered with thought leaders and stakeholder groups to provide national leadership for advancing an environmentally sustainable transportation system.

“ITS-Davis is proud and honored to receive this award, recognizing our decadeslong commitment to sustainable transportation,” said Professor Dan Sperling, founding director of ITS-Davis. “Kudos to Susan Handy, our fearless leader of the center since the first award from the DOT in 2013. We are on a mission to transition our transportation system to a more equitable, environmental and economically sustainable future — in the U.S. and globally.”

The NCST provides national leadership in advancing environmentally sustainable transportation through cutting-edge research, direct policy engagement and education of our future leaders. More information is available online.

Media Resources

Media Contacts:

  • Samuel Chiu, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, sachiu@ucdavis.edu
  • Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-750-9195, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu

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