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UGPTI Provides the Data-Crunching Expertise

Posted: May 7, 2007

The Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) at North Dakota State University, in Fargo, partnered with the Eno Foundation to gather, analyze, and publish data for the 20th edition of Transportation in America (TIA). The process called on all the skills of UGPTI's staff, according to Dr. Kim Vachal and Doug Benson, project leaders.

"The new TIA provides data that is relevant in today's market," said Dr. Vachal, "and I think the transportation industry was genuinely happy to hear that the publication was coming back."

Benson said UGPTI made the data more useful in a broader way by adding categories that reflect the evolving state of transportation. "Most of all," said Benson, "we wanted to make the data presentation vital and fresh as well as compelling. Benson noted that anyone who has relied on the previous TIAs for data will see for the first time the inclusion of growing transportation modes, such as paratransit and small package business. "We also covered evolving environmental and energy use within transportation industries," said Benson, "and we expanded coverage of transportation construction."

Transit, itself, is becoming more of a topic, not only domestically, but internationally. There are more viable opportunities for transit service, as individuals and communities make decisions about getting around. Paratransit completes the overall transit picture and that addition is one of the most significant improvements from previous TIA editions.

In a larger sense, though, topics like the environment and energy use reach beyond our borders, and including these categories supports our perspective of keeping this edition "international" in its scope.

Vachal and Benson noted the emerging efficiencies in transportation reflected in the downward trend in transportation expenditures versus transportation. They both agreed that the Nation's transportation system is moving more and more goods and services over time in more efficient and more environmentally sensitive ways while lowering the cost to do so.

"The TIA also serves as a policy resource," said Vachal. "It provides policy makers with a bigger picture of the transportation industry, and allows them to make more informed decisions." Vachal said that the abundance of data coming from the industry presented a challenge to UGPTI. "We didn't attempt to include every detail," said Vachal. "The goal was to present data that would be understood by the industry and the public, and I believe we did that with this issue."

Published in the Eno Transportation Foundation publication
Transportation Quarterly
Spring 2007

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