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MTI: Claiming a Seat at the Table

Sally Ride’s passing gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of exploration and the profound impact research can have on our society.  In our own sector research is equally critical. The Mineta Tranportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University announced yesterday their award from the U.S. Department of Transportation  of a $3.49-million grant to study “transportation research, workforce development, technology transfer and education.”  MTI will be teaming on the project with colleagues from Rutgers University, Howard University, University of Detroit Mercy, Grand Valley State University, Bowling Green University, Toledo University, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and Pennsylvania State University.  No doubt, the consortium’s work will produce findings that will positively affect us all.

In looking over the list of schools included in the work I can’t help but think of the fine parking professionals at or near each school who I hope will be included in the effort.  Experts such as Tad McDowell at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Clayton Johnson from the Downtown Toledo Parking Authority, to name two, are seasoned parking and transportation professionals who would bring a tremendous amount of practical experience to the table.

Research is critical to expanding our knowledge base, and it’s exciting to hear about efforts that are directed at our field.  To get the most of the effort, the right people need to be included. In this case, the MTI and its colleagues need to look no further than their own communities to find capable, smart, talented people who can help them ensure their efforts bear the most fruit.

About Casey Jones, CAPP

Casey Jones, CAPP is vice president for university services at SP Plus Corporation. He is IPI past chair and services on the IPI Parking Matters Committee and Accredited Parking Organization board of directors.


  1. Mr Jones, thank you for the opportunity to bring up some of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s recent studies about public parking. All are available for free download from our web site:

    Residential On-Site Carsharing and Off-Street Parking Policy in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Dr Charles Rivasplata, et al

    Amenity or Necessity? Street Standards as Parking Policy, by Dr Zhan Guo, et al

    Carsharing and Public Parking Policies: Assessing Benefits, Costs, and Best Practices in North America, by Dr Susan Shaheen, et al

    MTI also has conducted public meetings regarding parking issues, including one where the presenters asked if free parking is really free. (It isn’t.)

    We also must correct the information about our most recent grant. While MTI conducted research on surface transportation issues throughout its long history (since 1991), the institute has now been tasked with researching only transit issues under this new grant. Therefore, our research at least for the next two years must be restricted to buses, commuter rail, and similar modes. This is a requirement of our federal contract.

    In fact, university transportation research centers must adhere to specific conditions in their contracts, which typically fund only certain areas of study. So, while those research centers may wish to include parking in their studies, they may or may not be permitted to do so.

  2. Another clarification: The grant was awarded in January 2012, not on July 25, as noted in this article. Under this grant, MTI operates as the lead university transportation research center in a consortium that includes eight other centers. The grant is shared with them. Thanks again for your article and for the opportunity to provide additional resource information.

    • Casey Jones says:

      Thank you for your clarifications Donna. I hope our dialogue furthers the exchange between the parking profession and academia involved in transportation related research and makes possible collaboration that heretofore have not been considered.

      • Thanks much, Casey. We appreciate your mentions of MTI. If you need anything from us, just whistle. You have my email address… or at least you can get it from this site.

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