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METRANS

The METRANS Advisory Board met in early April to discuss strategic changes to the METRANS name and logo as well as to receive updates on 2021 signature METRANS events. The virtual meeting included team members from both USC and CSULB including METRANS Director Genevieve Giuliano and METRANS Deputy Director Tom O’Brien. Amongst the 23 members who attended were representatives from Caltrans, Automobile Club of Southern California, Harbor Trucking Association, UPS Transportation Operations research group, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), Metrolink, Yusen Terminals, Southern California Association of Governments, the Port of Long Beach, Nixon Peabody LLC, South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), and HDR.

The meeting provided an opportunity to formally introduce the METRANS Transportation Consortium, a name that emphasizes METRANS’ partnership-driven approach better than “Center.” The shift from Center to Consortium comes with a new tagline, “Reimagining the future of transportation.” Director Giuliano explained that the new name and tagline comes from a communications audit and extensive discussions with stakeholders, She said, “METRANS is working for a better future, and our new tagline provides our mission in one brief phrase.”

The board was also given updates on two of METRANS’ signature events planned for October 2021 -- the 9th International Urban Freight Conference (I-NUF) and the Center of International Trade and Transportation (CITT) State of the Trade and Transportation Industry Town Hall Meeting. Giuliano indicated that these events would be held in person. Many people have expressed a desire to once again experience the educational and networking opportunities of a live gathering, and as vaccinations increase large gatherings become more possible. However, contingency plans are in progress as well, including some virtual content for the conference. In the unlikely event of another surge, Giuliano added that the I-NUF planning committee decided that the conference would be postponed.

This meeting was the soft launch for METRANS’ Freight Futures Initiative, a collaborative research and workforce development program focused on “informing policy, collaborating with industry, and preparing the workforce” to achieve an efficient, competitive, and sustainable freight sector in California. Several research projects were highlighted:

  • The market for zero emission heavy duty trucks (Giuliano)
  • Economic impact analysis of electrification of cargo handling equipment (Dan Wei)
  • System optimization research (Petros Ioannou)
  • Freight modeling research (Luciano Nocera)

O’Brien presented an overview of the Sustainable Freight Foundations Certificate, an 18-month research and education training pilot class designed to better understand the needs of the freight sector as it transitions to zero emission vehicles. The session ended with a presentation of a new high school outreach program, “Futures in Transportation (FIT) Program” by FIT Coordinator Sue Dexter.

The next meeting for the METRANS Advisory Board will be held in November and is expected to be in person, an anticipated change of pace after a year of “screen fatigue.”