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UConn researchers measure the sustainability of transportation

A new index for measuring the sustainability of transportation systems in cities has been developed by researchers from UConn’s geography and civil and environmental engineering departments.

The Transportation Index for Sustainable Places, or TISP, looks beyond simply measuring vehicle miles travelled and congestion levels and takes into account a range of data from environmental, social and economic perspectives.

“Transportation affects so many aspects of how we live, so when you just focus on congestion, you miss out on all those other areas,” said Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UConn. “We wanted to develop a quantitative approach to things which are not usually considered quantitative.”

The TISP can help cities determine the implications of the transportation system that they have decided on and give them a starting point for how to improve. It has been used at a state level across the United States and has found that automobile orientated transport systems are highly unsustainable. “That is a surprise because when people critique the automobile structure, they critique it in terms of the environment, but what we found was that it is highly unsustainable from an economic perspective as well,” said Garrick.

However, Timothy Garceau, a UConn Ph.D student in transportation planning, said that the most sustainable city is one with a diversity of transportation systems. “The message that people get most of the time is that cars are bad. They’re not. They serve a purpose and the reality is that we need to provide as much transportation diversity as possible as humans have a huge diversity of purposes in daily life.”
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