Designing a Sustainable Transportation System for the 21st Century      |      215.564.3004      |

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By Michael Sussman

Building transportation systems productively and profitably can only be accomplished in the 21st century if we design them sustainably.  No amount of money will overcome the unavoidable limits on clean air, stable climate, and land. The urgent mandate to limit climate change compels us to target investments in land transportation beyond simply lowering the price of shipping. We have to move freight while minimizing its impact on the environment, open space, highway capacity, and the overall costs of building and maintaining infrastructure. Given the differential between trucks and trains in the space required for moving goods, the environmental impact of their relative fuel usage, and the efficiency of steel versus concrete and asphalt, it is critical that we shift into designing and building transportation systems that make the optimal use of these two modes.

“Our continued underutilization of rail transportation, in spite of its energy, capital, and space efficiency, provides a clear example of how conventional thinking is not serving society.”

– Michael Sussman, President and Founder

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What Needs to be Said, by Michael Sussman

Across the world at any moment, on any given day, billions of people go about their business looking out for each other’s best interests. The world would not work as well as it does if that wasn’t true. Cooperation and thoughtfulness abound, while selfish, antagonistic acts pale in numbers.

“Are people inherently compassionate or self-centered?” has remained an oft-posed question because of the difference in impact between acts of cooperation or love and acts of aggression or thoughtlessness.

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OTNA Initiative Updates
Nonprofit think-tank OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA) announced last week it has signed working relationships with Pasi Lautala, a professor at Michigan Tech University, and Mingzhou Jin, director of the logistics, transportation and supply chain engineering lab at the University of Tennessee.

"The new partnerships will help OTNA extend the boundaries of knowledge in the field of transportation planning and investment strategy while leveraging our industry experience to guide in-the-field application," said Michael Sussman, president and founder of OTNA, in a press release.

OTNA and Lautala's collaboration is based on recognition that a set of agreed upon measures and values is necessary to guide major investments in infrastructure in order for those investments to be productive and profitable. The measures, data and analytical method have not yet been gathered and agreed on across agency, community and sector lines, Sussman said.

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