University of Detroit Mercy Transportation Center

The University of Detroit Mercy Transportation Center (UDMTC) is a coalition of faculty and staff members from across the university dedicated to improving Southeastern Michigan through purposeful action focused on the critical issues of transportation systems, organizations, policies and public support.

The activities of UDMTC include research projects, transportation courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels, workshops and public education programs, and pre-college programs to attract and develop new transportation professionals.

The sponsors, partners and advisors to UDMTC include the US and Michigan Departments of Transportation (MDOT), Transportation Riders United (TRU), SMART, M1 Rail, Trans4M, APTA, Ford Motor Company, and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).

List of Funded Projects

The UDMTC has been engaged in projects that focus on regional transit development.

  1. A study of the factors that enable and inhibit the development and operation of effective regional transportation systems in Southeast Michigan (Detroit metro area). The team of thirteen faculty and student investigators is conducting this study between June 2012 and September 2013. To learn from other regions that have faced and overcome similar challenges, the team has selected and studied four peer regions to study in depth, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver and St. Louis. Reports on Phase 1 and 2, Detroit History and Other Regions, were released in January 2013. Lead investigators are Dr. Leo E. Hanifin (mechanical engineering), Dean Lloyd Semple (law), Dr. Claudia Bernasconi (architecture), Dr. Utpal Dutta (civil engineering) and Dr. Alan Hoback (civil engineering).
    Read the report: A Study of Factors that Inhibit and Enable Development of Sustainable Regional Transit Systems in Southeastern Michigan
    (PDF 2.1MB)
    Related Links:
    A.  Current Detroit Transit, July 2013
    B.   Transit Lessons for Detroit from Four Peer Regions: Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver and St. Louis, January 2013
    C.  Detroit Regional Transit - Recommendations and Comparisons, September 2013
    D.  Detroit Transit History, January 2013
    E.  Moving Forward with Transit in Southeast Michigan
  2. A study of public opinion regarding transit and a public education program in collaboration with Transportation Riders United (TRU), a Detroit transit advocacy group. This project is led by Professor Claudia Bernasconi (architecture) and Megan Owens (director of TRU), with support from Professors Kathy Zhong (math), Linda Slowik (psychology) and Leo Hanifin (engineering). This project was launched in February 2013. The first phase compiled the transit related opinions of over 300 citizens of SE Michigan. 
    Read the report: Understanding Public Opinion Regarding Transit in Southeast Michigan (PDF 1.07MB)
  3. The Metro Detroit Transit Workshop: Fashioned after the biennial Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference sponsored by the American Public Transit Association and the Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE), attendees will learn how to get transit planning and campaigns right. The goal of the workshop is to develop a broad coalition with deep understanding that transit development as a process that
    • begins with a good plan that enjoys deep support,
    • has good governance and oversight,
    • has funding mechanism that pays for construction and operation, and
    • has a broad and diverse coalition of people who are enabled and energized to advocate for transit, in advance of a ballot initiative, from a position of knowledge and strength.

Read the report: The Metro Detroit Transit Workshop: Unpack the Challenge (PDF 3.2MB)

  1. TRANSIT Smart Moves is a one week summer commuter camp for high school students, currently in the 9th-11th grades, who want to learn about the world of transportation through LEGO NXT Robotics, a field of study within Civil Engineering. The TRANSIT camp is made up of labs and discussions lead by University professors and high school science teachers; presentations by MDOT, Ford Motor Company and SEMCOG; activities from MDOT's TRAC program. A modified version of Transit Smart Moves is also offered as Saturday classes in the Fall and Spring DAPCEP program at UDM.
  2. Economic Benefits of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Southeast Michigan:Within the next few years, residents of SE Michigan will consider Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as an option for a rapid travel mode. The planned BRT could be a wonderful enhancement to our public transit system. However, the economic impact of the planned BRT on SE Michigan has not yet been quantified. In fact, since BRT is relatively new in its use in the United States, less data and analysis exists regarding its economic impact than other options such as light rail or streetcars. The purpose of this effort is to develop a framework for evaluation to determine the potential impact of the different forms of BRT on the economy. Using existing literature, case studies from other regions, published report metrics, and input from professionals, researchers will identify specific factors to be measured over time and develop a “framework for evaluation,” as well as predict impact of BRT on the economy of Southeastern Michigan. This project will be led by Dr. Utpal Dutta (Civil Engineering).
    Read the report: Economic Impacts of Bus Rapid Transit in Southeast Michigan (PDF 1.3MB)

Affiliated Faculty and Staff of UDMTC

  • Mark Benvenuto (chemistry/biochemistry)
  • Claudia Bernasconi (architecture)
  • Charles Cross (Detroit Collaborative Design Center)
  • Utpal Dutta (civil engineering)
  • Leo Hanifin (mechanical engineering)
  • Christina Heximer (Detroit Collaborative Design Center)
  • Alan Hoback (civil engineering)
  • Patricia Martinico (center administration)
  • Utyaba Mohammad (electrical engineering)
  • Dan Pitera (Detroit Collaborative Design Center)
  • Alexa Rihana (environmental engineering)
  • Mark Schumack (mechanical engineering)
  • Lloyd Semple (law)
  • Pamela Todd (Pre-college STEM Programs)
  • Steve Vogel (architecture)

Past transportation projects by UDMTC faculty have been completed since 2006

For full information on completed UDM projects please go to the Michigan-Ohio University Transportation Center (MIOH-UTC).

  • Transportation Oriented Development – Dr. Dutta
    • Transit Oriented Development at Selected LRT Stations in the Detroit Metropolitan Area (with Dr. Khasnabis – Wayne State)
    • Transit Oriented Development at Selected LRT Stations in the Detroit Metropolitan Area(Incorporating Environmental Sustainability) - (with Dr. Khasnabis – Wayne State)
  • Transportation Planning and System Design
    • The Woodward Transit Catalyst Project (Preliminary design of the M1 Rail System) – Dr. Hanifin (with Professor Vogel, Fuchs and Kim of Architecture and Professors Anderson and Hoback of E&S)
    • Developing Translinked Corridor Investment Strategies and Assessing their Socio-Economic Impacts on the Detroit Metropolitan Area and the Northwest Ohio Regional Community – Dr. Dutta (with Dr. Min – Bowling Green)
    • Modeling Metropolitan Detroit Transit – Dr. Dutta (with Dr. Khasnabis – Wayne State)
    • Investigation of Hovercraft Operation in Detroit Weather Conditions – Dr. Hoback
  • Alternative fuels
    • Production of Fuel Ethanol from Cellulosic Peat for Future Transportation Systems – Dr. Benvenuto
    • From Phyto-Remediation to Phyto-Mining: A Means of Maximizing Value In Producing Bio-diesel From Pennycress - Dr. Mark Benvenuto, Dr. Alexa Rihanna, Dr. Stokes Baker
    • Improving the Energy Density of Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles (HHVs) and Evaluating Plug-In HHVs – Dr. Schumack
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems
    • New Approach to Enhance and Evaluate the Performance of VII and ITS Communication Systems– Dr. Al-Holou
    • Multi-dimensional Model for Vehicle Impact on Traffic Safety, Congestion, and Environment - Drs. Al-Holou and Utyaba Mohammad
  • Pavement Inspection and Safety Projects – Dr. Lynch (with Dr. Salari – U. of Toledo)
    • Transportation Informatics: Advanced Image Processing Techniques for Automated Pavement Distress Evaluation
    • Advanced Road Scene Image Segmentation and Pavement Evaluation Using Neural Networks
    • Pavement Distress Evaluation using 3D Depth Information from Stereo Vision
  • Intelligent Traffic Control – Drs. Dutta and Lynch
    • Crash Benefits of SCATS Control System – Drs. Dutta and Lynch
    • Evaluation of SCATS Control System (Intelligent Traffic Control) – Dr. Dutta
  • Innovative Contracting Methods and Construction Traffic Congestion – Dr. Dutta
    • Innovative Contracting Methods and Construction Traffic Congestion – Dr. Dutta

Related Links

Michigan-Ohio University Transportation Center (MIOH-UTC)

The Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC)