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UTC Hosts Conference on Changing Demographics and the Transportation System

UTC Hosts Conference on Changing Demographics and the Transportation System

In October 2008, RITA's University Transportation Centers (UTC) program, along with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), hosted its third annual Spotlight Conference, on "The Impact of Changing Demographics on the Transportation System" in Washington, D.C. Conference speakers addressed some of the diverse demographic changes that are likely to affect the U.S. transportation system over the coming decades, including issues related to our aging population, changes in ethnicity, shifts in the rural/urban/suburban/ exurban population balance and their effect on mobility and transportation safety, and workforce issues associated with changing demographics.

Topics addressed at presentations during the two-day meeting included:

  • Immigration Internally and from Abroad:
    • Immigrants and Travel Behavior: A Tale of Migration, Mobility and Assimilation
    • Immigration Trends in the U.S.: Implications for Travel Demand, Transportation Systems, and Public Policy
  • Gender Differences:
    • Does Gender Matter? Changes, Choices and Consequences for Transportation
    • Policy
    • The Mobility and Safety of Older Women in 2030
  • Aging and Demographic Transition:
    • Safe Mobility of Older People
    • Disruptive Demographics: Anticipating New Demands of Aging on Tomorrow's Transportation System
  • Changing Racial and Ethnic Mix:
    • Disaggregating Race and Ethnicity: Toward a Better Understanding of the Social Impacts of Transport Decisions
    • Demographics Matter: Travel Demand, Options and Characteristics Among Minority Populations

Paper sessions were also held on Aging and Demographic Transition; Immigration Internally and from Abroad; and Changing Racial and Ethnic Mix, and Gender Differences.

As with all Spotlight Conferences, TRB will develop and publish a final report of results from the event, an "E-Circular" that will be distributed throughout government, academic and private sector transportation communities in both hard copy and in a web-based format through TRB's Transportation Research Information Service, which is hosted online by RITA at

The report will focus on demographic research activities being conducted by the UTCs, as well as how that research supports USDOT initiatives and enhances the movement of people. Specifically, the report will serve as an information base of USDOT-supported universities conducting demographic-related research, development, and technology for use by USDOT and other U.S. government agencies, the academic community, and private sector.

The October conference was the third in the recently established UTC Spotlight Conference series, which was first instituted in 2006 with a conference called "Radio Frequency Identification Technologies in Transportation." As with the first two Spotlight Conferences, the purpose of this event was to allow university researchers, transportation industry representatives, state and local DOTs and other government agencies, exposure to the breadth of university work in a particular area and, more importantly, inform USDOT of the insight and innovations being realized. The 2007 conference topic was "Freight Transportation: Congestion and System Performance." Upcoming Spotlights will focus on Infrastructure Preservation and Management (2009) and Transportation and the Environment (2010).