The economy, the environment, and the future: A student’s reflection on visiting Hong Kong

Gallery

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Originally posted on CTS Blog:
In May, the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits…

Transformation and development: A student’s reflection on visiting Shenzhen

CTS Blog

In May, the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions.

In this guest post, student Elmo Elsayad offers his reflections on Shenzhen, the penultimate city visited by course participants. Activities in the city included visiting Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School, touring urban villages and eco-cities, and visiting the Shenzhen Urban Transportation Center.


IMG_2363 By Elmo Elsayad

In my view, the transformation of the city of Shenzhen is a breakthrough in the science of urban morphology. As a city that has been transformed in only 30 years, making use of engineering ingenuity and innovative urban transit-oriented development, Shenzhen is a successful model of quick and mature city development.

I believe that the proximity of Shenzhen to…

View original post 315 more words

Street design and bike sharing: A student’s reflection on visiting Nanjing

CTS Blog

In May, the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions.

In this guest post, student Joe Polacek reflects on Nanjing, the third stop on the course’s itinerary. While in the city, the students visited the Nanjing Public Bicycle Company, the Nanjing Construction Planning Exhibition Hall, and Southeast University.


Nanjing Skyline By Joe Polacek

What I found most striking about Nanjing was the contrast between old and new. As we entered the city, we immediately made our way to the ancient temple on a hill. We ate vegetarian dishes and walked atop an old city wall. As we descended, however, the city became a totally new, contemporary experience. The streets were wide and paved with new blacktop…

View original post 318 more words

Public participation, poetry, and planning: A student’s reflection on visiting Suzhou

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on CTS Blog:
In May, the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits…

International students study transportation during summer exchange

IMG_4130This summer, students from three Chinese universities spent six weeks learning about American transportation and culture as part of a training program offered by the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) Program.

Thirty-two students from Southeast University, Nanjing Tech University, and Northwest University participated in the program, which included courses on GIS, transportation planning, English speaking and writing, and cross-cultural communication. They also attended a variety of transportation-focused seminars both on and off campus, including tours of U of M labs, 3M’s Innovation Center, and the St. Croix River Crossing.

In addition, students participated in cultural activities at locations around the Twin Cities, such as Fort Snelling and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

“Our hope is that students leave Minnesota with a greater knowledge of the U.S. transportation system and a deepened curiosity to continue their studies and discover new innovations for global transportation,” says CTS director Laurie McGinnis.

The program, first offered in 2016, was developed by CTS, GTI, and the U of M China Center’s Mingda Institute.

U of M students gain first-hand view of Chinese transportation in study-abroad course

Chinese1The Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course in spring semester 2017 that included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions in China. The course—PA 5880: High-Density Urban and Regional Development in China—was offered by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Led by GTI director Yingling Fan, U of M coordinators took 16 students to Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong for the intensive two-week course in May.

“The course gave students first-hand experiences in two of the most densely populated regions on earth,” Fan says. “These two regions are at the center of Chinese economic development, surpassing other regions in levels of economic growth and productivity.”

Through lectures and site visits, the course explored how Chinese cities are working to satisfy the mobility and accessibility needs of the largest urban population in the world. “We looked at every aspect of urban planning, from affordable housing provisions to parking management,” says Fan, an associate professor in the Humphrey School.

In one course assignment, U of M students were paired with 16 students from Southeast University in Nanjing. Each student group (made up of two American students and two Chinese students) was assigned to a place in the city to explore globalization and rapid urbanization. “They were asked to bring what they saw and what they felt into the classroom using photos and short narratives,” Fan says. “It was a very successful activity to reflect on cross-cultural and cross-country perspectives.”

Other activities included lectures from prominent Chinese transportation and urban planning scholars; visits to universities, transport agencies, and transit facilities; and high-speed rail trips between cities (at 350 kilometers per hour).

Trip coordinators included Sherry Gray, director of the Humphrey School’s International Fellows and Scholars Program, and Dawn Spanhake, CTS associate director for development and finance. “The trip was a great opportunity to build relationships with Chinese university faculty and agency staff as we continue to build new partnerships and grow GTI’s global reach,” Spanhake says.

Fan adds that “the trip invigorated networks at various universities and research institutions involved in ongoing and future transportation research and exchanges with the U of M.” One of the host organizations, the Shenzhen Urban Transportation Planning Center (SUTPC), is sponsoring Fan’s research on travel behavior and emotional well-being (Catalyst will include a story about this research in a future issue).

GTI is an affiliated program of CTS. Its education component aims to attract bright minds to the transit-planning field and educate practitioners and agency staff.

 

Denver’s Transit Renaissance: A Legacy of Regionalism, Accountability, and Creativity

In 2004, voters in the Denver region passed FasTracks—an originally $4.7 billion transit expansion program.  The program aimed to develop 122 miles of rail and 18 miles of Bus rapid transit improvements by 2017, which is unprecedented in both scope and timeline.  Despite bumps along the way, Denver’s light rail system will expand to almost 100 miles in 2017 (Figure 1), surpassing the 93-mile system in Dallas and becoming the longest light rail system in the U.S.[i]

This blog post features an in-depth case study of Denver’s exceptional transit expansion efforts.  Through document research and expert interviews, I find that Denver’s success is embodied in its long-standing commitment to regionalism, accountability, and creativity.  Political, business, and civic leaders in Denver have created a culture of focusing on the collective purpose, keeping a track record, and being entrepreneurial when delivering large infrastructure projects. From the voter approval of dedicated sale tax increases to the first transit-related public-private partnership in U.S. history, such culture has been critical to bring Denver’s transit renaissance to life. Continue reading

Global Transit Innovations: student exchange, book development

cts-gti-2016-3M-3101-240ppi-4928x3264

Visiting students toured a variety of Twin Cities facilities, including 3M.

This past summer, CTS hosted 24 students from two Chinese universities—Southeast University and Nanjing Tech University—for the inaugural offering of the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) Summer Training Program.

Focusing on transportation and urban planning, the program included academic courses, professional seminars, and site visits. It was developed by CTS, GTI, and the U of M China Center’s Mingda Institute. Plans for future years include attracting students from additional countries and offering opportunities for U of M students to study in China.

GTI was established last year by CTS in partnership with Associate Professor Yingling Fan of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, who serves as GTI director.

GTI has a growing research and education portfolio. For example, Fan is developing a new book that will share lessons learned from her study of transit development in 20 U.S. metropolitan regions. The book will be a resource for training students and professionals. Fan shares highlights of recent work below.

Tell us about your book.

There is momentum for rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors across U.S. metropolitan regions, but little data on how they succeeded despite long-standing fiscal, political, and sociocultural barriers for transit development in the car-centric U.S. The book will tell the story of how those infrastructure projects were built and offer original analyses on the societal impacts of existing and proposed corridors. Ultimately, the book will offer practical solutions on how to capitalize on emerging transit investments and maximize their positive impacts—i.e., get more bang for the buck.

Who is the intended audience?

The book is intended for planning practitioners and policymakers interested in creating more transportation options for metropolitan residents. Transit corridor development has a strong potential to make metropolitan regions more sustainable, livable, and equitable. Further, by integrating storytelling with rigorous empirical work, the book will be an interesting read for college students to learn about the challenges and opportunities of transit development in the U.S.

What are some highlights from your site visits?

To gather information for the book, I’m visiting cities and meeting with transit development leaders throughout the country. The field work and expert interviews have been extremely enlightening. I have learned about the large unmet demand for cross-town transit in the San Francisco Bay Area and how transit fragmentation in the region hurts ridership. I have learned how Dallas pioneered the use of abandoned railways for transit development and urban regeneration. I have also learned how Detroit and New York City initiated transit corridor projects largely on the promise of land development and without transit agencies playing a primary role—in essence, “development-oriented transit.” These unique case studies merit national and international attention.

What’s needed for a transit revival?

The future of transit will largely be shaped by our ability to create a regional collection of places connected by transit. These places must have quality public spaces with various economic, leisure, and socializing activity opportunities. Of course, public transit needs to provide mobility—but it also desperately needs a regional collection of transit-connected places to bump up demand. A transit revival requires regional and systematic integration of transit planning and place-making initiatives.