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AgeLab grant studies impact of boomers' transportation needs

Aging baby boomers and their impact on our transportation system is the focus of a $6.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to a group of New England universities led by MIT.

The New England University Transportation Center is one of 10 university centers set up around the country by the DOT's Research & Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) to provide a national resource for research and education in both freight and passenger transportation.

MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) was selected to lead the New England Center based on the proposed research theme: "Strategic Management of Disruptive Change on Transportation Systems." This theme builds on research currently being done by the CTL's AgeLab in the area of aging and transportation, specifically the impact of disruptive demographics.

"We live in an aging society -- one baby boomer turns 60 every seven seconds," said Dr. Joseph F. Coughlin, founder of CTL's AgeLab and director of the New England University Transportation Center. "These disruptive demographics will force our region and our nation to rethink and reinvent transportation planning, safety and mobility options, as well as the future transportation workforce."

CTL Director Yossi Sheffi said the grant would provide an opportunity to combine the unique expertise of the AgeLab with the talents of each of the partner universities. "Together we can improve the responsiveness of our highway and public transportation systems to the demands of an aging society and to prepare for the new challenges of an aging transportation workforce," Sheffi said.

The partner universities of the New England University Transportation Center are MIT, Harvard University and the state universities of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

MIT's CTL will be the primary recipient of the DOT RITA funds, which will be awarded over three years.

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