Dear Mr. President: Mason Experts Offer Transportation Advice to Incoming Administration

Posted: October 16, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jennifer Edgerly and Jim Greif

In a weekly series running from now until the election, the Mason Gazette will present the views of expert Mason faculty on a variety of important campaign issues. This week’s focus is on transportation.

Michael Bronzini

Chair and professor, Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering

“The physical infrastructure on which our society and economy depend is crumbling around us. A funding and development plan that will ensure that we are able to repair and replace critical infrastructure systems, such as roads, bridges, public transit systems, water supply and wastewater systems and power generation and distribution facilities, is vital to our survival,” says Bronzini.

“This plan must start with renewal and funding of the surface transportation system. Articulation of a national transportation policy in the post-interstate highway era is a necessary enabling step.”

Conducting research on transportation systems since 1970, Bronzini focuses on innovative solutions to complex multimodal transportation systems problems.

Prior to coming to Mason, Bronzini was director of the Center for Transportation Analysis at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., overseeing an interdisciplinary transportation research program with annual expenditures of $12.5 million.

He is a registered professional engineer and is a member of the Transportation Research Board, where he has served on numerous committees and panels.

George Donohue

Professor, Department of Systems Engineering and Operations Research

Director, Center for Air Transportation Systems Research

“Commercial flying in the United States is often an abysmal experience, and our research says that it is only going to get worse. Passengers are frustrated in their inability to have a predictable, comfortable trip. Passengers are treated like sheep and they simply accept it.

“Many of the actions that need to be taken to relieve flight delays lie outside of the technical community. Congress and the Department of Transportation need to understand what is truly causing flight delays and congestion, and the public needs to push them to take action so that we start providing a predictable and safe transportation system.”

Donohue is co-author of “Terminal Chaos: Why U.S. Air Travel Is Broken and How to Fix It.” He is a former associate administrator of research and acquisition at the Federal Aviation Administration. He has more than 40 years of experience in managing major research and technology projects in both the public and private sector.

Lance Sherry

Associate professor, Department of Systems Engineering and Operations Research

Executive director, Center for Air Transportation Systems Research

“The United States has a very brittle air transportation system. Fewer empty seats on each flight combined with over-scheduling at key airports create a system that does not have capacity to handle moderate, let alone major, disruptions.

“The demand for air travel is exceeding the supply of runway slots at the major metropolitan areas that drive the nation’s economy. To help alleviate the congestion, the government should develop a comprehensive strategic plan for air transportation to alleviate the inherent conflicts between airlines, airports, air traffic control, community groups and other stakeholders.

“I believe the government should apply fixed capacity limits at the major airports to eliminate delays and increase the economic efficiency of air transportation.”

Sherry produces annual and periodical reports on passenger flight delays. He also operates the web site www.greenflights.info, which tracks delays at 310 U.S. airports involving 18 airlines and 5,736 routes. He has more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry. Sherry’s work included the design, certification and entry-into-service of aircraft from manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing. In this role, he has worked in conjunction with U.S. and European regulatory authorities and the airline industry.

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