Our programs serve a wide variety of transportation education and research needs of our faculty, partners, community members, and future transportation professionals. TREC is home to everything transportation at Portland State University.
Transportation Research at Portland State
In 1966 the first transportation studies center was established at PSU. Since then our transportation faculty and staff expertise has grown to worldwide recognition, and expanded to include the multitude of disciplines that inform transportation decision-making: planning, engineering, economics, design, psychology, information technology and more. Our researchers do work locally with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Oregon DOT, Metro, TriMet, and more; as well as being tapped to take on national projects.
Explore the decades of transportation research at PSU here, or dig into some of our key research areas in bikeway design; bike share; electric bikes; pedestrian safety; and multimodal transportation data.
National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC)
We are the lead campus of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) — one of seven national University Transportation Centers (UTC's) funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. We pursue our theme, improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities, through research, education and technology transfer in conjunction with our partner universities: University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and new partners University of Arizona and University of Texas at Arlington.
We release new research monthly in our NITC newsletter, and offer monthly NITC webinars that deep dive into one of the latest projects. Established in 2009, we have hosted an annual gathering with our partners to connect practitioners and researchers with NITC research at the Transportation and Communities Summit.
Data-driven policy and strategy are critical to meeting transportation goals. To that end, we’ve focused our research efforts on filling gaps in data and education. In addition to hosting a quarterly transportation data webinar series, we house two national data clearinghouses – PORTAL and BikePed Portal – aimed at making transportation data more easily accessible to researchers and practitioners.
PORTAL provides a centralized, electronic database that facilitates the collection, archiving, and sharing of transportation data and information for public agencies. The data stored in PORTAL includes 20-second granularity loop detector data from freeways in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region, arterial signal data, travel time data, weather data, incident data, VAS/VMS message data, truck volumes, transit data, and arterial signal data.
BikePed Portal, a national non-motorized count data archive, provides a centralized standard count database for public agencies, researchers, educators, and other curious members of the public to view and download bicycle and pedestrian count data. It includes automated and manual counts from across the country, and supports screenline and turning movement counts.
Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI)
The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) program advances active transportation research and design for professionals, educators, and university students through training, curriculum development and scholarships.
Founded in 2007, we work closely with PSU faculty in urban studies and planning and civil engineering to conduct interdisciplinary research and integrate bicycle and pedestrian topics into our university courses and support the next generation of professionals. Our location in Portland, Oregon – a national leader in multimodal travel – provides the ideal environment to teach safe, convenient and accessible active transportation and promote a culture of walking and biking.
Better Block PSU
Better Block PSU is a partnership program between the volunteer-led group Better Block PDX and PSU - encouraging everyone to imagine what spaces could be when they are designed for people. Every year local community partners and advocates submit their project ideas to be considered for the university pathway program. These projects promote equitable placemaking, community building and empowerment, and active transportation advocacy.
Integrated into PSU planning and engineering classes, PSU students support community members with the technical aspects of infrastructure improvements–elevating and materializing their ideas by developing plans, designs, and engineering concepts. It’s a shift from the status quo with a ground-up approach, and their transportation expertise can help community members in navigating the permit process or proposing informed solutions to the city.
Education and Workforce Development
We support people at every stage in their transportation education pursuits. Through our PSU faculty, partners, and TREC program staff we offer skills and knowledge for a career-ready transportation workforce and community partnerships.
We host in-person and online events, largely free to the public, to educate current transportation professionals and community members:
- Professional development events: Since 2000 we have invited the public to join us at PSU for our Friday Transportation Seminar series featuring local and visiting transportation experts. We also host monthly webinars on research from our U.S. DOT funded NITC program, a transportation data webinar series, bicycle and pedestrian design training, annual summit, workshops, and active transportation lecture series.
- PSU Graduate Certificate in Transportation: Through the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland State offers a 21 credit transportation graduate certificate program.
- Portland Traffic and Transportation Class at PSU: Designed for community members seeking empowerment in transportation concepts and language to better advocate for the change they want to see. Held in partnership between PSU and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) since 1991, this fall class is open to PSU students as well as for free for the general public.
Our students conduct cutting-edge research under the guidance of the world’s foremost transportation research faculty in planning and engineering. With an emphasis on learning by doing, students work on real transportation system projects with partners in our community. These partnerships lead to internships and rewarding careers after graduation.
Outside of the classroom, we also support programming and funding for the STEP transportation student group, annual scholarships, and our summer TURF undergraduate research program. Learn more about studying transportation at PSU.
Sparking an interest in transportation can start early, and we are always looking for ways to engage students in transportation before they reach college. Through nationally-funded research, we support new STEM curriculum and programs that introduce middle- and high-school students to transportation concepts and careers. We're best known for our annual summer transportation camp offered for free to Oregon high schoolers. Learn more about our K-12 transportation programs.