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The UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport

The UC Berkeley Center for Future Urban Transport was established in 2004 after the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations designated it as a Volvo Center of Excellence in a competition involving a large field of international candidates.  It focused on the “three-legged stool” of how cities work: technology, policy, and physics. The original funding cycle was five years. The center received funding renewals for three years, and, having fulfilled its mission, closed in 2012.


Study the mutual interdependence of urban transportation policy and technology and use the understanding of that concept to devise sustainable transportation strategies for the world's cities.


•    Policy
•    The physics, mechanics, and engineering of urban transportation
•     Sustainability and life-cycle analysis
•     Traffic engineering
•     Enabling technologies in electrical engineering and computer science


Carlos Daganzo talks about ITS’s Volvo Center for Excellence like a parent who raised a bright, capable child and then confidently released her into the world. After eight years partnering on public- and private-sector projects both domestically and internationally, the center, named the UC Berkeley Center for Future-Urban Transport, fulfilled its purpose, Daganzo says. “We seeded the ideas, and the professors continued the work on their own — we didn’t need the center anymore.” The center seeded faculty research on promising early-stage ideas. Concepts that incubated at Volvo include the Connected Corridors Project, which arose from Michael Cassidy’s research on the physics of traffic with special lanes; Alexandre Bayen’s mobile sensor–based work; Arpad Horvath and Samer Madanat’s collaborative life-cycle analyses on transit systems; and a behavior-tracking collaboration between Raja Sengupta and Joan Walker.

Other influential achievements include Robert Cervero’s policy contributions in Los Angeles and China, and Daganzo’s own work on the design of a bus rapid transit system now in use in Barcelona. The center also supported 10 to 20 Ph.D. students at any given time, many of whom went on to university faculty positions. One of the Volvo Center’s impacts was personal for Daganzo. “The center transformed me from a person who did logistics and traffic to a person who is interested in the whole of transportation,” he said. “I became passionate about public transportation — understanding what type of transit system is right for a particular city, and how to control it so it’s reliable.” He adds, “You can plan a system and draw beautiful pictures, but somebody has to make sure those buses run on time