OnTrackNorthAmerica Announces Collaborative Research Relationships

Influential Rail Transportation Scholars to Provide Program and Development Resources

Philadelphia, PA, November 13, 2015

OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit action think tank, today announced new working relationships with Dr. Pasi Lautala from Michigan Tech University and Dr. Mingzhou Jin, Director of the Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain Engineering  lab at the University of Tennessee.  “We are fulfilling our mission by facilitating intellectual collaboration” said Michael Sussman, OTNA President and Founder. “With our academic partners we are extending the boundaries of knowledge in the field of transportation planning and investment strategy while leveraging our industry experience to guide in-the-field application.”

Dr.-Jin-3Dr. Jin’s efforts focus on the formulation of OTNA’s National Transportation Lifecycle Costs and Benefits Project. Dr. Jin summarizes his efforts: “As an author of several papers about transportation performance measurement development and a principal investigator who has conducted more than a dozen projects for US DOT and several state DOTs, I still observe that measures used in practice are very different across transportation modes and government agencies.  There is a need to conduct a comprehensive study to provide a unified life-cycle costs and benefits analysis framework for evaluating transportation systems and facilitating performance-based decision making.”

OTNA and Dr. Lautala’s collaboration is based on recognition that for capital investment in infrastructure to be productive and profitable, it is necessary to develop andimage56401-pers agree on a set of measures and values to guide these major investments public and private purposes. As yet, the measures, data, and analytical method have not been gathered and agreed on across agency, community, and sector lines. Therefore, system-level as well as individual transportation project investments are challenging to evaluate in cases where researchers, consultants, and decision-makers are unable to agree on a full set of lifecycle costs and benefits. “It’s OTNA’s mission to bridge these gaps and enable us to make better decisions, with broader positive social impact, in a timelier manner” noted Mr. Sussman.

Founded in 2007, OnTrackNorthAmerica is an action think tank for expanding the capacity and footprint of rail transportation within an optimal system in service to the environment, economy, and quality of life. In partnership with industry, academia, and government, it develops programs for more intelligent, sustainable, and resilient transportation systems


OnTrackNorthAmerica and Cisco Systems sign MOU to co-lead OTNA’s National Transportation Life-Cycle Costs and Benefits Project

OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA) and Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco) announce their partnership to build the next generation of transportation life-cycle cost and benefit measurement tools. The purpose of this project is to develop clear, functional measures for future planning and investing in transportation infrastructure. Once established, OTNA and Cisco will make the dataset and analytical framework available for wide adoption. The co-leaders will present their draft list of measures for stakeholders to expand and fine tune during a series of “Intelliconferences” this fall.

Barry EinsigBarry Einsig, Cisco’s Global Transportation Executive, says, “We are pleased to join OTNA in addressing the timely need for agreement on what we want transportation investments to produce for us as a nation and a continent.”

According to OTNA’s president, Michael Sussman, “Applying a rational approach to measuring the life-cycle costs and benefits of transport systems, rail will finally be valued appropriately for its long-term return on investment. Cisco brings a wealth of intellectual resources to this important endeavor. By inviting stakeholders from business, government, and community, we intend to generate collective intelligence toward policies, plans, and investments that serve the country.”

To date, the development of measures and cost-benefit analysis in the transportation field has focused on the individual project level, not the whole system level. In a world of limited resources (i.e. natural, environmental, spatial, and financial), individual projects can only be analyzed and conceived coherently if we know what they are meant to accomplish as part of a complete system. For capital investment in infrastructure to be productive and profitable for public and private purposes, we have to develop and agree on a set of measures and values to guide policies, planning, and investments. Achieving goals requires metrics so that baselines and targets can be set and action plans can be implemented. Once these national level measures are established, they can be applied to regional and local investment plans, so that individual projects can be developed more purposefully and productively.

OnTrackNorthAmerica is a 501c3 nonprofit transportation policy development organization based in Philadelphia, PA. Cisco Systems focuses on the transportation industry through its Internet of Everything Vertical Solutions Group. OTNA’s board members, Ron Batory, Bob VanderClute, and Mike Koontz have been serving on the National Transportation Life-Cycle Costs and Benefits Project development team, along with OTNA founder Sussman and Cisco’s Einsig.

Mike Koontz, former head of USDOT’s CMAQ Program joins OTNA Board of Directors

Michael-KoontzMike Koontz managed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program from 2001 until 2014. As program manager, he oversaw an annual investment of more than $2 billion over three transportation authorizations. Mike’s focus on mobile source emissions reduction and highway congestion relief included grant review and assessment for intermodal transfer facilities, port infrastructure projects, and numerous applications for diesel retrofit acquisitions. He also authored detailed program guidance and a number of legislative interpretations involving the $30-billion, 20-year program. Prior to his role as CMAQ manager, Mike was a transportation planner in a number of field offices for the FHWA and served for six years as a transportation network capacity analyst. Since retirement from public service, Mike has been working on transportation network and congestion management/performance issues, including a number of aerial photography analyses throughout the U.S.

OTNA Advisory Board Member Wins International Award

Phil Mortimer has been awarded the freight sector Global Achievement Award by the International Rail Research Board. Mortimer got the award December 3rd in Paris during the special International Union of Railways Award ceremonies held as a part of the UIC General Assembly where high ranking members of all 6 UIC global regions were gathered.

phil_mortimerPhil Mortimer has been the lead on the TruckTrain concept (shown), developed initially in the UK as a means of making rail a more attractive option for shippers whose traffic profile is less than train load and also intermittent. The TruckTrain is a short, fast, bi-directional self-propelled fixed formation of 5-7 cars aimed at the inter-modal market for logistics traffic. The trains are able to compete at shorter sector lengths and are designed to be “Truck Competitive”.

Phil is a Research Associate at Newcastle University’s School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering.



Revitalizing Direct Rail Service

As Featured in Railway Age, December 2014, Page 44


Written by Michael Sussman, OnTrackNorthAmerica President and Founder

North America has yet to achieve the full extent of railroads’ potential contribution to the economy, environment, and land use. In spite of the good work of railroad developers, investors and staff, as well as significant public sector support, railroads remain underutilized for moving goods and people.

Our freight rail system is already so robust that it is easy to miss the possibility of a continental surge in capacity and reach. But railroads are energy-, capital-, and space-efficient, and these benefits are key to our future. It is time to get working on the rail system that a growing, modern society ultimately needs to be successful and sustainable.

Read more…

OnTrackNorthAmerica Announces Two New Board Members

Seasoned Rail Industry Professionals join board as organization expands mission

Philadelphia, PA, October 24, 2014

Immediate Release

OnTrackNorthAmerica, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that is rallying the continent around a capitalization strategy for dramatically increasing rail utilization announced the expansion of its Board of Directors, naming Leo Penne and Jolene Molitoris to the board. “We are so happy to have these industry leaders.” said Michael Sussman, President and Founder.

LeoPenne250Leo Penne has over three decades of experience with the development and implementation of public policies and programs in the areas of freight transportation, intergovernmental relations, economic development, public finance, and livability. For over a decade he was the Program Director for Intermodal and Industry Activities at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) where he established and directed AASHTO’s freight transportation program.

Jolene250Jolene Molitoris is President of US Railcar, the only US owned company in the passenger rail vehicle business. She is also a principal of Molitoris Associates, her own consulting firm.  Ms. Molitoris served as the Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) from 2009 to 2011, ODOT’s first woman director. During her tenure, Ohio delivered a $2 billion multi-modal construction program, ODOT’s largest construction program in history. Prior to that, Ms. Molitoris was appointed by President Clinton in 1993, as the first woman to head the Federal Railroad Administration. During her nearly eight years as Administrator, she led agency and industry wide changes to improve safety, resulting in the seven safest years in US railroad history.

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