Transportation research results in Fred Burggraf Award for civil engineers

Ilgin Guler and Vikash Gayah were part of a team of Penn State civil engineers who were presented with the Transportation Research Board’s Fred Burggraf Award. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A team of Penn State civil engineers has been presented with the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Fred Burggraf Award for their paper on transit signal priority.

The paper titled, “Estimating the Impacts of Bus Stops on Transit Signal Priority on Intersection Operations: A Queuing and Variational Theory approach,” was co-authored by assistant professors of civil engineering Ilgin Guler and Vikash Gayah, along with civil engineering doctoral student Kan Wu. The Fred Burggraf Award recognizes excellence in transportation research by researchers 35 years of age or younger.

“I was very honored that our paper had received this award,” said Guler. “It’s one of the few awards that are given at the Transportation Research Board Annual meeting to which thousands of papers are submitted.” 

Guler’s research primarily focuses on multimodal traffic operations. Using theoretical and simulation tools, she studies how cars and public transit vehicles interact on roadways. Guler does this in an effort to improve roadways systems as a whole.

The paper considered a strategy called transit signal priority (TSP) and how it improves bus operation at signalized intersections. The premise of the strategy is that signal timings can be changed as a bus approaches an intersection to prioritize that vehicle. The research looked at the impacts of implanting TSP at intersections with close proximity to bus stops. Research results showed clear trade-offs between reduced bus delays and increased car delays. The study also revealed that the effects of TSP vary with bus dwell time at bus stop locations. 

TRB receives thousands of submissions for consideration at their annual meeting. Out of all 2017 submissions, the Executive Committee only awarded eight outstanding paper awards. Penn State received two of the eight total awards. Gayah was given the D. Grant Mickle Award for his paper on improving street network efficiency. 

The Certificate of Award and a cash prize of $1,000 will be presented at the TRB 97th Annual Meeting in January 2018, which will be held in Washington, D.C. In addition to the prize ceremony, the meeting will include 5,000 presentations in more than 800 sessions on a variety of transportation related issues. The meeting is expected to attract more than 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world.

Guler and Wu have already begun working on a continuation of the data presented in this study and have submitted a follow-up paper to the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting in 2018.

Last Updated October 23, 2017