News | PSR Congress 2022: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic for Sustainable Growth in Transportation

Stop the Video



by Anh Vu and James Reuter

The fifth Annual Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center (PSR-UTC) Congress was held in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congress took place from March 21-23, 2022, at the University of Hawai’i in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The global crisis has exposed critical issues facing transportation systems throughout the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR). Recognizing the significance of the pandemic's impacts, the themes of this year's Congress centered on vulnerability, resilience, and recovery. To view the Congress’s full agenda, click here.   


The first day consisted of three panel discussions about lessons learned from supply chain disruptions and their effects on the transportation system, as well as the use of innovative technologies to improve system resiliency and mobility. Genevieve Giuliano, Director of the METRANS Transportation Consortium (USC), welcomed the participants, following an introduction from Karl Kim, Executive Director at the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at University of Hawai’i at Manoa.  Michael Bruno, Provost at the University of Hawai’i, initiated the discussion on innovative and exciting research and education initiatives developed by PSR members. The opening panel focused on how freight readiness and competitiveness can support system resiliency.  Giuliano, Thomas O’Brien, METRANS Deputy Director (CSULB), and Ben Olson, GIS and Data Manager at CSULB’s Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) participated. The panel was followed by a plenary session featuring incoming METRANS Director Marlon Boarnet (USC) and Evelyn Blumenberg (UCLA). Boarnet spoke on commuting patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Blumenberg addressed problems of mobility for low wage workers.   


The Congress further navigated a plethora of key issues.  Roger Morton, Director at the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Transportation services and Ed Sniffen, Deputy Director of Highways at Hawai’i Department of Transportation gave the luncheon keynote, discussing the shift to a resilient development of transportation. The afternoon was filled with concurrent sessions of presentations on the topic of Mobility and Resilience amid the global crisis by faculty and graduate students from the member institutions of USC, CSULB, UCLA, UCD, UCI, NAU and U Hawai’i.  


The Congress dedicated the second day to student award presentations and the PSR Advisory Council meeting. A Q&A session was held to inform current and prospective students of the opportunities available within the transportation sector. This year’s Congress was followed by a special event, the California-Hawaii Symposium, the first collaborative workshop of the California and Hawaii state departments of transportation. To read more about the CA-HI Symposium, click here. 


“The PSR Congress was a reminder of the benefits of meeting in person and engaging with an audience. I think we all learned much about how the transportation issues in Hawaii connect to our own work because we could observe them. That doesn't happen as easily in a virtual environment,” said O’Brien.  


Giuliano commented, “After two years of plans and cancellations, our PSR Congress in Hawaii was a wonderful way to reconnect with our partners.  Our hybrid format allowed for participation of those who were not able to travel while those who could travel enjoyed meeting students and faculty from our partner universities and a great field trip of the Honolulu rail transit project.  For the first time, we were joined by a representative from Guam, completing our Region 9 network.” As this network continues to engage in critical dialogue and innovative research, the PSR Congress demonstrates an essential opportunity to share knowledge, connect across university partners, and address key problems.