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Figure 1. Zhengzhou East Railway Station East Square

SUL Took 10 DUSP Students to Zhengzhou to Design Research and Evidence-Based Green Transportation Development Plans

The MIT Sustainable Urbanization Lab (SUL) is offering a new course this spring called Clean Air and Green Travel. Aimed at addressing emerging technology, government policy, and behavioral science, students in the class have been tasked to design research and evidence-based green transportation development plans for Zhengzhou, China. In preparation for the semester, SUL took 10 students from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning to Zhengzhou this past January. In doing so, students gained first-hand exposure to central Chinese urbanization while working closely with public and private agencies to develop their project proposals.


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Figure 2. Students and the teaching team visit the Shaolin Monastery Site near Zhengzhou, China.

During their time in China, the 10 students formed three different research groups focusing on air quality monitoring and the impacts of air pollution on travel mode decisions, autonomous and electric bus deployment, and transit-oriented development. Each group is paired with Chinese representatives from the Municipal Transportation Bureau of Zhengzhou, Yasin Development (a real estate development firm) and Yutong (a manufacturer of commercial vehicles, including autonomous busses) as well as graduate students and professors from both Shanghai Jiao Tong and Tsinghua Universities. Over the course of the spring semester students will dive deeply into their research projects, working side by side with their Chinese counterparts, to create a final report that outlines their findings and recommendations for enhancing air quality through the development of green transportation plans.

Air pollution, as a byproduct of urbanization and motorization, has become a major cause of the deterioration of urban quality of life in many developing countries. While the focus of this course will be based primarily on social, economic, and political conditions in Zhengzhou, the interdisciplinary approaches (i.e., urban science and economic analysis, qualitative and public engagement research) will be embodied in project design to ensure that research outcomes and recommendations are universally relevant to cities around the globe combating the negative impacts of air pollution.


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Figure 3. Students visit the Zhengzhou Municipal Transit Bureau Operations Management Center

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Figure 5. Autonomous Bus Live Monitoring System in Zhengzhou Smart Island

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Figure 4. Students visit the Zhengzhou Municipal Transit Bureau Operations Management Center for the Bus Rapid Transit System

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Figure 6. MIT DUSP Students Take Their First Autonomous Bus Ride on Zhengzhou Smart Island