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The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is a division of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, formerly the National Research Council of the United States, which serves as an independent adviser to the President of the United States, the Congress and federal agencies on scientific and technical questions of national importance. It is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine.
As one of seven major divisions of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the TRB promotes innovation and progress in transportation through research in an objective and interdisciplinary setting. It stimulates research and offers research management services that promote technical excellence; provides expert advice on transportation policy and programs; and disseminates research results broadly and encourages their implementation. The TRB hosts some 200 standing committees that address specific aspects of transport and the TRB Annual Meeting attracts more than 14,000 attendees.
The Transportation Research Board was established in 1920 as the "National Advisory Board on Highway Research" and changed its name to the "Highway Research Board" from 1925 until 1974, when it was renamed again as the "Transportation Research Board." Initially being solely involved in the sharing of information, it has commissioned ad-hoc research since 1950, became more involved in multi-modal transport in the 1960s, and has extended its operations further more recently.
TRB fulfills this mission through the work of its more than 200 standing committees and task forces addressing all modes and aspects of transportation; publication and dissemination of reports and peer-reviewed technical papers on research findings; management of cooperative research and other research programs; conduct of special studies on transportation policy issues at the request of the U.S. Congress and government agencies; operation of an online computerized file of transportation research information; and the hosting of the TRB Annual Meeting each January in Washington DC that, in 2020, attracted more than 14,000 transportation professionals from throughout the United States and abroad. The TRB Annual Meeting is being held online in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
TRB's activities are organized as follows:
TRB's varied activities annually draw on over 7,000 engineers, planners, scientists, and other transportation researchers from the public and private sectors and academia, who contribute expertise in the public interest by participating on TRB committees, panels, and task forces. The program is supported by state transportation departments, the various administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal agencies, industry associations, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation.
Publications include the Highway Capacity Manual, theTransportation Research Record journal, and a bi-monthly magazine called TR News. A history of transportation research and of TRB was published in January 2020 called The Transportation Research Board, 1920-2020: Everyone Interested Is Invited. Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) offers several databases for researchers:
The TRB offers selective research funding for graduate students and faculty, notably, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), and the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP). Each one of these programs has industry leaders who act as references while completing the project.