Database gives free ride to transportation research

Database gives free ride to transportation research

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

A new Web database, Transportation Research Information Service Online, offers public access to more than 400,000 records of published and ongoing transportation research.

You can access the TRIS Online bibliographic transportation database through the National Transportation Library's Web site, at, or at

TRIS Online is a component of the National Transportation Library's Web site, at TRIS Online is also accessible at

TRIS Online, the world's most comprehensive bibliographic transportation database, was developed by the federal Transportation Research Board with input from state and federal agencies, officials said during the board's 79th annual meeting.

Innovative uses of technology can help solve the nation's transportation problems, Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said last month before helping department officials unveil the database.

Filling the stacks

At last year's annual meeting, Transportation officials agreed to provide public access to the data through the Web. The library staff responds to 25,000 e-mail messages and telephone inquiries annually.

Access to the system is free.

A $250,000 congressional appropriation funded the project, said Cynthia Sparkman, who manages TRIS Online.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics director Ashish Sen said, 'Anyone having anything to do with transportation would benefit from this Web site.'

Transportation library staff members are scurrying to fill the virtual stacks. New documents are entered into the system daily, Sparkman said. The goal is to have more than 20,000 new records available online by July.

TRIS Online includes full-text reports or links to the publishers or suppliers that produced the original documents, Sparkman said. Each month, about 100 new research documents will be added to the system, Sparkman said. Within three years, more than 70 percent of government reports listed at TRIS Online are expected to be available to download, print or e-mail.

Slater said TRIS Online puts information at the hands of those who design systems of travel.

'We cross international boundaries and exchange information worldwide,' Slater said. 'We are making government more accessible.'

The Transportation Research Board will continue to produce the site. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics will publish the database and make it available on the Internet as part of the library, officials said.

'This initiative is another example of President Clinton and Vice President Gore's efforts to make government more accessible to every American,' Slater said.

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