NCTR is a program within the Center for Urban Transportation Research as a result of Congressional designations of University Transportation Centers (UTCs) beginning in 1991. In 2002, 2006, and 2011, CUTR successfully competed to retain NCTR’s status as a UTC.

The objectives of UTCs are to advance the nation’s transportation system through research, education, and technology transfer. NCTR has been one of only two transit-focused UTCs. CUTR works closely with the FTA and the FDOT to identify and conduct research projects intended to improve public transit safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, livability, and environmental sustainability. USF is the lead institution for the most recently awarded UTC federal grant in collaboration with North Dakota State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Florida International University. Each partner secure matching funds from the state and local level to match the federal grant. This partnership expands NCTR’s access to other experienced transit researchers. In addition to conducting extensive research, NCTR provides opportunities for students to become familiar with transit and alternative forms of transportation as a potential career.