Arizona State University has been named the lead institution for a new U.S. Department of Transportation Tier 1 University Transportation Center that plans to focus on improving regional travel demand forecasting.

ASU will have a new research center that will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation on improving regional and local transportation systems.

Through the new center, the Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks, or TOMNET, puts ASU in charge of a group of research universities including Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Washington and University of South Florida.

ASU is one of 20 Tier 1 centers awarded around the country. The school was picked from more than 200 proposals.

TOMNET will work to improve data models and analytical tools used to plan transportation infrastructure, said Ram Pendyala, the center’s director.

Pendyala is a professor in the Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering program of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“If we can find ways to successfully integrate these kinds of behavioral variables into our analytics, then I think we can make a quantum leap in our ability to predict future travel needs and desires,” Pendyala said.