Privatizing Infrastructure: Leasing Toll Roads

M6 J7 Fireworks

This week Britian's Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on infrastructure. He touched upon many different industries and modes, but this is what he said about highways:

Now, road tolling is one option, but we are only considering this for new, not existing capacity.  For example, we’re looking at how improvements to the A14 could be part-funded through tolling.  But we now need to be more ambitious.  We should be asking ourselves, ‘Why is it that other infrastructure’ — for example, water — ‘is funded by private sector capital through privately owned, independently regulated utilities, but roads in Britain still call on the public finances for funding?’ We need to look urgently at the options for getting large-scale private investment into the national roads network; from sovereign wealth funds, from pension funds, from other investors.  That is why I’ve asked the Department for Transport and the Treasury to carry out a feasibility study of new ownership and financing models for the national roads system and to report progress to me in the autumn.  Let me be clear: this is not about mass tolling and, as I’ve said, we’re not tolling existing roads; it’s about getting more out of the money that motorists already pay.

People are already panicking about China owning the motorways, though the BBC does have a nice Q&A about public private partnerships and toll roads. There is also a focus on "shovel-ready" projects, which is apparently concept in the UK. The most famous example of a privitized toll road in Britian currently is the M6 north of Birmingham, which opened in 2003, was proposed by John Major when he was Prime Minister, and is regarded as a mixed success.

These sorts of public private partnerships (PPPs) are quite common in the US. Edit: There was an attempt to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but that failed with lots of lessons learned. The Pew Center on the States wrote an overview of what states and agencies should consider when entering these PPPs. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Friday Seminar – Eleni Christofa on Traffic Signal Optimization with Transit Priority

light rail tracks and wires, October 23, 2005

This Friday’s TRANSOC Seminar has Eleni Christofa, Ph.D. Candidate, University of California, Berkeley, presenting "Traffic Signal Optimization with Transit Priority."

Traffic responsive control with transit signal priority (TSP) is a strategy that is increasingly used to improve transit operations in urban networks. However, none of the existing real-time signal control systems has explicitly incorporated the passenger occupancy of transit vehicles in granting priority, or has effectively address issues such as the provision of priority to transit vehicles traveling in conflicting directions at signalized intersections. A person-based traffic responsive signal control system with TSP is presented that provides priority to transit vehicles while minimizing the negative impacts on the auto traffic even when transit vehicles travel in conflicting directions. The objective is to minimize the total person delay at the intersection by explicitly considering the vehicles’ occupancy and schedule adherence. Such a system has been made feasible by advanced technologies which provide real-time information such as Automated Vehicle Location systems and passenger counters.

The proposed traffic responsive signal control system was first developed for isolated intersections, and extended to arterial signalized networks.  Evaluation tests for a wide range of traffic and transit operational characteristics show that the proposed system can achieve substantial reductions in transit delays with no significant increase in auto delays, and can outperform signal settings provided by commonly used optimization tools that minimize vehicle delays. The contribution of this research is the development of readily implementable strategies that take advantage of existing infrastructure to improve transit and traffic operations in congested metropolitan areas.

The seminar will be held Friday, March 16, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in 534 Davis Hall. Please join us for a TRANSOC-sponsored Cookie Hour in the ITS Library from 3:30-4:00 p.m.

Special Wednesday Seminar - Hironori Kato on Impacts of Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster on Port Activities

Earthquake and Tsunami damage-Sendai Port, Japan

This week’s special Wednesday TRANSOC Seminar has Dr. Hironori Kato, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Tokyo, presenting “Impacts of Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster on Port Activities in Japan and Maritime Transportation to and from Japan: Latest Report.”

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011 stressed the importance of reconsidering catastrophic disaster and risk management in international transportation policies and markets. This presentation will examine the impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on port activities and maritime transportation in Japan, with emphasis on the effect of port traffic diversion as international vessels began avoiding areas of high radiation including ports in Tokyo/Yokohama and the Tohoku region. The process used by shipping companies to make these diversion decisions will be investigated, through a combination of literature review and interviews with port authorities and shippers. This presentation will also examine the reactions of port users to the high levels of radiation, as well as the countermeasures taken by port authorities to discourage traffic diversion.  Key lessons are drawn from Japan’s experiences for international transportation engineers, policy makers and business leaders.

The seminar will be held on March 14 from 3-4 p.m. in 544 Davis Hall.

Friday Seminar - Mark Hickman on Inferring Transit Passenger Behavior

Bus Rider's Union on The Train

This week’s Friday TRANSOC Seminar has  Mark Hickman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, University of Arizona, presenting “Inferring Transit Passenger Behavior.”

There are many aspects of mass transit passengers and their travel that are often difficult to observe, but which are very useful for transit service planning. These aspects include the passengers' basic travel characteristics, such as origins and destinations, time of travel, associated activities during the day, and the level of temporal and spatial access to different land uses. Traditional on-board and regional household surveys, and even newer electronic methods of observation, often have limitations on the data available for transit passengers. In this context, we explore methods that use a combination of different data sources to infer passengers' behavior. Preliminary findings, based on transit data from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, suggest some progress in understanding this behavior. However, there remain some very interesting challenges for further research.

Friday Seminar - Anthony Evans on Simulating Airline Operational Responses to Environmental Constraints

Airliner

This week’s Friday TRANSOC Seminar has Anthony Evans, Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA Ames Research Center, presenting “Airline Operational Responses to Environmental Constraints.”

Significant growth is anticipated in global air transportation over the coming decades, which is expected to have local and global environmental impacts. This presentation describes a model that predicts airline flight network, frequency and fleet changes in response to policy measures that aim to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. Such airline operational responses to policy measures are not considered by most integrated aviation-environment modelling tools. By not modelling these effects the capability of the air transport system to adjust under changing conditions is neglected, resulting in the forecasting of potentially misleading system and local responses to constraints.

 

Friday Seminar - Vikash Gayah on The Aggregate Effect of Turns on Urban Traffic Networks

overland ave traffic

This week’s Friday TRANSOC Seminar has Vikash Gayah, Ph.D. candidate, University of California, Berkeley, presenting “The Aggregate Effect of Turns on Urban Traffic Networks.” 

This research creates and uses macroscopic traffic models to describe the aggregate behavior of vehicles on urban street networks. Insights gained from these models can then be used to design network-wide policies that may increase the ability of these networks to serve vehicle-trips. In particular, this work focuses on the turning maneuvers that exist in networks with multiple routes. The presence of multiple routes and turning maneuvers are found to have two effects on aggregate vehicle behavior: 1) they cause unstable and inefficient behavior when a network is congested; and, 2) they may reduce maximum vehicle flows across the network. Fortunately, this work finds that limiting the rate at which vehicles are allowed to enter a network and providing drivers with real-time information on current traffic conditions can help mitigate the first effect and allow the network to operate more efficiently. It is also found that the second effect may not always be harmful—lower network flows do not necessarily result in decreased network efficiency if the lower flows are accompanied by more direct vehicle routing. In fact, two-way networks, which accommodate conflicting left-turns and result in lower maximum vehicle flows than one-way networks, are found to serve trips at a higher rate because drivers travel shorter distances on average. Thus, in many cities, maximum network efficiency can be improved by converting one-way streets to two-way operation.

The seminar will take place at 4:00 PM in534 Davis Hall. Please join us for a TRANSOC-sponsored Cookie Hour in the ITS Library at 3:30 PM.

Friday Seminar - Lily Elefteriadou on Driver Behavior and Characteristics and Their Use in Traffic Modeling

Driver Experience @ Limeira

This week's Friday TRANSOC Seminar has Lily Elefteriadou, Professor and Director of the Transportation Research Center, School for Sustainable Infrastructure and the Environment, University of Florida, presenting “Driver Behavior and Characteristics and Their Use in Traffic Modeling.” 

Traffic modeling has frequently considered and accounted for variability in driver behavior and characteristics.  For example, microscopic traffic simulators have the capability to replicate vehicular movements (such as lane changing) considering driver characteristics to a significant level of detail.  Such traffic simulators can typically replicate traffic streams with several different driver types which are based on driver aggressiveness.  Vehicular movements (such as car following) are then determined based on the respective action of the particular driver type.  However, a limited amount of research has been reported to categorize driver types or to link particular driving actions with a set of driver types and their characteristics.  Car-following, lane changing, and gap acceptance algorithms have rarely been calibrated to match various driver types, and it is not always clear how micro-simulators incorporate driver behavior aspects into these algorithms.  This presentation will describe two approaches to collecting driver behavior and characteristics-related data so that they can be used to improve traffic micro-simulators.  The first approach is based on focus groups, while the second is based on in-vehicle field data collection with an instrumented vehicle.  The presentation will describe these two data collection approaches and will provide three example applications related to freeway merging, car-following, and arterial lane changing. 

Friday Seminar - Elizabeth Deakin on BART State of Good Repair: What It Will Take to Maintain The System

200408 bart carriage

This week's Friday TRANSOC Seminar has Elizabeth Deakin, JD, Professor, City and Regional Planning and Urban Design, University of California, Berkeley, presenting "BART State of Good Repair: What It Will Take to Maintain the System."

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is approaching 40 years of service, and BART is preparing for a large reinvestment program, including replacing overage vehicles and aging infrastructure to keep BART in a state of good repair (SGR).  However, some of the funding for this program is uncertain and therefore it is possible that some of the planned investment in the replacement of equipment and infrastructure will have to be deferred.  This presentation examines the levels and types of investment needed to maintain BART in a state of good repair, identifies the kinds of deterioration in BART services that are likely if less money is available for SGR than needed, evaluates how service deterioration would affect BART ridership, and assesses the consequences for the Bay Area’s transportation system, the economy, and the environment.  Stakeholder perspectives on funding for SGR also are investigated.

Friday Seminar - Tasos Kouvelas on Adaptive Fine-tuning for Large-scale Nonlinear Traffic Control Systems

Traffic Light Tree

This week’s Friday TRANSOC Seminar has Tasos Kouvelas, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California, Berkeley, presenting  “Adaptive Fine-tuning for Large-scale Nonlinear Traffic Control Systems.”

This talk introduces and analyzes a new learning/adaptive algorithm that enables automatic fine-tuning of Large-scale Nonlinear Traffic Control Systems (LNTCS), so as to reach the maximum performance that is achievable with the utilized control strategy. LNTCS have many applications in transportation, as with urban signal control or ramp metering, and yet their efficient design and deployment remains elusive due to the involved complexity and nonlinearities. Often, the deployment of a new algorithm (or the updating of an existing one) requires extensive fine-tuning before it reaches its best achievable performance. Typically, this fine-tuning procedure is conducted manually, via trial-and-error, relying on expertise and human judgment and without the use of a systematic approach. The proposed Adaptive Fine Tuning (AFT) algorithm is aiming at replacing the conventional manual optimization practice with a fully automated online procedure. The talk provides a detailed analysis of the algorithm as well as a step-by-step application description. Finally, application results of the algorithm to real-time fine-tuning problems of general LNTCS are presented using the commercial micro-simulation tool AIMSUN.

The seminar will take place today 4:00 PM in 406 Davis Hall. Please join us for a TRANSOC-sponsored Cookie Hour in the ITS Library at 3:30 PM.

Friday Seminar - Sebastien Blandin on Modeling, Estimation and Control of Distributed Parameter Systems

Istanbul highway traffic

This week’s Friday Seminar has Sebastien Blandin, PhD., Research Scientist, IBM Singapore Research Collaboratory, presenting “Modeling, Estimation and Control of Distributed Parameter Systems: Application to Transportation Networks.”

Scalar conservation laws expressing the evolution of traffic density have been extensively used for macroscopic traffic modeling and forward simulation using loop detector measurements. The mobile sensing paradigm allowing increased understanding of traffic flow motivates the need for novel partial differential equation results, of practical interest for real-time traffic operations. The research contributions of this work are centered on traffic modeling capabilities, data assimilation performances, and Lyapunov stabilizability guarantees. We propose a new 2X2 phase transition model of traffic flow able to account for classical traffic phenomena as well as heterogeneous driving behaviors. In the context of traffic information systems and filtering algorithms, we present one of the first numerical and analytical descriptions of the consequences of the emergence and propagation of shockwaves in traffic flow on estimates accuracy. Finally, we propose a Lyapunov stability result for the entropy solution to the transport equation using boundary actuation. The results presented in this work are instantiated on the Mobile Millennium system providing real-time traffic estimates in Northern California.

The seminar will take place on Friday, January 27, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in 534 Davis Hall.

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