Friday Seminar: Planning, Design and Technical Aspects of Rail Transit Lines and Networks

Railing on Water

This Friday's Seminar is not to be missed. University of Pennsylvania Professor Vukan Vuchic, who wrote the book on urban transit, will present, "Planning, Design and Technical Aspects of Rail Transit Lines and Networks."

Growth of cities and increasing car ownership in recent decades have created a great need to build rail transit systems – LRT, Metros and Regional Rail. With their high-performance and high level of service, these modes compete well with private cars and serve large ridership. Their permanence influences urban form and land use development with high livability. The characteristics and roles of these three major modes of rail transit will be described. The alignments of their lines and networks will be reviewed. Positive and negative characteristics of different types of lines, such as radial, diametrical, circle, trunk/branch and others will be defined. This will lead to a comparison of two basic types on networks, those with integrated and with independent lines, illustrated by examples from many world cities. Current trends and likely developments in the roles and usage of different high-performance rail transit modes, such as “in-fill stations,” articulated metro cars, double-decker Regional Rail cars, Unattended Train Operation– UTO, will be reviewed. References will be made to BART development, innovations and experiences, as well as other rail systems in the Bay Area, such as MUNI and Caltrain.

The seminar takes place Friday March 7, 2014 from 4-5 PM in 534 Davis. TRANSOC Cookie Hour will be at 3:30 in the library. 

Everybody's a Tourist? Rethinking the Driver Population Factor

objects in mirror

A new paper, "Rethinking the Driver Population Factor," from ITS Berkeley's own Joshua Seeherman and Professor Alexander Skabardonis takes a look at the driver population factor currently used in the Highway Capacity Manual

Freeway analysis procedures in the widely used Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) include the input of a driver population factor (Fp), which allows the analyst to adjust the demand depending on the familiarity of drivers with the roadway. This adjustment is based on the assumption that unfamiliar drivers will drive at slower speeds with longer headways and that higher capacity would therefore be required. However, little research supports the use of the Fp, and the HCM cautions against the use of Fp unless the analyst is fairly certain the traffic stream is actually unfamiliar with the roadway. As an experiment, three bottlenecks in California were selected and analyzed during the weekday peaks and weekend afternoons in periods during which the traffic stream was likely to be nonlocal. The results showed that the changes in flow were minor at all three locations. Further research with additional sites and an increased awareness of the definition of familiarity will be required to confirm the results from this research.

The full paper can be found online in Transportation Research Record no. 2395 or you can look at the hard copy in the library. 

Friday Seminar: Some Approaches to Enhance Road Safety: Beyond Engineering Based Strategies

Tomorrow's ITS Friday Seminar is Dr. Shashi Nambisan, a professor at the University of Tennessee, presenting, "Some Approaches to Enhance Road Safety: Beyond Engineering Based Strategies"

Road safety is a significant concern to a broad range of stakeholders. Various approaches and strategies have been used to enhance road safety across the world. In this regard, the 4 Es used to characterize safety initiatives are Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Emergency medicine. The developed nations have adopted a more comprehensive approach to incorporate the 4 Es, while the less developed nations focus primarily on engineering initiatives. The seminar will highlight some of the strategies adopted in Las Vegas, Nevada and across Iowa in the United States. These will be complemented with comments about challenges involved in improving overall road safety in Kerala, India. Further, examples of effective non-engineering based strategies will be presented. The seminar will also touch upon lessons learned from these experiences, and key considerations that are important for sustainable success of campaigns to enhance road safety.

The seminar will take place Friday, February 28, 2014 in 534 Davis from 4-5 PM. TRANSOC Cookie Hour will be in the library at 3:30.

Friday Seminar: Travel Time Reliability and Network Traffic Performance

Travel Times

This week's TRANSOC Friday Seminar features Professor Hani Mahmassani of Northwestern University presenting "Travel Time Reliability and Network Traffic Performance: Selected Highlights from Recent Research"

Reliability of travel time in traffic networks is affected by a variety of factors,some external (e.g. demand surges, weather) and others inherent to the behavior of the traffic stream, reflecting complex dynamics among interacting agents. Yet remarkably simple collective effects emerge when examining the relation between the standard deviation of the trip time per unit distance to the corresponding mean at the network level. We examine this relation for several networks using both simulated and actual data from vehicle probes. We connect this variance to other traffic variables defined at the network level, providing a simple characterization of travel time reliability as a function of density. We consider within-day and day-to-day variability and propose a compound gamma model to capture overall variation. To evaluate the reliability implications of different transportation options and operational strategies using simulation tools, a scenario-based approach is proposed and demonstrated.

The seminar takes place this Friday, February 21, 2014 from 4-5 PM in 534 Davis. Cookie Hour commences at 3:30 in the library.

Friday Seminar: The Cycling Gender Gap: What do Sex, Power, and Fashion Have to Do With It?

Bike4Life Oakland 2009

This week's TRANSOC Friday Seminar looks at gender and cycling. Professor Jennifer Dill of Portland Sate University will present, "The Cycling Gender Gap: What do Sex, Power, and Fashion Have to Do With It?"

In larger urban areas in the US, women make up only about one-third or fewer of the adults who bicycle for transportation. This is in contrast to major bicycling cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam where a gender gap in bicycling is non-existent. For cycling to make a major contribution to improving the sustainability of US urban areas, the gender gap must be addressed. This talk will discuss the history of women and the bicycle in the US, then draw upon national statistics and research from Portland, Oregon to explain why girls and women are not bicycling for transportation and what might change that.

The seminar will commence on Friday, February 14, 2014 from 4-5 PM in 534 Davis. Cookie Hour will take place at 3:30 in the library. 

What makes people walk more?


A new article from PLoS One asks the question, "What makes people walk more?" Actually, in, Richard H. Glazer et al ask - "Density, Destinations or Both? A Comparison of Measures of Walkability in Relation to Transportation Behaviors, Obesity and Diabetes in Toronto, Canada"

The design of suburban communities encourages car dependency and discourages walking, characteristics that have been implicated in the rise of obesity. Walkability measures have been developed to capture these features of urban built environments. Our objective was to examine the individual and combined associations of residential density and the presence of walkable destinations, two of the most commonly used and potentially modifiable components of walkability measures, with transportation, overweight, obesity, and diabetes. We examined associations between a previously published walkability measure and transportation behaviors and health outcomes in Toronto, Canada, a city of 2.6 million people in 2011. Data sources included the Canada census, a transportation survey, a national health survey and a validated administrative diabetes database. We depicted interactions between residential density and the availability of walkable destinations graphically and examined them statistically using general linear modeling. Individuals living in more walkable areas were more than twice as likely to walk, bicycle or use public transit and were significantly less likely to drive or own a vehicle compared with those living in less walkable areas. Individuals in less walkable areas were up to one-third more likely to be obese or to have diabetes. Residential density and the availability of walkable destinations were each significantly associated with transportation and health outcomes. The combination of high levels of both measures was associated with the highest levels of walking or bicycling (p<0.0001) and public transit use (p<0.0026) and the lowest levels of automobile trips (p<0.0001), and diabetes prevalence (p<0.0001). We conclude that both residential density and the availability of walkable destinations are good measures of urban walkability and can be recommended for use by policy-makers, planners and public health officials. In our setting, the combination of both factors provided additional explanatory power.

You can read the full article here because PLoS One is Open Access. Hat tip to Streetsblog for posting this

Friday Seminar: Innovations in Traffic Safety Research

photoadayproject (44)

Tomorrow is Friday, which means there's another TRANSOC Friday Seminar taking place. This week features Professor Moshen A. Jafari of Rutgers University. He will present, "Innovations in Traffic Safety Research".

Traffic crashes and accidents at intersections, roundabouts and roadway segments result from many complex factors, but at a basic level, they are outcomes of the interactions among vehicles and other road users. Since few direct measurements of these interactions are available, engineers and planners instead attempt to understand them by studying crashes and accidents reports. As crashes account for a tiny fraction of safety conflicts, these reports fail to provide a full understanding of what is happening at the points of accidents. This is especially true of crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles, for which data are sparse, making it difficult to determine reliable patterns. In this talk we will present risk based traffic safety models using multiple data streams, including near miss data, systemic data, historical traffic accidents, and drivers’ naturalistic behavior data. We will also briefly discuss ongoing research at Rutgers on the development of Plan4Saefty software, which is currently being used by the State of New Jersey for traffic safety analysis and planning.

The seminar will be held Friday, February 7 2014 from 4:00-5:00 PM in 534 Davis Hall. Cookie Hour commences at 3:30 here in the library. 

USDOT moving forward with Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication technology


Yesterday USDOT and NHTSA announced plans to move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology (V2).  The Connected Vehicles program will eventually push research into production, establishing protocols and standards for manufacturers. Right now the aim is for 2017, so it's not going to happen overnight. Connected vehicles should increase road safety despite some security concerns. Malware for you car? The ITS-JPO has already held a public workshop to address different network security angles

Much of the research on V2 or Connected vehicles can be found in TRID. The Technological Innovations section highlights advanced technology across the board, but for just vehicles use "vehicle to vehicle communications" or "vehicle to roadside communications". 

Friday Seminar: Road Vehicle Automation History, Opportunities, and Challenges

Automated Car

It's a new year, a new semester, and a new TRANSOC Friday Seminar! This week PATH researcher Steven Shladover presents, "Road Vehicle Automation History, Opportunities, and Challenges".

Road vehicle automation has recently attracted intense interest from the media, the general public and now the transportation community. This interest is largely based on serious misconceptions about the level of automation of road vehicles that is likely to be achievable within the foreseeable future. This presentation addresses those misconceptions, beginning with a historical overview going back to 1939, and continuing with definition of multiple levels of vehicle automation. The importance of communication and cooperation among automated vehicles and between these vehicles and the roadway infrastructure is illustrated with examples from experiments conducted at the PATH Program. The technical challenges that remain to be resolved before fully automated driving can become reality are explained.

The seminar will take place Friday, January 31, 2014 from 4 - 5 p.m. in 534 Davis Hall. And of course, Cookie Hour returns preceding the Seminar at 3:30 in the Library. See you then!

Electric Vehicles: Coast to coast, but will they impact emissions?

This week was a milestone in electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure in the US - a father-daughter team completed the first crosscountry roadtrip in a Tesla and it cost them $0 to recharge. What a bargain! Tesla Motors plans to expand their recharching network, so that future continental treks may take a more direct route.  

So as electric vehicles are slowly becoming more mainstream, the question is what impact will they have on greenhouse gas emissions? A paper recently presented at the TRB Annual Meeting looks at regional impacts in California.  Another recent study from NC State questions the impact electric vehicles have on emissions at all. Samaneh Babaee, Ajay S. Nagpure, and Joseph F. DeCarolis ask, "How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter to Future U.S. Emissions?". Their answer: probably not much given the emissions produced by electricity sources.

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