Travel Behavior

I-580 Variable Toll Lanes One Year On

I580 Monday night lights flickr photo by Images by John 'K' shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

It's been a year since the variable toll express lanes on I-580 through the Tri-Valley region were rolled out, and initial results are in. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle

Since the combination express and carpool lanes opened in February 2016 on I-580, along the main route between the Bay Area and the Central Valley, more than 7.6 million drivers have taken advantage of them, according to a report released Thursday by the Alameda County Transportation Commission, which operates the lanes.

You can read the report here

As toll roads are used more often as a tool in transportation demand management, there is more data available for comprehensive evaluations of road pricing systems. As transportation funding evolves with a greater reliance on public-private partnerships that will often rely on tolls for cost recovery, it is important to understand how they will affect travel demand.  In the case of 580, they look to be a hit.

Electric vehicles are a drain on the UK electricity grid

ev charging point, Merchant City 02 flickr photo by byronv2 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Today, British Transport Minister John Hayes issued a statement that electric vehicles in the UK are taxing the electicty grid but trails of demand responsive smart grid technology should help ease the demand for power. He remarked, "We know the demand for electric vehicles places the national grid under pressure. It’s critically important – we are working on this. It’s particularly important that we charge smart, so we flex demand and take advantage of spare capacity."

In order to estimate demand, you need models for electric vehicle charging behavior which take into account facotrs like range anxeity and trip patterns. Using game theory, it might be possible to predict how different factors might affect behavior. Human behavior is only one side of the equation, energy storage and transmission technology is the other. Work in this area focuses on optimization with smart grids through cooperation. Others are developing genetic algorithms to manage the load. 


New TRB E-circular-- Multimobility and Sharing Economy: Shaping the Future Market Through Policy and Research

flickr photo shared by twicepix under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

This week TRB E-Circular 210, Multimobility and Sharing Economy: Shaping the Future Market Through Policy and Research was published.  Written by TSRC researchers Susan Shaheen, Adam Stocker, and Abhinav Bhattacharyya, the report covers the results of a wokshop that discussed the intersections of multimodal transportation, the sharing economy, and technology. 

Multimodal mobility is the use of a combination of different modes to get from one place to another. Multimodal mobility is growing in popularity, especially in urban centers with recurring problems associated with congestion, parking, and an overall lack of space. The shift from homogeneous to multimodal mobility has resulted in some shifts in the transportation sector, including land use and planning. Technology is moving at a tremendous pace, resulting in the evolution of modes like carsharing, carpooling, ridesharing, ridesourcing, bikesharing, and others, as well as improvements in existing public transit options. For riders, this has added a multitude of innovative mobility options, many of which were not available until recently. The sharing economy, which includes both business-to-consumer and peer-to-peer models of sharing of goods and services, has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. Many transportation startups—like Lyft and Uber which allow drivers to source rides to passengers using a platform to make money—leverage the concept of a sharing economy. Companies that are a part of the sharing economy have gained notable momentum in the past 5 years, giving rise to a multitude of service-based startups.

The full report can be found here

Influence of weather on bus ridership

flickr photo shared by Reasonable Excuse under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

It's going to be another warm week here in Berkeley, as the Summer unofficially begins. A new article, "The influence of weather on local geographical patterns of bus usage" by Sui Taoa, Jonathan Corcoranb, Mark Hickmana, and Robert Stimsonc, in the Journal of Transport Georgraphy that looks at how weather patterns affect bus ridership. 

This paper broadens the research on weather and public transport usage by considering the micro dynamics of the effect that various weather conditions impose on micro geographic patterns of bus ridership in Brisbane, Australia. A smart card data set and detailed measurements of weather, allied with a suite of statistical and visual analytic techniques, are employed to capture the effect of weather on the local variations of bus ridership. While changes in weather conditions do not significantly affect bus ridership at the system level, some marked influence was found for rainfall, wind speed and relative humidity at a sub-system level. In addition, discernible variations of both the magnitude and direction of weather's effect were found at the sub-system level. Developing a more geographically detailed understanding of the effect of weather on public transport services serves as a critical first step towards establishing a more weather-resilient public transport system. This new understanding has the potential to contribute to an evidence base that can be used to proactively adjust public transport services in response to changes in weather conditions across different parts of the network. Further research is needed to assess how transferable our findings are to other public transport and climatic contexts.

The article can be read here

ITS Library Closed 5/27-5/30 for Memorial Day

flickr photo shared by Karol Franks under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

We'll be closed Friday May 27 through Monday May 30th in observance of Memorial Day. We will resume our normal hours on Tuesday, May 31. 

Memorial Day kicks off the United States' summer travel season, which means more traffic. Much has been written about the correlation of highway crashes and holiday weekends. There's been some recent work on how to forecast holiday travel with seasonal traffic models. Other researchers have explored how integrated multimodal travel information services might help alleviate holiday traffic patterns

Whatever your plans are this weekend, have a nice one! 

Uber and Lyft Leave Austin After Voters Reject Less Regulations on Ride-Hailing Apps.

flickr photo shared by nrkbeta under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

This weekend Austin voters went to the polls vote on Prop 1, which if passed would have eased the regulation on finger prints and background checks for rideshare drivers in the city. The proposition failed, only garnering 44% of the Yes vote. Uber and Lyft spent $8million campaigning for Prop 1, but that may have left a bad impression on voters. If Prop 1 failed, both Uber and Lyft said they would leave Austin in a kind prisoners dilemma. True to their word, on Monday both companies announced they were halting service in the city. 

What does this mean for ride-sharing? Will more cities push for more fingerprinting and background checks for ridesharing drivers in the name of public safety? Does fingerprinting actually make riders safer

Research in this area suggests that rideshare companies don't need more safety regulation than taxis, but that they fit awkwardly into the existing regulatory framework.  Though how different is ridesharing to taxis? And can the industry be regulated to benefit consumers and drivers? Time will tell. 

New TRB Special Report on Technology-Enabled Transportation Services

flickr photo shared by noeltock under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Last week TRB Special Report 319: TRB Special Report 319: Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology-Enabled Transportation Services was released. The report looks at how transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber or Lyft, have disrupted mobility. The report, its appendices, and a video presentation of the findings can be found here

New article: Impact of Parking Prices and Transit Fares on Mode Choice at the University of California, Berkeley

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by stevejin

A new article from the Transportation Research Record is especially close to home, examining what it would take to reduce the rate of single-occupancy vehicle community here to UC Berkeley. In "Impact of Parking Prices and Transit Fares on Mode Choice at the University of California, Berkeley," Frank Proux, Brian Cavagnolo, and Mariana Torres-Montoya use data from a campus-wide survey and discrete choice models to investigate. They find:

The University of California, Berkeley, and the City of Berkeley sought to reduce single-occupancy-vehicle commute trips to the campus as a means to reduce negative transportation externalities and to fulfill their environmental emissions reduction goals. This paper reports on the evaluation of policy scenarios to assess the potential impact of parking pricing and transit fare subsidies on the overall mode share of the University of California, Berkeley, community. A mode and parking choice model was developed on the basis of a biennial campuswide transportation and housing survey; policy alternatives were tested with a sample enumeration. The discrete choice model selected for policy analysis was a nested logit model calibrated on a randomly selected subsample of n 5 3,371 individuals and validated against the remaining 814 campus commuters. Factors found to influence mode choice significantly in this model included travel times and costs, gender, student status, age older than 70, and home location topography. Campus affiliates also appeared to have a predisposition to walk, which likely reflected the large student population that lived close to campus. A drive-alone value of time of approximately $30 per hour was calculated. Policy scenario tests suggested that, to spur a significant mode shift away from that of driving alone, parking pricing reforms would need to be used in tandem with incentives to use alternative modes. Such an approach might garner additional political support, especially if commuters who drove alone received the indirect benefits of transit subsidies, such as reduced congestion and a less competitive parking market. Policies designed to mitigate the regressive impacts of parking fees were tested also.

The full paper can be found here. If parking pricing and demand is of interest to you, then you should check out the rest of the issue. One of the other articles covers residential parking permits in the city of Berkeley

How to deal with parking at UC Berkeley

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by neil conway

Campus parking at UC Berkeley, like many universities, is a hot comodity. The only people who get free and easy parking on campus are Nobel Laureates, though even they have to renew their permits. Recently a case study about parking on campus was published in Case Studies on Transport Policy. William Riggs from Cal Poly San Louis Obispo descibes how balancing transit incentives and parking pricing can shift travel behavior, and how social incentives can be as effective as fiscal incentives. Here is the article

William Riggs, Dealing with parking issues on an urban campus: The case of UC Berkeley, Case Studies on Transport Policy, Volume 2, Issue 3, December 2014, Pages 168-176, ISSN 2213-624X,


Safety in Numbers? Peter Jacobsen talks about bicycle and pedestrian safety.

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by D Coetzee

Last Friday transportation consultant Peter Jacobsen was the featured speaker of the ITS Berkeley Transportation Seminar. He discussed his reseasrch in bicycle and pedestrian safety captured in his seminal paper, "Safety in Numbers" (Injury Prevention, v.9 no. 3, 2013). One of the questions he raised was how to define safety. Is it reflected in the data (number of incidents) or behavior (which is difficult to tease from that data)? Jacobsen remarked that, "No one swims in shark infested waters." So when people think it is safer to ride their bicycle or walk, they will be more likely to do so - this is the crux of the safety in numbers thesis. Jacobsen's anaylsis showed that if cycling and walking increase by 300%, the individual's risk only increases 50%. This is also why Jacobsen's anlysis shows that cyclists in Upland, CA have 8-times greater risk than cyclists here in Berkeley. He then suggested there needs to be more research into whether or not more bicycles increase safety for pedestrians and vice versa. 

Jacobsen also made an interesting observation that increased pedestrian safety is not tied to behvaior. He related an anecdote about pedestrians in Sacramento who are very alert because they don't expect cars to yield to them, while pedestrians in Berkeley are often more distracted (with their heads in their phones) because they know cars will yield. Their comfort with the situation is reflected in their behavior. Jacobsen also used the iconic crosswalk of Abbey Road as an example of the evolution of street markings for safety. Watch the live stream now to see it in action - flashing crossing lights, zig-zag lane markers, and more to make it safe for crossing. 

He also discussed other papers that had interestesting observations about bicycle/pedestrian safety. One, "For heaven’s sake follow the rules: pedestrians’ behavior in an ultra-orthodox and a non-orthodox city," by Rosenbloom, Nemrodov, and Barkan compares pedestrian compares pedestrian behavior in an ultra-orthodox Israeli city to that in a quite secular city. The other is "Evidence on Why Bike-Friendly Cities Are Safer for All Road Users" by Marshall and Garrick, which investigates if bicycles improve traffic safety for all modes. 


Syndicate content