Travel Behavior

Everybody has an opinion on reclining airplane seats

Open Seating

Recently a flight from LGA to JAX was diverted due to passengers engaged in a seat reclining battle. It was the latest in a string of diverted flights stemming from passenger disruptions over the right to recline. A flight from EWR to DEN was diverted to ORD because a passenger used the Knee Defender to prevent the seat in front of them to recline. A recent flight from MIA to CDG was diverted to BOS after a passenger became upset when the seat in front of them reclined, and they lunged at a flight attendant. 

There is yet to be agreed upon rules for airplane seat reclining. Many say it boils down to being civil. Others are calling for reclining seats to be banned from airplanes because it's been demonstrated that passengers can't be civil.  Even Miss Manners has weighed in - she blames airlines for installing seats so closely together that nobody is happy. 

Today on Slate, Christopher Buccafusco and Chris Sprigman look at the economics of seat reclining. How much would you pay for the person in front of you not to recline? How much would you pay for the right to recline? They conducted an online survey to answer those questions, and they found out:

Recliners wanted on average $41 to refrain from reclining, while reclinees were willing to pay only $18 on average. Only about 21 percent of the time would ownership of the 4 inches change hands.
...
When we flipped the default—that is, when we made the rule that people did not have an automatic right to recline, but would have to negotiate to get it—then people’s values suddenly reversed. Now, recliners were only willing to pay about $12 to recline while reclinees were unwilling to sell their knee room for less than $39. Recliners would have ended up purchasing the right to recline only about 28 percent of the time—the same right that they valued so highly in the other condition.

They go on to say that this is basically the "endowment effect" as described in the 1990 paper by (Berkeley professor and Nobel laureate) Daniel Kahneman, Jack L. Knetsch and Richard H. Thaler, "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem."

Decreasing seat size is just another way airlines engage in revenue management, along with itemized fees for everything. Airlines are already using dynamic pricing for fares. They also employ tactics to maximize flight frequency and aircraft size, though this can often lead to flight delays (which often results in higher fares). The boarding procedure is another area where airlines can be more cost effective, minimizing the time to board and turnaround time.

But will any of that get you more leg room on your next flight? 

What's the difference between people who use taxis and people who use ridesourcing in SF?

Proposed CPUC regulations improve consumer protection for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar

It seems like every week the two largest ridesourcing/TNC/ridesharing companies, Uber and Lyft, are in the news. This week featured stories about the two companies opposing a California state legislature bill mandating insurance for drivers, Uber's efforts to sabbotage Lyft with burner phones, and that both operations are now basically commodoties and not really that different from one another. 

Which makes this new UCTC paper all the more timely. 

In App-Based, On-Demand Ride Services: Comparing Taxi and Ridesourcing Trips and User Characteristics in San Francisco, Lisa Rayle (a 2014 Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship recipient) et al examine who uses these ridesourcing apps, and how they relate to more traditional taxi or transit riders. 

The rapid growth of on-demand ride services, or ridesourcing, has prompted debate among policy makers and stakeholders. At present, ridesourcing’s usage and impacts are not well understood. Key questions include: how ridesourcing and taxis compare with respect to trip types, customers, and locations served; whether ridesourcing complements or competes with public transit; and potential impacts on vehicle miles traveled. We address these questions using an intercept survey. In spring 2014, 380 complete surveys were collected from three ridesourcing “hot spots” in San Francisco. Survey results are compared with matched-pair taxi trip data and results of a previous taxi user survey.

The findings indicate ridesourcing serves a previously unmet demand for convenient, point-to-point urban travel. Although taxis and ridesourcing share similarities, the findings show differences in users and the user experience. Ridesourcing wait times are markedly shorter and more consistent than those of taxis, while ridesourcing users tend to be younger, own fewer vehicles and more frequently travel with companions. Ridesourcing appears to substitute for longer public transit trips but otherwise complements transit. Impacts on overall vehicle travel are ambiguous. Future research should build on this exploratory study to further understand impacts of ridesourcing on labor, social equity, the environment, and public policy.

The full paper can be found here

Bikeshare as Public Transit

Nice Ride Minnesota

As bikeshare systems grow, mature, and become quite common, researchers are beginning to answer some fundamental questions about bikeshare. Are bikeshare cyclists fundamentally different from regular cyclists? What about riders wearing helmets? How does weather affect bikeshare trips? How do bikeshare users integrate with other modes?

What about bikeshare as public transit?

That's what TSRC researchers Elliot Martin and Susan Shaheen have asked in their forthcoming article, "Evaluating public transit modal shift dynamics in response to bikesharing: a tale of two U.S. cities" in Journal of Transport Geography. They conclude that:

The modal shift to and from public transit has shown an intriguing degree of variation within and across cities, meriting further exploration in this paper. The authors found, through mapping the modal shifts reported by members, that shifts away from public transit are most prominent in core urban environments with high population density. Shifts toward public transit in response to bikesharing appear most prevalent in lower density regions on the urban periphery.

The full article can be found here. Or your can read an overview from CityLab

Celebrating Independence Day!

Where baby freeways come from

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the United States, whi means the library (and the whole UC Berkeley campus) will be closed in observance of the Federal holiday. 

It also means holiday traffic as people head out of town for a long weekend, outdoor recreation, or to fireworks displays.  Holiday weekends tend to see an over-representation of fatal and injury crashes on the roadways, largely due increased drunk driving. Increased impaired-driving enforcement has helped reduce crash fatalities in the United States. Checkpoints could be even more effective with location optimization modeling

So have a festive and safe weekend. Don't drive impared. We'll see you next week!

Examining Electric Vehicle Parking

Electric Vehicle Parking

Electric vehicle (EV) public parking has been rolling out in Berkeley but got a boost recently with station installed at both Whole Foods. The city is slated to get more municipal charging stations soon, including a pilot to look at curbside charging stations

There are mixed opinions about EV public parking options, with concerns about location and demand. Researchers are looking at activity models to overcome public perception and be more effective in urban areas. A new article from Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice continues the discourse. "Electric vehicle parking in European and American context: Economic, energy and environmental analysis," by Marta V. Faria, Patrícia C. Baptista, and Tiago L. Farias, applies a methodology for the placement of EV parking to Lisbon, Madrid, Minneapolis and Manhattan. They conclude:

This research confirms that the success of deploying an EV charging stations infrastructure will be highly dependent on the price the user will have to pay, on the cost of the infrastructure deployed and on the adhesion of the EV users to this kind of infrastructure. These variables are not independent and, consequently, the coordination of public policies and private interest must be promoted in order to reach an optimal solution that does not result in prohibitive costs for the users.

The full article can be read here.  

 

Special Friday Transportation Seminar: Welcome to the Age of Access: Exploring the Sharing Economy and Shared-Use Mobility

Car sharing

This Friday, April 11 is a Special Friday Transportation Seminar. Sponsored by our new University Transportation Center, UC CONNECT, Federal Region 9 And in conjunction with the Transportation Engineering Program Open House. "Welcome to the Age of Access: Exploring the Sharing Economy and Shared-Use Mobility" will be a panel discussion moderated by Professor Susan Shaheen, Co-Director TSRC. Panelists include: Neal Gorenflo, Co-Founder Shareable; Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, SFMTA; Shomik Raj Mehndiratta, Lead Transport Specialist, the World Bank, Rick Hutchinson, CEO, City CarShare; Michael Jones, Principal & Founder, Alta Bicycle Share.

A panel of leaders of the sharing economy and shared-use mobility will introduce the burgeoning economy, discuss various forms of shared-use mobility (such as carsharing, public bikesharing, and web-enabled apps) and explore policy issues associated with scaling and with the integration of shared-use mobility services into the transportation landscape (such as privacy, open data, insurance, safety, equity). The discussion will explore the opportunities to be had in developing a robust public-private partnership, the obstacles that must be faced during this process, and the role research can take in informing the creation of policy.

This event, in honor of the launch of our new University Transportation Center, UC CONNECT, will be held in conjunction with Transportation Engineering’s open house welcoming potential graduate students to the program and to the UC Berkeley campus. Faculty, students, new students, and alumni are welcome to join us for this event. A reception will follow.

The special seminar take place this Friday, April 11th, 2014; 3:30 - 5:00 pm in the Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall. (Note: different time and different location!) There is also a reception to follow. Cookie Hour will still happen, but at 3:00 pm in the library. 

New from FHWA: Human Factors Assessment of Pedestrian Roadway Crossing Behavior

2012 09 19 - 171 - DC - Connecticut Ave Candids

Earlier this year FHWA issued a new research report as part of their ongoing research on pedestrian and bicycle safety. In Human Factors Assessment of Pedestrian Roadway Crossing Behavior, researchers collected data and used it to create a predictive model of pedestrian behavior. 

More than half of pedestrian fatalities occur at unmarked locations away from intersections. However, little research has been conducted to understand why pedestrians cross roadways at unmarked locations. As a result, this study sought to better understand the environmental influences on both where and when pedestrians elect to cross the road. This report examines more than 70,000 pedestrian crossings at 20 different locations. The circumstances of those crossings (pedestrians yielding to vehicles, vehicles yielding to pedestrians, and evasive actions) were documented and analyzed. A model using environmental factors as inputs is provided to predict where (marked crosswalk intersection or outside the marked crosswalk) pedestrians will cross the road.

The full report can be found here

Travel Demand Forecasting: Beyond the models and into reality?

Chicago road network

Recently the State Smart Transportation Inivitiative (SSTI) asked if travel demand forecasts from U.S. DOT were accurate

Their answer is no

In the post, "U.S. DOT highway travel demand estimates continue to overshoot reality", Eric Sundquist examines the projections in FHWA's 2013 Conditions & Performance report. He finds that the estimates for VMT growth were 5-6% higher than reality. Concluding:

Had the report based estimates on more current historic data—e.g., VMT trends for 2003-13, which grew at one-fifth the USDOT’s 1995-2010 estimate—the cost estimates would have dropped by tens of billions more, reducing pressure on budgets while freeing up funds to bring the existing system to a state of good repair.

The accuracy of travel demand models and forecast predictions is not a new issue and more people are questioning the methodoloy. This year's TRB Annual Meeting featured a workshop on the issue The Next 50 Years in Travel Analysis: What We Don’t Know but Need to Know. The moderator, David T. Hartgen, mentioned a recent paper he wrote, "Hubris or humility? Accuracy issues for the next 50 years of travel demand modeling," in Transportation. Hartgen, examining 50 years of forecasting, describes problems with accuracy and ways to imrpove models. Definitely a paper worth reading. 

What makes people walk more?

walk

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

Built Environment Impacts on Individual Mode Choice

Downtown Houston

The built environment has an impact on mode choice. It's a topic ripe for study. In "Built Environment Impacts on Individual Mode Choice: An Empirical Study of the Houston-Galveston Metropolitan Area" by Jae-Su Lee, Jin Nam & Sam-Su Lee examines the built environment and mode choice for the city of Houston, publised in the most recent issues of the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation.

This study examines the impacts of the built environment measures based on two geographic scales, i.e., traffic analysis zone and one quarter-mile buffer on individual mode choice in the Houston metropolitan area. It is confirmed that they have significant impacts on mode choice in varying degrees. The models including the buffer-based measures are more reasonable than those with conventional zone-based variables for both home-based work and other trips. Finally, the elasticity estimates suggest the built environments are undervalued in the conventional transportation practices. Both land use and transport pricing measures should be considered complementary to control the demand for driving.

You can read the whole paper here

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