Closed July 1-July 4

flickr photo shared by m01229 under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

The ITS Library will be closed Friday July 1 for maintenance and Monday July 4 for the holiday. We will resume regular hours on Tuesday, July 5. 

This weekend, if you are going to a fireworks display, stay safe and sane while you sit in traffic leaving the event. There has been some research in how smart parking can help these kinds of events and how mobile networks can be leveraged to detect congestion more accurately. Crowd-sourced probe data can also be used to monitor the situation. And in areas where it's available bike share data can sense the pulse of activity, like Washington D.C. and the fireworks display at the Capitol Mall. 

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! 

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

Making City-Scale Networks of Connected Vehicles Reality

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

Last week's Friday Seminar featured João BarrosAssociate Professor at the University of Porto and CEO of Veniam talking about how he and his team turned public transit into smart city hot spots for Porto. After early attempts to use cellular technology for connected vehicles, which had major bottlenecks in the networks and was cost prohibitive, Barros explored the possibilities of using wi-fi technology to create a city wide mesh network. This builds upon some of Barros' earlier research that looked into the feasibility and impact of VANETs in urban environments

The key to Veniam's success on Porto has been the city's fibre-optic backbone to create wifi hotspots around the city, like bus stops. A combination of wifi and the IEEE 802.11p standard for wireless vehicle communication, and deployment in fleets such as many of the city's taxis and Metro de Porto's fleet, made the city wide mesh network possible. It also made it very cheap to offer free wifi on the entire bus fleet, which has pleased passengers

For the buses, the connectivity can be used for ticketing, navigation, infotainment, and vehicle diagnostics. This has also created a very rich, high definition data set of the fleet's operations which has informed service and route updates. 

The mesh network has also been very effective in tracking operations at Porto de Leixões. Early attempts to track vehicles with cellular technology were hindered by the lack of cell towers in the industrial area and interference from shipping containers. The wifi mesh network has made it possible to track port traffic to improve efficiency and safety. 

Barros hinted that the next wave of innovation could be in the field of wearables. His group had a project that tracked bus driver comfort and stress to better understand their behavior and how it depends on the built environment. 

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. 


Accessing TRB Annual Meeting Papers


Last week many of you attended the TRB 94th Annual Meeting in DC. All meeting registrants have complimentary access to all of the Annual Meeting Papers online. You can access the Compendium of papers online.

When logging in, use email address you registered for the meeting under. Your initial password will be your 6-digit registration confirmation code. Once you log in, you can then change your password. You will have access to the papers from 2015 and back to 2011. Presentations from this year will be available online after March. 

If you did not attend the Annual Meeting and want to access the papers we have them available at the library. Just ask for them at the circulation desk, or email us directly. 

Everybody loves bus bunching.

Corporation Atlanteans at Moreton Shore

Or more realistically, everybody loves to complain about bus bunching - when two or more buses (usually on the same line) should be evenly spaced out, but are right behind one another. Here around UC Berkeley AC Transit's 51b in the line most people complain about bunching (they're working on it!), but every transit systems has its own problem line(s). 

Earlier this week WBEZ's Curious City examines bus bunching in Chicago. They provide an easy to understand animation that demonstrates how minor service delays cascade to bus bunching. Bookmark it to share with your friends next time they lament about the topic. 

The topic is also beloved by transit researchers, particularly at ITS Berkeley. From systematic analysis of why bunching occurs to ways to solve the problem. And as always, you can find more research on bus bunching at TRID

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? 

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