Administration & Management

Alaska Airlines buys Virgin America


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

After some brief speculation, it was announced this morning that Alaskan Airlines' parent organization bought Virgin America for $2.6 billion in cash. This acquisition will bolster Alaskan's presence on the West Coast and particularly in California. Virgin's chairman Richard Branson wrote about the brand's history and his thoughts on the future

It's expected this deal won't experience regulatory hurdles that faced the American Airlines and US Airways deal because their market shares are much less. Given the geographic idiosyncrasies of airline mergers, it will be interesting to see how this deal plays out. What will be the implication for consumers? Initial impressions have been kind of negative

Transport Infrastructure and the World Cup

III Congresso SIBRT

Last week the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Brazil. Mega sporting events, like the World Cup and the Olympics, often require mega infrastructure projects for the hosts. For this World Cup, preparations include building five new stadiums, including the much talked about Arena Amazônia in Manaus which almost wasn't ready for the first match, and several transport projects. Airports were considered a headache early in planning, and lots of money and time has been invested in airport upgrades for an already overtaxed civil air system. On the other side, several planned public transport projects, such as monorails in Sao Paulo and Manaus, were cancelled because they could not be delivered in time for the tournament. One of the few public transport projects that succeeded was Belo Horizonte's MOVE BRT, which launched in March 2014. 

Some researchers have called these projects a "missed opportunity" to improve urban mobility in Brazil. Others have focused on how these projects could have reduced transport greenhouse gas emissions if only they were built. (Some of them were quite sustainable.)

For a good roundup of World Cup transport projects winner and losers, NextCity provides a good overview

CPUC Regulates Network Transportation Companies

big Lyft

Yesterday the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to regulate network transportation companies. This means that companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar will still be able to operate in this state, while they are facing regulatory hurdles in other states (and class-action lawsuits). The San Francisco Cab Driver's Association has responded that the ruling is essentially de-regulation

On Marketplace, Juan Matute from ITS UCLA commented on the decision: “I think this is quite significant... It will be difficult for taxi cab drivers to continue doing exactly what they’ve been doing in the past.”

In the coming months and years, research on the issue will be published. An article in October's issues of the Journal of Transport Geography, "Puncturing automobility?," looks at the effects of carsharing on car ownership. Perhaps there will be similar discussions at the Shared Use Mobility Summit next month, which will cover carshare and bikeshare. Note these transportation network companies are not ridesharing, despite that being the most commonly used term. 

Friday Seminar: How the Eastern Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Became a Megaproject

bay bridge

Today's TRANSOC Friday Seminar features UCTC Assistant Director Karen Trapenberg Frick will presenting about the evolution of the Eastern Span San Francisco-Oakland of the Bay Bridge from an ordinary bridge into a megaproject.

The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which was opened after the Labor Day weekend, is a classic instance of a megaproject, not just because of its huge complexity, protracted timeline and “mega” cost (some $6.5 billion). It is also a textbook embodiment of what I have identified as the “six C’s” of a typical megaproject: colossal, captivating, costly, controversial, complex, and subject to issues of control.

The seminar will take place a 4:00-5:00 PM September 13, 2013 in 534 Davis Hall. And of course Cookie Hour in the library at 3:30. See you there!

Book of the Week: Introduction to Air Transport Economics

 

We're starting a new series here highlighting different books from our collection. This week we're focusing on a new book about aviation. Introduction to Air Transport Economics: From Theory to Application (Second Edition) by Bijan Vasigh, Ken Fleming, and Thomas Tacker is published by Ashgate

The book presents the fundamentals of the aviation industry with a foundation of underlying economic concepts. It also touches upon policy, institutional structures, and market forces (such as anti-trust considerations) that affect the aviation industry.  New to aviation? This book can help you get started. It is waiting on our New Book Shelf to be checked out by you today! 

#BARTSTRIKE

 

At midnight July 1 2013, after failed negotiations between BART and its two main unions, BART workers went on strike. The strike has disrupted transportation throughout much of the Bay Area-  increasing commute times and traffic congestion. Many commuters are turning to the ferries, casual carpool, and rideshare. The more adventurous have opted for helicopters or yachts. While there has been the predicted mix of frustration, criticism, and selfpromotion on Twitter via #BARTstrike, it's still too early to gague the real impact of the strike on transportation. Some projections estimate the econmic impact to be $73 million a day as well as 16 million pounds of carbon. Some clues might be gleaned from the recently published, Subways, Strikes, and Slowdowns: The Impacts of Public Transportation on Traffic Congestion. Using data from the 2003 transit worker strike in Los Angeles, researchers show that transit relieves traffic congestion

More on PPPs and Road Financing

PA Turnpike tilt-shift

Yesterday we talked about Britain's proposed privatization of their transport infrastructre and made an error when we said the Pennsylvania Turnpike was leased to a private company. In 2007 bidding was opened on the Turnpike and in 2008 the highest bid was received from Spanish firm Abertis Infraestructuras, but ultimately the plan failed. Currently the Turnpike is managed by a state-operated commision that "receives no state or federal taxes to operate and maintain its toll road system." The Pew report, Driven by Dollars, outlines several of the problems that were a part of the leasing proposal and calls for a more open process and transparency.

As funding sources dry up, such as the transportation bill now stuck in gridlock on Capitol Hill or depleted state budgets, transportation agencies will have to come up with new methods of financing which has an increasing interest on private money. The 2011 book Road to Renewal examines private investment in transportation projects from around the world, outlining what works and what doesnt for PPPs as well as how to protect public interests. Louise Nelson Dyble has a recently published article "Tolls and Control: The Chicago Skyway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike" which compares the two plans and raises questions about impact on future transportation planning policy.

 

 

Parking Minimums: Revisiting an old problem

New York Parking Structure

In today's New York Times, architecture critic Micahel Kimmelman looks at parking requirements for urabn development and he doesn't like how things have been going. 

For big cities like New York it is high time to abandon outmoded zoning codes from the auto-boom days requiring specific ratios of parking spaces per housing unit, or per square foot of retail space. These rules about minimum parking spaces have driven up the costs of apartments for developers and residents, damaged the environment, diverted money that could have gone to mass transit and created a government-mandated cityscape that’s largely unused. We keep adding to the glut of parking lots. Crain’s recently reported on the largely empty garages at new buildings like Avalon Fort Greene, a 42-story luxury tower near downtown Brooklyn, and 80 DeKalb Avenue, up the block, both well occupied, both of which built hundreds of parking spaces to woo tenants. Garages near Yankee Stadium, built over the objections of Bronx neighbors appalled at losing parkland for yet more parking lots, turn out never to be more than 60 percent full, even on game days. The city has lost public space, the developers have lost a fortune.

Streetsblog wonders what this endorsement for eliminating parking minimums might have on the Department of City Planning

This is not a new topic by any means. Donald Shoup's High Cost of Free Parking is a cornerstone of the field. Researchers from NYU have looked at the enforcement of New York City's minumum parking requirements and how proximity to transit affects the reuirements and the impact on housing affordability. There is also a thought that well-functioning off-street parking markets might be a solution. 

Congress set to kill off High Speed Rail funding

Trip to DC_June 2010_003_BWI

The U.S. Congress voted today on a new transportation bill. Included in the bill was language that killed funding for Obama's High Speed Rail program. From AP

The House voted Thursday to kill funds for President Barack Obama's signature high-speed rail program, but the initiative may have some life in it still.

Republican lawmakers are claiming credit for killing the program. But billions of dollars still in the pipeline will ensure work will continue on some projects. And it's still possible money from another transportation grant program can be steered to high-speed trains.

Obama had requested $8 billion in fiscal 2012 for the program and $53 billion over six years.

In light of exisiting questions regarding High Speed Rail in California, the future looks murky indeed. It will be an interesting ride. 

 

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