Public Transit

The London Underground Turns 150

London_Train_Delay - 16.jpg

On this date in 1863 London's Metropolitan Railway opened for business between Paddington and Farringdon stations, making it the world's first underground railway line and the most iconic. Celebrations have included 150 stories from passengers, looking back on its impact on culture, a journey along the historic Central Line, lots and lots of pictures, alternate tube maps, and the Google doodle

The Underground's impact on London and transportation in immeasurable. The growth of the city is linked to the growth of the Tube. Some consider it as a model for infrastructure management and investment. The history of the London Underground is as much a story of civil engineering as it is transportation planning and urban development. Perhaps its legacy is that it is still running and continues to evolve

BART Turns 40

On this day in 1972 BART started running its first train between Fremont and Oakland. On the BART Blog today is a story of one family's account of opening day. BART is also looking for riders to share their memories of the last 40 years, so stay tuned to their Pintrest board. SF Gate also looks back at BART's triumphs of the last 40 years, inlcuding some pictures from the Nixon's tour in November 1972.

For more perspective of the planning process for the BART system, there are several resources in OskiCat, including our collection of BART planning documents and the classic collection of case studies, Great Planning Disasters. You can also find lots of research on BART in TRID.

This is also a great time to revist Jake Coolidge's representation of the BART system that never was, which was based on some of the early planning documents. 


Javelins Overwhelmed at the Olympics?

Class 395 Javelin

The 2012 Olympics in London are less than two months away. The torch is well on its joureny from Athens, which you can watch live. When the Transport Plan was first published in 2006, empahsis was placed on the Javelin highspeed trains as an estimated 80% of visitors would arrive by train. 6 years later on the eve of competetition, there are now concerns that the trains may be overwhelmed:

The Javelin service has been presented as a key part of the capital's transport plans since London won the right to host the games in 2005. Although the Olympic Delivery Authority insists it has "robust plans for a smooth operation", it seems that some hoping for a fast ride on the trains – which have been named after Olympians, including Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sebastian Coe – may have to travel by bus or tube.

Network Rail, which operates St Pancras station under contract to High Speed One, the station and track owners, is building queueing zones stretching into the immigration area for the Eurostar international services, in effect moving the administrative border with France to accommodate the crowds.

But Robin Gisby, director of operations for Network Rail, told the Commons transport select committee this week that the queues may be such that they will advise passengers to take alternative routes. These routes take, according to Transport for London's calculations, five or six times longer even without factoring in Olympic queues.

To help with the transport issues, Get Ahead of the Games was launched earlier this year to help keep Olympic travellers informed of the the transport sitation.

The Evolution of Major Urban Subway Networks

Hallways, London

"A long-time limit for world subway networks" recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface investigates how subway systems in major urban areas develop over time. Written by Camille Roth, Soong Moon Kang, Michael Batty and Marc Barthelemy, the article compares the subway systems of major cities.  It looks at Barcelona, Beijing, London, Moscow, New York City, Seoul, and Tokyo, to find similarities of each system's development. The article was discussed by Scientific American, Wired, and the BBC.

This question is remiscent of another article which asks "Are motorways rational from slime mould's point of view?"

Friday Seminar - Celeste Chavis on Analyzing the Structure of Informal Transit Systems


Shuttle Bus Only

This week's Friday TRANSOC Seminar features Celeste Chavis, Ph.D. candidate, University of California, Berkeley, presenting "Analyzing the Structure of Informal Transit Systems."

Through the use of a profit-maximizing continuum approximation model, this presentation systematically analyzes the development and structure of informal transit systems as a function of the network, user, and modal characteristics.  The study examines the evening commute problem along a linear corridor where passengers with a constant trip generation rate at the CBD travel to destinations uniformly distributed along the corridor.  Informal transit drivers who are profit-maximizing will be compared against the traditional case of coordinated, government service that aims to maximize the total welfare. Policies, such as fare regulation and vehicle licensing schemes, will be presented to help rationalize informal transit service using a government-operated service as the baseline.

The seminar will be held in 534 Davis Hall on Friday, May 4, from 4:00-5:00pm. Please join us for a TRANSOC-sponsored Cookie Hour in the ITS Library, 412 McLaughlin Hall, at 3:30pm.


Friday Seminar - Karthik Sivakumaran on Access and the Choice of Transit Technology

MBTA RTS bus 0026

This week's Friday TRANSOC Seminar features Karthik Sivakumaran, Ph.D. candidate, University of California, Berkeley, presenting "Access and the Choice of Transit Technology."

An urban transit system can be made more efficient by improving the access to it.  Efforts in this vein often entail the provision of greater mobility, as when high-speed feeder buses are used to carry commuters to and from trunk-line stations.  Other efforts have focused on the creation of more favorable land-use patterns, as occurs when households within a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) are tightly clustered around trunk stations.  The efficacy of these mobility and land-use solutions are separately examined in the present work.  To this end, continuum approximation models are used to determine the design parameters that minimize the generalized costs to both the users and the operators of hypothetical transit networks.

Though idealized, these assessments furnish useful and very general insights.  They confirm that if transit is accessed slowly on foot, as is commonly assumed in the literature, then the optimal spacings between routes, and between the stations along those routes, are quite small.  This typically places capital-intensive rail systems at a competitive disadvantage with transit systems that feature buses instead.  However, these spacings expand when access speeds increase.  Hence, we show how Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Metro-Rail can become a preferred option for trunk-line service when accessed via faster-moving feeder buses.

By comparison, the influence of altered land use patterns brought by TODs is less dramatic when all users walk to Metro-rail stations.  We find that clustering households around these stations justifies larger spacings between them, but produces only modest reductions in generalized costs.  This is because the larger spacings penalize transit users who reside outside of the TODs.

The seminar will be held at 4:00pm in 534 Davis Hall. Don't forget about Cookie Hour in the library at 3:30! See you here.

New Global BRT Database

Estação e vermelhão

This week was launched by the Bus Rapid Transit Center of Excellence and EMBARQ. The site acts a clearinghouse for data from BRT systems all over the world. You can see performance indicators by country or city, such as passengers per day, number of corridors, and legth. Check it out and let them know what you think.

Friday Seminar – Eleni Christofa on Traffic Signal Optimization with Transit Priority

light rail tracks and wires, October 23, 2005

This Friday’s TRANSOC Seminar has Eleni Christofa, Ph.D. Candidate, University of California, Berkeley, presenting "Traffic Signal Optimization with Transit Priority."

Traffic responsive control with transit signal priority (TSP) is a strategy that is increasingly used to improve transit operations in urban networks. However, none of the existing real-time signal control systems has explicitly incorporated the passenger occupancy of transit vehicles in granting priority, or has effectively address issues such as the provision of priority to transit vehicles traveling in conflicting directions at signalized intersections. A person-based traffic responsive signal control system with TSP is presented that provides priority to transit vehicles while minimizing the negative impacts on the auto traffic even when transit vehicles travel in conflicting directions. The objective is to minimize the total person delay at the intersection by explicitly considering the vehicles’ occupancy and schedule adherence. Such a system has been made feasible by advanced technologies which provide real-time information such as Automated Vehicle Location systems and passenger counters.

The proposed traffic responsive signal control system was first developed for isolated intersections, and extended to arterial signalized networks.  Evaluation tests for a wide range of traffic and transit operational characteristics show that the proposed system can achieve substantial reductions in transit delays with no significant increase in auto delays, and can outperform signal settings provided by commonly used optimization tools that minimize vehicle delays. The contribution of this research is the development of readily implementable strategies that take advantage of existing infrastructure to improve transit and traffic operations in congested metropolitan areas.

The seminar will be held Friday, March 16, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in 534 Davis Hall. Please join us for a TRANSOC-sponsored Cookie Hour in the ITS Library from 3:30-4:00 p.m.

Friday Seminar - Mark Hickman on Inferring Transit Passenger Behavior

Bus Rider's Union on The Train

This week’s Friday TRANSOC Seminar has  Mark Hickman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, University of Arizona, presenting “Inferring Transit Passenger Behavior.”

There are many aspects of mass transit passengers and their travel that are often difficult to observe, but which are very useful for transit service planning. These aspects include the passengers' basic travel characteristics, such as origins and destinations, time of travel, associated activities during the day, and the level of temporal and spatial access to different land uses. Traditional on-board and regional household surveys, and even newer electronic methods of observation, often have limitations on the data available for transit passengers. In this context, we explore methods that use a combination of different data sources to infer passengers' behavior. Preliminary findings, based on transit data from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, suggest some progress in understanding this behavior. However, there remain some very interesting challenges for further research.

Friday Seminar - Elizabeth Deakin on BART State of Good Repair: What It Will Take to Maintain The System

200408 bart carriage

This week's Friday TRANSOC Seminar has Elizabeth Deakin, JD, Professor, City and Regional Planning and Urban Design, University of California, Berkeley, presenting "BART State of Good Repair: What It Will Take to Maintain the System."

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is approaching 40 years of service, and BART is preparing for a large reinvestment program, including replacing overage vehicles and aging infrastructure to keep BART in a state of good repair (SGR).  However, some of the funding for this program is uncertain and therefore it is possible that some of the planned investment in the replacement of equipment and infrastructure will have to be deferred.  This presentation examines the levels and types of investment needed to maintain BART in a state of good repair, identifies the kinds of deterioration in BART services that are likely if less money is available for SGR than needed, evaluates how service deterioration would affect BART ridership, and assesses the consequences for the Bay Area’s transportation system, the economy, and the environment.  Stakeholder perspectives on funding for SGR also are investigated.

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