Highways

Institute of Transportation Studies Friday Seminar: Large-Network Travel Time Distribution Estimation for Ambulances

Ambulance in Georgetown. BW.

It's almost Friday, so it's almost time for the Friday Transportation Seminar. Remember that this semester the seminars and Cookie Hour are in 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Buidling. We also encourage you to follow along (and participate) with the Twitter hashtag #itsberksem

This week's Friday Seminar features Dawn Woodward from Cornell presenting, "Large-Network Travel Time Distribution Estimation for Ambulances."

We present methods to predict the time required for an ambulance to drive to the scene of an emergency. This forecast is critical for deciding how many ambulances should be deployed at a given time, where they should be stationed, and which ambulance should be dispatched to an emergency. Specifically, we predict the distribution of lights-and-sirens ambulance driving time on an arbitrary route in a road network, using automatic vehicle location data and trip information from previous ambulance trips. We train a statistical model using a computationally efficient procedure; challenges include the large size of the network and the lack of trips in the data that follow the route of interest. We demonstrate the operational impact of our methods using data from Toronto Emergency Medical Services, and discuss ongoing efforts to incorporate our methods into a software package used by ambulance services.

The Friday Seminar takes place on September 5, 2014 from 4:00-5:00 PM in 290 Hearst Memorial Mining BuildingCookie Hour immediately precedes it at 3:30 PM in the same location. (Note: Cookie Hour is not in the library!) There will be a no-host Happy Hour at LaVal's at 5:00 PM.

Institute of Transportation Studies Friday Seminar: Lessons Learned from Spatiotemporal Studies of Freeway Carpool Lanes

WIDE LOAD

Late August means the end of summer is nigh, students are back, classes are in session, and it's the return of the Friday Transportation Seminars. This semester there are some changes to the seminars - Cookie Hour and the seminar will take place in the same location in 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Buidling. We also encourage you to follow along (and participate) with the Twitter hashtag #itsberksem

This week's Friday Seminar features ITS's own Professor Michael Cassidy presenting, "Lessons Learned from Spatiotemporal Studies of Freeway Carpool Lanes."

The presentation explores how the segregation of distinct vehicle classes on a roadway can improve travel conditions for all of the classes. Insights come using freeway carpool lanes as case studies. Spatiotemporal study of real sites shows (i) how the activation of a continuous-access carpool lane triggers reductions in vehicle lane-changing maneuvers, and (ii) how the reduced lane-changing can “smooth” and increase bottleneck discharge flows in a freeway’s regular lanes. Theoretical analysis predicts that, thanks to this smoothing effect, even underused carpool lanes can diminish both the people-hours and the vehicle-hours traveled on a freeway. Relevance to bus lanes is briefly discussed. Further insights come via critiques of certain practices that degrade the effectiveness of carpool lanes. Spatiotemporal traffic data reveal that a policy aimed at improving carpool-lane speeds has backfired, owing to a friction effect. The policy mandates the eviction of select fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles from carpool lanes. These evictions have caused queues to expand in regular lanes during the rush. And these expanded queues, in turn, slow vehicles in the adjacent carpool lanes. Spatiotemporal data further show that efforts to combat the friction effect by deploying limited-access carpool lanes can also backfire, because the designs for these lanes are prone to creating bottlenecks.

The Friday Seminar takes place on August 29, 2014 from 4:00-5:00 PM in 290 Hearst Memorial Mining Building. Cookie Hour immediately precedes it at 3:30 PM in the same location. (Note: Cookie Hour is not in the library!) There will be a no-host Happy Hour at LaVal's at 5:00 PM.

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!

New NCHRP Synthesis: Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems

345/365 Flood

This week a new NCHRP Synthesis was published by TRB that covers the effects of extreme weather incidents, such as Hurricane Sandy, on transportation systems. NCHRP Synthesis Report 454: Response to Extreme Weather Impacts on Transportation Systems provides background on the issue and the current state of the practice. The full report can be read here

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car Protoypes

Yesterday Google posted posted information and videos about their purpose-built autonomous car prototpyes they've built and are testing. Google will have 100 of these vehicles built for initial closed-road testing and hope to have them on California streets by the end of 2014. One of the most talked about features is the distinct lack of a steering wheel. And while the future is almost here, it's a good time to reflect on the potential positives and negatives of autuonomous vehicles (according to Vox)

Friday Seminar: The Impact of Adverse Weather on Freeway Bottleneck Performance

Raindrops keep falling on my screen...

It's almost the end of the semester, but we still have two more Friday Seminars! This week is the penultimate seminar featuring Ph.D. candidate Joshua Seeherman. He'll be presenting his research, "The Impact of Adverse Weather on Freeway Bottleneck Performance."

Daily commutes in and out of major cities by automobile will likely encounter multiple locations of delay known as bottlenecks where demand exceeds capacity. It has been long perceived that the performance of these bottlenecks decrease when they are affected by adverse weather such as rain, snow, or fog. This project utilizes existing methodology to measure the discharge rate for four freeway bottlenecks in Orange County, California during both clear and adverse conditions. After confirming that the results agree with past literature, a new model will be proposed attributing different periods of bottleneck congestion during either wet, windy, or foggy conditions to specific weather characteristics. Generic results that can be applied to multiple sites will be shown which will validate the new proposal and hopefully provide guidance for other locations where wet weather is a significant source of delay.

The seminar will take place today, Friday May 9, 2014 from 4:00-5:00 PM in 212 O'Brien. (Note the room change!) Cookie Hour is on this week as well, at 3:30 in the library. 

New Article: Macroscopic Fundamental Diagram and Public Transport

Changing Course in Urban Transport

A brand new article in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies examines a macroscopic fundamental diagram (MFD) and how it is applied to bi-modal urban networks. "A three-dimensional macroscopic fundamental diagram for mixed bi-modal urban networks," by (ITS alum) Nikolas Geroliminis, Nan Zheng,and Konstantinos Ampountolas investigates existence of a three-dimensional vehicle-flow MFD for bi-modal network.

Recent research has studied the existence and the properties of a macroscopic fundamental diagram (MFD) for large urban networks. The MFD should not be universally expected as high scatter or hysteresis might appear for some type of networks, like heterogeneous networks or freeways. In this paper, we investigate if aggregated relationships can describe the performance of urban bi-modal networks with buses and cars sharing the same road infrastructure and identify how this performance is influenced by the interactions between modes and the effect of bus stops. Based on simulation data, we develop a three-dimensional vehicle MFD (3D-vMFD) relating the accumulation of cars and buses, and the total circulating vehicle flow in the network. This relation experiences low scatter and can be approximated by an exponential-family function. We also propose a parsimonious model to estimate a three-dimensional passenger MFD (3D-pMFD), which provides a different perspective of the flow characteristics in bi-modal networks, by considering that buses carry more passengers. We also show that a constant Bus–Car Unit (BCU) equivalent value cannot describe the influence of buses in the system as congestion develops. We then integrate a partitioning algorithm to cluster the network into a small number of regions with similar mode composition and level of congestion. Our results show that partitioning unveils important traffic properties of flow heterogeneity in the studied network. Interactions between buses and cars are different in the partitioned regions due to higher density of buses. Building on these results, various traffic management strategies in bi-modal multi-region urban networks can then be integrated, such as redistribution of urban space among different modes, perimeter signal control with preferential treatment of buses and bus priority.

The full paper 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. 

Everybody's a Tourist? Rethinking the Driver Population Factor

objects in mirror

A new paper, "Rethinking the Driver Population Factor," from ITS Berkeley's own Joshua Seeherman and Professor Alexander Skabardonis takes a look at the driver population factor currently used in the Highway Capacity Manual

Freeway analysis procedures in the widely used Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) include the input of a driver population factor (Fp), which allows the analyst to adjust the demand depending on the familiarity of drivers with the roadway. This adjustment is based on the assumption that unfamiliar drivers will drive at slower speeds with longer headways and that higher capacity would therefore be required. However, little research supports the use of the Fp, and the HCM cautions against the use of Fp unless the analyst is fairly certain the traffic stream is actually unfamiliar with the roadway. As an experiment, three bottlenecks in California were selected and analyzed during the weekday peaks and weekend afternoons in periods during which the traffic stream was likely to be nonlocal. The results showed that the changes in flow were minor at all three locations. Further research with additional sites and an increased awareness of the definition of familiarity will be required to confirm the results from this research.

The full paper can be found online in Transportation Research Record no. 2395 or you can look at the hard copy in the library. 

Friday Seminar: Some Approaches to Enhance Road Safety: Beyond Engineering Based Strategies

Tomorrow's ITS Friday Seminar is Dr. Shashi Nambisan, a professor at the University of Tennessee, presenting, "Some Approaches to Enhance Road Safety: Beyond Engineering Based Strategies"

Road safety is a significant concern to a broad range of stakeholders. Various approaches and strategies have been used to enhance road safety across the world. In this regard, the 4 Es used to characterize safety initiatives are Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Emergency medicine. The developed nations have adopted a more comprehensive approach to incorporate the 4 Es, while the less developed nations focus primarily on engineering initiatives. The seminar will highlight some of the strategies adopted in Las Vegas, Nevada and across Iowa in the United States. These will be complemented with comments about challenges involved in improving overall road safety in Kerala, India. Further, examples of effective non-engineering based strategies will be presented. The seminar will also touch upon lessons learned from these experiences, and key considerations that are important for sustainable success of campaigns to enhance road safety.

The seminar will take place Friday, February 28, 2014 in 534 Davis from 4-5 PM. TRANSOC Cookie Hour will be in the library at 3:30.

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