Policy

New TRB E-circular-- Multimobility and Sharing Economy: Shaping the Future Market Through Policy and Research


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This week TRB E-Circular 210, Multimobility and Sharing Economy: Shaping the Future Market Through Policy and Research was published.  Written by TSRC researchers Susan Shaheen, Adam Stocker, and Abhinav Bhattacharyya, the report covers the results of a wokshop that discussed the intersections of multimodal transportation, the sharing economy, and technology. 

Multimodal mobility is the use of a combination of different modes to get from one place to another. Multimodal mobility is growing in popularity, especially in urban centers with recurring problems associated with congestion, parking, and an overall lack of space. The shift from homogeneous to multimodal mobility has resulted in some shifts in the transportation sector, including land use and planning. Technology is moving at a tremendous pace, resulting in the evolution of modes like carsharing, carpooling, ridesharing, ridesourcing, bikesharing, and others, as well as improvements in existing public transit options. For riders, this has added a multitude of innovative mobility options, many of which were not available until recently. The sharing economy, which includes both business-to-consumer and peer-to-peer models of sharing of goods and services, has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. Many transportation startups—like Lyft and Uber which allow drivers to source rides to passengers using a platform to make money—leverage the concept of a sharing economy. Companies that are a part of the sharing economy have gained notable momentum in the past 5 years, giving rise to a multitude of service-based startups.

The full report can be found here

Uber and Lyft Leave Austin After Voters Reject Less Regulations on Ride-Hailing Apps.


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This weekend Austin voters went to the polls vote on Prop 1, which if passed would have eased the regulation on finger prints and background checks for rideshare drivers in the city. The proposition failed, only garnering 44% of the Yes vote. Uber and Lyft spent $8million campaigning for Prop 1, but that may have left a bad impression on voters. If Prop 1 failed, both Uber and Lyft said they would leave Austin in a kind prisoners dilemma. True to their word, on Monday both companies announced they were halting service in the city. 

What does this mean for ride-sharing? Will more cities push for more fingerprinting and background checks for ridesharing drivers in the name of public safety? Does fingerprinting actually make riders safer

Research in this area suggests that rideshare companies don't need more safety regulation than taxis, but that they fit awkwardly into the existing regulatory framework.  Though how different is ridesharing to taxis? And can the industry be regulated to benefit consumers and drivers? Time will tell. 

FHWA Announces new Bicycle-Pedestrian Safety Performance Measures


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Today FHWA issued a press release announcing new safety performance measures, including for the first time new measures for bicycle and pedestrian safety. The final rules will be published on FHWA's Highway Safety Improvement Program website soon, but can be found here in the Federal Register.  

SafeTREC researchers have worked with Caltrans to develop data collection systems for California to make it possible to monitor system performance for bicycles and pedestrians. This data will be critical to implementation of these new performance measures. 

Stay tuned. 

Gov. Brown wants to fix California's highways


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Yesterday California Governor Jerry Brown help a press conference at the Port of Oakland to call for a bipartisan solution to fund the state's needed highway reapairs. Brown was evasive about the actual mechanisms to be used to raise funds, refusing to say anything about taxes. 

Then how can the state fund these necessary improvements? A recent report from ITS Davis,"A Funding Compromise Can Set Transportation on Path Toward Sustainability", proposes: 

The funding recommendations include a one-time use of corporate taxes to allow states to reduce the backlog of maintenance needs. The federal gas tax would be continued and indexed to inflation. Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets would be set for each state and states would be allowed to ‘buy down’ their gas tax as they reduce their GHG emissions. States would be given pricing and tolling authority and have the authority to implement a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax. States would also assume responsibility for all roads. Taken together, these strategies would set transportation on the path toward sustainability.

For VMT-based pricing, we're still waiting for conclusive numbers from Oregon's recent implementation. Research has indicated that other types of road-pricing in California will need to be tailored to specific regions to be successful. It clear that even without the political will to raise it, the gas tax alone is not stable enough to fund the infrastructure repairs on the horizon. 

On Positive Train Control


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It's been almost a week since the Philadelphia train derailment and people the question remains - would postive train control prevented the incident

What is potive train control? The Federal Railorad Administation (FRA) defines it as: "Positive Train Control (PTC) systems are integrated command, control, communications, and information systems for controlling train movements with safety, security, precision, and efficiency." Its deployment is mandated in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 by December 31, 2105. There is still a ways to go. 

The Association of American Railroads notes the enormity of the task

PTC is an unprecedented technical and operational challenge. Since enactment of RSIA, railroads have devoted enormous human and financial resources to develop a fully functioning PTC system over the 60,000 miles that are subject to the PTC mandate. Progress to date has been substantial. Railroads have retained more than 2,400 signal system personnel to implement PTC and has already spent $5 billion on PTC development and deployment. Railroads expect to spend more than $9 billion before development and installation is complete.

A GAO report from 2013 outlines a number of challenges facing OTC roll out, echoing AAR's concerns about the complexity of the system and the timeline not being feasible. 

The week before the Philadelphia derailment, the FRA also issued a research brief about PTC across shared networks that could be used by multiple railroads. 

For more research about PTC you should go check out TRID

 

California's new ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets.


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Yesterday California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order establishing the state's greenhouse gas reduction target 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 (Executive Oder B-30-15).  This new executive order is another step reducing California's greenhouse gas emissions after the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) which set reduction targets to 1990 levels by 2020. LBNL models predict we're on target to meet the 2020 goals but will need more effort ot meet the ultimate 2050 goals. 

Research in this area demonstrates that to achieve 80% greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 that moving to low-carbon and renewable energy will be important, but also investment in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. Integrated climate protection into planning and land use policies, such as smart growth planning, will also help California meet its targets. Much of the technological innovations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 hinges on the role of electricity to move away from carbon based fuels across economic sectors. And yes, high-speed rail could also be part of the solution

Connected/Autonomous Vehicles, Ownership, and DMCA: What will vehicle ownership mean in the future?


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Today Wired ran a story about John Deere's assertion that purchasing one of their tractors is "an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle." The key issue is not the hardware, but the software and the ability to access and modify it.  Using DMCA, many vehicle manufacturers are submitting comments to the Copyrights Office that modifying their software in a form of piracy. So legally, is this the end of ownership as we know it?

The questions and concerns about this legal development has been brewing for some time, but as the internet of thing comes closer to being a reality more people are calling into question our existing copyright and patent system and their limitations. (Even John Oliver discussed patents!)

This issue has been on the radar of USDOT's ITS JPO for a while now, especially the policy implications for connected and automated vehicles. The critical issue is the balance of open source software and concerns about cybersecurity and safety. Some of the promise of connected/automated vehicles, is the rich big data environments they will operate in but how can the industry cooperatively get there despite concerns about privacy and innovation? There is also the looming issue of liability for connected/autonomous vehicles, much of which hinges questions of safety and the perception of risk. 

It will be interesting to see how all of this develops and the rules are made. 

Accessibility and the Sharing Economy: Leap, Uber, Lyft and ADA requirements


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The disruption of traditional transportation by startups like Uber and Lyft has created waves and caused many cities and agencies to re-examine how they regulate taxis and the livery system. Now it looks like upstarts like Leap and Chariot, aiming to disrupt public transit, may be on the same course. 

It was reported today that last month a complaint was filed with the Department of Justice because Leap has failed to make its buses accessible to wheelchairs. This echoes similar concerns that has been expressed about Uber and Lyft. It is important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require automobiles to be accessible, while other types of vehicles (vans and buses) must be accessible. 

Transit is crucial in providing accessible mobility options for people with disabilities, which is important to the quality of life. There has been much research focused on how to improve these transportation networks, including using taxis as a potential form of paratransit. TNCs like Uber and Lyft have improved accessible for some groups, it has been inconsistent. This review of Uber from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) points out the service works well with iOS, but that they Android app is not accessible. There is also the issue that riders with guide dogs might be refused a ride and "there appears to be no legal recourse that can be taken under the ADA at this time." The AFB has since filed a lawsuit against Uber and the DOJ now says Uber must comply with ADA. These sorts of regulatory growing pains seem to be a part of disruptive transportation companies maturity, which is why the complaint filed against Leap isn't very surprising. 

The Leap case also raises the existential question - what does it mean to be a transit service? Part of Leap's argument is that they do not provide transit, rather they connect riders with an operator. This is the same position Uber and Lyft have taken with regard to its relationship with riders and drivers, which also has a lawsuit in the courts. Leap and Chariot are basically modern jitneys that compliment existing services and jitneys are not exempt ADA requirements.

New article: Impact of Parking Prices and Transit Fares on Mode Choice at the University of California, Berkeley


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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

Traveling this Winter? We are. Library closed 12/23-1/19.

292:365 - Closed Security

Now that the Fall Semester is over, lots of students are packing up and flying home for the break. We here at the ITS Library will also be leaving town, and the library will be closed from December 22, 2014 through January 19, 2015. We will reopen on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 1:00PM. (Will we see you at TRB?)

If you are one of the 5.4 million travelers who are flying this week, it's a good idea to rfresh your memory with current TSA guidelines and recommnedations. There will be some changes ahead for the TSA after this Holiday crunch as Transportation Secuirty Administrator John Pistole steps down at the end of December after 4 1/2 years in charge.  Pistole leave a legacy safe skies and socken feet. A recent GAO report recommends that the TSA should take additional steps to determine its program effectiveness. Will 2015 be a year of change in airport security? Stay tuned. 

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