Policy

In California, self-driving cars need a permit.

Gcantpark

Yesterday California's 3-foot passing law for cars and bicycles took effect. New regulations from the California DMV about Autonomous Vehicles in California also took effect - all self-driving cars will need a permit for testing. Audi, Mercedes, and Google have already applied for an received the first set of permits in the state. (If you're keeping tabs, Audi received the first permit.)

Regulations and licenses for operation of autonomous vehicles in California will be finalized by January 1, 2015

For background on policy and regulation of autonomous vehicles, check out the 2014 RAND report "Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers," which builds upon concepts from the 2009 PATH report "Liability and Regulation of Autonomous Vehicle Technologies."

SB-743, CEQA, and moving away from LOS

Saturday in LA

Yesterday the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) released Updating Transportation Impacts Analysis in the CEQA Guidelines. It's the draft discussion SB-743 Environmental Quality: transit oriented infill projects, judicial review streamlining for environmental leadership development projects, and entertainment and sports center in the City of Sacramento. As the bill's name hints, the impetus for the legislation is the contentious proposed new arena for the Kings in downtown Sacramento though the effects will be felt statewide. 

Many of the concerns and questions raised by SB-743 lie in the proposed changes to litigation windows to CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). The proposed reforms could make it easier for projects to obtain exemptions from the full CEQA project, potentially making the development of previously contested projects easier. 

From a transportation standpoint, the biggest change to CEQA is the use of level of service (LOS) in evaluating the impact of projects. Instead of relying solely on LOS to determine the significance of transportation impacts, OPR proposes:

In developing the criteria, the office shall recommend potential metrics to measure transportation impacts that may include, but are not limited to, vehicle miles traveled, vehicle miles traveled per capita, automobile trip generation rates, or automobile trips generated.

Engineering groups like Western ITE suggested using vehicle miles traveled (VMT) instead of LOS to measure impact as it focuses only on automobile congestion at the expense of other modes. So now that it looks like we're moving away from LOS, what comes next? Researchers have already begun looking at how this will affect models and traffic studies. Fehr & Peers have developed an concise website describing the impacts of SB-743

Bikeshare as Public Transit

Nice Ride Minnesota

As bikeshare systems grow, mature, and become quite common, researchers are beginning to answer some fundamental questions about bikeshare. Are bikeshare cyclists fundamentally different from regular cyclists? What about riders wearing helmets? How does weather affect bikeshare trips? How do bikeshare users integrate with other modes?

What about bikeshare as public transit?

That's what TSRC researchers Elliot Martin and Susan Shaheen have asked in their forthcoming article, "Evaluating public transit modal shift dynamics in response to bikesharing: a tale of two U.S. cities" in Journal of Transport Geography. They conclude that:

The modal shift to and from public transit has shown an intriguing degree of variation within and across cities, meriting further exploration in this paper. The authors found, through mapping the modal shifts reported by members, that shifts away from public transit are most prominent in core urban environments with high population density. Shifts toward public transit in response to bikesharing appear most prevalent in lower density regions on the urban periphery.

The full article can be found here. Or your can read an overview from CityLab

Special Friday Transportation Seminar: Welcome to the Age of Access: Exploring the Sharing Economy and Shared-Use Mobility

Car sharing

This Friday, April 11 is a Special Friday Transportation Seminar. Sponsored by our new University Transportation Center, UC CONNECT, Federal Region 9 And in conjunction with the Transportation Engineering Program Open House. "Welcome to the Age of Access: Exploring the Sharing Economy and Shared-Use Mobility" will be a panel discussion moderated by Professor Susan Shaheen, Co-Director TSRC. Panelists include: Neal Gorenflo, Co-Founder Shareable; Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, SFMTA; Shomik Raj Mehndiratta, Lead Transport Specialist, the World Bank, Rick Hutchinson, CEO, City CarShare; Michael Jones, Principal & Founder, Alta Bicycle Share.

A panel of leaders of the sharing economy and shared-use mobility will introduce the burgeoning economy, discuss various forms of shared-use mobility (such as carsharing, public bikesharing, and web-enabled apps) and explore policy issues associated with scaling and with the integration of shared-use mobility services into the transportation landscape (such as privacy, open data, insurance, safety, equity). The discussion will explore the opportunities to be had in developing a robust public-private partnership, the obstacles that must be faced during this process, and the role research can take in informing the creation of policy.

This event, in honor of the launch of our new University Transportation Center, UC CONNECT, will be held in conjunction with Transportation Engineering’s open house welcoming potential graduate students to the program and to the UC Berkeley campus. Faculty, students, new students, and alumni are welcome to join us for this event. A reception will follow.

The special seminar take place this Friday, April 11th, 2014; 3:30 - 5:00 pm in the Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall. (Note: different time and different location!) There is also a reception to follow. Cookie Hour will still happen, but at 3:00 pm in the library. 

USDOT moving forward with Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication technology

 

Yesterday USDOT and NHTSA announced plans to move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology (V2).  The Connected Vehicles program will eventually push research into production, establishing protocols and standards for manufacturers. Right now the aim is for 2017, so it's not going to happen overnight. Connected vehicles should increase road safety despite some security concerns. Malware for you car? The ITS-JPO has already held a public workshop to address different network security angles

Much of the research on V2 or Connected vehicles can be found in TRID. The Technological Innovations section highlights advanced technology across the board, but for just vehicles use "vehicle to vehicle communications" or "vehicle to roadside communications". 

Who Pays for Parking?

My parking garage

That's the question asked by a new report from the Sightline Institute. "Who Pays for Parking?" analyses 23 recently completed Seattle-area multi-family housing develops. Some of the findings include: 

  • Apartment developers build more parking than is needed.
  • Many tenents don't own cars.
  • Car-free tenants still pay for parking.

The full report can be download here

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. 

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! 

On-Street Parking Regulations Driving Shoppers To Malls?

meters

A recent article from Transportation Research Part A examines how on-street parking regulation has influenced shoppers' behaviour. In "Convenience for the car-borne shopper: Are malls and shopping strips driving customers away?", Vaughn Reimers of Monash University studied shopper preferences related to parking and their perceptions related to parking at malls and shopping districts. 

Global warming, increasing traffic congestion, diminishing resources and declining health levels have led to the introduction of several policies aimed at deterring car-usage. However many such policies have not only often failed to achieve their objective, they also risk jeopardising the retail sector. To help understand why, this study measures the importance shoppers assign to car convenience, their perceptions of shopping malls and shopping strips (also referred to as Main Street or the High Street) in relation to it, and then compares them in their actual provision of it. To achieve these objectives, the study utilised a consumer household survey and a retail audit. The results of the study indicate that consumers regard car convenience as an important determinant of where they choose to shop, and perceive malls as a superior source of it. Moreover, with the sole exception of being able to park close to desired stores, malls offer car-borne shoppers more convenient access and parking. The findings suggest that any strategy designed to deter car usage should be designed to impact equally on both mall shopping and strip shopping, or risk tipping the balance even further in favour of the mall.

Parking regulation and reform is an oft studied field. From the effects of cruising for parking to how pricing influences behavior. Of course more articles about parking pricing can be found in TRID

Highway Grants: Roads to Prosperity?

Night Construction II

A new Economic Letter from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco focuses on new research from Sylvain Leduc and Daniel Wilson. From their forthcoming paper, "Roads to Prosperity or Bridges to Nowhere?:Theory and Evidence on the Impact of Public Infrastructure Investment", Leduc and Wilson study the macroeconomic effects of infrastructure investment. 

This research focuses on investment in roads and highways in part because it is the largest component of public infrastructure in the United States. Moreover, the procedures by which federal highway grants are distributed to states help us identify more precisely how transportation spending affects economic activity.

We find that unanticipated increases in highway spending have positive but temporary effects on GSP, both in the short and medium run. The short-run effect is consistent with a traditional Keynesian channel in which output increases because of a rise in aggregate demand, combined with slow-to-adjust prices. In contrast, the positive response of GSP over the medium run is in line with a supply-side effect due to an increase in the economy’s productive capacity.

This research is timley given the prognosis that the Highway Trust Fund will go brankrupt by 2014 all while hoping infrastrcture investment can spur the economy through job creation, as outlined in MAP-21.

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