The threat level orange nonsense is going ... why isn't it already gone, why does this take 3 months?
Anyway the system didn't even follow the natural color code ROY G BIV , which even my three year old knows (and sings)
Who puts blue between green and yellow? It is like counting 1 2 3 5 4.
January 2011 Archives
From Sunday - Thursday of next week the Annual Transportation Research Board Conference will be held in Washington DC, spanning three large hotels. I and my colleagues will be there. The papers we are presenting are listed below, some papers are double-listed, i.e. they will be presented in brief (7 min) talks along with a poster. I hope to see many of you there. The only paper I am personally giving is on Value Capture, but given the schedule below, I will be found at the Hilton. In addition, there are various committee meetings I hope to see folks at.
- Positive Theory of Network Connectivity (11-0434) 230 Network Origin-Destination Estimation, Reliability, and Vulnerability Hilton, International West Jan 24 2011 8:00AM- 9:45AM
- Value of Reliability: High-Occupancy-Toll Lanes, General-Purpose Lanes, and Arterials (11-1449) 290 Value of Time and Other Trip Attributes Hilton, Lincoln West Jan 24 2011 10:15AM- 12:00PM
- Network Structure and Metropolitan Mobility (11-3511) - J15 336 Advances in Metropolitan Transportation Planning: Multidisciplinary Perspectives Hilton, International Center Jan 24 2011 2:30PM- 5:00PM
- Network Structure and Spatial Separation (11-3263) 460 Transport Modeling Updates Hilton, Columbia Hall 6 Jan 25 2011 8:00AM- 9:45AM
- Hierarchy of Roads, Locality of Traffic, and Governance (11-0317) - K03 558 Issues in Transportation Economics Hilton, International Center Jan 25 2011 2:30PM- 5:00PM
- Gasoline Prices and Traffic Safety in Mississippi (11-1077) - D04 599 Highway Safety Management and Workforce Research Marriott, Salon 2 Jan 25 2011 7:30PM- 9:30PM
- Gasoline Prices and Their Relationship to Drunk-Driving Crashes (11-1078) - D06 600 Highway Safety Research: Alcohol, Motorcycles, Occupant Protection, Driver Training, and Licensing Marriott, Salon 2 Jan 25 2011 7:30PM- 9:30PM
- Impact of Light-Rail Implementation on Labor Market Accessibility: Transportation Equity Perspective (11-2765) 624 Integrated Decision Making for Housing, Transportation, and Title VI Hilton, Jefferson West Jan 25 2011 7:30PM- 9:30PM
- Modeling Minneapolis Skyway System (11-0424) 627 New Directions and Applications Using Network Modeling Hilton, Columbia Hall 6 Jan 25 2011 7:30PM- 9:30PM
- Network Structure and Activity Spaces (11-3905) - G08 670 Advances in Traveler Behavior Research Hilton, International Center Jan 26 2011 9:30AM- 12:00PM
- The City Is Flatter: Changing Patterns of Job and Labor Access in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, 1995-2005 (11-0439) - G07 672 Innovations in Modeling Urban Form, Location Analysis, and Travel Behavior Outcomes Hilton, International Center Jan 26 2011 9:30AM- 12:00PM
- Location, Regional Accessibility, and Price Effects: Evidence from Twin Cities Home Sales (11-3995) - G09 672 Innovations in Modeling Urban Form, Location Analysis, and Travel Behavior Outcomes Hilton, International Center Jan 26 2011 9:30AM- 12:00PM
- Why Choose the New I-35W Mississippi River Bridge? (11-3373) - G10 673 Transportation Planning Applications: Statistical to Reality Hilton, International Center Jan 26 2011 9:30AM- 12:00PM
- Value Capture Techniques for Transportation Finance (P11-0815) 705 Value Capture Strategies for Transportation Finance: Moving from Concept to Implementation Hilton, Jefferson West Jan 26 2011 10:15AM- 12:00PM
- Modeling Minneapolis Skyway System (11-0424) (P11-1586) - G04 739 Innovations in Transportation Network Modeling Hilton, International Center Jan 26 2011 2:30PM- 5:00PM
- Positive Theory of Network Connectivity (11-0434) (P11-1571) - G06 739 Innovations in Transportation Network Modeling Hilton, International Center Jan 26 2011 2:30PM- 5:00PM
From the Pioneer Press St. Paul buys all-electric utility trucks, plans 24 charging stations
It is good to see electrification moving forward, but assuming a 6 year lifespan for the vehicles, the energy savings of $1300 / year * 6 years = $7800 seems to be less than the additional fixed cost of $38,800 (i.e. a Ford Transit Connect Electric at $60,000, while a Fort Transit Connect actually starts at about $21,200.) I was hoping the economics would be closer.
We probably should include the negative externalities avoided. The article reports Carbon emissions of 3.5 tons * 6 years = 21 tons. The market price of carbon is about $18.75/ton (14 Euros), so those savings (21 * 18.75 = $393) do not quite close the $38,800 gap.
St. Paul is getting EV-ready.
Mayor Chris Coleman will be joined today by Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and other leaders to display the Twin Cities' first all-electric vehicle, one of three Ford utility vehicles St. Paul has purchased with federal and local dollars to use for its public works and parks departments.
The capital city also is planning to install 24 plug-in charging stations in downtown parking ramps and on the streets this spring. All but a few will be available to the public.
"We want people to know we're getting ready," said Anne Hunt, St. Paul's sustainability coordinator, who oversees a number of federally funded initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and saving fuel costs. "If people are out there wondering if they should order a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, we want them to know that if they commute to the cities, or just come down for a Wild game, there will be options for them to plug in."
The three St. Paul vehicles -- Ford Transit Connect Electric -- cost about $60,000 each and were chosen because the company gave assurances they would perform in Minnesota's winters, Hunt said. St. Paul's vehicles will be among the first in the country off a Michigan assembly plant as Ford rolls out the vehicles, which are marketed for commercial use.
The city estimates each vehicle would reduce annual carbon emissions by 3.5 tons and save $1,300 per year in fuel costs. Over a six-year period, the Transit Connect
is estimated to cost $1,800 in electricity.
Rybak drives a Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid that he had converted so its batteries can be recharged by plugging in, and both cities own gas-electric hybrids, but St. Paul's Transit Connects will be the first all-electric vehicles for either city.
First National Bank recently installed plug-in charging stations in its parking ramp, but otherwise, the 24 new charging stations, which will accommodate both generally used charging configurations, will be the city's first. Among the locations for the chargers will be RiverCentre/Xcel Energy Center parking ramps and areas around the Union Depot. Hunt said several private parking ramps have expressed interest in obtaining charging stations.
Stations also will be located along the route of the proposed Central Corridor light-rail line linking St. Paul and Minneapolis via University Avenue. Some of the charging stations will generate their electricity from solar panels.
Charging a vehicle won't be free, nor will parking in front of a charger, Hunt said. Details are being worked out, but Hunt said there are plans for a smartphone app that would allow drivers to check availability of charging stations and reserve one.
In all, the vehicles and the charging stations are being paid for through a combination of sources, including $286,000 in federal stimulus money, $60,000 from St. Paul and a $60,000 grant from Xcel Energy's Chairman's Fund. The federal dollars are part of $2.8 million in stimulus money being spent on a host of St. Paul energy-related projects, ranging from LED streetlights to programs aimed at helping private industrial companies become more energy-efficient.
The Transit Connect purchases and charging station plan are part of a partnership called Drive Electric Minnesota, which includes a host of metro corporations, nonprofits and governments with the goal of installing electric-vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the metro area.
Drivers offered a route out of traffic snarl-ups as firms roll out new idea
BEIJING - With more Chinese people getting behind the wheel every day, traffic jams are a major headache in most cities but the gridlock has become an opportunity for some entrepreneurs who are offering an escape route - for a price.
Drivers who get stuck in traffic in some cities can now get on their mobile phones and call for a substitute to take their cars to their destinations while the frustrated drivers are whisked away on the back of a motorcycle.
"One important source of our customers is female drivers, some of whom feel physically uncomfortable if they wait in cars in traffic for too long," said Huang Xizhong, manager of a company that offers the service in Wuhan, the capital of Central China's Hubei province.
"Other customers are those with urgent dates or business meetings to go to, and those who have flights to catch and can't afford to wait in a traffic jam for too long."
Huang said he started offering the service last year after receiving a number of calls from people who were stuck in traffic.
The service has also hit the streets in Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong province. There, drivers can be bailed out of a back-up for upwards of 400 yuan ($60), according to a report in Guangzhou Daily.
But some businesses that offer driving services in other cities are hesitating to jump on the bandwagon.
"There is a demand for the service, but it's risky," said a manager surnamed Zhang at a Beijing automobile service company.
Zhang said his employees would face hazards if he started to offer the service, such as having to drive motorcycles into crowded areas and carve their way through traffic, possibly on freeways, in order to pick up clients.
Under current traffic regulations, it is illegal for motorcyclists to use the freeway, he explained.
"As far as I know, no company in Beijing has started that kind of business," Zhang added.
And while the idea has taken off elsewhere, car drivers in the capital have their reservations, saying they could not trust a stranger to look after their vehicles.
Lei Ting, an office worker with a multinational software company in Beijing, said: "I'd rather wait in my car in a traffic jam if I did not feel that the company or the driver was trustworthy."
But as one of the world's most congested cities, it's easy to imagine that there will be room for such a service in the capital.
According to a global survey conducted by IBM last year, Beijing is tied with Mexico City as having the "world's worst commute". Some 84 percent of respondents said they spent an hour on the road each day on average in each direction.
In a major effort to tackle the gridlock in the capital, the municipal government launched a new set of traffic measures on Dec 23, including sharply limiting the number of new cars it will allow on city streets. In the coming year, the capital will only approve the registration of 240,000 new vehicles - about one-third of last year's number.
The limitations in a city of more than 19 million residents sparked a frenzy of activity among would-be car buyers who scrambled to register their names with the online lottery system that will decide which residents will get to buy a new car.
Throughout China, congestion is becoming a major problem, not only in mega-cities such as Beijing and Shanghai but smaller ones and even some county seats in coastal provinces.
Cao Yin contributed to this story.
See also Marginal Revolution
P.S. IBM on world's worst commute must be biased, since my guess is most travelers in Beijing do not use an automobile.
Marginal Revolution on Road safety
Odds in New York City in 1900 of dying in a horse accident: 1 in 19,000
Odds today of dying there in an automobile accident: 1 in 26,000
That is from the February 2011 Harper's Index.
Chinese farmer gets life for evading highway tolls
Jan 14, 2011 12:59 AM EST
A Chinese farmer has been sentenced to life in prison for avoiding highway tolls adding up to more than 3.5 million yuan ($530,000).
State media this week reported that a court in the central province of Henan sentenced Shi Jianfeng on Dec. 21 for fraud. He was also fined 2 million yuan ($302,000).
The news caused an uproar among some Chinese, who argued in online postings and commentaries that shorter sentences have been given out for the more serious crimes of rape or murder.
The outcry was so loud that the Intermediate People's Court in the city of Pingdingshan held a news conference this week to defend its decision.
A report in the People's Daily newspaper said Shi avoided paying tolls more than 2,300 times by using fake military license plates between May 2008 and January 2009 as he ran a business transporting gravel with his two vans.
Military vehicles don't have to pay highway tolls.
The People's Daily report cited prosecutors in the city of Pingdingshan.
With China's state media tightly controlled by the government, some citizens pounce on stories that they feel illustrate injustice.
In this case, their complaints strayed beyond Shi's case to popular complaints that highway toll fees are too high, especially for a farmer.
One legal expert said the severity of the sentence in Shi's case comes from the fact that he faked military items, including uniforms.
"Based on the explanation, the court certainly can hand down such a sentence," Qu Xinjiu, a law professor at China University of Political Sciences and Law, was quoted as saying by the English-language Global Times newspaper this week.
Other legals experts told state media they did not expect Shi would be able to pay his large fine.
Another brick in the wall for making road pricing acceptable.
'Planning Curses' is the title of a paper by the economist Bridget Rosewell, published by think tank Policy Exchange, which challenges conventional approaches to justifying investment in infrastructure. Economic models are too complicated and have a poor track record; and welfare analysis as the basis for benefits means little to those affected by investments - for instance the notional travel time savings from transport investments.
Bridget Rosewell wants us to pursue projects on the basis of their contribution to the economy, not to 'welfare', with business cases which engage business; and to use long-term frameworks for thinking about the future, rather than plans or blue-prints.
A stimulating critique of the standard approach."
J Walter Thomson ad agency has trend spotters (sounds like a fun job), who have put together a slide-show: 100 Things to Watch in 2011
Key transportation items:
5. Auto Apps
39. Green luxury cars
57. The New Mobility Industry
70. P-to-P Car Sharing
84. Space Travel Goes Private
96. Urban Industrial Parks
An interesting list, a bit-obsessed about London, Celebrities, and Brazil otherwise.
This NY Times article has been making the rounds A Physicist Solves the City
Now that the city is solved, I guess we can all go home.
Apparently physicists have discovered larger cities (1) consume more resources, and (2) possess some economies of scale and agglomeration er "superlinear scaling" (cities increase in per capita productivity by 15% with every doubling). It would be nice if for once a physicist read something outside their own discipline. I won't say the rest is bogus - but I don't think New York City with 8 million people is 1.15^4=1.75 as productive per capita as a city with 1 million people (1 -> 2 -> 4 -> 8) or .03 -> .06 -> .125 -> .25 -> .5 -> 1.0 -> 2 -> 4 -> 8 = 1.15^8 = 3 times as productive per capita as a US city with 30,000 people. It really gets to how you define cities (and productivity), and the bounds within which you are working and have observable, reliable data. There is no reason to believe this is constant over all ranges of city sizes. Further, if this were true, wouldn't everyone in the world live in a single city, with all the productivity that would generate. The positive externalities are offset by negative externalities which reduce productivity. Perhaps there is an optimal city size, given a certain technology level. This is not likely to be constant with changes in technology. Certainly average compensation in NY is not 3x greater than a city of 30000 people.
However I must say Santa Fe Institute has a great publicity machine which the rest of us in academia covet.
For further reading on something that has passed peer-review in our field, see
Cities as Organisms: Allometric Scaling of Urban Road Networks by Horacio Samaniego and Melanie E. Moses. Journal of Transport and Land Use 1:1, pp. 21-39, Summer 2008.
US PIRG has a new report, asking Do Roads Pay For Themselves? (and answering: "Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding")
As with most advocacy work, most of the facts are correct, the issue is in the spin. It is well known that "roads" do not pay for themselves, most local streets and roads are paid for from general taxes (esp. property taxes) and most roads are local (and most travel is local). The question is really 'do "highways" pay for themselves?', which the answer is much more difficult. Unfortunately the authors loosely interchange the terms "highways" and "roads" to suit convenience. They are different, they serve different purposes, and they are funded differently. If cars suddenly vanished, we would still need roads, just as we had roads before the advent of the automobile. They might be narrower, there might not be highways, but there will always be roads.
The authors have a heterodox history of the gas tax (but seem to emphasize the federal over the state, which is a common fallacy in all national transportation discussions, promoted by those based in Washington. If the federal government's role in transportation funding disappeared, it would take years to really notice out here in the country, since DC funds new projects, which would just stop being built, resulting in no change to existing infrastructure.)
The authors have an interesting take on the term 'user fee', suggesting that gas taxes aren't really user fees because (a) they were sometimes used for deficit reduction, (b) they are shared with other surface transportation (transit), and (c) they don't correspond with use. While I don't like either diversion, that doesn't mean that gas taxes aren't user fees, just that Congress can't avoid meddling. Just because gas taxes imperfectly measure use (i.e. it is proportionate to gasoline consumption instead of miles, it is assessed on travel on all facilities, not just highways), doesn't mean it is not highly correlated. It is a surrogate, as are most fees. They are charged only to users of motor vehicles (admittedly only those users who use fuel, but that is approximately all users at this stage of technology). It would be better if user fees (preferably tolls if transactions costs could be reduced, but gas taxes in the interim) covered all costs of operating and maintaining existing streets, roads and highways, so we could depoliticize the issue, and treat it like the public utility it is. It would be better if the charge could vary by location and time of day, it will eventually do so.
User fees as the primarily source of funding is certainly economically feasible (i.e. we could raise the gas tax and cover all the costs if we so chose in the US), but politically we are not there yet, as politicians still have a fear of being unelected.
Financing new roads and highways is a separate problem from maintaining the existing. They should not be conflated.
The new issue of the Journal of Transport and Land Use focuses on China:
Land Use and Transport in China by Chris Zegras
China motorization trends: New directions for crowded cities by Wei-Shiuen Ng, Lee Schipper, Yang Chen
Compulsory convenience? How large arterials and land use affect midblock crossing in Fushun, China by Wendy Tao, Shomik Mehndiratta, Elizabeth Deakin
An article in Miller-McCune on Peak Travel, following up on a paper by Adam Millard-Ball and Lee Schipper (who has a recent paper on the lack of "Peak Travel" in China in the most recent issue of the Journal of Transport and Land Use .
We have discussed this idea before, noting that number of cars in US has peaked, VMT in the US has peaked, and so on. So it is no surprise here. (In fact Ajay Kumar and I suggested in 1995 that "with rates for female labor force participation near saturation, the disproportionate rate of growth for traffic volume should be nearing its end.")