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HOV3 and Casual Carpooling

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MSNBC: 'Pure mayhem' as New York City tries to get back to work :

"That led some people to try to hitchhike their way into Manhattan, with drivers eager to pick them up to make the three-person-per-car quota.

'Some folks offered me a ride,' said Melanie Bower, 30, who lives in Fort Greene. 'I was touched by their kindness at first. But then I realized they just needed me so they could have three in their car.’ 
Bower walked into Manhattan instead, and then caught a bus uptown."

It seems casual carpooling is running into some moralizing. The gain from trade (I give you a ride, we both save time) appears wrong to at least some travelers. People in other parts of the country have gotten over this, I am surprised New Yorkers, living in the home of capitalism, are having trouble.

Streetsblog on the HOV-only bridges and tunnels in NYC will really help buses: Bloomberg Announces Carpool Rule for Manhattan-Bound Drivers : "After a morning and afternoon when car traffic completely clogged NYC streets and river crossings, Mayor Bloomberg announced new restrictions for drivers entering Manhattan via bridges and tunnels on Thursday and Friday. On most crossings, only cars with three or more people will be allowed to enter Manhattan."

I hope Casual Carpooling takes off.

Brookings Institution will be hosting an event on State Roads to Economic Recovery: Policies, Pavements, and Partnerships - Brookings Institution.

Event Information
When Friday, February 25, 2011 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Where Falk Auditorium
The Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC

As the U.S. economy begins a slow climb to recovery, state and local governments are still reeling from the impact of the Great Recession. Revenues have plunged while the demand for key state and local services has soared. Meanwhile, unemployment remains stubbornly high.

On Friday, February 25, The Hamilton Project and the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings will host a forum on state strategies that can help close budget deficits while also growing state economies and creating much-needed jobs. Brookings Vice President Bruce Katz will moderate a panel of policy experts and state leaders, including former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now a senior fellow at Brookings, and Michael Finney, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The panel will discuss a range of fiscally responsible policy ideas to build the foundation for the next economy.

A second panel of economic experts, moderated by Hamilton Project Director Michael Greenstone, will discuss three new policy proposals to help state and local governments invest more efficiently in infrastructure to promote their long-term economic competitiveness. These papers provide a new approach to arranging public private partnerships to create greater public value and reduce risks; a reorganization of our national highway infrastructure priorities; and the establishment of a not-for-profit, independent advisory firm that would help reduce borrowing costs for municipalities and increase returns for investors. Former Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation Tyler Duvall will serve as a discussant for the proposals.

I will not be at the event in person, though I will be there in spirit and online, while Matt Kahn presents our joint paper, which is almost ready to be released.

(This is probably the most important work ever to be written on highway finance by two authors who walk to work).

Jam-busting service on the road in many cities

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.

From MPR I-35W MnPass (HOT lanes) to open this week The entire article talks about MnPass without mentioning I-394 (the link includes animations).

The interesting bit from a transportation perspective is the variable priced shoulders, and how well that works.

Monitoring the Effectiveness of HOV-to-HOT Conversions

Speaker: Randall Guensler, Ph.D.
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Date: September 18, 2009
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Civil Engineering Building Room 210

+ Live Webcast Link
Please sign into the webcast 15 minutes early. Be sure you have the Flash Player installed on your computer. You can install and test the player here. For questions or connection issues, e-mail umconnect@umn.edu.

Abstract
A critical element of the planning process is the ongoing evaluation of consumer response to transportation strategy implementation. Ongoing evaluation is especially important for high-cost intelligent transportation system (ITS) deployments and value pricing initiatives involving economic incentives that may impact user groups disproportionately. For pricing strategies to be sustained economically and politically in major metropolitan areas, policymakers need hard evidence as to the actual costs and benefits of such strategies. Too often in the debate over converting HOV lanes to HOT lanes, sweeping generalizations are made by advocates in favor of and against pricing initiatives without sufficient evidence to back their positions.

To date, studies have provided pretty clear and convincing evidence that variable toll pricing on congested freeway facilities can reduce congestion on the priced facility. Studies also indicate that managed lane facilities are used by all income groups (although not at the same levels). Previous research efforts have focused primarily on the commute trips. However, the use of HOT lanes affects mode choice, departure time, and travel time for the journey to work, as well as supplemental trip-chaining activities and even the long distance travel made by a household. Ongoing value pricing studies in Atlanta and elsewhere have yet to provide solid evidence as to the impacts of congestion pricing on total household travel and emissions. The data collected to date are inadequate to draw solid conclusions. Ongoing household panel data collection efforts that would provide a detailed look at changes in household travel behavior and emissions before and after congestion-priced facilities are opened have not been implemented concurrent with managed lane introduction due to cost. In the proposal for federal funding support for the HOV to HOT conversion in Atlanta, Georgia committed to implementing a comprehensive study to quantify the effects of the implementation on congestion, travel behavior, emissions, and equity.

Dr. Guensler will provide some background on the Commute Atlanta Value Pricing study in which more than 1.8 million vehicle trips were monitored on a second-by-second basis. He will discuss the major research issues that the team identified in assessing consumer response to pricing and the problems encountered in conducting long term panel studies. He will also demonstrate some of the new instrumented fleet monitoring systems and online electronic travel diary tools developed for various research efforts. Finally, he will provide some information on the planned Atlanta deployment designed to quantify the impacts of HOV-to-HOT conversion.

Refreshments will be served in the rotunda following the seminar.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

View David Levinson's profile on LinkedIn

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