Wikibook: Fundamentals of Transportation

As we begin another school year, it is time to better know a Wikibook.
Fundamentals of Transportation is the text I use for my Introduction to Transportation Engineering class. Thanks to some excellent additions by Mark Hickman, it now includes a Transit section. The Table of Contents is below:

Introductory Material

Planning

Transit

Traffic

Geometric Design

Conclusions

As it is a wikibook, we welcome improvements.

Linklist: August 31, 2011

International Business TimesSony to Launch World’s First 3D Compatible Head-Mounted Display : “The new head-mounted Personal 3D Viewer HMZ-T1 is scheduled to be released in Japan on Nov. 11. It enables the user to watch 3D or 2D pictures on a movie theater-like virtual screen through its two 1280×720 0.7-inch high-definition OLED panels mounted in front of each eye giving an equivalent experience similar to viewing a 750-inch screen from 60 feet away.”

Popular Science: How Intelligent Cars Will Make Driving Easier and Greener: “A new generation of smarter-car technology is helping drivers — and cars — manage trips more efficiently, preventing gridlock, avoiding wrecks and ameliorating 5 p.m. road rage”

[Watch 3D wraparound HD on your head-mounted display while your car drives you to where you are going. That feels like the future.]

World Society for Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR)

The inaugural World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research
(WSTLUR) was held in Whistler, BC on July 27-30, featuring over 40
peer reviewed papers (submitted to the Journal of Land Use and
Transport, jtlu.org) and keynote addresses from Ed Glaeser (Harvard),
Robert Cervero (UC Berkeley) and David Bannister (Oxford). Please see
www.wstlur.org for the program and links to presentations and even
audio recordings of the keynotes.
The steering committee is now forming the World Society for Transport
and Land Use Research (WSTLUR), who will be charged with organizing a
subsequent symposium in 2014 and other aims of the Society. The
mission statement—broadly, to cultivate an interdisciplinary research
community/agenda— is below.
Members of the society will elect the board (11 seats are open); the
board will then select its officers. (Please see bylaws posted at
www.wstlur.org ; Kevin J. Krizek, University of Colorado, has been
appointed chair of the elections committee). If you are interested in
participating in this exciting international endeavor, we encourage
you to become a member of the society. Attendees of the World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research
(WSTLUR) are already members.
Fees are $75 for three years
and can be registered by going to http://www.wstlur.org .
Elections for the board will commence Sept 15, 2011; if you are
interested in becoming a member and voting in the election, please
become a member by September 9, 2011.
NOMINATIONS:
If you or someone you know is interested in serving on the board,
please send a nomination to Kevin J. Krizek (Krizek@colorado.edu) by
September 9. Anyone can nominate members for the board, however,
nominees must be (or become) a registered member of the society. A nomination
consists of:
-Name of the nominee
-Current position and affiliation
-A narrative (not to exceed 80 words and written in the third person),
describing the nominee’s activities, broadly speaking, in the area of
integrated transport-land use research.
Self nominations are allowed and all nominations need to be accepted
by the nominee. Please end only one email to Kevin J. Krizek
documenting the above process with the nominee’s full name in the
subject heading. (Self nominees would need to send only one email;
others would send one email with acceptance embedded).
Should you have any questions, please contact
Kevin J. Krizek (University of Colorado) at Krizek@colorado.edu.
MISSION STATEMENT
The purpose of WSTLUR is to promote the understanding and analysis of
the interdisciplinary interactions of transport and land use and to
provide a forum for debate and a mechanism for the dissemination of
information. More specifically the aims include:
1. The exchange and dissemination of information at an international
level on all aspects of the theory, analysis, modeling, and evaluation
of transport-land use interactions and related policy.
2. The encouragement of high-quality research and application in the
above areas, through debates, publication, and promotion.
3. The provision of a clearinghouse for information on recent
developments in the field and to foster contacts among professionals
within and between various countries and different disciplines.
4. The promotion of international conferences, seminars, and workshops
on all aspects of transport-land use interaction.
5. The representation of the viewpoints of members to appropriate
national and international bodies, as required by the membership.
6. The preparation of regular communications to facilitate the above aims.

An Economic Comment on the Stillwater Bridge

Jason Scheppers writes in:

 

“Recently, Dr. Whitehead wrote regarding the Stillwater – St. Croix River Crossing. I have seen in your blog several mentions of the bridge and offer you the following economic comments:

I would recommend the following documents for any interested in the details of the current controversy: US House subcommittee hearing, Senate subcommittee Hearing, Record of Decision and US Court ruling vacating the National Park Service’s concurrence with the project.

I support Senators Klobuchar and Franken’s and Rep. Bachman’s right to follow the law which specifically called for override of the Scenic by-way by congress, if Congress deemed appropriate. The tremendously cumbersome process and triple flip-flopping by some federal agencies give significant cause to provide reasonable congressional relief.

But beyond the Congress’s right, the following shows that the economics constructing a new freeway bridge may not be as clear as suggested.

First, the existing bridge while currently rated in not so good condition and with load restrictions is not in any imminent state of collapse. It is also true that under build the new freeway bridge(s) would keep the existing bridge and make it a pedestrian and bicycle facility. The loading requirements for pedestrian facilities exceed those of vehicular loading due to possible densities of pedestrians during special events. The existing historic bridge is not going away.

Second, the I-94 Bridge is only 6 miles away from the current bridge. Attached are the Google directions for a path that goes over the existing bridge as compared to going over I-94, yielding 31 miles in 45 minutes, versus 34 miles in 46 minutes. The new route takes out the trip through Stillwater and straightens out some of the wiggles through Stillwater. I estimate that the time savings for the mean traveler is in the order of 10 minutes and 5 miles compared to the I35 route. Time valued at $15 per hour and cost of $0.40 per mile yields a total savings of $4.50. There actual has been a study done that found the revenue maximizing toll was $3.00. It found that the toll could cover only half the cost of the bridge.

Third, the cost benefit analysis provided in the Supplemental EIS had a very different take. It shows a 6.0 Benefits to Costs ratio. Call me old fashioned but if you can only generate enough toll revenue to pay for half of your project, it is hard to see how the B/C ratio could be greater than one. (There may indeed not be a toll on the new bridge, but the willingness to pay aspect of a toll illuminates the value of the facility.)

Fourth, the travel patterns of the residents of the area are highly dependent on what facilities are in place. Does the Minneapolis Regional model takes into account the natural barrier the river is to growth on the WI side of the St. Croix? The Toll study cited above assumed 2.0% traffic growth, but if you analyze the data in the FHWA vmt trends for Minnesota you will find an annual state wide traffic growth rate of 0.6% from 2004 to 2010. This implying that there is substantial risk to cover 50% of the costs with toll revenues. If this lower traffic growth rate were sustained over the length of the tolling not even 20% of the bridge could be financed.

So enough complaining, here are some things that I think would be reasonable. While the reports all document the danger, it is not the bridge itself where the DOTs are claiming most dangerous conditions. It is on the Minnesota side where the highway goes through the town. It is also the signals through town that impede the volume. The bridge can likely handle 18,000 vehicles a day in each direction without substantial delay. But looking at the route through

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Stillwater, one possible explanation for the accidents is the on street parallel parking on this high volume road. Imagine the safeness of trying to Parallel Park during peak hour traffic.

The Supplemental EIS also discusses cut through traffic. Eliminating and compensating local business for the loss of close parking and reconfiguration of the lanes to allow some more volume is one solution. The City and MN DOT could also create one way pairs for the highway through town to allow for more traffic flow. The reality is the existence and texture of Stillwater is formed by its relationship to the river and the existing crossing. Operational improvements without the following pricing would likely significantly increase the traffic leaving the Stillwater residents with equally bad congestion in their town.

Changing the bridge to a non-motorized facility essentially changes the price for an auto to cross from zero to infinity. What if it was only changed to $5 and that it was a variable toll to address some of the Stillwater residents’ concerns about congestion. The congestion, I would guess is on Friday evenings in the summer when city dwellers rush to their weekend retreats. Such a toll reduces the traffic and also generates revenue to repair and maintain the existing bridge. The existing bridge is considered historic and historic for carrying cars across the St. Croix River. It seems the 4F work on the bridge did not respect the fact that the bridge’s vehicular history and the scenic views that were obtained by all the folks driving through Stillwater and across the bridge. To be scenic you need people to see the beauty. I would argue that removing motorized vehicles from the existing bridge is a direct and adverse impact to the scenic river and is not allowed unless otherwise approved by the US congress.

The value of the existing bridge has never been greater and capturing some of that value through tolls provides the best revenue stream to maintain the historic bridge and address its current deficiencies and pay for operational improvements on the approach roadways. I am an equal opportunity toller and encourage appropriate charges to the gondolas and sightseeing boats that pass under the lift bridge. Freight barges no longer utilize this stretch of the St. Croix. The bridge lift schedule should not be fixed but based on price. Rush hour lifts for tourists to pass under the bridge should be evaluated based on prices the “overs” versus “unders” are willing to pay. Are the pedestrians and bikers willing to pay to maintain the bridge? If motorized vehicles are prohibited, what are the implications to the very limited use the bridge will have during the November to March time frame? The reduced value of the bridge by eliminating the cars is the biggest threat to maintaining the historic structure. The current bridge also has the huge value of simply existing and not subject to the regulatory capture of the regulating agency for new structures.

The Stillwater lift bridge is a man-made bridge, historic and integral part of the scenic
river. Review of Google images of the Lower St. Croix River, show the
lift bridge may be the most popular image per linear foot of river it occupies. Why would it not be possible to build (if needed) a bridge that would age gracefully and be equally accepted into the eco-system. The current unconditional discrimination against massiveness and man-made form denies the man- made massive existing historic lift bridge, the center piece of the scenic lower St. Croix River.

Jason Scheppers
(Crossed the beautiful scenic lower St. Croix River twice in the past year (in a car))”

Linklist: August 29, 2011

San Diego Rail Project A beautiful website showing transit history and fantasy maps for San Diego

State traffic deaths are on pace for steep slide“The state Department of Public Safety reported 208 fatalities on state roads as of Friday, down from 253 at the same time a year ago.”

2011 U.S. DOT Data Visualization Student Challenge: “The U.S. Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics is sponsoring a challenge designed to encourage students to examine data visualization options for helping decision makers make better informed policy and investment decisions in support of transportation safety and/or economic development. “

Linklist: August 25, 2011

Tara has a blog: NW Wildflowers.

Russia green lights a tunnel from Siberia to Alaska. Does Sara Palin approve? [Discussed on Transportationist in 2007, via Brendon]

Star Tribune makes populist noises about Public Works hiring a bicycle coordinator when they are laying off firefighters. “The coordinator will earn between $61,000 and $84,000 a year”. “”Is fire more important than this? Yeah. To the tune of 380 times more people doing that work than this work,” said Peter Wagenius, policy director in the mayor’s office. “But if we can prevent an unnecessary fatality through this work, we’re going to do it.””

Kottke summarizes links on: Evolution of the London Underground map

Linklist: August 24, 2011

Richard’s Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog: Cost and benefit: “I listened to a colleague of mine on Friday discuss how nothing adds to our carbon footprint like flying-and I have little doubt that he is right. Mark Twain one wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” I am pretty sure that is right too.”

Richard’s Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog: Two cents (or maybe a nickle) on Texas.: “In an ideal world, we would run some regressions explaining Texas’ growth, but we haven’t sufficiently up-to-date data to do that.  We do know that some things matter in general for growth: climate (which I don’t think even Rick Perry is claiming credit for); fraction of the population with a BA, and, if I may refer to work I did five years ago, availability of air transportation. Texas does well in two out of three indicators: since World War II, people and jobs have moved to warmer places such as Texas, and Dallas is a hub for two airlines and Houston is a hub for one.  Texas is below average, however, in the share of adults with BAs and graduate degrees. “

Knowledge Problem: Raising MPG standards, part 1: Morris is not persuasive in his claim that CAFE works: “At the Freakonomics blog, transportation scholar Eric Morris favors President Obama’s recent deal to dramatically raise CAFE standards (Corporate Automobile Fuel Economy standards) by 2025. A gasoline tax would be far superior public policy, he said, but it won’t work politically. Because he thinks CAFE standards do work, technically and politically, he said we should go with this “second-best solution.” … the average of measured “car” and “truck” CAFE levels (labelled “both” in the chart) fell faster than either the car or truck level. How is it possible that the average of two data series fell faster than either of the component data series? Because “both” is a weighted average, and as gasoline prices stayed low consumers limited by their options in the more-tightly-regulated automobile category simply switched into light trucks (i.e., minivans and SUVs). Automakers, too, feeling constrained by CAFE standards, pushed consumers to make that shift. What exactly are the policy benefits from driving consumers out of station wagons and into SUVs and minivans of similar fuel economy performance? CAFE “worked” when it has a supporting high gasoline price environment, but I suspect that the gasoline prices were doing most of the heavy lifting.”

Knowledge Problem: Raising MPG standards, part 2: Morris well explains the relative advantages of raising the gasoline tax : “Sure, we can counter a call for higher gasoline taxes with a long list of negative consequences. The point is that an energy tax is relatively speaking transparent and efficient. However harmful a higher gasoline tax is, a CAFE regulation aiming at the same effects would be ten times (rough guess) more costly.”