Category Archives: Transportation

A Taxonomy of Modes

A Taxonomy of Modes

A Taxonomy of Modes, Click to See Full Size
A Taxonomy of Modes, Click to See Full Size

I have been playing around with this idea of a Taxonomy of Modes. What characteristics describe and differentiate modes? Every mode must differ from every other mode on at least one dimension (otherwise they would be the same mode). This is analogous to the idea of speciation in biology. The graph above is a first cut at this for surface passenger transportation. I wanted to distinguish primarily on the non-mechanical (non-propulsion) characteristics of the service first. Of course not every possible dimension is identified, and a few of the circles contain multiple modes which are otherwise obviously distinct (e.g. gondolas and subways are much the same from a transportation service perspective but for one is underground and uses a train and the other is suspended by a cable which moves it). I wanted to differentiate things that were qualitatively different rather than quantitatively different.

So the first cut is about time, is a reservation required or not (i.e. does it need some advance planning). The second cut is about time as well, is the service scheduled or dynamic. The third cut is about space, are the routes fixed or dynamic. If the route is fixed, are stops fixed (i.e. does the vehicle stop at every stop, or only when called, like a bus). Otherwise if the routes are dynamic,  things get a bit more ad-hoc, as the key question changes.

Some traditional distinctions (access mode vs. primary mode, such as walk to transit vs. drive to transit) are not distinguished here, rather that would be thought of as at least two trips, one where you walk or drive to some place (with the purpose of changing modes), and second where you take some form of transit.

(A much earlier version of this appears as Theory of Modes (2008))

 

I welcome comments and ideas for making this more systematic and robust.

Directions for Research in Transport and Land Use

Below I posit some directions for research in transport and land use. Comments welcome.
1. We need more panels and time series and fewer cross-sectional analyses. If we want to establish causation, we need to look across time, otherwise, we are stuck simply with correlations. [And as we know, correlation is not causation]. We need data that examines the evolution and dynamics of transport and land use systems. I have not quite come to the conclusion that all analyses must be temporal (that is rejecting any atemporal analysis), but I am really tempted to do so as a reviewer.
2. We need to improve the scientific rigor of our research. The discipline is ripe for continuing meta-analysis to establish the magnitude of effects, and to reduce the range of estimates (and explain the range that exists through different underlying causal factors).
3. We need to more systematically consider network structure when looking at explanations of travel behavior. This includes measures of topology, morphology, and hierarchy. The measures that have historically been used have been relatively easy to estimate, but don’t get at the gestalt of the network as an integrated system.
4. We need to systematically look at the difference between travelers perceptions of how systems operate and how long are travel times, and what we analysts measure. The differences can be systematically explained, at least in part, and people of course make decisions based on how they think the world works, not on how we think it does. We could then examine why perceptions differ from measurements, how much is simply differences in linguistic interpretation (when a trip begins and ends is somewhat ambiguous, e.g.), and how much is differences in time perception, and how much is “rounding” error, and how much is strategic to either impress with the length of the commute (which brings to mind the Four Yorkshiremen sketch) or to exaggerate in order to get sympathy or a policy response.
5. We need to increase the inter-disciplinarity in the study of transport and land use research, with planners, geographers, engineers, economists, and others working together looking at these problems.
6. We need more international and historical cases in the field to build towards a general truth. Reasoning is both inductive and deductive, but so much of what we are doing is complex, one often cannot simply derive from theory whether a change will lead to more or less travel, it depends on parameters, for instance. the fixed costs of engaging in a trip vs. the variable (and non-linear) costs of travel.

Peak Drive-Thru

Cross-posted at streets.mn and transportationist.org.

Drive-thru Wells Fargo at Emerald and University Ave SE, Minneapolis
Drive-thru Wells Fargo at Emerald and University Ave SE, Minneapolis

Wells Fargo Bank has shuttered the drive-thru bank part of its branch at University and Emerald in Minneapolis (on the St. Paul City Line). [Google Street View image shown.]
This may be for several reasons, the branch is immediately across the street from a Central Corridor LRT station (under construction), its road access has consequently been constricted. It would make a nice redevelopment opportunity, so this may simply be a real estate transaction. But perhaps there are other reasons. We have achieved peak travel in the US, and internet and electronic banking has replaced much drive-thru business.
I, like many pedestrians and bicyclists, am annoyed with the hostility the drive-thru gives to non-auto modes. I was reprimanded for walking up to a drive-thru ATM at a Maryland National Bank in Columbia (after many acquisitions, now part of Bank of America) … of course there was no walk-up ATM there, or I would have used that. If I don’t want to or can’t deal with a person, I still have to walk-up to the drive-thru ATM at my Credit Union on University Avenue, which still does not have a walk-up (and their machine looks circa 1980). The annoying part is not just the wrong height of the ATM and the poor User Interface, it is the cross-subsidy non-driving customers give to the driving customers, who pay no extra for the larger building and infrastructure they require.
Drive-thru businesses have a long history in the US, dating at least from 1930 in the banking sector. Obviously gas stations were drive-thru, and I suppose it expanded from there. I had a fascination with these types of businesses as a child, both because of their (at least banks) use of pneumatic tubes, and just because of the futuristic feeling one had doing business from a car. I was impressed when I visited my aunt who went to a drive-thru dairy store in the Philadelphia suburbs. In the planned community of Columbia, Maryland, we did not have these, though drive-thru banks were allowed in the Village Centers, at first drive-thru restaurants were not, and certainly not drive-thru groceries. We eventually got a Fotomat knock-off, and I was fascinated by the miniaturization of retail.
Visiting some southern town (I’m guessing Tallahassee, but it was a couple of decades ago) when I was in college, there was the drive-thru liquor and gun store (like this one, but different), everything for good-ole-boys to have a really good time on a Friday night. There is also a drive-thru romance store in Alabama, which seems less awful and gives a different meaning to the term ‘quickie’.
Of course there are drive-thru ‘quick-serve’ restaurants, and even Starbucks, which was once aiming to be a third space, in addition to these other oddball collections. Tom Vanderbilt in a Slate article on the subject notes McDonald’s gets 65 percent of US sales from drive-thru.
An hour of Googling does not give me a solid number of drive-thrus in the US, but Rheitt Allain estimates about 100,000.
There is better data on all restaurants, apparently the number of restaurants in the US is dropping about 2 percent according to Nation’s Restaurant News to 574,050 in 2011. One assumes drive-thrus are dropping as well, though independents are experiencing most of the fall. Overall, spending for food away from home has been dropping the past few years as a function of the recession and high gas prices.
The total number of bank branches seems to have peaked in 2009 (i.e. it was down in 2010, whether this is short term or permanent is of course unclear), while the number of institutions is way off the peak due to consolidation and merger.
All of this portends that the US may have saturated the drive-thru market, and the direction is moving down. It is still speculative, and future data will be required to confirm this, but if so, we may be facing a more walk-up America.

A Dictionary Of Transport Analysis

I have a couple of chapters (mine are under a Creative Commons license!) in the Recently published: Button, Kenneth, Henry Vega, Peter Nijkamp (2011) A Dictionary Of Transport Analysis Edward Elgar Publishing:

“This concise and clearly focused Dictionary, with contributions by the leading authorities in their fields, brings order and clarity to a topic that can suffer from confusion over terminology and concepts.
It provides a bridge between the academic disciplines involved and illustrates the application of transportation policy that crosses a variety of administrative divisions. Cutting through jargon, the entries concentrate on the social science aspects of transportation analysis, defining many of the terms used in transportation, and providing valuable information on some of the major institutions and technologies affecting this sector
This concise and comprehensive Dictionary will be an invaluable addition to libraries and research institutes and a helpful resource for anyone with an interest in the analysis of transport.”

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.

City dwellers produce as much CO2 as countryside people do: study

Via Good, Physorg reports on a recent paper: City dwellers produce as much CO2 as countryside people do: study:

“Most previous studies have indicated that people in cities have a smaller carbon footprint than people who live in the country. By using more complex methods of analysis than in the past, scientists at Aalto University in Finland have discovered that people’s carbon emissions are practically the same in the city and in the rural areas. More than anything else, CO2 emissions that cause climate change are dependent upon how much goods and services people consume, not where they live.”

Full article Jukka Heinonen and Seppo Junnila (2011) Implications of urban structure on carbon consumption in metropolitan areas Environ. Res. Lett. 6 (January-March 2011) 014018
doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/1/014018

If you buy Life-Cycle Analysis, this is one strike against sanctimonious urbanites in the GHG blame game.

Transportation at TED

Some TED Talks about Transportation
Bill Ford: http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_ford_a_future_beyond_traffic_gridlock.html
Shai Agassi http://www.ted.com/talks/shai_agassi_on_electric_cars.html
Robin Chase http://www.ted.com/talks/robin_chase_on_zipcar_and_her_next_big_idea.html
Sebastian Thrun http://blog.ted.com/2011/03/31/googles-driverless-car-sebastian-thrun-on-ted-com/
Dennis Hong http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dennis_hong_making_a_car_for_blind_drivers.html
Dean Kaman http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dean_kamen_on_inventing_and_giving.html
Paul Moller http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/paul_moller_on_the_skycar.html
Gary Lauder http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/gary_lauder_s_new_traffic_sign_take_turns.html
Jaime Lerner http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jaime_lerner_sings_of_the_city.html
Steven Levitt http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_levitt_on_child_carseats.html

Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia.

Annie Lowrey in Slate Magazine: Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia. : “This week, researchers at Umea University in Sweden released a startling finding: Couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce.”

(Via Marginal Revolution.)