New commuter rail link ready to roll in central Florida

I was interviewed by Barbara Liston of Reuters for: New commuter rail link ready to roll in central Florida

… All Aboard Florida says 50 million people a year travel between Orlando, the most visited U.S. city, and Miami, Florida’s largest urban area, creating a feasible market for what would be the first privately funded, owned and operated inter-city passenger rail service in the country in a half a century.

If the project succeeds, “then you’ve expanded the effective commuter shed that someone could live in Miami and work in Orlando or vice versa,” said David Levinson, urban systems researcher and civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.

“It happens in Europe all the time and it happens in the Northeast Corridor all the time.”

SunRail is the tenth new commuter rail system completed in the United States since 2000, and follows the 2011 opening of the 21-mile “A Train” in Denton, Texas, according to the APTA.

Other new systems since the turn of the century were built in Austin, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Albuquerque, Seattle, Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon.

Despite President Barack Obama’s attempt to jump-start high-speed rail construction across the country with $8 billion in his 2009 economic stimulus package, no European or Japanese-style train has been constructed, Levinson said. …

Delft castle

WSTLUR 2014 Registration

WSTLUR Sign
WSTLUR Sign

The World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR) will be held in Delft, The Netherlands from June 24th to June 27th 2014. In addition to three prominent keynote speakers the symposium includes 109 presentations of peer reviewed original articles. The symposium program can be found here.

In addition to the presentations and keynote address the symposium includes a variety of activities.

  1. A pre-conference tour of Amsterdam on the 23rd of June 2014.
  2. At the end of day one (24th of June 2014) three parallel activities will take place, A book club, land use modeling workshop, and open source accessibility workshop. Details regarding these activities can be found in here.
  3. At the end of day two (25th of June 2014) four different land use and transport technical tours are organized in parallel by the local host. Details regarding the technical tours can be found  here.
Delft castle
Delft castle

Symposium registration is now open at the following link. Please note that early bird registration ends on May 1st 2014.

Details regarding the venue and accommodation can be found here.

Details regarding some travel tips can be found in here here.

Looking forward to seeing you at Delft in June.

20095722476

Always Green Traffic Control

Nick Musachio, local inventor in Minnesota, has just been issued a patent (No. 8,711,005) for his Always Green Traffic Control System. (Since this is transportation, we will abbreviate this AGTCS)

Imagine you have an isolated signalized intersection, operating near but below capacity. If vehicles were able to travel at the correct speed when approaching the intersection for a significant distance, they should be able to  travel through the intersection without hitting a red light or being delayed by standing queues. If at 45 MPH they would hit a red light, but at 35 MPH would get a green, they should be informed to reduce speed to 35 MPH. This not only reduces driver delay, but should decrease crashes and decrease emissions, both of which are exacerbated by intersection control and braking and acceleration.

How would drivers know which speed to travel? An upstream Variable Message Sign with Dynamic Speed Limits (tied into the traffic signal controller cabinet, or with the pre-programmed traffic signal timings) would tell them the best speed to avoid stopping. If only the first car in a platoon does this (on a 1 lane road), all following cars are controlled by default.

Audi has a similar in-vehicle system. That is only useful if the traffic agencies produce live feeds of traffic signal timings. Comment: it is appalling that such a traffic signal timing live feed doesn’t generally exist (even transit agencies, not historically known for their cutting edge research) have GTFS.

AGTCS is infrastructure based, and works for all vehicles anywhere an agency wants to set it up.

Some videos and simulations below.

Bike to Work Day: Progress in Minnesota by Miles to Go

Greg Lindsey writes about: Bike to Work Day: Progress in Minnesota by Miles to Go

But we only need look across municipal boundaries to know we had better put more energy into encouraging bicycling than into celebration. Bicycle commute rates in St. Paul remain below 2% less than half the Minneapolis rate, and rates in most suburban, exurban, and rural communities remain even lower. And the story remains essentially the same for all types of bicycle trips. Jessi Schoner, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering, is analyzing non-motorized mode shares for all trips recorded the Metropolitan Council’s recent Travel Behavior Inventory. Her analyses show that bicycling remains an urban phenomenon, with the share of all trips taken by bicycling highest in Minneapolis, followed by St. Paul, and then suburban and outlying communities. Why is this so? Better infrastructure no doubt is part of the reason, but there likely are other reasons, including housing patterns, access to employment, socio-demographic factors, and culture. Additional research is needed.

by David Levinson

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