Central Corridor on Washington Avenue

In response to letters from the President of the University of Minnesota, former U of Mn Regent, Peter Bell, currently Chair of the Metropolitan Council now endorses Central Corridor on Washington Avenue at grade.
Now maybe someone will seriously consider getting private cars off of Washington Avenue if it is such a safety and congestion trap (which of course it would be were cars, buses, trucks, light rail, pedestrians, and bicyclists trying to simultaneously use that space). The price would be much lower than a tunnel (some paint, some bollards, and a “Do Not Enter” sign for starters).
Think about it this way, construction is effectively going to close Washington Avenue to traffic anyway for some period of time, just keep it closed.
This not too technical link might help some university officials rethink the issue.
From Induced Demand to Reduced Demand
Effects of Roadway Capacity Reductions.
The I-35W Bridge collapse provides another example. 140,000 trips crossed the Mississippi River Bridge before the collapse, according to MnDOT’s Nick Thomson (presented at a seminar at the University of Minnesota), only 90,000 can be accounted for on other crossings.
Should Washington Avenue really be carrying traffic through campus? Should campus have a major thoroughfare in its midst?

No Left Turns

From NYT (via Slashdot) Left-Hand-Turn Elimination UPS is trying to eliminate left-turns, which typically have more delay (and thus fuel consumption and air pollution) than through or right-turn movements. This of course should be true primarily at permitted rather than protected lefts, it wasn’t clear from the article whether UPS has signal timings in its database.

Management of Subways to Be Split

From the NYT: Management of Subways to Be Split
“The goal, Mr. Roberts said, is to have 24 subway lines operating in many ways as 24 self-contained railroads. (The number may vary, depending on how the lines are counted.) They will compete against one another and be rated on service, cleanliness, on-time performance and other measures.”
This is interesting. They are starting with lines that are isolated, which is smart. How they will deal with lines that interact (share track and platforms) will be interesting, and may be a true test of whether this kind of decentralization of responsibility can be made to work in such an integrated system.

A substitute for GPS

From Techcrunch: Google Mobile Maps PinPoints Your Location Without GPS
This technology uses cell phone towers (and triangulation) to locate you. While not as perfect as GPS, it should be useful for general navigation, especially with added algorithms to smooth out the jumpyness. It is an idea long speculated on (in the transportation community see: this article by my late colleague YB Yim for a review and this for one of the earliest papers on the idea. ) that is finally seeing commercialization.

Hiawatha takes another life.

Light-rail train hits, kills man in south Minneapolis
“It was the second death at the 46th Street Station, and the fifth along the full line since light rail started running in 2004. In August 2006, a bicyclist was killed after crossing diagonally through the rail arms and flashing lights.”
Nationally reported fatalities on (rail?) transit systems range from 26 in 2002 to 57 in 2004, averaging 40.67. So of those, about 2 per year are on the Hiawatha line alone, and are about 5% of national transit deaths on rail. That seems way too high.
In Minneapolis, Hiawatha serves about 10% of transit trips.
The National Transit Database (which is buried pretty deeply, perhaps so prying eyes can’t easily find the data) does not report fatalities. Nationally there are about 285 fatalities per year (2002 numbers) on all transit according to the TSAR.
I suppose system specific bus safety is data not meant to be easily accessed (fatalities by bus systems), because I can’t find it at the Metro Transit website either. The Metro Transit Transportation Audit e.g. does not mention safety.
NHTSA seems to bury transit bus safety data as well, perhaps leaving it to FTA.
The net of this is if bus carries 10x rail in terms of number of passengers in the Twin Cities, and they were equally safe, we would expect 50 fatalities in the past 3 years. I don’t believe that is the case (even counting on-board violence). So LRT far is more dangerous than bus, and at this rate, perhaps more dangerous that private vehicles.
At what point do enough individual anecdotes become a policy problem?

Space Up!, the in-vehicle interface of the future?

From Engadget Is the VW Space Up! interface developed by Apple?. While houses have been getting larger, the future seems to be in smaller vehicles.
For years now computers have becoming more integrated with the car. At the extreme we won’t actually need to do any driving, and can let the car do that while we do something more entertaining or productive. The Space Up! concept, incorporating Apple’s Cover Flow is one more look at the car of the future. The interface, hopefully with a lot of options disabled while driving, seems to be another attempt at integration.

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