As urban residents place orders for online goods with increasing frequency, the challenge of managing urban freight deliveries grows. City street networks—designed for transit, walking, and biking—are unable to handle this level of freight traffic. Cities, freight haulers, and developers will need to develop new policies and land use strategies to manage this inflow of truck traffic as the retail economy continues to shift to an online/delivery paradigm.
Washington State Department of Transportation has been rightfully proud of their accountability and transparency with their quarterly Gray Notebook, which details system performance and project delivery. As part of that, they have issued an Annual Congestion Report. But the 2013 report has a new name and a new emphasis. Instead of highlighting congestion, the 2013 Corridor Capacity Report focuses on capacity across all modes. Rather than measuring just motor vehicle throughput, it turns its attention to moving people, regardless of mode.
A new University of Minnesota study on driver behavior in managed lanes provides some findings that on the surface seem highly counter-intuitive, but that may have a simple explanation. Travelers care more about reliability than delay. The first surprising result is that travelers were willing to pay large tolls to access HOT lanes. Also, rather than discouraging HOT lane use, increases in tolls actually encouraged more drivers to opt for those lanes
This transportation demand management plan from the Puget Sound Regional Council and the TDM Steering Committee lays out strategies to reduce single occupancy car trips through the region. A variety of efforts are outlined, including neighborhood-based alternative transportation education, car-sharing, employer-based ride-sharing, parking management, and regional transit cooperation.
For transportation professionals focusing on improving automobile commute times, the idea of enabling a driver to reserve space on a roadway at specific times may seem too good to be true—and it may be. Such a scheme may be too complicated to implement—at least right now.
Research using the results of a 2003 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority strike shows that transit does indeed relieve congestion, but only along corridors that parallel heavily used lines. At the same time, research in the Netherlands indicates that park-and-ride lots in cities may actually increase vehicle miles traveled in a metro area.
During the era of interstate highway construction, and the resulting demographic shift from city to suburb, municipalities worked to provide auto access to their downtowns, hoping this access would support economic growth. However, mounting evidence shows that this came at the expense of the very economic vibrancy cities sought and does not help reduce roadway congestion. Costs associated with accommodating cars, particularly for parking, are outweighed by the long-term economic costs.
Combining congestion pricing on major highways or lanes with incentives for off-peak commuting on non-tolled facilities can lead to improved performance on all facilities.
A new stretch of toll road through central Texas linking Austin to San Antonio, State Highway 130, may soon have the highest posted speed limit in the hemisphere. The exact toll structure has not yet been defined, but the base rate for passenger vehicles could be as high as 12.5 cents per mile, a total of $5 for the 41-mile stretch. While many drivers in the state are enthusiastic about the prospect of shortened driving times over the congested I-35, auto insurance companies and highway safety advocates are less excited.
Congestion pricing in New York City should be easy; there are only bridges and tunnels to get into the most congested areas of the city, and many already have tolls. Access is limited, and transit is plentiful once commuters arrive in congested Manhattan. But political pressures from the outer boroughs and anti-tax sentiments defeated efforts to implement congestion pricing in 2008. Now a veteran transportation engineer has offered a new plan that could be more popular in the suburbs and still provide incentives to find alternatives to driving into the central business district.