Tapping into TNC data

With the rise of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, and growing concerns about their effects on traffic and curb usage, transportation agencies and local governments are eager for data. Data from TNCs, however, are heavily guarded. Many governments are trying to negotiate agreements with these companies and working on laws that require data sharing. Others, however, are getting more creative.

When Waze clogs the streets, can communities close them to outsiders?

Reacting to drivers using apps to bypass clogged highways, the borough of Leonia, NJ, has decided to close most of its local roads to non-residents during peak morning and afternoon periods. Many question whether this is a wise or even legal option. In the short run, the shutdown of local roads might make residents happy; but in the longer term, residents could face worsened regional congestion as traffic is forced onto clogged arterials. In dense networks, these local roads can sometimes act like important release valves.

FDOT to deploy innovative transportation technologies for increased safety

The Orlando area has received a grant of close to $12 million to utilize innovative transportation system technologies to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists and to ease congestion. The grant was awarded by an FHA that seeks ideal deployment sites for large-scale installation and operation of advanced transportation technologies. The program’s goals are to improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment.

Distracted driving: a silent killer?

Representatives from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and NHTSA called distracted driving a “serious public safety concern” and a “crisis.” Yet there still doesn’t seem to be any compelling evidence linking the surging death rate to distracted driving. AAA reported earlier this month that in-vehicle touchscreens and voice activated systems could pose new problems. But the newest numbers from U.S. DOT—released the same week as the AAA report—show deaths related to distracted driving dropped 2.2 percent in 2016, while traffic deaths increased 5.6 percent overall.

CAFE standards may be easier to meet than previously thought

Consumers might favor vehicles that accelerate a little slower, if the vehicles are also much more fuel conscious and greenhouse gas friendly. That is the conclusion of a study published in Environmental Science & Technology by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, UC-Berkeley, and University of Michigan. The research might also help transportation agencies manage local safety if cars were to accelerate more slowly.

Using real-time travel information to encourage transit

Real-time travel information at a glance empowers travelers and can support transit-oriented development by providing information in an easy-to-access format. Smartphone apps are beginning to provide this service, but few can reliably show all options easily on a small screen, and many miss important local information, such as the distance to transit stops or bikeshare kiosks. New screens installed in public locations are allowing travelers, including those unfamiliar with the area, to see all their options on one screen.

SmarterRoads: Virginia’s public-private transportation data sharing strategy

The Virginia Department of Transportation has launched a public cloud-based data portal that contains a vast array of state transportation data. The portal is named “SmarterRoads” and will be available to anyone who creates a free account. Information contained in the portal includes average daily traffic, crashes, signal data, vehicle miles traveled, and speed limits. 

Colorado city teams with Uber app to summon on-demand transit

In a first-of-its-kind partnership in the U.S., a city has partnered with Uber to use existing transit vehicles to provide on-demand service. Resident of Lone Tree, Colorado, can now use the Uber app to request a 12-passenger vehicle and driver provided by the city’s Link service. Other riders may be picked up along the way. The ride is free through the end of December anywhere in the city. The genesis of the partnership with Uber came about through the Smart Cities Collaborative, a collaboration of Transportation for America and Sidewalk Labs.

Real-time travel information: Better for businesses, better for travelers

Real-time travel information on digital screens placed in popular gathering areas allows for more efficient time management by transportation users of all modes. Tysons Corner Center, a shopping center in northern Virginia, uses Traveler Information Displays that provide traffic conditions and transit schedules to help customers plan their departures from the mall. Virginia DOT recently surveyed customers to evaluate the success of the TIDs with the goal of improving the system.