The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has drawn attention for its rigorous performance measure-driven transportation plan, is expanding its use of performance measures with a publicly accessible portal called Vital Signs. Launched on January 28, Vital Signs is “an interactive tool that Bay Area residents can use to track the region’s progress toward reaching key transportation, land use, environmental and economic policy goals,” MTC said in a press release.
While the state of transportation funding remains uncertain both at the national and state levels, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is taking an innovative approach to bring public awareness to the degrading transportation infrastructure within the seven-county Chicago metropolitan region. CMAP spent $82,000 to design a website that uses an immense amount of transportation data collected by the agency to create user-friendly visualizations of the challenges facing regional transportation systems.
A Portland app developer may change the way we count bicycle traffic if his $50 device works as planned. It would allow cities to place counters in many more locations and count at more times of the day, capturing a truer picture of where, when, and why people bike. As new infrastructure is built or changes are made to make a route more bike-friendly, it would be much easier to install a counter and see changes in bike traffic patterns.
Although the mass media has been quick to tout the practicalities of switching to autonomous vehicles, many complexities are also apparent. At the recent TRB meeting the number of papers highlighting the opportunities and challenges associated with these vehicles made a clear statement about the enormity of the change DOTs, MPOs, and policy makers anticipate. And a recent paper from the University of Michigan lays out considerations that raise questions about whether autonomous vehicles will smoothly transition into mainstream usage.
State DOTs are increasingly moving to all electronic tolling (AET) for roads and bridges. Transit agencies nationwide are also updating fare collection systems, and the trend is towards contactless, cashless fare payment. However, a significant percentage of the U.S. population does not have a bank account, and this poses significant accessibility challenges to the transportation system.
The potential impacts of autonomous and connected vehicles on travel behavior and transportation system design have been the focus of much discussion and speculation. While it is still unclear what those impacts will be, the technology is advancing quickly, causing many states and transportation agencies to consider adaptations necessary to accommodate it.
Monitoring bridges and managing their maintenance can be challenging and costly for transportation agencies. Innovative techniques being used in some states make this task easier, save money, and provide new information about how travelers are using the nation’s bridges.
Cities around the U.S. are seeing a new style of transit that is a cross between the (in)famous Google buses, smartphone-driven Uber and Lyft, and standard city transit systems. Neither exclusive to one company nor attempting to cover the city, these “pop-up bus services” are geared to those who live in certain neighborhoods and work downtown, have smartphones and a few extra dollars, and desire a direct commute and pleasant atmosphere.
A unique approach to collecting and distributing transit data was recently unveiled. Publicly launched on May 15, Urban Engines uses spatial analytics and behavioral economics theory to improve city planning and operations. Urban Engines uses the concept of “crowd sensing,” a method of using technology to understand where people congregate and how they move.
It took decades for the current gasoline and diesel service station infrastructure to be built out, enabling longer- distance travel. As we enter an era where more drivers are considering adopting electric vehicles, infrastructure to “fuel” these zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) is lacking in a similar way to the early automobile period’s gas station shortage. In particular, the market has been slow to respond to the need for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. A new coalition of eight states on both coasts has released a plan to speed the adoption of ZEV technology and address this infrastructure gap.