linkedin 2 twitter 2

Until next year

Today is my last day at the conference and while it wasn't so jam-packed as the others, it might have been my favorite.

This morning I and a client from the MPO in Colorado Springs (PPACG), Craig Casper, presented our poster on the sensitivity of project rankings to underlying land use and growth assumption.

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMAG0630_1.jpg

While standing in front of a poster for 2 hours has the potential to be a little dull, this time around I actually benefited from a remarkable window into the MPO planning world. Not only did I get to learn more about the multicriteria ranking process used by PPACG (to which our TREDIS analysis provided just one input), I also got to watch members from agencies across the country share and discuss best practices for planning and project evaluation.

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMAG0631.jpg

MPOs, like many public sector agencies, grapple with conflicting demands from many different constituents and oversight entities. They also struggle, like the rest of us, with the reality of uncertain future conditions and the limitations of technical forecasting methods. But rather than throw our hands up in the air, we work ever so incrementally towards better information--from both models and public input processes--and ultimately towards better and more transparent decisions.

Not such a bad thought to leave with.

Until next year!

Continue reading
Tags:
1551 Hits

If you get enough biases, you might get a mosaic of an approximate reality

Continue reading
Tags:
1721 Hits

Can you get there from here?

This afternoon I attended Session 343 on the Role of Transit in Creating a More Equitable Society. Each presentation focused in one way or another on assessing the adequate provision of transit service from a spatial and socioeconomic perspective, as well as the role of transit and automobiles in facilitating access to jobs, services, health care, groceries, day care, and education.

What struck me about the session--and in particular the discussion afterwards--is that we're getting to the point as a community of practitioners where data and analytical capabilities are no longer the barriers to implementation they once were. And so now we have the chance to really talk about which measures are most instructive--to researchers, policy makers, the public--as opposed to which are most simply possible.

Do we want aggregate indicators that take into account the needs of many different population groups? Or do we want individual analyses reproduced over and over again for small scale market segments of the population, with each telling a more specific but more compelling story? Do we want to try to match individuals to their specific needs (e.g. low wage health workers to low-wage healthcare jobs), or should we opt for more generalized but also easier to understand aggregate measures (e.g. total job accessibility from residential areas)?

One presentation even surprised me with a new twist on some very basic concepts. We all know the burden of transportation comes from actual out-of-pocket costs and from time costs. Nevertheless, most accessibility analyses are pivoted off of travel times, alone. Researchers from McGill (Presentation 16-3715) demonstrated how simply adding fare cost to travel time information can yield a considerably different picture of job accessibility:

b2ap3_thumbnail_AccessTimeCost2.jpg

A, on the left: job accessibility using a "1 hourly wage" threshold (a combination of fare costs and monetized travel time, using minimum wage hourly rates); B, on the right: simple 1 hr travel time thresholds. (Montreal).

 

Continue reading
Tags:
1841 Hits

Booth time!

Continue reading
Tags:
1917 Hits

How late is too late?

Presentation on the effect of on-time performance on ridership and revenue (Mark Feldman, Session 233):

The meaning of on-time performance depends on who you ask. Amtrak defines on-time performance using a minutes late threshold that varies by length of the route. But if you're a traveler, 20 minutes late may be a huge deal, or not matter much at all-- it all depends on the purpose and length of your trip, and the flexibility of your plans.

This is a challenge more broadly: internal agency performance measures do not always map to the aspects of performance that driver user behavior and ultimately the broader effects on society and the economy. Both sides of the coin are critical to our ability to prioritize improvements.
Continue reading
Tags:
1774 Hits

This is real-time learning

"Transformation Technologies" is one of the the three "hot topics" designated by TRB for this Annual Meeting, so it's only appropriate that my first session of the conference gave me a crash course introduction to GTFS data and all the cool things people are doing to leverage information published in this format. If you're wondering what a crash course looks like with a bunch of very excited data geeks all interacting with data and documentation in real-time, here's a screen shot from today:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Real-TimeLearningGTFS.png

GTFS is the de-facto standard for transit service information--first defined by google when Portland's TriMet asked: why isn't online trip planning as easy for transit as it is for driving? At current count there are 1000+ public feeds on 6 continents. Wide adoption of the specification allows anyone interested in looking at, analyzing, or mapping transit service information to all communicate in the same language.

Fundamentally, GTFS is a set of (deceptively simple) tables, organized to relate to one another using unique identifiers. Together, a GTFS data set describes transit service in terms of: the geographic distribution of stops (using lat/long coordinates), the routes/trips offered by a given agency, and the schedules and frequency of those services. In diagrammatic form it looks something like this:

b2ap3_thumbnail_GTFSDataSet.png

At EDR Group I've been spending a fair amount of my time lately using spatial data and other "join-able" data sources (demographics, economic activity, census journey-to-work patterns, freight flows, etc.) to understand the geography of access provided various transportation systems. GTFS is one cool ingredient in this wider world of merging many information sources into one single spatial framework.

After all-- the whole point of transportation is to give people and businesses access to opportunities.

Continue reading
Tags:
1673 Hits

GTFS

Ready to learn.

Continue reading
Tags:
1855 Hits

Washington National Airport

Washington National Airport: built, like much of Boston, where once there was only water. Hello DC!

Continue reading
1636 Hits

Leaving on a jet plane...

b2ap3_thumbnail_LeavingOnAJetPlane_20160108-172424_1.jpg

My bags are packed—well, not quite. But it's busy here at the office getting ready for the annual pilgrimage down to DC where everyone in the transportation world gets to mingle with thousands of their closest friends. With approximately 11,500 attendees at last count, TRB really does have the feel of a (very large) family reunion.

Tune in for the next few days and I'll take you through my own personal experience of the conference. Right now it's all about ensuring that our posters and exhibit materials make it down in one piece. And of course, don't forget a few business cards! One of the best things about TRB is meeting other people with common interests and invaluable experience.

My short list of things to look forward to:

More soon!

Continue reading
1493 Hits

TRB16

Continue reading
1408 Hits