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Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions: Implications for Transport Planning

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions: Implications for Transport Planning (PDF)
Source: Victoria Transportation Policy Institute

This report explores the impacts that autonomous (also called self-driving, driverless or robotic) vehicles are likely to have on travel demands and transportation planning. It discusses autonomous vehicle benefits and costs, predicts their likely development and implementation based on experience with previous vehicle technologies, and explores how they will affect planning decisions such as optimal road, parking and public transit supply. The analysis indicates that some benefits, such as independent mobility for affluent non-drivers, may begin in the 2020s or 2030s, but most impacts, including reduced traffic and parking congestion (and therefore road and parking facility supply requirements), independent mobility for low-income people (and therefore reduced need to subsidize transit), increased safety, energy conservation and pollution reductions, will only be significant when autonomous vehicles become common and affordable, probably in the 2040s to 2060s, and some benefits may require prohibiting human-driven vehicles on certain roadways, which could take longer.

2015 Silicon Valley Index

February 26, 2015 Comments off

2015 Silicon Valley Index (PDF)
Source: Joint Venture
From press release:

Silicon Valley’s economy is thriving from San Jose to San Francisco, surging to levels that are overwhelming the Bay Area’s capacity to handle it, according to the 2015 Silicon Valley Index released today by Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

The comprehensive yearly analysis of the economic strength and overall health of Silicon Valley shows the region with nearly 58,000 new jobs – the highest growth rate since 2000 – 42,000 new residents, average annual earnings of $116,000, venture capital investments higher than any other year since 2000, 17,000 new patent registrations and more than 16 million square feet of new commercial building space approved.

At the same time, the wave of prosperity continues to widen the middle-income gap and strain the region’s ability to accommodate its ever-rising housing costs, commuter rates, traffic and transit ridership.

Emergency Department Visits for Motor Vehicle Traffic Injuries: United States, 2010–2011

February 25, 2015 Comments off

Emergency Department Visits for Motor Vehicle Traffic Injuries: United States, 2010–2011
Source: National Center for Health Statistics

Key findings
Data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2010–2011

  • In 2010–2011, the emergency department (ED) visit rate for motor vehicle traffic injuries was highest among persons aged 16–24 years. The rates declined with age after 16–24, with rates for those aged 0–15 similar to those 65 and over.
  • The overall ED visit rate for motor vehicle traffic injuries was higher among non-Hispanic black persons compared with non-Hispanic white and Hispanic persons.
  • Imaging services were ordered or provided at 70.2% of ED visits for motor vehicle traffic injuries, which was higher than for other injury-related ED visits (55.9%).
  • About one-half of ED visits for motor vehicle traffic injuries had a primary diagnosis of sprains and strains of the neck and back, contusion with intact skin surface, or spinal disorders.

CRS — The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): In Brief (January 16, 2015)

February 24, 2015 Comments off

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates that U.S. transportation fuel must contain a minimum volume of biofuel, is a federal statutory requirement. The mandated minimum volume increases annually, and can be met using both corn-starch ethanol and advanced biofuels. In order for a biofuel to be applied toward the mandate, it must meet certain environmental and biomass feedstock criteria. A variety of factors (e.g., infrastructure, technology, weather, the “blend wall,” and federal assistance) have led to challenges, including delays by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in setting the annual volume standards and a lack of cellulosic biofuel production. Further, it is not clear how declining oil and gasoline prices will impact the biofuel industry. Challenges in implementing the RFS have led to investigations of the RFS by some in Congress, and to court rulings. More specifically, the 113th Congress held seven hearings where the RFS or renewable fuels was the focus or a recurring topic of discussion, and since 2010 there have been five legal challenges regarding EPA’s administration of the RFS. Because of concerns about the implementation and feasibility of the RFS, some Members of Congress have questioned whether it is time to amend or repeal the RFS, or to maintain the status quo.

This report provides a basic description of the RFS, including some of the widely discussed issues.

EU — Quality of Transport

February 23, 2015 Comments off

Quality of Transport (PDF)
Source: Eurobarometer
From Summary (PDF):

Transport directly affects everyone in Europe. Whatever age we are and whatever activities we undertake, transportation and mobility play a fundamental role for our daily lives and for business. The estimated annual budget of the average EU household for transport is € 4 530. With a population of over 505 million this represents a significant investment.

The aim of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) is to promote transport solutions that are efficient, safe, secure and environmentally friendly and to create the conditions for a competitive industry, generating growth and jobs. With this in mind, DG MOVE is actively working on a range of activities that concern all modes of transportation: policy making and the proposition of new laws, project funding and research as well as activities to increase citizen’s awareness. Furthermore, DG MOVE provides statistical insights to all interested parties: decision makers, industries, citizens and media – for example, the annual statistical pocketbook or the recent EU Transport Scoreboard.

DG MOVE commissioned this survey to gather information from European citizens, understand their habits, hear their opinions and analyse their perceptions of transport related matters. The survey focussed on:
+ The most frequently used modes of transport for daily trips and long journeys and the reasons these modes were chosen;
+ How to encourage people who use cars and motorbikes to use public transport ;
+ The perceptions of the quality of road, air, rail and sea transport over the last five years and the most serious problems affecting these modes of transport;
+ How to make the transport sector more appealing for job seekers.

Effectiveness of traveller screening for emerging pathogens is shaped by epidemiology and natural history of infection

February 20, 2015 Comments off

Effectiveness of traveller screening for emerging pathogens is shaped by epidemiology and natural history of infection
Source: eLife

During outbreaks of high-consequence pathogens, airport screening programs have been deployed to curtail geographic spread of infection. The effectiveness of screening depends on several factors, including pathogen natural history and epidemiology, human behavior, and characteristics of the source epidemic. We developed a mathematical model to understand how these factors combine to influence screening outcomes. We analyzed screening programs for six emerging pathogens in the early and late stages of an epidemic. We show that the effectiveness of different screening tools depends strongly on pathogen natural history and epidemiological features, as well as human factors in implementation and compliance. For pathogens with longer incubation periods, exposure risk detection dominates in growing epidemics, while fever becomes a better target in stable or declining epidemics. For pathogens with short incubation, fever screening drives detection in any epidemic stage. However, even in the most optimistic scenario arrival screening will miss the majority of cases.

Planning and Social Media: A Case Study of Public Transit and Stigma on Twitter

February 19, 2015 Comments off

Planning and Social Media: A Case Study of Public Transit and Stigma on Twitter
Source: Journal of the American Planning Association

Problem, research strategy, and findings: How media portray public transit services can affect the way voters and stakeholders think about future transit investments. In this study, I examine social media content about public transit from a large sample of Twitter comments, finding that they reflect more negative sentiments about public transit than do the comments about most other public services, and include more negative material about transit patrons. However, transit agencies may be able to influence the tone of those comments through the way they engage with social media. Transit agencies that respond directly to questions, concerns, and comments of other social media users, as opposed to merely “blasting” announcements, have more positive statements about all aspects of services and fewer slurs directed at patrons, independent of actual service quality. The interaction does not have to be customer oriented. Agencies using Twitter to chat with users about their experiences or new service also have statistically significantly more positive sentiments expressed about them on social media. This study’s limitations are that it covers only one social media outlet, does not cover all transit agencies, and cannot fully control for differences in transit agency service.

Takeaway for practice: Planners committed to a stronger role for public transit in developing sustainable and equitable cities have a stake in the social media strategy of public transit agencies; moreover, they should not let racial and sexist slurs about patrons dominate feeds. Planners should encourage interactive social media strategies. Even agencies that only tweet interactively a few times a day seem to have more civil discussions surrounding their agencies and announcements on Twitter than agencies that use their feed only to blast service announcements.

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