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Spring Issue Of ACCESS Magazine Now Available This issue of ACCESS Magazine covers all kinds of transportation: airplanes, cars, public transit, and running. There’s even a nod to ice-skating.

ACCESS Magazine is edited by Donald Shoup, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, Emeritus, at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

SPRING 2016 Contents:

Going the Extra Mile: Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth

If you were a hybrid vehicle owner and you were driving down the freeway, would you know the best time to use gas and the best time to use the battery? Probably not, and most hybrid cars don’t know either. In fact, most plug-in hybrids just deplete their battery completely before switching to gas, which is actually an inefficient use of energy.

In “Going the Extra Mile: Intelligent Energy Management of Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles,” Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Guoyuan Wu, and Matthew Barth explore how hybrids can better manage battery use to get an extra five to ten miles out of each gallon of gas. By incorporating real-time information on where a car is, where it’s going, traffic levels, incline, and a host of other variables, an intelligent management strategy can save fuel and reduce emissions by 10 to 12 percent.

Manage Flight Demand or Build Airport Capacity? 

Megan S. Ryerson and Amber Woodburn

Imagine you’re at the airport and the security checkpoint is crowded. You finally reach your gate but your flight is delayed because the runway is full. “Why don’t they build more runways?” you ask, but maybe that’s not the right question.

In their article, “Manage Flight Demand or Build Airport Capacity?” Megan Ryerson and Amber Woodburn discuss two ways to manage air traffic congestion: adding runways or shifting flights through demand management. Often local governments and airport authorities think that airport expansion equates to economic development even though there is little research to back this theory. Meanwhile, demand management strategies, like congestion pricing, aren’t even considered as an option to reduce air traffic congestion. Why is this the case — and should our priorities change?

A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity
Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce

Does living in a wealthier area mean you’ll get a better job? Or any job? The Moving to Opportunity (MTO) Program was an experiment that provided housing vouchers to low-income households, some of whom had to use the vouchers in wealthier neighborhoods. The research showed, however, that the location of the housing vouchers had no effect on employment. So what did affect employment?

In “A Driving Factor in Moving to Opportunity,” Evelyn Blumenberg and Gregory Pierce show that employment in the MTO program was affected most by access to transportation. They discovered that, while transit access was associated with maintaining employment, having a car was associated with maintaining and even gaining employment over time. The results suggest that policies to promote car access may be the best way to connect low-income workers with jobs.

Investing in Transportation while Preserving Fragile Environments

Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman

Have you ever seen a moose hitching a ride so that he could continue roaming several miles from where he started? Neither have I. But when governments approve transportation projects, they often offset the environmental costs by preserving dispersed tracts of land, sometimes hundreds of miles from each other. Instead of preserving several pieces of land in different areas, wouldn’t it be better to preserve large connected expanses?

In their recent article, “Investing in Transportation while Preserving Fragile Environments,” Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman discuss regional mitigation efforts through the use of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). HCPs include a list of transportation projects, their potential biological impacts, and ways to mitigate such impacts on a broad scale. By bundling mitigation requirements, transportation projects can save time, money, and habitats. 

Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements

Donald Shoup

How many parking spaces should be required for each house? Each restaurant? Each zoo? Most developers have to adhere to “minimum parking requirements,” but those requirements are often created without any research into what the market actually demands.

In his article, “Cutting the Cost of Parking Requirements,” Donald Shoup argues that we should remove minimum parking requirements because they’re creating vast expanses of empty parking lots instead of the walkable neighborhoods we all desire. And the cost of these parking spaces is shocking. A single parking space can cost more to build than the net worth of many American households, yet those households end up sharing the cost burden of parking requirements. It may not solve every injustice, but reducing or removing minimum parking requirements can be a step towards a more equitable society.

ALMANAC: Running to Work 

Robert Cervero

There’s a way to get to work that actually reduces your stress levels, has no traffic, and lets you skip the gym at the end of the day. We’re talking about the latest — and sweatiest — trend in commuting: the run commute.

In his article, “Running to Work,” Robert Cervero explores this new form of active travel that’s taking congested cities by storm. But what would make someone want to run all the way into work? In a survey of run commuters ¾ and by trying it himself ¾ Cervero finds that these vehicle-less travelers benefit most from being outdoors, reducing stress, cutting down on costs, and saving time by exercising during their commute. Of course, there are challenges as well, such as the logistics of getting clean clothes to the office. But if employers can help encourage run-commuting with some on-site showers and a free breakfast, their employees will be healthier for it.

Accepting a Grand Challenge UCLA Luskin Researchers Awarded First LA Grand Challenge Grants to Support Efficient Transportation and Local Sustainable Water Research

By Stan Paul

Innovative and sustainable use of water and energy in Los Angeles is at the heart of UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, and three UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs researchers are at the forefront of this campuswide initiative.

Brian Taylor, Juan Matute and J.R. DeShazo are among 11 winners of the $1.2 million in competitive research grants awarded through the Challenge’s Five-Year Work Plan, which envisions a 100-percent renewable energy and local water scenario for the greater Los Angeles area by 2050. In addition, Jaimee Lederman, an Urban Planning doctoral candidate at Luskin, was recently named an LA Grand Challenge Powell Policy Fellow for a research/scholarly project that will directly contribute to advancing the goals of the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge.

Taylor and Matute said that their project will specifically study the viability of shared zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) and transportation network companies (TNCs) “to and from major transit stops to promote both ZEV and transit for commute-related traffic.” They believe the “meteoric rise” in use of TNCs, like Uber and Lyft, may address so-called “first-mile, last-mile” problems of daily transportation and encourage “mix-mode” travel that includes the use of expanding rail and bus rapid transit networks in Los Angeles.

“The TNC business model enables high daily vehicle utilization rates and high occupancy rates (percentage of seats filled) compared with personal vehicle ownership and operation,” said Taylor and Matute in their winning proposal. In addition, they indicated that the high rate of utilization rates will help zero-emission vehicle owners to “amortize the higher initial cost over a greater number of annual operating hours,” thus providing quicker returns on their investment.

Taylor, a professor of Urban Planning, is director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and director of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at Luskin. Matute serves as associate director of the Lewis Center and ITS. DeShazo’s winning proposal will assess whether creating a unified water market, or “OneWater,” as he calls it, out of the current fragmented system of more than 200 community water systems in Los Angeles, is a real possibility. DeShazo is director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and is a professor of Public Policy, Urban Planning, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA.

“A regional water market could enable those systems with underutilized water resources to develop and supply water to systems facing higher costs, poor quality and unreliable supplies,” said DeShazo. “This opportunity to trade water expands the lower-costs supply options available to higher-costs systems, thus reducing regional inequality,” he said.

DeShazo pointed out that each system in the county’s fragmented market varies in numerous ways such as access to groundwater and aquifer storage, storm water capture, direct and indirect water re-use as well each of the current system’s potential for conservation. The proposal also calls for the creation of an advisory panel for a joint powers authority that would manage the OneWater market.

“The only way that all water systems in L.A. County can achieve 100 percent local water is if a system that enables the trading of water among systems is created,” noted DeShazo. “Trading would create a revenue stream that attracts new investment in blue infrastructure.”

Lederman’s proposed project is titled, “From Great Idea to Sustainable Outcomes: traversing political roadblocks of local participation in regional environmental initiatives.” Serving as her faculty mentor is Martin Wachs, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning. The fellowship award was made possible through a generous gift from Norman J. Powell.

The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is currently engaged with more than 150 UCLA faculty and researchers from more than 70 campus departments who are seeking ways to improve the quality of life as population growth and climate change affect the Los Angeles area.

Read the complete story on the UCLA Newsroom website.

Students Join Movers & Shakers at TRB Conference

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin student writer

A group of Urban Planning students looking to expand their knowledge and professional connections in the transportation world made the trip to the 93rd annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington D.C., earlier this month.

The TRB annual meeting is a massive event, with around 12,000 participants and 800 different sessions spanning the width and breadth of transportation studies each year. Attending this event offered the UCLA Luskin students an opportunity to meet a mix of professionals and academics working on issues and projects similar to their own.

One student presenter, Jaimee Lederman, recalled, “This conference really gave me the chance to talk to people I normally couldn’t gain access to. For example, I had problems getting data from people in the insurance industry because they are not easy to contact, but there was a woman there who happened to be the head of an insurance company.”

Fellow student Kelcie Ralph agreed that the networking opportunities at the program are invaluable: “My first year, I tried to go to as many sessions as possible and drilled myself into the ground just to see everything. This year, I scaled back and focused on networking. I had the opportunity to attend a women’s reception that became an amazing networking opportunity for me to meet other women in transportation.”

Four Urban Planning students — master’s student Timothy Black and doctoral students Trevor Thomas, Ralph and Lederman — each were invited to present and discuss their research in various panels and forums at the conference.

Thomas’ paper covered the topic of post-welfare reform. “There are many travel surveys done for low-income people, single parents and children under welfare reform, but none of these data has been analyzed on the national level,” Thomas explained. “After looking at travel surveys from 1995 and 2009, we found a big change in vehicle access for poor single parents — more so than for any other demographic — that reflected in distance and their speed of income.”

Black conducted his research on the effectiveness and application of methods of measurement in urban planning. “With each metric, we were looking at different ways it could be applied, along with its background and development,” he explained. “By applying different metrics to streets of Santa Monica, we can find the best ways of measuring each street for bicycles and pedestrians.”

Ralph presented both a lecture and a poster. Her paper analyzed the relationship between women’s household labor and their use of automobiles. “Men & women divide household labor, but even women who work more than their husbands do significantly more housework than their partners,” she said. “That means that they need an automobile to make these trips, so I am looking at how these two topics are connected to each other.”

For her poster, Ralph examined how participation in after-school activities can be influenced by teens’ access to an automobile. “I think the goal of transportation, at the end of the day, is to connect people to opportunities and further social equality,” said Ralph.

Lederman also focused her research on two different topics within the legal realms of transportation and technology. The first covered transportation and ecology, specifically “streamlining transportation delivery of endangered species through large-scale collaborative planning,” she said.

Her second research topic concerned liability for emerging transportation systems and technologies. “With the new integration of automated driving technology in cars, there is an uncertain legal landscape,” she said. “People are so focused on the ultimate endgame, the automatic car, but we first have to slow down and look at how legal liabilities will affect technological development in this area.”

Though the conference is promoted throughout the Urban Planning department as one of the biggest transportation events of the year, the high cost of attending often prevents students from presenting their research in person and receiving feedback from some of the top professionals in the industry. These four students were able to attend thanks to a generous scholarship from alumnus Larry Sauve MA UP ’78  in order to cover their travel costs to the conference.

Sauve first experienced the conference as a working professional at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Once he realized the range of opportunities this conference could provide to students, Sauve offered to cover the travel expenses of four UCLA Luskin Urban Planning students who were invited to present their research each year.

“I felt that money should not hold you back” from this professional opportunity, Sauve said. “I didn’t get a chance to go to TRB until I was actually working, but if I had the chance as a student it would have made me even more enthusiastic about going into my career in transportation.”

“The scholarship was very helpful because people [at the conference] asked specific questions about the research,” Black explained. “It provided me the chance to be there to answer questions in detail about my own research.”

The four students will present their research again at a conference at UCLA Luskin on February 12, 2014.