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Latest Issue Of ACCESS Magazine Now Available Fall ACCESS Magazine Looks at Travel Behavior, Transit Oriented Development

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If car drivers knew more about the impacts of their travel decisions, would they modify them, hop on a bike or skip a trip? Does developing housing near rail stations (Transit Oriented Development) change travel habits or decrease car ownership? And, how can groups with opposing political views find common ground and move forward?

These questions and more are the subject matter of the Fall issue of ACCESS Magazine, edited by Donald Shoup, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, Emeritus, at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Fall 2015 Contents:

Quantified Traveler: Travel Feedback Meets the Cloud to Change Behavior

Raja Sengupta and Joan L. Walker

Most people are aware that car emissions harm the environment, but they continue to drive anyway.  What would it take for people to drive less and use other means of travel more? Authors Sengupta and Walker try to get people to walk, bike, and take transit more through the use of a new program, Quantified Traveler. With this program, respondents were able to track their travel behavior and compare it with their peers and the national average. The newfound awareness of individual habits, especially in comparison to others, lead to driving distances dropping and respondents showing an actual change in their attitude towards travel.

Unraveling the Modal Impacts of Bikesharing

Susan Shaheen and Elliot Martin

You’ve probably seen them in most major cities: bikes readily available for checkout, used by commuters and tourists alike.  But how are bikesharing programs influencing other forms of travel?  Are you more likely to take the bus if you also share a bike? Shaheen and Martin surveyed bikesharers in four major cities to see how their travel behavior changed over the course of time. They discovered that, aside from biking more, bikesharers also drive less and own fewer vehicles.  In addition, bikesharing serves as an important first- and last-mile connector for public transit.

Does Transit-Oriented Development Need the Transit?

Daniel G. Chatman

Developing housing near rail stations is expensive, but it’s supposed to encourage people to walk, bike, and take transit. Does it? Chatman explores the effect of rail on people’s travel habits.  When all other factors were considered (bus access, job and population density, and housing type, etc.), rail access had no effect on auto ownership. What did have an effect? Parking availability.

Life-Cycle Impacts of Transit-Oriented Development

Matthew J. Nahlik and Mikhail Chester

There is little research on the impact of TODs on the environment and household costs. There is even less research on the impacts of building TODs.  For that reason, Nahlik and Chester developed an assessment to measure these impacts. The authors evaluated redevelopment around LA Metro’s Gold and Orange lines, including emissions from the rehabilitation of nearby buildings, changes in household energy use, and reductions in automobile use as households shift to alternate travel modes. The result was that proposed developments could reduce GHG emissions by over 35 percent compared with business-as-usual developments. The upfront costs to construct these TODs would be offset by emission reductions over time from residents who are able to change their behaviors and break away from car-dependent habits.

Changing Lanes

Joseph F. DiMento and Cliff Ellis

After World War II, states were provided with a 90 percent federal match for the construction of freeways meant to penetrate urban cores, clear out slums, and renew central business districts. By the late 1960s, however, this love affair with the freeway ended as citizen protests forced public officials to reassess the effects of their intruding highways. “Changing Lanes,” based on the book by the same name, explores the controversy, racism, and the legal battles associated with some of these urban highways. As several cities plan on demolishing their urban highways for other creative developments, DiMento and Ellis examine possible opportunities for them, including a chance for more public transit.

THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Common Ground

Karen Trapenberg Frick

We’ve all been in an argument where neither side seems to be listening to the other.  We start trying to “win” instead of figuring out a solution that works.  This is even truer when dealing with people who ideologically opposed to our own views. So how do we move forward?  Especially when the political process is involved?

Karen Trapenberg Frick emphasizes the importance of finding any areas of common ground in order to move forward. In the course of the author’s political planning research, there were always areas where both sides of an argument could agree.  Whether it was electric vehicles not paying their fair share of transportation costs, or questioning the wisdom of running costly rail lines in low-density areas, there was always a common ground to be found if participants considered their opponents as legitimate adversaries rather than as enemies unworthy of engagement.

For more information about ACCESS and to view the Fall Edition please visit: www.accessmagazine.org

ACCESS Magazine is published by the University California Center on Economic Competitiveness in Transportation (UCONNECT), and is housed at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Institute of Transportation Studies.

New Report Calls for More Consistent Policies for Mobile App Transportation and Taxi Services

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WASHINGTON – Innovative transportation services such as car sharing, bike sharing, and transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft are changing mobility for millions of people, yet regulation of these services often varies greatly across geographic areas and industry segments.  Policymakers and regulators should formulate consistent policies that encourage competition among new and traditional transportation services — such as taxis and limousines — in order to improve mobility, safety, and sustainability, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

California was the first state to establish statewide regulations for transportation network companies and as such UC researchers played a large role in the report. The report was authored by a diverse group of academics and practitioners, including Brian Taylor, director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. Taylor served as chair of the committee. Other notable members of the committee include Michael Manville, Cornell University and Jennifer Dill, Portland State University, both of whom are alumni of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The availability of on-demand transportation services through smartphone apps is increasing shared mobility. The growth in these services follows and amplifies a recent rebound in taxi and public transit use. As of June 2015, Uber provided more than 1 million rides daily worldwide, while Lyft operated in 60 U.S. cities with more than 100,000 drivers.

The rapidly expanding services provided by TNCs, however, raise policy and regulatory challenges with regard to passenger and driver security, public safety, insurance requirements, employment and labor issues, and accessibility and equity. Current regulation of taxis and other for-hire transportation varies considerably across and within jurisdictions, even when the services offered are similar. Most large cities with sizeable street-hail markets extensively regulate taxis, while smaller cities where dispatch service is the norm tend to have lighter regulation. This pattern raises public policy concerns when taxi regulation is more stringent than that of TNCs. Leveling the regulatory playing field requires a reassessment of existing regulations governing taxi, limousine, and TNC services to determine the minimum necessary to ensure quality service and allow effective competition.

“Smartphone applications and GPS data are making feasible transportation services that have never before been realized on a large scale, and these services have the potential to increase mobility while reducing congestion and emissions from surface transportation if regulated wisely to encourage concurrent ride sharing,” said Taylor, who is also a professor of urban planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. “A key hurdle for policymakers at all levels of government is to both promote and facilitate innovations that meet the public’s mobility needs while achieving greater policy consistency among these new services and between them and traditional taxi and limousine services.”

To address public safety concerns, regulations currently focus on background checks of drivers, vehicle inspections, and minimum standards for vehicle liability insurance. Procedures for driver background checks are based on common practice but their efficacy has not been rigorously evaluated; likewise, the safety benefits of viewing shared driver ratings and operator and vehicle images on mobile apps have not yet been well-documented. Therefore, regulators at the state and federal levels should evaluate these safety requirements for their effectiveness and cost, the report says.

Regulated taxis offer critical transportation for people with disabilities in many areas, and although TNCs have introduced pilot programs to provide such services, they do not currently provide wheelchair-accessible services on an extensive or reliable basis, the report says.  About 10 percent of the U.S. population has a physical limitation; 3.6 million people use a wheelchair and another 11.6 million use a cane, crutches, or a walker. A decline in taxi fleets due to the continued rapid rise in TNCs could decrease the availability of for-hire vehicles for a substantial number of these travelers unless the quantity of TNC services for those with disabilities expands.

Further, most shared mobility services require users to have a credit card on file with the provider and arrange the trip using a smartphone. However, roughly 8 percent of U.S. households lack bank accounts that allow them to have credit cards, and 50 percent of adults earning less than $30,000 and 73 percent of adults over age 65 do not own smartphones. The committee concluded that local officials should ensure that the mobility needs of low-income, older and disabled riders are met as these new services expand and evolve.

In addition, policymakers and regulators should examine the pros and cons of alternative employment classifications of both TNC and taxi drivers. While new mobility services offer expanded opportunities for flexible, part-time employment for students or those seeking transitional income between careers, TNC drivers and most taxi drivers are classified by their companies as independent contractors, which limits their access to benefits tied to employment. This lack of benefits raises policy issues concerning employer-provided health care, workers’ compensation for injuries, and vacation and sick leave for those for whom such work is their sole source of income.

Policymakers and regulators should also consider whether traditional for-hire and shared mobility services are best monitored and regulated at the state, regional, or local level on the basis of market and service characteristics and regulatory capabilities. In addition, transportation planning bodies should develop methods for incorporating shared mobility into transportation planning initiatives and promote collaboration between public- and private-sector transportation providers.

Other UC researchers contributing to the report were Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley and Daniel Sperling of UC Davis. Sperling is chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which initiated and funded the study.

The study was sponsored by the TRB, a program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.  For more information, visit www.nationalacademies.org.