Debunking the urban revival

David King debunks @ Getting from here to there: : Some Thoughts on City v. Suburban Growth:

Lots of media outlets are picking up the story first reported in the Wall Street Journal that cities are growing faster than suburbs. See herehere, and here for samples. A few things about these data that suggest we should interpret the results with caution. First, these are growth rates, not absolute numbers. Because central cities make up a minority share of regional population most population growth–by a lot–is happening in the suburbs. Consider Atlanta, the second faster growing city compared with its suburbs according to the chart at top. Atlanta has 432,427 people as of July 2011 and grew at 2.4%. The suburbs have 4,926,778 in July 2011 and grew at 1.3%. Here is the data source. This means that the metro growth was 74,426 for the year, 10,378 settled in Atlanta and 64,048 settled in the suburbs. In percentage terms, 14% of the growth happened in the central city and 86% happened in the suburbs. That doesn’t suggest a sea change in attitude

I agree with David, it would be nice if it were true, but the evidence is not there.

Linklist: June 29, 2012


My research into Schoolhouse Rock made it onto today’s POLITICO Morning Transportation

Congress passed the transportation bill with all deliberate speed, a mere 1003 days late. Somehow this is symbolic of our transportation dysfunctions. “MAP-21 will modernize and reform our current transportation system to help create jobs, accelerate economic recovery, and build the foundation for long-term prosperity.” This one will expire in 730 days, I am told. In short, everyone hates it.

STREET: Where simulation meets reality | Cultivating Change in the Academy


Recently published:
Huang, Arthur and David Levinson (2012) STREET: Where simulation meets reality Cultivating Change in the Academy (eds. Duin, Ann Hill et al.)

Simulations and games are receiving increasing attention in teaching in higher education. In this context, we developed a series of simulation modules (STREET) in transportation engineering education and applied them in teaching undergraduate and graduate transportation courses at the University of Minnesota. After several years, we contend that they represent an effective pedagogical tool in transportation education. In this chapter we describe our motivation for this work, the program’s development process, dissemination and impacts, and our future work.

Americans support gas taxes for roads.

Asha Weinstein Agrawal: What Do Americans Think About Federal Tax Options to Support Public Transit, Highways, and Local Streets and Roads? Results from Year 3 of a National Survey :

“The survey results show that a majority of Americans would support higher taxes for transportation—under certain conditions. For example, a gas tax increase of 10¢ per gallon to improve road maintenance was supported by 58 percent of respondents, whereas support levels dropped to just 20 percent if the revenues were to be used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system. For tax options where the revenues were to be spent for undefined transportation purposes, support levels varied considerably by what kind of tax would be imposed, with a sales tax much more popular than either a gas tax increase or a new mileage tax.

Linklist: June 27, 2012

Time: Physics of the Love Parade Stampede Dirk Helbing on the stampede.

AT sends me to OpenPlans: Visualizing urban accessibility with OpenTripPlanner Analyst [These are what we call mobility maps, but are nice nonetheless, see .]

Alexis Madrigal @ The Atlantic: The Mechanics and Meaning of That Ol’ Dial-Up Modem Sound

[I well remember the mating calls of modems in love from my days working at Hayes Microcomputer Products, when 2400 baud was high speed.]

I am just a Bill on Capitol Hill

I rewatched Schoolhouse Rock with my kids last night. I had not realized that the Bill, sitting on Capitol Hill, was in fact a bill to make school buses stop at railroad crossings. I don’t know if this is an actual federal law, or there is some federal monetary incentive to ensure states pass such laws, (Spoilers: in the cartoon, it is in the end passed), but it is a state law almost everywhere.

Fewer travelers take off from MSP

Adam Belz @ StarTribune interviewed me about: Fewer travelers take off from MSP :

USDomesticEnplanements“Air travel was hurt by the April spike in fuel prices, said David Levinson, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies.
‘The price of fuel is certainly very volatile, and that doesn’t necessarily say something about the broader economy,’ Levinson said. ‘The sensitivity of enplanements is in part due to the airfares that are charged.'”

Domestic aviation is another sector that has matured and is likely near if not at peak. MSP’s position is not helped by the Delta near-monopoly in lots of markets, but at least we have a hub and direct flights.

Where’s the logic of construction season?

I got interviewed by Rupa Shenoy of Minnesota Public Radio a few weeks ago:

Where’s the logic of construction season?:

“There are those who ask if all of this is necessary. David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota who has worked with MnDOT, points out that once a road is closed it is cheaper to perform as many repairs as possible. On the I-94 project, MnDOT did not just increase capacity, it used the opportunity to upgrade the drainage system even though it might not have been at the point where it was absolutely needed.
‘The question is: are our standards too high,’ Levinson said. ‘We demand that lanes be certain widths and we demand that pavements be certain thicknesses and drainage be certain ways — which are really all nice things to have, but are also costly.
‘And the cost is not just the money spent but the delay and people who suffer through the construction process.'”