News or Opinion: You Decide
- Why the return to the office isn’t working — This is a fundamental problem, especially between organisations. When in the office I am Zooming with people across the hall because the third person isn’t showing up. Students in Sydney are attending the Zoom version of Hybrid/Flexible (Hyflex) classes rather than attending in person as they are supposed to. This is a problem for teaching in that many good in-person class activities don’t work if critical mass is not attained. The stable Nash equilibrium without a mandate/subsidy for going to the office or school is that nearly everyone works or studies from home. This is reinforced by our general acceptance of covid and flu as a normal part of life, (rather than trying for elimination), but with “the out” that no one mustphysically attend anything, so it becomes the universal excuse for WFH (available both to people with and without illness, as no one can prove anything).
- Nick Blook of WFH Research tweeted:
Nick Bloom @I_Am_NickBloom Returning all WFH employees to the office 5-days-a week looks almost impossible – Firms pushing 5 day returns see <50% compliance – Firms pushing 4 days or less see >80% compliance Firms should aim for something moderate and succeed, rather than aim for a 5-day return and fail
June 8th 2022 61 Retweets 146 Likes
- In the bucket of “infrastructure costs too much”, an example:
- Aboriginal flag to fly permanently atop Harbour Bridge by end of year. The new flagpole is budgeted for $25,000,000. Wait, what?
- “Total cost of the [Sydney Harbour] bridge was AU£6.25 million which is a sum that was not paid off until 1988” built in 1932, but still, less than the cost of a flagpole …
- Dominic Perrottet doesn’t know why it costs $25m to install Aboriginal flag on Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Man who built the largest flagpole in Australia says he could install the Aboriginal Flag for under $10 million
- Secret plans to sell, rezone and develop land across Sydney railways – This is generally excellent policy. It would raise money for the public to pay down the debt, build new homes to address affordability, and put homes in the places where they are best suited, adjacent to high accessibility train stations. The only problem here is that the plans are secret instead of shouted from the rooftops. Why might it have been secret:
- Hypothesis 0: It would not be illogical to conclude the NSW government secrecy is because someone is covering something up (perhaps this for some reason), and has to keep nearly everything secret so you don’t know what it is which is being hidden. The intent is to keep it secret forever, rating the plans “commercial-in-confidence” or “cabinet-in-confidence”.
- Hypothesis 1: it accidentally leaked early (someone left their briefcase in a bar frequented by SMH employees), but they just wanted to withhold it for a later media splash.
- Hypothesis 2: they want to do this but think it would be unpopular, so had hoped to release it in the quietist possible way (on a Friday afternoon).
- Hypothesis 3: this is a trial balloon, they want to see who is in favour before officially releasing.
- Hypothesis 4: disgruntled employee or contractor leaked the plans to embarrass their employer.
- The government added new toll roads – now it uses taxpayer money to help drivers afford them. So the government privatises roads so private capital [TransUrban, largely owned by private superannuation (pension) funds] can finance them, and be repaid by tolls, but then the very same government (no change of parties) subsidises drivers to use them. A government running a deficit, in a period when fuel prices are soaring and driving ought to be discouraged should instead price non-motorways, so people who can switch to the relatively under-utilised tolled motorways.
- New Report: The College Enrollment Decline Worsened This Spring. With low unemployment, the relative benefits of a university education decline, and I would bet international demand is a large part of this. The name-brand schools will do fine, even if they have to lower their standards some, but the weaker schools are in real trouble.
- Ride-hail prices have increased 40% in 3 years. One has to assume demand will drop. [From Ali Griswold’s Oversharing Substack]
- It’s Winter in Australia, which means it’s cold (not Minnesota cold, but cold enough given the walls are made of paper.) This means people are using heat. Thus it’s time for brinksmanship on the part of the energy companies in gaming a power system that fixes rates to consumers but partially deregulates the charges by suppliers. Few lessons were learned from California. Leading us to the “We can’t keep the lights on Department”:
- Cutting in line. Any excuse will do.
- Rooftop Parks – Networked over multiple rooftops.
- Could flat tyres soon be a thing of the past? – I have always wondered why we use inflatable tires rather than rigid wheels.
- The Curious Strength of a Sea Sponge’s Glass Skeleton – New shapes are yet to be discovered.
- Migrants: Some due for removal from the UK could be electronically tagged. The native Celtic Britons and Picts should expel the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (and Danes and Normans, of course).
In Australian English, perfectly functional, but needlessly long words are often shortened or replaced. A mail carrier is a postie, an electrician is a sparky, trash collectors are garbos, the relatives are relos, and so on. I am not clear on the rule about why a particular shortened word takes the “-ie” (or -”y”) or “-o” ending. A presentation is a prezo. (Arguably it might be a prezzie, but that is a piece of software. The zed might be an s.) The following are some upcoming prezos. July 2 I will be at an online Public forum: Traffic signals and how small improvements can make walking a whole lot faster and better.ABOUT: Prof David Levinson, founding president of WalkSydney and Professor of Transport Engineering at the University of Sydney gives a fascinating speech about traffic signals. In Sydney, traffic signals give priority to motor vehicles over pedestrians. This inequality undermines many of the stated goals of transport, health, and environmental policy.
- DATE: Saturday 2 July 2022 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (UTC+10)
- LOCATION: Online event access details will be provided by the event organiser to registered participants.
July 5 and 6 I will be giving virtual guest lectures at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu.
July 7 I will be presenting in person at the UDIA NSW Young Leaders Committee.
July 22 I will be presenting in person at the AITPM National Conference in the session: Planning for future-focused cities using a variety of data and modelling techniques
Sept 14 I will be presenting in person at: Reducing Australia’s Transport Emissions, Sydney 14th September 2022: Exploring evidence based solutions to reduce Australia’s fastest growing source of emissions
Maybe I will see you there.
- Wang, Haotian, Emily Moylan, and David M. Levinson. 2022. “Prediction of the Deviation between Alternative Routes and Actual Trajectories for Bicyclists.” Findings, June. https://doi.org/10.32866/001c.35701.
ABSTRACT: This study estimates a panel regression model to predict bicyclist route choice. Using GPS trajectories of 600 trips from 49 participants in spring 2006 in Minneapolis, we calculate deviation, the average distance between alternative routes and actual trajectories, as the dependent variable. Trip attributes, including trip length, Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT), the number of traffic lights per kilometer, and the percentage of bike trails and separated bike lane, are included as independent variables. F-tests indicate that both fixed entity and time effect panel regression models offer better fits that the intercept only model. According to our results, routes with shorter length and higher share of bike trails tend to have less deviation in their trajectories. Traffic lights per km, VKT, and share of bike lane are not significant at 95% confidence level in this data set.
- Loyola Borja, Miguel, Nelson, J., Clifton, G., and Levinson, D. (2022) The relation of visual perception of speed limits and the implementation of cycle lanes – a cross-country comparison. Accident Analysis and Prevention. Volume 174, September 2022, 106722. [doi]
ABSTRACT: Speed plays a key role in road safety research. Recent studies have indicated an association between speed limits and driving behaviour. However, less attention has been paid to the role of context in the perception of speed limits, and the way cycle lanes influence this perception. This study examines how respondents in different countries of residence perceive speed limits, and how cycle lanes influence their perception of speed limits. An online survey provided quantitative data for a cross-country comparison from 1591 respondents in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The findings show that country of residence influences the way speed limits are perceived, and cycle lanes are interpreted distinctly. In locations where cycle lanes are common, they act as indicators of either lower or higher speed limits, while in countries with less familiarity with cycle lanes respondents associate cycle lanes only with lower speed limits. Suggesting a safer and broader understanding of cycle lanes where they are familiar (the Netherlands) and a narrower understanding where cycle lanes are not common (Australia and the United Kingdom), this study provides evidence for policymakers explaining resistance to implementing cycle lanes and implies that implementing lower speed limits and cycle lanes are a road safety measure. Suggestions are identified for future research.
Research by Others
- Researchers Achieve ‘Absurdly Fast’ Algorithm for Network Flow: Computer scientists can now solve a decades-old problem in practically the time it takes to write it down. [It replaces the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm]
- Shocking drivers with road-death statistics leads to more crashes
- Nagurney, Anna, and Alireza Ermagun. 2022. “Resilience of Supply Chain Networks to Labor Disruptions.” Findings, June. https://doi.org/10.32866/001c.36315.
I continue to enjoy reading your newsletter, which has some great insights. I liked your recent article on tradeoffs (“Towards Zero”). However, I thought you might be interested to know that in this particular case your terminology use — equating CBA with “business case” (highlighted below) — is different from the UK and US uses of the business case concept.The UK’s transport appraisal guidance on business case analysis positions it as something separate from CBA — as a qualitative process to cover broader, strategic considerations beyond what is covered in CBA (covering things like equity, distribution and place-based impacts). And recent work in the US by APTA and AASHTO committees has extended the UK view of business case to quantitative analysis, by defining a concept of “business case ROI” that monetizes the broader strategic business case factors using implied willingness to pay. I think you might be interested to read about the latter (as I worked on it). Here are two links to it.
New High-Performance Rail ROI Report – American Public Transportation AssociationAASHTO, APTA Issue High Speed Rail Investment Guide – AASHTO Journal
More on Sydney Trains.
- Industrial Action continues, but may be drawing to a close. The government has given into a key union demand about retrofits of new trains.