The 30-minute city: Small decisions for big gains

This article is adapted from the book The 30-Minute City: Designing for access, and is about those small local decisions that are often overlooked as planners and engineers focus on major infrastructure policies and programs.

Cities are organised so that many people reach one another in a short amount of time. Residents reach other people, places, goods, and services on foot, or by bike, bus, train, ferry, or car. People don’t need planes or very fast trains to travel between places within a city, even though planes and very fast trains are faster than walking, bikes, buses, trains, ferries and cars. Cities optimise what people can reach in a given amount of time, in the face of modest speeds.

We see this when we compare the average speed of travel inside Sydney — about 30 km/h by car after considering traffic signals and congestion — versus the 100 km/h that they can travel on rural highways. Rational people pay dearly to live in Sydney or Melbourne compared to rural Australia. This is not a criticism of Sydney or Melbourne. Despite their extreme congestion the access these and other great cities provide, and the value of that access, is what makes cities great.

Accessibility measures how many potential destinations (jobs, workers, stores, doctors, etc.) someone can reach from a particular point in a given travel time (say 30 minutes) by a particular mode at a certain time of day. The cumulative opportunities measure of accessibility is like the meter or kilogram in the metric system, it means the same thing regardless of where you are. We can talk to a politician and show her how many jobs can be reached from a location in 30-minutes by transit at 8:00 a.m., and we can compare that number with any other point, where the accessibility may be higher or lower. We can compare Los Angeles and San Francisco, or compare Los Angeles in 2019 with Los Angeles in 1973.

In Australia, the ’30-minute city’ has been adopted by the Greater Sydney Commission, the planning agency for the Sydney region, as a centrepiece of its 40-year plan. The aim is that residents of Sydney can reach one of three important regional centres in less than a half-hour by walking, biking, or public transport. Doing so requires the thoughtful application of knowledge at hand, using modes of transport technology that have been around for more than a century. This includes wise choices about big investments in subways or elevated highways, and intelligently making small decisions about streets, intersections, and transit stops.

Not everyone works, or needs to get to or from work in a half hour. Different places have proposed 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-minute neighbourhoods as well. For instance, the ‘pint-of-milk test’ (in New Zealand, the beverage in question isn’t milk) asks whether you can purchase a pint of milk within a 10-minute walk of your home; and a modified version of that test asks if can you do it at a place that doesn’t also sell petrol.

The related concept of a 20-minute neighbourhood is about ‘living locally’ by giving residents the opportunity to access all the services they need with a 20-minute round-trip walk, cycle, or public transport trip. While the 30-minute city tends to focus on work and includes travel by motorised vehicles, these other tests ask about life’s other activities and emphasise non-motorised travel. If you can walk to a pint of milk or the local hotel or pub within 10 minutes, and get to your major services within 30 minutes, you are doing better than the average 62-minute trip now experienced by public transport-riding Sydneysiders.

Access and time

One way to examine accessibility is to measure how much additional accessibility some project or new service will provide. Another way is to examine how much accessibility is lost because an improvement has not been made.

Prospect Theory teaches that we feel losses more significantly than gains. So, for example, if destinations reachable in 30-minutes is considered to be 100 percent of accessibility, if you lose 10 minutes of time out of that 30 minutes (because of delay or circuitous routes arising from poor system design), you lose more than half of your accessibility.

That loss is so large because accessibility increases as a non-linear function of time. The area of the accessibility ring from 20 to 30 minutes (blue in Figure 1) is much larger than from 0 to 10 minutes (green), or 10 to 20 minutes (red). If we lose five minutes, we lose 30 percent of our accessibility, as shown in Figure 2. Every second counts.

Even if a policy or design sacrifices only 30 seconds, this extra delay costs people not only their travel time, but a sacrifices opportunities they could have reached within that travel time.

Figure 2: Estimate of % accessibility loss per minute of excess travel time

In busy and crowded cities decisions are made routinely about features of neighborhood streets and transit stops. These might appear to engineers and planners to influence the quality of life in the nearby community. The accessibility framework shows us that they also change our ability to benefit from more distant opportunities by enhancing or reducing access to the entire region. I demonstrate this by presenting three rather different examples of apparently modest urban design and traffic engineering decisions that affected regional accessibility.

The following sections address accessibility changes resulting from the placement of exits at a transit station in Sydney, the design of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in Minneapolis, and the timing of traffic signals at almost any urban location. While quite different from one another, each illustrates an apparently local decision that turns out to be surprisingly important to people who want to access the entire community.

Access to train platforms

Sydney’s 813 km commuter train system is one of the best in the world, providing high frequency service from many suburbs to central Sydney. However, 44 of 175 stations have entrances at only one end of the platform. A traveler wanting to board or alight the train from the other end of the platform has to walk parallel the station the full length of the platform, which given the length of trains, makes for a 2 minute walk. Figure 3 maps access to Erskineville station. Passenger catchment areas are drawn around the station in 5, 10, and 15 minute bands of walking time. In 2016, some 1,389 people live within a five-minute walk (about 400 metres) of the station platform.

Figure 3: Accessibility comparison of Erskineville station

A long history of research and common sense tell us that people who live near stations are more likely to use public transport than those living farther away. With the current configuration, many people live or work on the wrong end of the platform. The person unfortunate enough to be traveling between two stations both having gates on only one end of the platform averages an extra 3.25 minutes each way, due to the mismatch of their entry and exit locations with their origins and destinations, compared with the ideal case where everything is aligned conveniently.

Erskineville is among the most extreme cases in the Sydney Trains system; 5-minute accessibility to the platform by residents would increase by 89% if a southern entrance were added because there are relatively new, very large, apartment blocks near the southern end of the station. The number of people and jobs within 5-, 10-, and 15- minute walks of the station translates into riders, which translates into land value, which translates into real estate tax revenue. The increase in ridership resulting from an added entrance could produce sufficient revenue that it could pay for itself.

There also is an equity rationale for adding the additional entrance. Modern standards for providing access for the disabled require elevators to serve each platform. Elevator installation should be coordinated with additional entrances.

This kind of investment could be made for most of the other 43 stations with similarly lopsided configurations, for which there are not yet plans. And of course, this logic could be applied for similarly configured transit stations in other cities around the world. This is easily-picked low-hanging fruit to improve accessibility that can be done now.

Rapid bus

The Minneapolis – St. Paul A Line, which opened in 2016, is an arterial rapid bus line from suburban Rosedale, providing access to the Green Line and Blue lines of the light rail transit (LRT) system. The A Line is the first rapid bus line in a network planned by the Twin Cities region MetroTransit. Several of its features save a few seconds of time for each passenger at each stop.

  • Prepay: Passengers tap on before boarding the bus. This saves 1.5 – 6 seconds per boarding passenger vs. tapping or paying in cash and coins.
  • All-door boarding: Passengers can board at any door not just the front. This halves the boarding time.
  • Fewer stops: There is longer spacing between stops. Stop spacing increased from about 200 m to about 800 m. This results in less dwell time at stops and less acceleration-deceleration delay.

The faster turnaround results in higher frequency of service with the same number of buses and hours of driver time, so the service is more productive. It’s a win-win change for almost everybody, except for some people who have to walk longer distances to get to or from the nearest bus stops. Figure 4 maps the winners and losers in terms of accessibility, and clearly shows there is many more winners (green) than losers (yellow ). Overall this rapid bus configuration increased accessibility by 5 percent for people who live near the A Line. We could redesign bus networks in many cities to increase access to destinations.

The faster turnaround results in higher frequency of service with the same number of buses and hours of driver time, so the service is more productive. It’s a win-win change for almost everybody, except for some people who have to walk longer distances to get to or from the nearest bus stops. Figure 4 maps the winners and losers in terms of accessibility, and clearly shows there is many more winners (green) than losers (yellow ). Overall this rapid bus configuration increased accessibility by 5 percent for people who live near the A Line. We could redesign bus networks in many cities to increase access to destinations.

Figure 4: Change in number of jobs within 30 minutes by transit

Rethinking traffic signals

Everyone is familiar with traffic signals. They operate in phases, with green lights given to alternating directions (for instance north-south, then east-west). Traffic signal engineers don’t normally think about accessibility the way I present it here. They think about traffic signal time and vehicle delay.

A traveller in a car approaching a signal faces a cycle which comprises a red indicator, a green indicator, a yellow indicator, and perhaps an all-red period (during which signals are red in all directions). Imagine that a car arrives at this intersection when the light is red. It waits for the red light to change to green before it moves on. There’s a delay associated with that. If cars arrive randomly, the average stopping time is half the red time, and the probability of stopping is the likelihood of arriving when the light is red (the ratio of red time to the duration of the whole cycle).

Traffic engineers apply the same treatment to pedestrians, but the times differ because people on foot systematically get less green time than people in cars. It takes longer to walk across the street than to drive across, so pedestrians are assigned a longer ‘yellow’ period during which the flashing ‘don’t walk’ signal is displayed. Unless a walker arrives during the very brief walk signal window, they must wait. At a rather typical traffic signal, the light indicates ‘walk’ for as few as 6 seconds out of up to 2 minutes. Except for the lucky 5% of pedestrians who arrive during that brief 6 second window, they must wait an average of 57 seconds, and as long as 1 minute, 54 seconds. And that of course assumes the pedestrian actuator push button was depressed on time and registered by the traffic signal controller.

Another source of pedestrian delay is that ‘adaptive’ signals – which adjust green and red time in response to current traffic – give varying amounts of green time to approaching cars, depending on how many are approaching. Thus adaptive signals may extend a phase compared with a fixed time allocation. But pedestrian walk phases are not similarly extended because walkers cannot be guaranteed to clear the intersection quickly enough. There is an obvious inequity with this practice.

I have estimated that the delay experienced by pedestrians because of this is 27% of their time stopped at intersections. At 27% delay due to signals, a pedestrian can reach in 30 minutes what they could reach in 22 minutes if there were no traffic to worry about and no traffic signals to slow them down.

Traffic signals were installed for the benefit of people in cars, not people on foot. Pedestrianised districts don’t require traffic signals to ensure walkers don’t bump into each other. As traffic signals were steadily deployed over a century, they increasingly gave priority to cars and pedestrian conditions become significantly worse. I wrote earlier about accessibility loss. A pedestrian losing 27% of her time on a 30-minute walk is losing 8 minutes. This amounts to losing 45% of her accessibility because of waiting at traffic lights. She reaches only just over half as many opportunities as she would in a world without traffic signals, a world like 1920.

We encourage people to walk more and drive less, yet we design traffic signals to favor people in cars rather than on-foot. There are many things that could improve this situation, short of eliminating private car traffic from busy urban districts, which should also be on the table.

Pedestrian phases in places where there are many walkers could be automatic, without requiring the push of a button. Instead a pushed button could recall the cycle so the pedestrian phase comes sooner and the pedestrian walk signal is lit for a longer period of time.

Smart intersections could sense and count pedestrians automatically. New camera technologies are available but not widely deployed. We could also make much more effective use of the pedestrian actuators to estimate pedestrian flows.

Traffic signals could prioritise pedestrians to give them the maximum rather the minimal amount of green time necessary to cross the street.

We could give pedestrians a leading interval, meaning that the walk signal would be lit before cars get a green light to cross their path. This would increase the visibility of pedestrians because they would already be in the right-of-way before cars begin to move.

We could provide more “all pedestrian” phases. These are sometimes referred to as a “pedestrian scramble” or a “Barnes dance,” in honor of the New York City traffic commissioner who pioneered their use. The traffic signals could be set on “walk” by default, and only change to “don’t walk” when enough cars show up.

These are all things that we could do, but usually don’t. Instead we systematically design traffic signals to be hostile to people on foot throughout most of the United States and Australia.

Changes of these sorts in traffic signal timing would dramatically reduce accessibility loss for pedestrians. Since most transit trips require walking at the start and end of each trip they would make the larger city more accessible within thirty minutes by walking and transit. This would also expand transit ridership, but of course it might impose an accessibility loss on automobile travelers who would have to wait a bit longer at those intersections.

As we remake cities to reduce, if not eliminate, automobile dependency, making that tradeoff reduces the existing inequities that favor the movement of cars over pedestrians and cyclists. In addition to fairness, such a change would contribute to reductions in greenhouse gases, air pollution, crashes and other well-known “externalities” that are created by policies that prioritise cars over people.

Cities are made of places, not points

When developing plans for cities or intersections, planners often represent intersections, transit stops, and entire communities as dots on a map. Drawing lines to connect them with new roads, buses, or trains ignores important details. While large scale community plans are very important, we must recognise that, to achieve improved accessibility, the details hidden inside each dot matter.

A station is not a point — it’s a place that can be designed for efficiency and equity. An intersection is not a point – it is a space of flows that contains points where people going in different directions, using different travel modes, come into conflict with one another. Those flows and conflicts can be managed differently depending on our priorities and they should be a focus of policy.

We are blinded by regional plans that cause us to see places, small and large alike, as points. We are divided by the deep professional chasms within the transport community – traffic engineers and planners have similar objectives when it comes to safety and equity, but they often fail to communicate effectively with one another. Maps abstract away details, but the map is not the territory. We have ‘big thinkers’ who fail to consider the interaction of small places with their surrounding community, and ‘bounded thinkers’ who narrow the scope of work so much that they don’t think about the interaction of their place with the wider community.

Stations are designed so that passengers can exit, while ignoring what happens once they leave the station. The relationship between the station and the neighborhood around it can easily be neglected.

Bus networks are designed looking at how much of the map is within a measured distance of the stops, rather than how easily and how frequently they connect people to places.

Many of these misdesigns are not intentional and result from neglect, errors, or oversights. Designs that may have once been fit for the environment they served have not kept up with changes in the world around them. The goals of planners and engineers must change continuously to serve the people who live in the cities they create.

Planners, engineers, and — especially — politicians like to focus on building new things rather than repairing, restoring, and reshaping existing systems. Saving time is not pointless. Small amounts of time savings matter at bus stops, traffic signals, train stations, and everywhere else. Small time savings accumulate into large time savings, and increase the number of opportunities that can be reached in a given time budget. Reaching opportunities is why so many people live in cities in the first place.

This article is based on the 12th Annual Martin Wachs Distinguished Lecture in Transportation, given by the author at UCLA in May, 2019. A more extensive discussion appears in the book: The 30-Minute Version: Designing for Access. It is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 license.

FURTHER READING

Levinson, D. M., & Lahoorpoor, B. (2019). Catchment if you can: The effect of station entrance and exit locations on accessibility. TransportLab

Levinson, D. M., Marshall, W., & Axhausen, K. W. (2017). Elements of Access: Transport Planning for Engineers, Transport Engineering for Planners. Network Design Lab.

Noland, R. B. (1996). Pedestrian travel times and motor vehicle traffic signals. Transportation Research Record1553(1), 28-33.

Norton, P. D. (2011). Fighting traffic: the dawn of the motor age in the American city. MIT Press.

Wachs, M., & Kumagai, T. G. (1973). Physical accessibility as a social indicator. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences7(5), 437-456.

Walking and Talking: The Effect of Smartphone Use and Group Conversation on Pedestrian Speed

Recently published:

Walking speed, walking in group, and phone use
Walking speed, walking in group, and phone use

Distracted walking due to smartphone use is on the rise resulting in growing concern over pedestrian safety and well-being. Our study measured the walking speeds of pedestrian groups differentiated by their smartphone use in two different environments – a wide pedestrian bridge at a university, and a narrow footpath on a busy commercial street. The results show that groups of people, phone users, and often followers of phone users, walk significantly slower than solo walkers uninfluenced by phone. Especially on the narrow street, people in groups and phone users are seen to not only slow themselves down but also slow the people walking behind them.

Should Road Rules be Rewritten to Put Pedestrians First | 2SER

I was interviewed on 2SER radio last week on Weekend Breakfast about Should Road Rules be Rewritten to Put Pedestrians First.

Listen here (mp3).

Now, let’s face it most drivers on our roads choose to cheat the concept of ‘giving way when permitted’ to other vehicles at the best of times.

However, what happens when we’re talking about giving way to pedestrians in unmarked areas? What do our road rules say and what does the law state? We were joined by Professor David Levinson from the University of Sydney’s Transport Engineering School of Civil Engineering to give us his perspective on the issue.

TransportLab News: January 2020

Welcome to the inaugural issue of TransportLab News. This is the periodic newsletter describing what the University of Sydney’s TransportLab group has been up to. You can follow us at Twitter or LinkedIn, or on our Website.

Who are we

TransportLab is a group of transport researchers in the Faculties of Engineering and of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.

Academic Staff

Students

  • Amir Valadkhani
  • Hao Wu
  • Ye Li
  • Bahman Lahoorpoor
  • Ang Ji
  • Hema Sharanya
  • Sabal Sharma
  • Yadi Wang

Long-term Visitors (2019)

  • Valentin Beauvoir
  • Manman Li
  • Masaki Yuya
  • Xia Zhao

Long-term Visitors (2020)

  • Louise Aoustin
  • Jing Chen

TRB 2020

Several TransportLab members (Levinson, Moylan, Cui, Wu, Ji) will attend the Transportation Research Board Conference in Washington, DC. You may catch us at the following:

  • Australia Reception (6:30-9:30pm at Vapiano H St on Monday 13th). It’s for Australians working anywhere in transport, anyone working in Australia on transport, and anyone working with either of those groups.
Monday 01:30 PM-05:30 PM Marriott Marquis, Independence Salon C (M4)

Wu, Hao, El-Geneidy, Ahmed, Stewart, Anson, Murphy, Brendan, Boisjoly, Genevieve, Niedzielski, Michał , Pereira, Rafael H.M., and Levinson, D. (2020) Access Across the Globe: Towards an International Comparison of Cumulative Opportunities	

International Cooperation Committee A0010	

Tuesday 08:00 AM-09:45 AM Marriott Marquis, Pentagon (M4)	

David Levinson, University of Sydney, presiding
Public Transportation, Planning and Forecasting	Transport Accessibility Manual Working Group AP050	

Tuesday 08:00 AM-09:45 AM Convention Center, 147B	

Lahoorpoor, Bahman and Levinson, D. (2020) Catchment if you can: The effect of station entrance and exit locations on accessibility. Journal of Transport Geography. 82, 102556 

Event 1397 Designed to Attract: Transit Access and Inclusion AP045

Tuesday 08:00 AM-09:45 AM Convention Center, Hall A Poster-board Location Number: A106	

Davis, Blake, Ji, Ang,  Liu, Bichen, and Levinson, D. (2020) Moving Array Traffic Probes.	

Event 1408 Advances in Traffic Monitoring ABJ35

Tuesday 01:30 PM- 03:15 PM Convention Center, 146B	

Cui, Mengying and Levinson, D. (2019) Primal and Dual Access. Geographical Analysis.  

Event 1519 Transportation Accessibility Planning ADB50

Tuesday 06:00 PM- 07:30 PM Convention Center, Hall A Poster-board Location Number: A111, A112, A113

Wu, Hao, Somwrita Sarkar, and Levinson, D. (2019) How Transit Scaling Shapes Cities. Nature Sustainability doi:10.1038/s41893-019-0427-7

Cui, Mengying and Levinson, D. (2019) Measuring Full Cost Accessibility by Auto. Journal of Transport and Land Use. 12(1) 649-672.

Rayaprolu, Hema and Levinson, D. (2020) What’s Access Worth? A Hedonic Pricing Approach to Valuing Cities.

Event 1653
Poster Session on Transportation and Land Development ADD30

Tuesday 06:00 PM-07:30 PM Convention Center, Hall APoster-board Location Number: B344	

Ji, Ang and Levinson, D. (2020) A Review of Game Theory Models of Lane Changing.	

Event 1656 Traffic Flow Theory and Characteristics, Part 3 (Part 1, Session 1654; Part 2, Session 1655; Part 4, Session 1760; Part 5, Session 1761) AHB45

Wednesday 08:00 AM-09:45 AM Convention Center, Hall A Poster-board Location Number: A138	

Cui, Mengying, and Levinson, D. (2020) Shortest paths, travel costs, and traffic.	

Event 1688 Travel Behavior Mega Poster Session ADB10

Wednesday
08:00 AM-09:45 AM Convention Center, Hall A Poster-board Location Number: B390	

Zhao, Xia, Cui, Mengying, and Levinson, D. (2020) Temporal Variations in Daily Activity Networks Using Smartcard Data	

Event 1694 Public Transportation Demand: Explorations of Traveler Response and Traveler Characteristics AP025

Wednesday 10:15 AM- 12:00 PM Convention Center, Hall A	

Valentin Beauvoir, Emily Moylan (2020) Bike Share System Reliability: The Distribution of Delay Caused by Bike Unavailability 20-05298	

Event 1736 Micromobility Poster Session: Planning, Policy, and User Behavior for Shared Bikes and Scooters

Wednesday 02:30 PM- 04:00 PM Convention Center, 150B	

Lahoorpoor, Bahman and Levinson, D. (2020) Trains, trams, and terraces: population growth and network expansion in Sydney: 1861-1931.	

Event 1740 Research in Urban Transportation History: From Sydney Trams to Los Angeles Ballot Box Planning to Canadian Street Cars ABG50

Wednesday 02:30 PM- 04:00 PM Convention Center, Hall A Poster-board Location Number: A114

Lahoorpoor, Bahman and Levinson, D.  (2020) The Transit Travel Time Machine: Comparing Three Different Tools for Travel Time Estimation.	

Event 1740 Road Scholars: New Research in Travel Time, Speed, and Reliability Data

Teach

In 2020 we launch the new, interdisciplinary Master of Transport, co-taught with ITLS in the Business School, Architecture, Design, and Planning, and Civil Engineering.

The Civil Engineering group also delivers the

We supervise PhD students as well.

Engage

Co-Sponsored Events

Popular Publications

We have published several articles in The Conversation this past year:

and in Foreground:

Journals

TransportLab sponsors the peer-reviewed, open access journal Transport Findings. The journal is unique in that it aims to publish short-form research

Seminars

TransportLab sponsors the Transport Practice Seminar at the University of Sydney for our staff and students.

  • Stephen Greaves, ITLS
  • Rachel Kohan, Arup
  • Graham McCabe, Urbis
  • Tom Van Vuren, Mott MacDonald
  • Kasun Wijayaratna, UTS

Discover

Books

Papers

Reports

Grants

  • Kent, Parenting and the Private Car, Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)
  • Marks, Guillard, Moylan & Ramezani (2019) Cities of the Future: Augmented Reality City. Sponsored by University of Sydney Teaching Innovation Grant
  • Moylan, Wijayaratna, Jian, Saberi and Waller (2019) Moving Towards Network-wide Travel Time Reliability Measurement. Sponsored by TfNSW.
  • Moylan (2020) Reducing Hypothetical Bias in the Valuation of Reliability Associated with Rare Events. Sponsored by University of Sydney Faculty of Engineering
  • Ramezani, Levinson, Bliemer. Opportunities to Build Capability in Traffic Management (with ARRB) Austroads
  • Ramezani. NSW Premier’s Innovation Initiative 2019 Sponsor: DATA61, CSIRO
  • Sarkar, Levinson, Moylan et al (2019) New housing supply, population growth, and access to social infrastructure. Sponsored by AHURI

Attended Events

TransportLab Members and Students attended the following conferences in 2019

  • TRB Jan 2019
  • WCTR May 2019
  • TRISTAN June 2019
  • CICTP/COTA July 2019
  • AITPM July 2019
  • ICMC Aug 2019
  • ATRF Oct 2019
  • Transport Knowledge Conference, Wellington Nov 2019
  • TRANSW Dec 2019

Note

Many of you are also subscribed to the Transportist Newsletter, which this replaces this month, as David only has so much time. They are two independent mailing lists, so subscribing (or unsubscribing) to one does not affect the other.

Temporal Variations in Daily Activity Networks Using Smartcard Data

This study explores temporal variations in activity networks for four million passengers, differentiated as workers and non-workers, using public transport based on a large-scale smart card dataset generated over 105 days in Beijing. We aim to capture their day-to-day transition and cumulative temporal expansion in activity network using transit over days, weeks, and months. Particularly, workers and non-workers are automatically identified based on their different daily routines, whose activity networks are characterized by six features concerning space coverage, distance coverage, and frequency coverage in two ways, namely, on a per-day transition and with an accumulation of days. The transition features of the networks are statistically analyzed and compared by time, while how the expansion features evolve with time are modeled. Results show that, on weekdays, workers are more likely to travel longer (have larger distance coverage), but cover less area (have smaller space coverage) than non- workers. While opposite patterns occur on weekends. Traveling in the ‘North-South’ direction is weakly correlated with traveling in the ‘East-West’ direction. Workers on weekdays, as well as non-workers on weekends, make longer ‘North-South’ trips. Manhattan distance, trip count, and perimeter present a ∩ shape in their probability density functions, while the remaining features decline dramatically, with probability density functions fit by the exponential distribution. The distance coverage expands faster than that of space coverage. Most passengers increase coverage of space and distance when time expands (obviously no one decreases coverage over time, but some don’t change). The research enables findings on temporal load-balancing, long-term cumulative expansion in travel demands of workers and non-workers, re-balancing the distribution of existing workplace and residential location opportunities, and constructing transit-oriented developments with mixed functions over time.

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Transforming Transportation 2020: Connecting People for Sustainable Growth

TT-LogoI am pleased to be presenting at Transforming Transportation 2020 in Washington DC immediately following the Transportation Research Board conference (January 16-17, 2020). I am opening the opening session on “Economic Empowerment Through Accessibility for All”. Registration required.

“Transport connectivity is essential not only for economic development, but also for catalyzing human capital formation.  Emerging evidence suggest that the transport sector has an important role in supporting the productivity of firms and individuals, providing access to job opportunities, education, and health care especially for vulnerable populations, expanding workforce participation, as well as ensuring safety and security. A transport system that does not consider the diverse needs of a population or inadvertently excludes some people will miss opportunities to unlock economic and social development. Therefore, social inclusion is a fundamental consideration in the planning, implementation and operation of sustainable mobility for all.

This plenary will explore the multi-faceted links between better passenger transport and social inclusion, including the four “As” of transport infrastructure and services– Availability, Accessibility, Affordability and Acceptability. The session will begin with a short presentation by an expert to frame the topic.  Then, a diverse panel of government officials, civil society representatives, academics, and development practitioners from multiple sectors will discuss the challenges and opportunities to expanding the impact of better transport on social outcomes.”

Master of Transport

If you are interested in our new University of Sydney Master of Transport , please email.

    Master of Transport Australia’s first interdisciplinary program in Transport. Designed to develop a critical understanding about the prevalence and identification of transport systems, the Master of Transport is ideal for graduates wanting to pursue a career in the ever-growing global transport sector or professionals already in the field wanting to upskill. As well as gaining a theoretical and policy-focused grounding on the workings of systems for all modes of transport and interactions with land use, students will also acquire the quantitative and qualitative skills needed to examine travel behaviour, forecast conditions and evaluate policies and plans. Co-presented by the Faculty of Engineering, the Business School, and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. For more information, contact Professor David Levinson: E: david.levinson@sydney.edu.au Apply now for Semester 1 2020.  16/5699 CRICOS 00026A

The Next Big Things Revisited

On January 8, 2010, I was interviewed by the Jim Foti of the Minneapolis StarTribune for their beginning of the decade article The next big things

My bit below, with comments, numbers added for tracking:

COMMUTING
New light-rail lines, many more MnPass lanes and cars that make driving decisions for you are in the commuting forecast for the next decade, says David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
(1) Congestion levels won’t change much, he said.

Mostly Correct. Obviously it depends on how you define “congestion” and “much”. MnDOT’s Congestion Report (not how I would define it, but it is a consistent time series), has percent of the urban freeway system that is congested going from 21.5% in 2010 to 24.2% in 2018   over a decade with a regional (MSA) population increasing from 3.3 to 3.6 million (8.4%) over the same period. (The CSA went from 3.7 to 4.0 million, 9%).  Mean commuting time to work in Hennepin County rose from 22.1 to 23.5 minutes. Some of that is due to congestion, some of that is due to longer distances as suburban growth continues.

(2) The Twin Cities area will have more residents, (3) but the aging population will be working less, and (4)  increased telecommuting will mean that people won’t go into work as often.

Correct, correct, correct. The Median age in Hennepin County when from 35.9 (2010) to 36.6 (2018)  according to the US Census. The Labor Force Participation Rate dropped from 71 to 70.3 over this period. Telecommuting increased, in 2018 5.7% of Minnesota residents worked at home, in 2010, 5.0% did.

(5) The Southwest and (6) Central Corridor rail lines are scheduled to start mid-decade, and (7) one or two Minneapolis streetcar lines could be in the mix.

KenilworthBB_Existing
Section B-B

Incorrect (it was scheduled, it did not happen yet), Correct, ~ (could is vague). Central Corridor started in 2014. The Southwest LRT (Green Line Extension) is under construction, but not opened. The streetcars appear dead, but these things never die.

(8) Levinson expects highway expansion to mainly take the form of new MnPass lanes, which are for carpools, buses, motorcycles and toll-paying solo drivers.

50%. Some highway reconstruction has a MnPass element, but not as much as I expected.

(9) He sees plug-in hybrids as the dominant car, meaning drivers will be buying less gas, so (10) a per-mile fee will be implemented to replace lost tax revenue.

Incorrect, incorrect and too soon. Hybrids petered out, and EVs are still slow on the uptake. I still expect EVs to be dominant in new car sales by 2030, and some kind of distance fee to be implemented on EVs and AVs by then.

(11) Cars will keep getting safer, he said, with (12) features such as automatic emergency braking and cruise control that adapts to the speed of surrounding traffic.

JIM FOTI

Correct, correct. Advanced driver assist technologies have been added to newer vehicles. Fatality rates are not where they should be, (especially for pedestrians and bicyclists), but fatality rates are better falling from 2010 (0.72) to 2018 (0.63).

A total of 12 numbered predictions basic predictions, 6 correct, 3 clearly incorrect, 5 too vague and half-right by my scoring.

The 30-Minute City: Designing for Access

The 30-Minute City by David M. Levinson
The 30-Minute City by David M. Levinson

Now available for purchase: The 30-Minute City: Designing for Access.

The book reads fast, with just over 20,000 words, and contains 50 images and 6 tables.

About

This book describes how to implement The 30-Minute City.  The first part of the book explains accessibility. We next consider access through history (chapter 2). Access is the driving force behind how cities were built. Its use today is described when looking at access and the Greater Sydney Commission’s plan for Sydney.

We then examine short-run fixes: things that can be done instantaneously, or nearly so, at low budget to restore access for people, which include retiming traffic signals (chapter 3) and deploying bike sharing (chapter 5) supported by protected bike lane networks (chapter 4), as well public transport timetables (chapter 6).

We explore medium-run fixes that include implementing rapid bus networks (chapter 7) and configuring how people get to train stations by foot and on bus (chapter 8).

We turn to longer-run fixes. These are as much policy changes as large investments, and include job/worker balance (chapter 10) and network restructuring (chapter 9) as well as urban restoration (chapter 11), suburban retrofit (chapter 12), and greenfield development (chapter 13).

We conclude with thoughts about the ‘pointlessness’ of cities and how to restructure practice (chapter 14).

The appendices provide detail on access measurement (Appendix A), the idea of accessibility loss (B), valuation (C), the rationale for the 30-minute threshold (D), and reliability (E). It concludes with what should we research (F).

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1  Introduction 15
  • 2  The 30-Minute City: Then and Now 19
  • 3  Traffic Signals 25
  • 4  On the Four Paths 29
  • 5  Bikesharing 35
  • 6  Timetable 37
  • 7  Rapid Bus 39
  • 8  Interface 45
  • 9  Gradial: Or the Unreasonable Network 51
  • 10  Job-Worker Balance 55
  • 11  Urban Restoration 59
  • 12  Retrofit 69
  • 13  Greenfields and Brownfields 75
  • 14  A New Profession: Urban Operations 81

Appendices

  • A  Theory 89
  • B  Accessibility Loss 93
  • C  Access Explains Everything 95
  • D  Why 30 Minutes? 97
  • E  Reliability 99
  • F  Research Agenda 101

FEATURES

  • 114 pages.
  • 50 Mostly Color Images.
  • ISBN: 9781714193660 (Blurb Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781714193486 (Ingram Trade Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9781714193561 (Ingram Hardcover)
  • ISBN-10:  (Amazon)
  • ISBN-13:  (Amazon)
  • Publisher: Network Design Lab

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