The Transportation Experience: Second Edition, is available on Apple iBooks

The Transportation Experience: Second Edition, is now available on iBooks, as well as  Oxford University Press,  Amazon, and Barnes and Noble

The Transportation Experience: Second Edition by William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson
The Transportation Experience: Second Edition by William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson

 

The Transportation Experience: Policy, Planning, and Deployment

William L. Garrison & David M. Levinson

 

Description

The Transportation Experience explores the historical evolution of transportation modes and technologies. The book traces how systems are innovated, planned and adapted, deployed and expanded, and reach maturity, where they may either be maintained in a polished obsolesce often propped up by subsidies, be displaced by competitors, or be reorganized and renewed. An array of examples supports the idea that modern policies are built from past experiences. William Garrison and David Levinson assert that the planning (and control) of nonlinear, unstable processes is today’s central transportation problem, and that this is universal and true of all modes. Modes are similar, in that they all have a triad structure of network, vehicles, and operations; but this framework counters conventional wisdom. Most think of each mode as having a unique history and status, and each is regarded as the private playground of experts and agencies holding unique knowledge, operating in isolated silos. However, this book argues that while modes have an appearance of uniqueness, the same patterns repeat: systems policies, structures, and behaviors are a generic design on varying modal cloth. In the end, the illusion of uniqueness proves to be myopic. While it is true that knowledge has accumulated from past experiences, the heavy hand of these experiences places boundaries on current knowledge; especially on the ways professionals define problems and think about processes. The Transportation Experience provides perspective for the collections of models and techniques that are the essence of transportation science, and also expands the boundaries of current knowledge of the field.

The Transportation Experience: From Steamboats to Streetcars.

I will be giving a Seminar in Civil and Materials Engineering  at University of Illinois at Chicago on October 3, 2014 at 11:00 AM. The Talk is in 1047 Engineering Research Facility (ERF).

The Transportation Experience: From Steamboats to Streetcars.

Abstract: The talk explores the historical evolution of transportation modes and technologies. It traces how systems are innovated, planned and adapted, deployed and expanded, and reach maturity, where they may either be maintained in a polished obsolesce often propped up by subsidies, be displaced by competitors, or be reorganized and renewed. An array of examples supports the idea that modern policies are built from past experiences. The planning (and control) of nonlinear, unstable processes is today’s central transportation problem, and that this is universal and true of all modes.

The talk is based in part on the book: The Transportation Experience

Part 5: Why Greens should like buses

By David Levinson and David King.

I don't need a war to power my bicycle. Bumper sticker on car.
I don’t need a war to power my bicycle. Bumper sticker on car.

Greens are most associated in the US with non-motorized transportation. As pedestrians ourselves, we see the many advantages. While many more people could walk than do, and many others could re-arrange their home and work locations over time to enable one or more members of their household to walk or bike, getting people to move home or change jobs to minimize travel costs is a big ask. Creating new (and re-creating existing) urban places (instead of new suburban places) aligns with the philosophy of some Greens. Economic development and real estate  tend to be local issues, and downtown real estate in particular is now an odd ally of the Greens.

The next best thing to minimizing distances through changes in relative location and land use is getting people to their destinations in an energy efficient way.

While Greens don’t fit cleanly on the three-axis model, it is probably most related to Social Justice/ Equality, but extending the object of Justice from People to the Environment as a whole (that is valuing the environment for its own sake, not just for the sake of future humans).

Why Greens should want to invest in buses.

Energy use per passenger-km by mode. Source Transportation Energy Data Book, USDOE Energy use per passenger-km by mode. Source Transportation Energy Data Book, USDOE. Figure 27-8 in The Transportation Experience

  • Buses (when more fully occupied) are more energy efficient than other modes, and electric buses show promise to improve this even more. (In practice as shown in the adjoining figure, buses are less energy efficient than cars on average, due to low occupancies in off-peak and suburban services, though the marginal passenger incurs almost no additional energy consumption.)
  • Buses (and vans) are community transportation where people can meet their neighbors and the driver.
  • Rail construction (or any infrastructure construction) is highly disruptive to fragile eco-systems and highly energy intensive, so the payback period for CO2 emissions may be decades, if at all. If you think that CO2 is something to worry about, improving bus service in a matter of months should be far more valuable than potential reductions more than a decade away.
  • Making buses work better adheres to the adage used about housing that the greenest houses are existing houses. The greenest transport is more intensively using existing transport. Even with new rails, existing roads will remain. We should use them wisely.

Political Parties, Three-Axes, And Public Transport

  1. Part 1: Introduction
  2. Part 2: Why Democrats Should Like Buses
  3. Part 3: Why Republicans Should Like Buses
  4. Part 4: Why Libertarians Should Like Buses
  5. Part 5: Why Greens Should Like Buses
  6. Part 6: Summary

Should light rail get priority at St. Paul stoplights | Pioneer Press

Interviewed by Fred Melo of the Pioneer Press for this piece: Should light rail get priority at St. Paul stoplights?

David Levinson, a professor of Transportation Engineering in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-engineering, says St. Paul had plenty of time to perfect Green Line traffic signals during six months of test trips.

He suspects the decision not to give the Green Line nearly as much priority at traffic signals as the Blue Line is mostly political. When the Blue Line debuted in 2004, cars queued up for lengthy wait times on Minneapolis cross streets. City engineers in St. Paul feared a repeat.

“I think the city could do more,” Levinson said. “I think the city knew about this for a very long time. I think the city was scared of the very long signal times on Hiawatha Avenue. … They were reluctant to give as much priority.”

Kari Spreeman, a spokeswoman with St. Paul Public Works, said the city is committed to making sure bicyclists and pedestrians can cross the avenue, cars can make left turns, and the light rail can go by. It’s a lot to balance.

“We have a team of traffic engineers working on the system every day and are continuing to work closely with Metro Transit to tweak the system,” Spreeman said. “Our goal is the same as it has been from the beginning — to strike a balance.”

Greg Hull, an assistant vice president with the American Public Transportation Association, said he’s seen other cities wade through similar questions about how to balance major transit investments with competing traffic demands.

“The challenges you’re facing in Minneapolis-St. Paul are not unusual for what you’ll find in most cities,” Hull said. “They become political decisions, and it becomes a matter of local jurisdictions needing to determine what’s in their best interest.”

Some transit engineers say the conflicts between cross-traffic and public transit aren’t always as significant as they are perceived to be. A 2003 study based in Fairfax County, northern Virginia, found that giving buses priority at intersections through extended green lights improved their reliability without significant impacts on traffic at cross-streets. In fact, the traffic queue on the side streets increased by one vehicle.

“It’s important to recognize there’s a trade-off,” Levinson said. “That said, there’s going to be a lot more people in a train than in a car at any time, so the trade-off should favor the train.”

Nate Khaliq, a former firefighter and neighborhood activist who lives in the Summit-University neighborhood, said he was surprised that the train doesn’t already get priority at traffic lights.

“I would have thought they’d have all this stuff together, when you put $1 billion into a public transportation project,” Khaliq said. “It certainly wouldn’t bother me to wait a little longer at stop lights.”

Comment: I did the interview over the phone while riding on the Green Line. We (the east-bound train, with me aboard) made the lights until we entered St. Paul. We were stopped at a Red Light at Berry Avenue, a street with very little traffic, the first light wholly inside St. Paul.

Chart of the Day: Steam vs. Sail

Steam vs. Sail.  <a href="http://smile.amazon.com/The-Transportation-Experience-Planning-Deployment/dp/0199862710/ref=smi_www_rcolv2_go_smi?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0">The Transportation Experience</a> (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure  5.1
Steam vs. Sail. The Transportation Experience (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure 5.1

Chart of the Day: Liner Transatlantic Crossing Time

Liner Transatlantic Crossing Time.  <a href="http://smile.amazon.com/The-Transportation-Experience-Planning-Deployment/dp/0199862710/ref=smi_www_rcolv2_go_smi?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0">The Transportation Experience</a> (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure  5.2
Liner Transatlantic Crossing Time. The Transportation Experience (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure 5.2

Chart of the Day: Post in the US

Post in the US.  <a href="http://smile.amazon.com/The-Transportation-Experience-Planning-Deployment/dp/0199862710/ref=smi_www_rcolv2_go_smi?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0">The Transportation Experience</a> (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure  3.9
Post in the US. The Transportation Experience (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure 3.9

Chart of the Day: Turnpikes in the US

Turnpikes in the US.  <a href="http://smile.amazon.com/The-Transportation-Experience-Planning-Deployment/dp/0199862710/ref=smi_www_rcolv2_go_smi?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0">The Transportation Experience</a> (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure  3.5
Turnpikes in the US. The Transportation Experience (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure 3.5

Chart of the Day: Canals in the US

Canals in the US.  <a href="http://smile.amazon.com/The-Transportation-Experience-Planning-Deployment/dp/0199862710/ref=smi_www_rcolv2_go_smi?_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0">The Transportation Experience</a> (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure  1.6
Canals in the US. The Transportation Experience (Garrison and Levinson 2014) Figure 1.6