Category Archives: transportation policy

Citi Bike Usage and the Future of the Program

NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management released a study today entitledCiti Bike, What Current Use and Activity Suggests for the Future of the Program,” which takes stock of the system’s strengths and areas for growth as policymakers determine the City’s role in bringing Citi Bike to all five boroughs.

Key findings include:

  • Citi Bike is most heavily used in Manhattan- 83% of September trips started & ended there, with concentration around major transportation networks. If the system expands to the outer boroughs ridership is expected to be lower, speaking to the need for additional private or public financing— but will likely still primarily transport New Yorkers to commercial centers and other forms of transportation like buses and subways.
  • The majority of Citi Bike trips are short in both time and distance; 98% lasted under 45 minutes and 48% lasted under ten minutes— highlighting the importance of station density to match how people are using the system.
  • Only 112 stations (18%) are located in Zip Codes that have median household incomes of less than $50,000—reinforcing the importance of improving bike equity and access throughout the system.

The paper, published by Sarah M. Kaufman and Jenny O’Connell, is the result of an open forum on the status of Citi Bike hosted at the Rudin Center in November of 2016.  Expert speakers included Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee; Tracey Capers (Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation/BSRC); Elena Conte (Pratt Center for Community Development); and Paul Steely White (Transportation Alternatives).  NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Director Mitchell L. Moss moderated.

The panelists agreed that Citi Bike provided a valuable transportation service, and alternative funding methods would be necessary to support expansion to a five-borough Citi Bike network.

Download the report here [pdf].

A Primer on Hyperloop Travel: How far off is the Future?

By Joanna Simon

Supersonic travel in pods through frictionless tubes may sound like the basis for the next George Lucas creation, but it may be a reality in the near future. Planning for high-speed travel via a Hyperloop system is underway and could drastically reduce travel times between major cities.

Hyperloop One Desert Tube
Hyperloop One Desert Tube

What is Hyperloop?

The Hyperloop is a proposal for high-speed inter-city travel through steel tubes, in pod-like vehicles, for both passengers and cargo. This technology is estimated to reduce travel time from Los Angeles to San Francisco to a mere 35 minutes, a trip that takes even the fastest of drivers 5 hours to complete.

How does it work?

Hyperloop infrastructure consists of steel tubes, either underground in tunnels or elevated, which serve as a mechanism to transport pods. The tubes create a near-vacuum environment and utilize air and friction resistance technologies to transport pods at speeds faster than airplane travel. The technology is energy efficient: it requires relatively low power, and some companies suggest that the entire system can be powered via solar panels (however, some experts are skeptical).

What’s in a travel pod?

            Several versions of passenger travel pods will exist, including a standard coach pod resembling economy airplane seating, a meeting pod with tables and angled chairs and a sleek and comfortable lounge cabin.

Hyperloop Pod Rendering

How will a Hyperloop ride feel?

The idea of riding in a small and windowless capsule may raise concern for some passengers; engineers are working to consider comfort factors. They are also considering how to minimize pod vibration, as even the slightest tectonic movement could cause a jolt that would be felt while traveling at near-sonic speeds.

Where will Hyperloop be built?

Several companies are currently working to perfect the technology and have developed route proposals around the world. Many of these proposals are in development stage and have completion forecasted for 10-20 years from now:

Cities Travel Time by Car Travel Time by Plane Travel Time by Hyperloop Company
LA-San Francisco 5.5 hours 1.5 hours 35 minutes Hyperloop One
Stockholm-Helsinki 12 hours *includes ferry 1 hour 30 minutes Hyperloop One
Paris-Amsterdam 5.5 hours 1.5 hours 30 minutes Delft Hyperloop
Kracow-Gdansk, Poland 6 hours 1.3 hours 35 minutes Hyper Poland
Toronto-Montreal 5.5 hours 1 hour 30 minutes Transpod
Vienna-Budapest 3 hours 45 minutes 20 minutes HTTP


How much will it cost to build?

Hyperloop One, the company spearheading the California project, is privately funded. Their estimates show that the project will cost $5.4 billion and gross $300 million in annual revenue.

How much will it cost to ride?

With route and pod design still underway there have been few estimates to how much a single ticket to ride the Hyperloop will cost. Some design teams claim that it will cost the price of a bus ticket, but few actual figures are currently available.

What challenges exist?

Cost: Concerns are widespread about Hyperloop’s feasibility and success, particularly considering construction and testing costs. Much of this work relies on unproven technology; it is not yet known how much it will cost to bring it to reality.

Safety: Hyperloop travel is arguably safer than other transportation options: the system is enclosed, protected from the elements and controlled by pressure and internal dynamics, making it immune to human error. However, experts are concerned about the availability of oxygen in the chamber should an unexpected event result in a loss of pressure. Additionally, emergency braking and power outage scenarios are currently being tested.

Policy: Hyperloop infrastructure, whether above or below ground, will pass through towns, other cities and will disrupt public and private resources. A feasibility study of land use issues and potential human impact is needed to move forward.

Connectivity: One of the biggest concerns with the Hyperloop system is its’ potential connection to other modes of transportation. A 35-minute trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco could be doubled if the destination is downtown, but the docking stations are 30 minutes outside.

Demand: As driverless cars become more of a reality, they will make highway driving safer and more pleasant. Driverless cars may become more appealing to travelers, as they will provide door-to-door transport, rather than the less convenient and Hyperloop.

 

Information sources:

Hyperloop One

Business Insider

 

 

 

Why we need a LaGuardia AirTrain

In today’s Daily News, NYU Rudin Center Director Mitchell L. Moss makes the case for a 21st-century AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport in his op-ed “Getting from point A to point LGA: Why we need a LaGuardia AirTrain.”

“Improving LaGuardia Airport without transforming the way in which passengers can get to and from the airport makes no sense. With the proposed AirTrain, we will finally have an airport commensurate with New York.”

Read the full piece here.

Inter-City Bus Outlook 2017

The NYU Rudin Center for Transportation is hosting today’s report release by the DePaul University Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development : “Running Express: 2017 Outlook for the Intercity Bus Industry in the United States.”

Watch the event on Facebook Live starting at 12:30 p.m. on January 13th, and read the report here.

 

Inter-city bus routes competing with Amtrak - Chaddick Institute.
Inter-city bus routes competing with Amtrak (Click to enlarge) – Chaddick Institute.

New Report: Older New Yorkers and Access-A-Ride Forecasts

Following up on our Intelligent Paratransit report, “Older New Yorkers and Access-A-Ride Forecasts,” looks at the near-future mobility needs of seniors in New York City.

As the “baby boomer” cohort begins to age past 65, adults over the age of 65 are projected to reach 20% of the nation’s population by 2030.  However, many older New Yorkers are unable to use public transportation because of a lack of subway station accessibility. Instead, they rely on the Access-A-Ride (AAR) paratransit system, which provides door-to-door transportation for riders who are unable to use the buses or subways. AAR operations will cost a projected record $505.7 million in 2016.  Demand for AAR is expected to increase as the city’s population of older adults grows, presenting a significant challenge for mobility. This report attempts to forecast an increase in demand for AAR by location and make recommendations for accessibility reform.

Download the report: Older New Yorkers and Access-A-Ride Forecasts

Population density of 65+ New Yorkers in 2030
Population density of 65+ New Yorkers in 2030

A Scooter Share Primer

In the NYU Rudin Center’s August 2016 report on the “L Train Closure and Mitigation,” we suggested creative measures, including gondolas and scooter shares, to diversify commute and travel options. Today, we set out to explore the scooter share market around the world.
So, what is a scooter share?
Think bike share, but with electric scooters.
We looked at 10 scooter shares around the globe to see how they operated, including Cityscoot (Paris, France), Coup (Berlin, Germany), eBike (Chiayi, Taiwan), Enjoy (Milan, Italy), LoopShare (Vancouver, Canada), Scoot (San Francisco, US), Scooty (Brussels, Belgium), WeMo (Taipei, Taiwan), Yugo (Barcelona, Spain) and 2Hire (Rome, Italy).


How does it work?
For starters, all but one of the scooter shares (eBike in Chiayi, Taiwan) are privately operated. Some require a membership or registration fee (monthly, annual or one time) in addition to base charges per ride, but many are free to join. With the exception of Vancouver’s LoopShare, every system charges on a minute basis; LoopShare charges per kilometer traveled. Similar to bike share systems, most of the scooter shares we observed charge a flat rate for a set trip time, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes, and tack on a per-minute charge once the trip has surpassed that limit. Unlike bike shares, however, many of the scooter shares allow you to park anywhere within a zone. Users then pick up a scooter where it’s been parked (sometimes a designated charging spot). Because most scooter sharing programs have rolled out in the last year, most cities currently only have pilot zones (usually in the central business district), with the aim of expanding in the near future. Users tap into the network by locating and reserving scooters in a proprietary app.

Graphic of the Yugo System
Graphic of the Yugo System

What is the scooter riding experience?
Nearly all of the scooter shares employ electric scooters though each scooter seems as unique as the city its found in. Perhaps the most eye-catching, is the Taiwanese-developed Gogoro scooter, which hit the market only last year in Taiwan and is currently being utilized in both Taipei WeMo and Berlin Coup scooter sharing systems. The Gogoro features a “smart” mode, that tunes the scooter’s performance to optimize battery life. Paris’s Cityscoot is employing the German-based Govec scooter, featuring a fold-out wind and waterproof blanket to cover the rider’s legs on cold or rainy days. Barcelona’s Yugo scooter fleet is nearly indistinguishable from a vintage Vespa, save for it’s silent, emission-free electric motor. San Francisco’s Scoot launched with the a Govec scooter similar to Cityscoot in Paris, but is now transitioning to a lighter weight option that tops out around 30 miles per hour. Vancouver’s Loop scooters are perhaps the least traditional scooter of the bunch, with a very light-weight, minimal design and topping out at a speed of 25 miles per hour. The only non-electric scooters are from Milan’s Enjoy fleet of robust, three-wheeled Piaggio scooters, which are operated in tandem with a car-sharing service by Italian gas company Eni.

gogoro-family-shot1
Gogoro Scooter pictured with Battery Station

How are the scooters and network powered?
Because most of the scooters used in these programs are electric and require recharging, it can be challenging to keep them juiced-up. At least two of the ten scooter systems incentive riders to return the scooter to a charging dock; for instance, Cityscoot in Paris offers a two euro credit for docked scooters. Taipei’s WeMo system relies on a battery exchange system; when the scooters are running low on power, the batteries can easily be swapped by the rider for a fully charged one using one of the many battery charging kiosks around the city.  Only the publicly operated eBike system in Chiayi and Rome’s 2Hire for university students have assigned parking docks.

Opportunities for Future Study
Through this exploration of scooter shares, we’ve identified additional questions and opportunities for future study. These topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Where do scooter shares currently exist? Given that only one of the scooter shares, Scoot SF, was located in the United States, we wanted to know more about the makeup of cities with scooter shares. Do they share commonalities in terms of population density and mode share split?
  • What modes of transit do scooter shares naturally complement? How do other systems integrate with transit?
  • What are the challenges inherent to a scooter share?
  • What are the operational differences between the scooters currently used by sharing systems? Which systems require drivers’ licenses or motorcycle licenses?

Event: 2017 Outlook for the Intercity Bus Industry in the U.S.

Join us for the study release of the 2017 Outlook for Intercity Bus Travel in the United States, a new study by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. This program is hosted in partnership with The Chaddick Institute and with support from the New York chapter of the Transportation Research Forum.

Learn how the country’s travel landscape is likely to change in 2017 due to intercity bus expansion and hear about notable highlights of the past calendar year. In addition to commentary by DePaul professor Joe Schwieterman and Brian Antolin, this event will feature other prominent experts on bus travel and offer perspectives on the debate over the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) in New York. The technical tour will begin at the PABT one hour after the program ends.

January 13, 2017

Register here: https://intercitybusoutlook.eventbrite.com/

STUDY RELEASE:
Rudin Center for Transportation at New York University | 295 Lafayette Street
12:00-1:30pm: Join the study team and event hosts for a buffet lunch (for purchase) followed by the official study release event. Speakers include Mitchell L. Moss, Director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, and Joe Schwieterman, Director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

This event is free, with lunch available for purchase.

TECHNICAL TOUR:
Port Authority Bus Terminal | 625 8th Ave
2:30-4:00pm: Following the Study Release event, an immersive tour led by Brian Antolin (industry expert and CEO of CoTo Travel), Joe Schwieterman (DePaul University), and Nicholas Klein (Columbia University) will highlight innovations and exciting advancements in bus travel. The tour will begin at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and will focus on key features of the PABT, the Megabus pickup locations near the Javits Convention Center (34th St. b/t 11th & 12th Avenues), and notable specialty lines operating out of Midtown Manhattan. Space is limited.

Register here: https://intercitybusoutlook.eventbrite.com/

Program Recap: Emerging Leaders in Transportation 2016

Last week, the NYU Rudin Center concluded its second Emerging Leaders in Transportation program. This year’s program consisted of two mornings of seminars with industry leaders, a behind-the-scenes tour of local transportation facilities and a networking reception with program alumni.

Program participants explored innovation and leadership within the context of their careers and engaged in discussion about how to build essential leadership skills, manage office politics, promote their ideas, and lead change within their respective companies. This year’s themes included data analysis, autonomous vehicles, congestion management, sustainability and active transport.

This year’s speakers included:

With a program keynote speech delivered by

The group visited the NYC Transit Rail Control Center for an inside perspective on operations and challenges.

The 2016 Emerging Leaders in Transportation program was a major success. Thanks to the many transportation professionals who took the time to participate as speakers and to this year’s fellows, who brought their best ideas and enthusiasm.

Emerging Leaders in Transportation was directed and moderated by Sarah Kaufman, NYU Rudin Center Assistant Director, and supported by the University Transportation Research Center.

Results: Transpo on the Ballot- Strong Support for Transit Initiatives in 2016

The November elections saw major wins for transportation infrastructure projects  in the United States. 56 of the 82 ( or 68%) of the initiatives proposed in cities, counties and states passed. NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation has created a map (below) of the ballot measures that were voted on with the results highlighted.

On the map, green indicates that a measure was passed, yellow indicates that data is not yet available, and red indicates that a measure did not pass. Hover over an area to read about the ballot measures proposed.

Some of the nation’s most notable transportation wins are seen in Seattle, Los Angeles County, and the State of New Jersey.

In Seattle, voters passed Sound Transit 3, a $54 billion initiative to add 62 miles and 37 stations of light rail in the next 25 years. The initiative will include more commuter trains and bus lines and will see a light rail extension to both Everett and Tacoma, two of the most populated areas in the Seattle metro-region.

In Los Angeles County, voters passed Measure M which will expand public transit service throughout the City and in outlying suburban areas. The measure is an ambitious effort to expand light rail services with funding generated from a sales tax of half a penny on every dollar spent in the county. The project includes a tunnel to connect the San Fernando Valley and the Westside, easing traffic congestion along the 405 freeway, as well as transit lines extending to the suburbs of Artesia, Claremont, Torrance, Whittier and South El Monte.

In the State of New Jersey, voters approved Question 2 to amend the state constitution and dedicate all revenue from state gas tax to the Transportation Trust Fund, ensuring that the money is used only for transportation purposes. The Transportation Trust Fund is the contract authority which allows the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Transit Corporation to advance capital projects.

You can view the ballot text here courtesy of Ballotpedia.org.