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Best Practices for Context Sensitive Solutions in Urban AreasZhan Guo, Research Director and Assistant Professor or Urban Planning and Transportation Policy
Earlier work by the Rudin Center highlighted the dearth of information related to Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) in large central cities. Urban areas face different issues related to CSS since they must address CSS within the context of large populations and densities, built urban environments, and multiple modes for transportation among other factors. While this initial research identified key issues and provided some examples, it was clear that more work remains to be done in terms of assessing how CSS is used in practice in urban areas. The goal of the present research study, sponsored by the Mineta Transportation Institute, is to provide a more in-depth assessment of how CSS is used in practice in urban areas, touching upon the following points: a) how CSS is incorporated into basic planning, programming, and design; b) what kind of policies have grown out of this process or help guide it; c)how public participation and stakeholder involvement is carried out and measured; d) what kinds of obstacles exist to successfully incorporating CSS in practice; e) what kinds of decisions are finally made in terms of balancing the various needs related to parking, non-motorized traffic, safety and throughput. Recognizing that in California and in many other locations, key arterials are also part of the state highway systems, there will be discussion on the role played by the State and the municipality with an assessment of the types of coordination that are present or needed, and how that affects each of these issues. The resulting report would provide an assessment of these points, along with suggestions on best practices.
Mode Shift in Transit-Underserved Neighborhoods in New York
Sponsored by the University Transportation Research Center (UTRC, Region 2), the goal of this research project is to improve the understanding of passengers’ behavior and the key factors inducing the use of public transportation alternatives, rather than personal mobility options. The central point that this research will make is that the transit under-served area (TUSA) market has a great potential to contribute to mode shift and ridership increase in public transit if the cost of driving continues to increase and the service of public transit continues to improve. Residents of TSUAs in New York City have plausible public transit options, provided certain modifications and their needs could be met cost-effectively without significant expansion of the existing network. This research aims to elaborate this point by exploring several TSUAs in New York City, and attaining the following goals: 1) to understand the multiple travel options that TUSA residents face; 2) to analyze current modal choice decisions and possible responses to policy interventions; and, 3) to draw policy implications that could help transit agencies recruit new customers from TUSAs, while retaining existing customers and building strong constituencies in this new era.
Measuring the Utility of Pedestrian Environment in BostonZhan Guo, Research Director and Assistant Professor or Urban Planning and Transportation Policy
Walking is central to all types of travel. However, pedestrian infrastructure represents a challenge to the time and cost-based transportation planning paradigm. This is because the pace of walking is not normally a major concern, and pedestrians may prefer the company of other pedestrians to walking alone. Walking has been omitted from the transportation planning framework until very recently, and policy-makers continue to have difficulties in evaluating pedestrian-related projects and justifying their benefits. In many cases, pedestrian infrastructure remains a decoration instead of the foundation of the overall transportation system. To examine the issue further, this research measured the perceived utility of pedestrian infrastructure by observing pedestrian choices between two types of walking paths: a short, but poorly maintained path and a longer, amenable path. By quantifying the perception and converting it into a monetary or time value, planners can use this approach to expand the familiar time and cost frameworks to evaluate pedestrian-related projects. The research first tested whether such a trade-off exists using downtown Boston as a setting. Results showed that amenities such as sidewalk width and open space affect pedestrian path choices—many pedestrians choose indirect but more pleasant streets over more direct but less attractive streets. Subsequent work estimated the perceived utility of these pedestrian environment factors. For example, Boston Common, a public park, has a perceived utility of 2.9 minutes, or a 10-minute walk in Boston Common is perceived to be 7.1 minutes due to its amenities. Beacon Hill has a negative perception of 3.5 minutes, meaning that a 10-minute walk over its hilly topography is perceived to be 13.5 minutes. The research generated a utility map that shows the quantified amenities for each street as a whole and by individual features of the street in downtown Boston. Planners can use this map to locate street improvements in a large area, the type of improvements needed, and the costs and benefits of such improvements.
Integrated Freight Demand Management in the NYC Metro Area, Phase 2
This project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as the lead academic institution. The objectives of the study are to: a) design and develop a self-sustaining urban freight traffic management system for the New York City Metropolitan area integrating state of the art remote sensing technology, cutting edge freight demand management, traffic simulation, and policy; and b) combine revenue generation power of pricing, with tax deductions to receivers willing to accept off-peak deliveries, and GPS based traffic monitoring, to induce a shift of truck traffic to the off-hours. As part of this effort, institutional and policy challenges and alternatives need to be identified and assessed. The NYU Wagner Rudin Center is leading the public outreach activities by forming Advisory Groups, gathering the information needed to identify and assess the key institutional and policy issues relevant to freight demand management, leading consensus building workshop with stakeholders and describing a set of policies, institutional arrangements, and mechanisms that should be considered. Phase 2 of this project will include Implementation.
Feasibility of Freight Villages in the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council Region
A joint effort funded by NYMTC and led by the Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Transportation at Rutgers University, this study will determine the feasibility of developing freight villages in the NYMTC Region. The Rudin Center will be leading the effort related to public outreach, an important element of this study. The public outreach component of the project aims to engage the freight provider community, as well as community leaders, business leaders, and the general public through a series of outreach meetings that will be held around the region. The purpose of these outreach meetings is to: elicit comment and feedback on key aspects of the study and its initial findings; educate and inform the public in general; inform and discuss potential obstacles and solutions with the stakeholder community specifically; provide a reality check for key concepts; and, finally; report back the results of the study. Information gathered through the public outreach process will be incorporated throughout the study and into the final report.
NYMTC's Highway and Streets Planning Initiative
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC)'s Regional Transportation Plan includes an evaluation of the Region's highway needs, including infrastructure life cycle replacement and maintenance, levels of current congestion, 20 year forecasts of traffic growth and analysis of financial resources needed to meet the Region's needs. The Rudin Center is working with NYMTC members and staff to strengthen the analysis and recommendations of the highway portion of NYMTC's Regional Transportation Plan by (1) evaluating highway initiatives being used to address regional highway needs in this and other regions; (2) setting NYMTC's highway analysis and recommendations into a larger regional context that includes northern New Jersey, southwestern Connecticut and New York counties to the north of NYMTC's region; and (3) preparing a highway issues report and holding a conference on the region's highway needs that will illustrate and educate a broad audience including elected officials, agency heads, and department commissioners about the need to address this region's highway needs.
Strengthening Interjustisdictional Coordination on Transportation and Related Land Use: A Guide Book for PractitionersAllison de Cerreno, Co-Director
The publication “Strengthening Interjurisdictional Coordination on Transportation and Related Land Use – A Guidebook for Practitioners” is intended to facilitate better integration of land use and transportation planning. The guidebook is drawn from research on the jurisdictional barriers that have had an impact on greater integration of land use and transportation planning in a variety of recent planning studies. It provides training matrices, including on key success factors for interjurisdictional coordination. The guidebook builds on lessons learned from a representative sample of case studies, including the Air Train JFK project; the Route 202/35/6/Bear Mt. Pkwy Sustainable Development Study, Westchester County; Route 303 Sustainable Development Study, Rockland County; the Staten Island Transportation Task Force; and, the Sustainable East End Strategies (SEEDS)
Environmental JusticeLinda Spock, Visiting Scholar
At the request of the New York State Assembly Legislative Commission on Critical Transportation Choices, and funded by an appropriation made available from the New York Department of Transportation's budget, the Rudin Center completed a one-year study of Environmental Justice (EJ) in New York State. Conducted by Linda Spock, a Visiting Scholar to the Center, the study involved a literature search and interviews with various federal, state, and local agencies, transportation planning entities, and interested constituency groups to determine the extent of EJ activities throughout the state and especially in agencies related to transportation. The resulting report summarizes EJ activities within the state, compares the activities here with those in other states, and highlights key considerations for further study by New York State.
Fare Policy Regarding Regular and/or Inflation-related ("Programmed') Price IncreasesLinda Spock,
Historically, transit agencies have implemented fare increases largely on an "as needed" basis. In practice, this has resulted in relatively infrequent changes in fares which are often large in magnitude by virtue of the need to "catch up" on expenses since the previous fare change. This study examines an alternative approach to fare policy - "programmed fare increases" to keep up with expenses on a pre-determined regular basis. This report documents and synthesizes the experience of twelve transit agencies with programmed fare increases. Interestingly, many of the agencies did not know of each other's experience with similar fare policies prior to this study. While still the exception rather than the rule, the research shows that programmed fare increases can be viable across a range of transit agency sizes, organization types, and funding structures. Whatever their individual differences in policy and practice, the experiences of the agencies studied suggest the importance of clearly communicating the need for regular fare increases to transit customers in the context of agencies' efforts to maintain service, constrain costs, and address customer needs and concerns. Collectively, the limited but nonetheless significant experience of the case study agencies represented in this report sets a precedent for the practice of programmed fare increases. This report provides a resource for transit agencies' consideration of adopting programmed fare increases by documenting the actual experience and lessons learned by peer agencies to date.
Identifying and Reducing Institutional Barriers to Effective and Efficient Freight Management in Downstate New York StudyAllison de Cerreno, Co-Director
This report is the culmination of a study, funded by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), that seeks to identify and recommend means for reducing one set of barriers--namely institutional barriers--to effective and efficient freight movement in the downstate New York region. The goals of the report are four-fold: (1) to identify and analyze institutional barriers to effective and efficient freight movement in the downstate New York region; (2) to identify potential means for overcoming such barriers; (3) to identify regional actions that could potentially improve the movement of freight in the downstate New York region; and (4) to identify a set of priority actions that could be taken. The findings of this report call for efforts aimed at increasing communication, sharing best practices, and gathering additional information.
High-Speed Rail Projects in the United States: Identifying the Elements for Success - Part 2Allison de Cerreno, Co-Director
In August 2005, the Mineta Transportation Institute issued the report, High-Speed Rail Projects in the United States: Identifying the Elements for Success. The report noted that since the 1960s, high-speed ground transportation (HSGT) has "held the promise of fast, convenient, and environmentally sound travel for distances between 40 and 600 miles." After briefly discussing the different experiences with HSGT between the United States and its Asian and European counterparts, the report proceeded to review three U.S. cases-Florida, California, and the Pacific Northwest-as a means for identifying lessons learned for successfully implementing high-speed rail (HSR) in the United States. This report is, in essence, volume 2 of the previous study. Also using a comparative case study approach, this effort adds to the earlier work with three additional cases-the Chicago Hub, the Keystone Corridor, and the Northeast Corridor (NEC). As with the earlier report, the goal of this study is to identify lessons learned for successfully implementing HSR in the United States. Given the early stages of most of these projects, "success" is defined by whether a given HSR project is still actively pursuing development or funding. However, in the case of the Northeast Corridor, a fuller discussion of success is provided since HSR has been implemented on that corridor for some time now.
Bi-State Domestic Freight FerriesAllison de Cerreno, Co-Director
This study, funded by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, explores the feasibility of freight ferries as an alternative for domestic truck freight movements that cross the Hudson River via existing bridges and tunnels. While 'mode shift' efforts, such as direct rail or barging of material, can reduce some truck movements, trucking will remain a dominant component of the region's freight system and traffic. At the same time, congestion is growing on the region's roadway system, making the evaluation of alternatives for truck movements more imperative.
State Arterial Highway Peer City Review
Negotiating the myriad of issues in dealing with city state arterial highways is of extreme interest to many large central cities around the United States. Issues abound regarding ownership, how such highways are funded both in terms of building and maintenance, and who is responsible for operations. What happens, for example, when the State owns the highway, but the City operates it? Often, the result is a constant tension between the needs and goals of the City and the State, not to mention the agencies involved. Moreover, even in those instances in which responsibilities are clear, those same responsibilities shift as soon as one gets to the border of the city even though the arterial highway may extend for many more miles beyond the city's jurisdiction. This creates another set of challenges in terms of coordinating neighboring jurisdictions. Understanding how other cities around the country deal with such issues will be of help for New York State and New York City. Within the scope of this study, the Rudin Center identified a set of peer cities around the country and compared and contrasted these cities in an effort to draw some lessons learned that will inform the situation in New York. Specific areas of interest included, but were not limited to: funding, mandates, building, operating, managing, and maintaining highway arterials, and institutional communication and coordination related to such arterials.
Pedestrian and Bicyclist Standards and Innovations in Large Central CitiesAllison de Cerreno, Co-Director
After conducting the successful Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) in Large Central Cities workshop in June 2003, the Rudin Center and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) agreed that in tackling other areas of concern for large central cities, it would be useful to employ the same format. NACTO identified the issue of pedestrian and bicyclist standards and innovations as a key area in need of further exploration, and the Federal Highway Administration agreed to provide funding. Thus, the Rudin Center conducted a two phase project involving research of the issue, a workshop for exchanging knowledge and ideas, and a summary report outlining steps for moving forward.
High-Speed Rail Projects in the United States: Identifying the Elements for Success - Part 1Allison de Cerreno, Co-Director
Working together with San José State University, the Rudin Center was involved in an effort on high-speed rail (HSR), funded by the Mineta Transportation Institute. The goal of this study was to identify those lessons learned for successfully developing and implementing HSR in the United States. Given the early stages of these projects, "success" cannot be based on implementation, but will be based upon whether a given HSR project is still actively pursuing development and/or funding. The work proceeded in two phases. Phase 1 constitutes a literature review that looks back to federal (and where warranted, state) legislation to determine what was intended in terms of objectives and criteria identified in the legislation; and briefly assesses all HSR efforts in the United States since 1980 to determine their history and current status. Phase 2 includes a more in-depth study of several of these cases along with a number of interviews. The study provides a unique and valuable contribution to the field by providing a much-needed and strong foundation upon which additional research in this area could be based.
Assessment of Border Crossing Needs in New York State
Canada is the United State's strongest trading partner, exceeding trade with Mexico and with the European Union. On land, this trade flows through 22 principal border crossings between the United States and Canada, with 90% of the value and three-quarters of the tonnage and truck trips originating in or destined for locations beyond the border states. Three of the six crossings are in New York State. However, up to one-half of the trips originate in or are destined for locations beyond the border states. Thus, while they generate economic value nationally, the burdens they bring are concentrated in border states. Recognizing the significance of the border states and the need for transportation corridors throughout the country to facilitate the projected growth in trade, Congress established the Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program and the National Corridor Planning and Development Program in 1998. However, these programs have fallen short of their goals, principally as a result of under-funding and earmarking. If the current funding levels and practices of the Borders and Corridors Program continue, there is concern that freight volume at the key crossings in New York will continue to grow without the ability to effectively and efficiently service it. This study assesses the implications for New York State and for the country if New York's border and corridor needs are unmet.
The Impact of MTA Capital SpendingMark Seaman,
In 1981, with New York's transit system in a state of near-collapse, the state legislature asked New York's transit authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), to begin regular five-year planning of its capital program. Since that time, the MTA has developed five successive plans aimed at bringing the system to a state of good repair. With the current plan coming to a close and a new plan slated for release later this year, the Rudin Center is taking a close look at the transportation and economic impacts that have occurred as a result of these five-year plans. The study reviews the rationale for the initial five-year capital program, examines the relationship between particular capital investments and subsequent performance improvements (if any), and looks at how transit investment may have impelled economic development in the New York region. The study also explores the potential multiplier and economic development effects of future capital spending.
At Capacity: The Need for More Rail Access to the Manhattan CBDRosemary Scanlon, Clinical Associate Professor and Academic Director, Schack Institute of Real Estate
Written by Rosemary Scanlon and Edward Seeley, this report examines the relationship between proposed transit system capacity improvements in the downstate metropolitan area, the updated post 9-11 job projections for the Manhattan Central Business District, and regional economic growth. It further explores a number of key issues Ed Seeley first covered in a highly publicized report on these topics for the New York City Department of Transportation in 1997. The findings of this report are relevant to the current discussions concerning the next MTA Five Year program. Ensuring that the MTA maintains a state of good repair and normal replacement is the highest priority of most, if not all transportation policy experts for the next 5 year capital program. Nonetheless, as historians and planners have frequently asserted, New York's growth and prosperity has consistently been tied to additions and improvements to its transportation network and this report suggests this is likely to be the case in the foreseeable future.
Evaluation Study of the PANYNJ's Value Pricing Initiative: Task 5 - Monitoring of Media and Decision-Makers' ReactionsAllison de Cerreno, Co-Director
Part of a larger project assessing the efficacy of value pricing and changes in the toll schedule on Port Authority facilities, the Rudin Center documented the decision-making process leading up to and immediately following the implementation of value pricing so as to derive lessons learned that could be utilized when implementing similar programs elsewhere.
Funding Analysis for Long-Term PlanningAllison de Cerreno, Co-Director
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated annual investment needs over the next 20 years of $56.6 billion for highways and bridges and $10.8 billion for transit, simply to maintain the nation's existing infrastructure. At the same time, current baseline projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) will be depleted by 2006 and that the Mass Transit Account balance will fall to $0 three years later. In the swirl of debate on reauthorization of federal transportation funding, these projections have spurred a number of recommendations aimed at shoring up the financial base of the HTF. This study, conducted by the Rudin Center's Co-Director, Allison L. C. de Cerreño, explored the fragility of the current means for funding the Highway Trust Fund. The report elaborates on the causes of this fragility, analyzes the various proposals for bolstering the fund, and provides an assessment of the potential impact on New York.