Thursday, November 4, 2010

Toward Zero Deaths Best Practices for Rural Areas

County Road Safety Plans in Minnesota
A webinar sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

11 a.m. - noon, Eastern (10 a.m. Central, 9 a.m. Mountain, 8 a.m. Pacific)

This webinar will be broadcast live on the Web and available for later viewing. For more information, visit the event Web page.

Watch the Webcast

To access the audio portion of the webcast, please phone 800-683-4564 and enter code "176225."

About the Event
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) developed a statewide Strategic Highway Safety Plan in 2007 to guide safety investments and decisions related to its Towards Zero Deaths efforts. Recently, Mn/DOT embarked on a statewide initiative to create a roadway safety plan for each of Minnesota's 87 counties. The County Road Safety Plan concentrates on information specifically associated with the county roadway network and identifies opportunities to reduce the number of fatal and serious injury crashes.

In this webinar, Brad Estochen will discuss details of the County Road Safety Plan initiative. As part of the project, Mn/DOT and its partners prioritize the roadway network by utilizing a risk assessment that takes into consideration motor vehicle crashes as well as known crash contributors. Using this analytical technique, Mn/DOT will provide each county with a risk assessment of its roadway network as well as a listing of recommended low-cost strategies for specific at-risk roads within its jurisdiction.

Brad Estochen is a principal engineer for Mn/DOT and co-project manager for the County Road Safety Plan project. He works with Minnesota crash and roadway data to identify and mitigate high-crash locations throughout the state. Estochen is also involved in setting speed limits on Minnesota roadways, programming highway safety improvement projects, and promoting interagency cooperation for traffic safety efforts within the state of Minnesota.

More Information
This webinar is the first in a series of three sponsored by CERS. Dates for the other upcoming webinars have yet to be determined. For more information, please contact Kaydee Kirk,, 612-626-5854.

This seminar is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Excellence in Rural Safety, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Proceedings of the 2010 Symposium on Mileage-based User Fees

The proceedings of the 2010 Symposium on Mileage-based User Fees that was held in Minneapolis, MN in April of 2010 are complete and available at the website of the University Transportation Center for Mobility (UTCM) at Texas A&M University.

In addition to the proceedings, you will also find a summary of the interactive discussion that was held on the closing day of the symposium as well as a summary of a workshop held on pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance.

Preparations for the 2011 Symposium on Mileage-based User Fees in Denver, Colorado, are currently underway.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Road Pricing Public Acceptance and Outreach Webinar Mini-Courses

NOTE: There are limited slots available on a first come first served basis.

The Federal Highway Administration is hosting a webinar series on road pricing and public acceptance. The objective of this three-session, mini-course is to provide information and tools to transportation professionals to help them gain an understanding of public acceptance issues for congestion pricing, and strategies to help them address these issues. The target audience is transportation and public involvement professionals (agency staff, senior managers and consultants) in metropolitan areas considering the implementation of broader congestion pricing strategies. Multiple transportation professionals from various organizations within the same region are encouraged to participate in order to promote meaningful dialog between key stakeholders within participating areas.

The material presented in the webinar will include an overview of congestion pricing concepts and the associated public acceptance issues, followed by an interactive discussion on the experiences of various metropolitan areas, including the Twin Cities, New York City, and Seattle. In addition, there will be opportunities to brainstorm and discuss specific ideas and issues facing the areas represented by course participants. Participants will receive short summary readings for each of the formal case studies prior to the respective webinar session. They will also be given the opportunity to provide feedback both during and after each webinar.

Each webinar session will be approximately 90-minutes. The webinars will be held on August 24, September 7 and September 28 (Tuesdays) from 2 PM to 4 PM EDT. This mini-course will be formatted so that each webinar session will be useful independently. However, participants will gain the most benefit by participating in the entire series, as each session will build upon the previous ones.

Session 1: Gaining Public Acceptance - An Introduction to Road Pricing - August 24, 2010
Presenters: Ken Buckeye (MnDOT), Patrick DeCorla-Souza (FHWA), Lee Munnich (Humphrey Institute), and John Doan (SRF Consulting).
Value Pricing and Public Outreach: Minnesota's Lessons Learned (Munnich, Loveland, TRR 2005)
Value Pricing Education and Outreach Model: I-394 MnPASS Community Task Force (Buckeye, Munnich, TRR 2006)

Session 2: Seeking Approval- Lessons from PLANYC 2030 Congestion Pricing - September 7, 2010
Presenters: Patrick DeCorla-Souza (FHWA), Bruce Schaller (NYC DOT), Lee Munnich (Humphrey Institute), and John Doan (SRF Consulting).
New York City's congestion pricing experience and implications
for road pricing acceptance in the United States
(Schaller, Transport Policy, 2010)
Bruce Schaller NYC commissioner says road pricing must benefit motorists for acceptance (TOLLROADSnews, April 29, 2010)

Session 3: Outreach Strategies for Project Deployment
Featured Case: Seattle Road Pricing Program plus Participant Case (US 36) - September 28, 2010

Presenters: Patty Rubstello (WSDOT), Charles Howard (PSRC), Peggy Catlin (CDOT), Lee Munnich (Humphrey Insitute), John Doan (SRF Consulting), Patrick DeCorla-Souza (FHWA).
UPA Marketing Plan (Final Draft 8-18-2010)
Transportation 2040 Executive Summary
Final Tolling Committee Report (January 2009)

Participants may review summary readings for each of the formal case studies prior to the respective webinar session. They will also be given the opportunity to provide feedback both during and after each webinar and suggest case studies for future webinars.

To register for these courses, please click on the individual session below:

Session 1, August 24, 2010 Register Now!
Session 2, September 7, 2010 Register Now!
Session 3, September 28, 2010 Register Now!

Note: Continuing Education Units may be available for participants through the University of Minnesota. Professional Development Hours Credit Statement for Registrant Records

Friday, August 13, 2010

Survey: Americans Support Automated Speed Enforcement

In Arizona, there has recently been heated debate about a law to monitor speeding with automated devices, such as stationary cameras and radars monitored from afar. Around the country, these "automated speed enforcement (ASE)" proposals are starting to get more serious consideration, because there is research indicating that such tools increase compliance with speed limit laws and decrease related crashes and fatalities. ASE is already in use in some parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington, DC.

The University of Minnesota's Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) wanted to learn more about American drivers' attitudes on this issue. What we found was interesting.

At first glance, the public seems wary -- only 43% supported using these automated tools on "all roads." BUT, and this is a very significant "but," an overwhelming majority of American drivers supported using automated speed enforcement on some roads. For instance, an overwhelming 87% supported using it "on roads near schools," 83% supported using them "on roads where many people have died," and 75% supported using them "on roads where many people violate the speed limit."

Speed Enforcement.JPG

So, how do you design an automated speed law that garners strong public support? Pick your spots carefully.

A number of aspects of ASE is appealing to Americans. One particularly attractive pro-ASE argument tested was "no one has to worry about tickets if they simply obey the law," with 69% finding that either "very convincing" (41%) or "somewhat convincing" (28%). Another argument that was particularly persuasive was "speeding kills thousands of innocent people, so current methods aren't effective enough and new approaches are needed." Seventy-two percent of Americans found that argument either "very convincing" (33%) or "somewhat convincing" (39%).

On the other hand, the opposition arguments that were most convincing to respondents were "it would cost too many tax dollars to buy, install and maintain all of the cameras," "the government would invade privacy with the information they could gather," and "drivers would find ways to evade the camera and radar systems and avoid the law." Those are the primary concerns supporters of automated speed enforcement need to address to gain public support.

The bottom line? Americans do have understandable questions about the cost, privacy and effectiveness of automated speed enforcement technology, but they are open to piloting the approach in some areas, because they do believe the approach could save lives.

In other words, the new CERS survey delivers the same message as the automated speed devices out on the streets - proceed, at a safe speed.

For more information go to:

CERS National Rural Road Safety Public Opinion Survey

Friday, July 2, 2010

Integrating Pay-as-you-drive Insurance and Mileage-based Road User Fees

On April 19, 2010, a workshop on integrating pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) insurance and mileage-based road user fees was held at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. The workshop brought together representatives from the insurance industry and researchers and professionals involved with mileage-based user fees. The purpose of the workshop was to have a discussion and gauge the interest of the insurance industry in partnering on pilot projects related to PAYD insurance and mileage-based user fees.

Various perspectives were expressed from the insurance representatives and the interest level in partnering on future pilots was very high if the insurance companies would be offered the freedom to design the projects to meet their own needs, while competing for government funding based on how well the companies' proposed pilots would also meet government needs. Company interest became more mixed if government were to have a greater direct role in designing the pilot, choosing technology, etc. Companies did not want to participate in pilots that had a forced end point, either because the government would insist upon such an end point or would remove monitoring equipment from vehicles thereby making continuation infeasible.

In general, companies that were less far along in developing their own PAYD insurance programs expressed greater flexibility in their willingness to partner with government on pilots than companies that already have well developed PAYD insurance products using in-vehicle
telematics. The industry representatives stated that the information that they would be interested in obtaining from pilots would be data on driving, including not just mileage, but also the time of day and location (e.g., road type, central city or rural, etc.) of the driving. Industry representatives stressed that they would like this data in a raw form, as that would facilitate their ability to learn as much as possible about driving behavior and claims' risk and to price policies reflective of such risk.

Full summary of the workshop:
Integrating PAYD Insurance and Mileage-based Road User Fees Workshop Summary

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Americans Think About Rural Road Risks and Policy Tools

View a webinar on what Americans think about rural road risks and policy tools by Joe Loveland and Lee Munnich, June 28, 2010

National Rural Road Safety Public Opinon Survey Webinar (48:43 minutes)

CERS slide.JPG
The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) recently conducted an extensive review of research related to various road safety public policies. The CERS study Application of a Rural Safety Policy Improvement Index (RSPII) Framework by Keith Knapp and Brad Utecht concludes that research finds six public policies as particularly effective in reducing rural road fatalities:

* Primary Seat Belt Laws
* Sobriety Checkpoints
* Motorcycle Helmet Mandate
* Graduated Driver's Licenses
* Automated Speed Enforcement
* Breathalyzer-Based Ignition Locks

Adoption of many of these policies has been limited in part by a perception that they lack strong public support. The findings of a new CERS national survey call that assumption into question.

The CERS survey found that Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of policies to reduce road fatalities, including many policies considered by public officials and citizens to be too contentious to implement. Among the survey results is the finding that 91 percent of Americans find it important that local lawmakers work to improve road safety.

New Survey: Americans Want LawmakersTo Take Action To Reduce Road Deaths---Summary

Survey: More support road rules -- USA Today, June 3, 2010

U of M study: People don't mind big brother -- FOX 9 News, June 5, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recently-Opened Bus Rapid Transit Line in Guangzhou, China: A Success

By Ferrol Robinson, Research Fellow, Humphrey Institute

With a population of over 10 million people, a fast-growing economy (over 12 percent in 2007-2008), and an astonishing 18 percent increase in private-car ownership during the same period, Guangzhou is experiencing severe levels of congestion that threaten the city's economic growth as well as its air quality.

Transportation officials in the City of Guangzhou are working hard to remedy this situation: First, with the expansion of the Metro subway system from its current five lines to nine in advance of the Asian Games being hosted by the city this year. Second, and after a relatively short planning and construction period, the city, under the Mayor's leadership, has just inaugurated a world-class Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system (on February 10, 2010). Finally, the city has just held an "International Symposium on Analysis and Countermeasures of Traffic Congestion in Urban Centers" (March 8-9, 2010), with invited experts in congestion pricing from the U.S. and the U.K., as well as domestic transportation experts.

This article focuses on the BRT system. Information used in the description that follows was kindly provided by staff from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy--ITDP. However, the commentary reflects my own understanding of the system.

The BRT route, which runs east-west along Tranhe Avenue, eastward from downtown, is a four-lane facility in the middle of what was an eight-lane expressway, in a 200-foot right-of-way. To accommodate the BRT design, the general-purpose lanes were reduced from eight to six (three lanes per direction), and additional space was taken from sidewalks, parking and green space. The result was four lanes of BRT (two lanes per direction), each 11.5 feet wide, compared to 10.2 feet for traffic lanes.

The BRT line is 14.3 miles long and has 26 stations, which are 13 to 16 feet wide and are located opposite each other. Stations are approximately 950 feet in length and can be accessed by means of pedestrian bridges, with stairs leading to the platforms. The covered stations are attractive, spacious, and are accessed through turnstiles. Passengers wait for their bus behind glass gates that open automatically when buses arrive. Bus access is level with station platforms and fare-prepayment is required. A total of 5,500 bicycle parking stalls are integrated into stations.

Thirty-one bus routes serve the BRT corridor, with a total of 310 buses per hour per direction (equivalent to about 12-second headways at the maximum bus-volume point). One route serves the corridor from beginning to end, while others act as feeders and operate in portions of the corridor only. At the beginning of March, 2010, four weeks after BRT opened for service, ridership had reached more than 800,000 passengers per day or about 25,000 passengers per hour per direction. This level of BRT ridership compares to 1.8 million riders carried by the five existing Metro subway lines. An important design feature is that three BRT stations are connected directly via tunnels to Metro stations. To introduce the public to BRT, the service was offered fare-free during the first two weeks of operation. After that, fares were set at 2 Yuan (about $0.30). In addition, a 40 percent discount is offered after 15 trips are made.

The unquestionable success of the BRT line has come at a price: Passengers are experiencing crush loads (110 passengers per bus, or over 1.3 passengers per square foot). This has led to a decision to soon replace the 40-foot buses with 60-footers. These oversaturated levels of demand have also resulted in average peak-period loading times in excess of one minute, despite fare prepayment and easy access.

The total cost of the BRT system is estimated by the ITDP at $441 million ($31 million per mile), including stations, bridges, system controls, road reconstruction, etc.

During the design and public consultation period, there was substantial opposition to the idea of taking lanes from an already-congested expressway, and many predicted a worsening congestion problem. These fears and concerns have largely died away in light of BRT's high use and popularity and, rather than worsening congestion in the general-purpose lanes, auto speeds are reported to have increased. This can be understood by examining before and after traffic operations on the expressway. If one looks at the four general-purpose lanes in the peak direction before BRT, buses are double parked as they drop off and take on passengers, and occupy at least two of the four lanes available. In addition, buses further interfere with the flow of general traffic when they use a third lane to merge as they leave the bus stops. The resulting traffic condition is quite chaotic and "turbulent", where autos have, in effect, fewer than two lanes available for travel. In the with-BRT situation, buses are segregated from the general traffic, resulting in an orderly, "laminar" flow, where autos have fully three lanes at their disposal. While the general-purpose lanes remain congested, the improvement in flow explains why--with fewer lanes available--congestion in the general-purpose lanes has eased, as revealed by higher traffic speeds. Another contributing factor to the speed increase may have been a mode shift from auto to BRT, because of BRT's better level of service.

Before BRT
Guangzhou congestion.JPG

With BRT
Construction of the BRT line and expansion of the Metro system are substantial and important first steps in implementing countermeasures to deal with the city's current and future congestion problems. However, as discussed at the Guangzhou symposium, and given the city's steep rate of economic and vehicular growth, it is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for the city to "build itself out of congestion", whether through such well-executed transit expansions as the BRT system, or through additional highway expansion. As the City of Guangzhou continues to explore other options, it is important that it give serious consideration to congestion pricing. The bundling of congestion pricing, transit and other demand management countermeasures is considered to offer the best results for managing and reducing congestion and energy consumption, as well as for improving accessibility and air quality.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guangzhou China Seeks to Manage Traffic Congestion

Traffic Congestion Symposium 3-9-2010.JPGI just returned from Guangzhou, China, where I spoke on congestion pricing at an international symposium on traffic congestion countermeasures. Guangzhou is an economically prosperous city of 10 million people that is currently facing a worker shortage. Guangzhou city leaders recognize that traffic congestion will only get worse in the future as more residents buy cars. The city has built five Metro subway lines since 1999 and are planning to open four more Metro lines before the Asian Games are held in Guangzhou later this year.

Those of us invited to talk about congestion pricing made the case that Guangzhou and other Chinese cities should take a serious look at congestion charging, a powerful tool when combined with effective transit systems and other traffic management measures. We cited the cases of Singapore, London ad Stockholm, as cities that have used congestion pricing effectively to reduce urban congestion combined with significant investments in transit systems. U.S. cities such as Minneapolis have also used congestion pricing in a more limited way through high-occupancy toll lanes that also serve as transit corridors.

But the most impressive thing I saw during my visit to Guangzhou was their new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The Guangzhou BRT system just opened in February 2010, and ridership is already more than 800,000 boardings per day. The city leaders and transportation professionals we met with all seemed smart, innovative and prepared to take on the tough challenge of managing congestion. Keep your eye on Guangzhou.

Guangzhou Congestion before BRT
Guangzhou congestion before BRT.JPG

Guangzhou City Street with New BRT Station
Guangzhou BRT station.JPG

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