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Operations and Policy Implications for Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Traffic Incident Management
PI: Charles Stevens
Transportation agencies and emergency responders are continually seeking new technologies and systems (especially for major incidents) that can improve incident response, monitoring, and clearance. This research explores the potential application of one such system/technology under consideration for that use – unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Commonly referred to as drones in military applications, public and civil UAS could prove to be a flexible and useful tool for transportation agencies and emergency responders.
Understanding Congestion Context and a Tool to Help Choose the Right Mitigation Strategies
PI: Phil Lasley
Cities of every size face growing traffic and mobility issues, making traveling more frustrating and difficult for everyone. Many strategies to fix congestion and mobility focus on a single location, a single type of problem, or a single concept that then generates few or limited solutions. One strategy alone or taken out of context may not solve the systemic and underlying issues (and may even worsen the problem). Researchers have identified over 100 individual strategies to address congestion and mobility, but the purpose, benefits and setting in which each should or should not be used is often misunderstood or forgotten. The purpose of this report and congestion strategy selection tool is to aid policy makers in shaping the broader transportation discussion, assist practitioners and planners in addressing congestion in their regions, and support the general public in their understanding of the context and potential solutions for travel issues.
Managed Lanes in Texas: A Review of the Application of Congestion Pricing
PI: Nick Wood
Managed/express toll lanes with variable toll rates have been implemented in Texas and more are planned for other major travel corridors in the state. So is there a next step? This research explores the use of lane pricing in Texas and its potential evolution to additional transportation pricing applications that address congestion. Topics examined include pricing effects on congestion mitigation, potential business cases for freight and transit, public reaction to paying a direct fee for premium service, and income and geographic equity concerns.
Improving Texas Incident Management Programs
PI: Tim Lomax
Crashed, stalled, or disabled vehicles account for about one-quarter of all travel delay in major cities, and a much higher amount in small cities and rural areas where congestion is not usually a problem. There is an opportunity for Texas to lead the country in addressing this problem with relatively low-cost, high-return techniques that will help Texans get where they want to be safer, faster, and with a more predictable travel time. Implementing best practices can also help reduce injuries to the first responder community. The Policy Brief for this research effort offers a concise summary of the current status of incident management programs in Texas cities, and also illustrates a number of best practices and potential areas of improvement for such programs. The Technical Report outlines in greater detail the review of literature and practices for the programs that were studied.
The Future of TDM: Technology and Demographic Shifts and Their Implications for Transportation Demand Management
PI: Stacy Bricka
This research provides a contemporary understanding of TDM through an evaluation of emerging tools and programs and how well those tools and programs are anticipated to be relevant based on the influence of shifting demographics and emerging technologies on travel behavior in Texas. The objective is to evaluate these programs developed 30+ years ago as compared to known shifts in demographics and impacts of technologies to identify where and how the traditional strategies could be leveraged to provide more relevant travel options.
Commuter Tax Benefits
PI: Stacy Bricka
This policy brief examines the commuter tax benefit, which is a voluntary benefit program that allows employers to provide discounted or pre-tax transportation benefits to their employees. This voluntary benefit is one of eight types of statutory employee benefits that are excluded from gross income that would be subject to federal tax. Under the program, commuters are able to pay for qualifying transportation expenses with pre-tax income. These expenses are excluded from an employee’s gross income for income tax purposes and from an employee’s wages for calculation of employer payroll taxes.
Connecting Demand Management and Economic Development Activities
PI: Stacy Bricka
Most business decisions on where to locate consider freight and services access, but not the employee access to transportation. Specifically, the current economic development process largely focuses on educating potential businesses about access to transportation facilities with respect to business operations, but the details do not extend to available travel modes for the employees commuting to work. As a result, most employer-based programs for travel options are developed after the fact and are somewhat limited in scope and scale. This policy brief presents details on the possible root causes for this disconnect and identifies opportunities for improving the communication and coordination efforts of economic development and transportation demand management efforts at the time of site location decisions.
Austin State Agency Congestion Footprint
PI: Stacy Bricka
Because Austin is the state capital, a high proportion (about 8 percent) of the region’s 880,000 workers are state employees, which makes the State of Texas one of the single largest employers in the Austin metropolitan statistical area. Focusing on the central Austin region (the area bounded by MoPac on the west, I-35 on the east, Oltorf Street on the south, and US 183 on the north), 19 percent of the 226,000 total workers in that region are state workers. The purpose of this research was to determine the extent to which this large concentration of state workers influences Austin-area congestion.
It's About Time: Investing in Transportation to Keep Texas Economically Competitive
PI: David Ellis
The March 2011 report from the 2030 Committee, “It’s About Time: Investing in Transportation to Keep Texas Economically Competitive”, provides updated details about transportation challenges in Texas and the possible solutions to those challenges. The report was adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission on March 31, 2011.
Mobility Investment Priorities Project
PI: Tim Lomax
The Texas Legislature in 2011 set aside $300 million to get the state’s highest-priority roadway projects moving, and directed TTI to help the Texas Department ofTransportation and local agencies pursue those projects and explore the best ways to finance them.
Status of travel demand management efforts
PI: Stacy Bricka
Most travel demand management (TDM) programs focus on the commute trip, with a goal of reducing peak-hour congestion, although a few programs take a more holistic approach. This brief provides an overview of current TDM efforts (as of spring 2014), including a review of TDM strategies championed by the public sector and recent initiatives undertaken by the private sector.
Improving Resource Allocation Through Layered Data Analysis
PI: David Schrank
This research effort demonstrates how data from several sources can be layered, so that decisions ensure the best use of available resources. Researchers examined data that illustrated congestion levels, crash frequency, pavement quality, bridge quality, and freight value to create the TOSTADA (TOol using STAcked DAta). A roadway safety project, for example, may also provide improvements in congestion, bridge and pavement conditions and value of freight moved. The stacked data analysis can provide for more comprehensive information for public engagement, improve the understanding of the relationship between transportation costs and benefits and lead to better project comparison and selection processes.
How TNCs are Changing the Market for Transportation with On-Demand Mobility
PI: Maarit Moran
TNCs are among a growing suite of multimodal, on-demand services using new technology to supply innovative and convenient travel options in urban markets. These services raise questions about changing traveler preferences, effects on public transit, disruption to existing regulatory structures, availability of service to people with disabilities, potential abuse of travelers’ personally identifiable information, and broad social and economic impacts. This project will review current and projected TNC services across Texas and the US and examine the impact that on-demand services may have on service reliability, congestion, safety, impaired driving, and transportation network efficiency. Results will inform state policy makers of implications for transportation policy in Texas.
Discover what legislation states have passed to address TNCs
Research in Progress
Estimating Congestion Benefits of Transportation Projects
PI: Phil Lasley
Knowing how much or how little a project or set of mitigation strategies can reduce congestion is a powerful tool for ensuring the state gets the biggest bang for their buck. An even more powerful tool is forecasting that benefit five or ten years into the future. Increasing the efficiency of the existing network could dramatically reduce the gap between current funding and future estimated needs. Currently, there is no mechanism to estimate the congestion benefits of projects or programs (other than what is available for adding new lanes or roads) that involve non-traditional or multiple mitigation strategies, making this task more of an art than a science.
Building on work first started under the Rider 42 Mobility Investment Priorities project, researchers are improving a tool that was quickly developed to estimate congestion benefits for corridors or a total system network. Researchers will update and improve the methodology to incorporate real speed data and benefit information from multiple other mitigation strategies.
Identifying Transportation Solutions that Promote Healthy Aging in Texas
PI: Ben Ettelman
This project is evaluating innovative methods and best practices for urban and rural transportation systems to support and promote healthy aging for the state’s population. Researchers are examining how state, regional, and local authorities are currently meeting the transportation needs of aging Texans and also documenting service gaps and plans for meeting future needs. Further, researchers are documenting policies adopted in other states, current public opinion on aging and mobility, and emerging technologies and strategies.
Relationship Between Congestion and Housing Choice (Corridor Assessment)
PI: Phil Lasley
The results of this research will enable state policy makers to better understand how the state’s urban congestion problems affect development decisions and, in turn, how much reliance can be placed on traditional capital or operational improvements versus policy and planning decisions (at the corridor, regional, and state levels). A combination of strategies will be used in most cases, but the role of the various types of solutions is important. The results will provide insight into the benefits of relating development and other policy and transportation investment decisions. Additionally, policy and decision makers will be able to improve the type, scale, and timeliness of transportation improvements for specific corridors as needs and opportunities arise.
Understanding the factors that determine where people live and how they travel will enable a “Complete Policy” approach to fiscal responsibility. By combining targeted capital improvements with context-sensitive policy, policy makers could simultaneously solve pressing issues in transportation investment and development policy while ensuring and enriching the economic return to the state.
Depending upon the results of the research, any necessary regulatory and procedural changes that may be required to implement portions of the research will be explored.
Understanding Data and Its Use in Transportation
PI: Kristi Miller
Technology and the data it produces has an ever-increasing impact on transportation. Data privacy, data leveraging, telematics, and automated vehicles are just a few of the many topics in which transportation-related data and its management have impact on the transportation system and its users. Legislators and practitioners alike recognize the need to better understand the magnitude of transportation data, its uses and impacts. This research will develop a conceptual framework of what topics in the data area are most important in the short- and long-term, identify what information/research related to these topic areas already exists, and identify what information/research related to these topic areas still needs to be conducted.
Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Technology for Improved Incident Management Clearance and Mobility – Phase 2
PI: Charles Stevens
This research is testing the effectiveness of UAVs for incident management response. Researchers are exploring potential policy concerns regarding the use of commercial vendors over publicly owned property and over private citizens and to determine if this potential application of UAV technology warrants consideration for implementation.
Transportation Network Companies: Mobility Impact, Public Perception, Legal and Regulatory Implications
PI: Maarit Moran
TTI has been engaged in research that focuses on transportation network companies (TNCs). Thirty-seven states have passed legislation to regulate TNC operations and several more have bills under consideration. Building upon the regulatory review started in 2016, researchers will update a database of TNC-related legislation across the United States and local TNC regulations in Texas. This research will identify potential specific areas of focus for policymakers regarding TNCs. It was also continue to investigate the implications of TNCs in the context of existing regulations and laws, as well as the potential mobility impacts for Texans across the state. This research will leverage current work being done in a hot topic area and create a primary data set rather than relying on secondary data.
Value of Urban Parking Spaces: A Framework for Reducing Congestion and Increasing Revenues
PIs: Brett Huntsman, Phil Lasley
This project is investigating the effects that a smart parking system has on land value, state and local revenue, and congestion while developing a model framework that cities or the state of Texas can use to create and capture development and congestion benefits. A flexible framework that can be used in metropolitan areas of Texas is being created to aid state and local government officials in implementing smart parking systems to realize these congestion and economic benefits throughout the state.
Relationship Between Congestion and Factors Affecting Housing Choice
PI: Phil Lasley
Understanding where people decide to live and the factors that influence housing location decisions are important to better predicting the distance and time that people will live from their work. This project will improve the knowledge about the role that traffic congestion plays in motivating a person’s housing/work location decision among several possible factors. The resulting assessment will enable policy makers to better understand how much of the state’s congestion problem can be solved by traditional capital or operational improvements versus policy and planning decisions, and situations where a combination of strategies is necessary. The assessment will provide insight to enable a comprehensive policy approach to addressing urban and suburban congestion.
Testimony to the Texas Legislature
Tim Lomax Testimony June 23, 2014
Testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee on the work of the Mobility Investment Priorities Project, addressing the state’s most congested roadways.
Download the Testimony
Timothy J. Lomax, Ph.D., P.E.
Dr. Lomax has been extensively involved in urban mobility research for more than 30 years. He developed and applied a methodology to assess areawide traffic congestion levels and congestion costs. The Urban Mobility Report examines trends in urban area mobility in 101 cities throughout the U.S. A related pooled-fund research project has developed several performance measures and analytical techniques to describe mobility to a wide range of audiences including transportation professionals, public policy decision-makers, the media and the general public.
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