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Access to jobs by transit increases in many U.S. metros

Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit.

The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.

Though rankings of the top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit remain unchanged from the previous year, new data comparing changes within each of the 49 largest U.S. metros over one year helped researchers identify the places with the greatest increases in access to jobs by transit. Cincinnati and Charlotte improved more than 11 percent. Seattle, which ranks 8th for job accessibility by transit, improved nearly 11 percent. In all, 36 of the 49 largest metros showed increases in job accessibility by transit.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Transportation research

New video traces progress of accessibility research

CTS has been celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a look back at significant milestones. One of our goals for the anniversary was to show how research progresses over time to lead to new knowledge.

Today at our annual Transportation Research Conference, we debuted a video about an important research topic: accessibility metrics. In the new video, Andrew Owen, the director of the U’s Accessibility Observatory, explains how accessibility looks at the end-to-end purpose of transportation: fulfilling people’s need to reach destinations.

Posted in 30th anniversary, Accessibility (access to destinations), Transportation research

CTS receives ITS Minnesota achievement award

CTS was honored to receive this year’s Local Agency Technology Initiative Award from ITS Minnesota at the organization’s Fall Forum on October 17. The annual award recognizes a local agency for their achievements in advancing ITS technology in Minnesota.

According to ITS Minnesota, CTS received the 2017 award for outstanding contributions to the ITS community through the research and development of new strategies to improve the safety and efficiency of travel throughout Minnesota.

Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Transportation research

Engines lab receives $1.4 million to improve delivery vehicle energy efficiency

The University of Minnesota’s Thomas E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory has received $1.4 million to research ways to boost the energy efficiency of cloud-connected delivery vehicles. The funding was awarded by the NEXTCAR Program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

The U’s NEXTCAR project researchers are partnering with UPS and electric vehicle manufacturing company Workhorse to improve the energy efficiency of medium-duty delivery vehicles through real-time powertrain optimization using two-way vehicle-to-cloud connectivity.

Posted in Engines, Freight, Technology, Transportation research

Humphrey School works to ensure self-driving vehicles are accessible to all

A driverless bus on a city streetWhen Myrna Peterson wants to visit downtown Grand Rapids, Minnesota, from her home two miles outside the city limits, she uses the most convenient vehicle she has: her motorized wheelchair. Peterson, who has been in a wheelchair since she was seriously injured in a 1995 car accident, has few other options to get around town.

Grand Rapids, a city of about 11,000 people in north central Minnesota, is like many other small communities in Greater Minnesota. It has limited bus service, especially during the evenings and on weekends. People with mobility issues, like Peterson, face even more constraints when trying to go shopping, get to an appointment, or go out to dinner.

That’s why Peterson has become an advocate for more accessible transportation in her community, and wants Grand Rapids to be the location of a pilot program to test driverless vehicles. Peterson served on a task force, along with researchers from the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and CTS, to examine issues of equity and access to driverless cars for people with low incomes or disabilities.

Posted in Accessibility (for people with disabilities), Planning, Rural transportation, Technology, Transportation research

Report summarizes work on transportation policy and economic competitiveness

The U’s Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness (TPEC) Program was formed in 2013 to provide a better understanding of the impacts of transportation policies and innovations on Minnesota’s economy. A new report outlining TPEC’s progress to date is available on the TPEC website.

Housed in the State and Local Policy Program of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, TPEC creates objective knowledge to inform decision making. Researchers focus on three overarching topics: transportation finance, industry clusters and freight infrastructure, and technology.

Posted in Economics, Planning, Transportation research

Untangling the safety impacts of Minnesota’s I-35W improvements

MnPASS system on I-35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota.With the aim of reducing congestion on the Twin Cities’ highly traveled I-35W corridor between the Minnesota River and I-94, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began a major set of I-35W improvements in 2009 as part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA). Among the improvements was the addition of a priced dynamic shoulder lane (PDSL) on parts of the 17-mile stretch of highway; however, following the opening of these improvements, the frequency of rear-end crashes increased in certain sections—especially in the PDSL regions.

To untangle the underlying causes of this increase, MnDOT enlisted the help of researchers in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering. “Our primary objective was to determine if these increases were direct effects of the improvements or if they were due to changes in the traffic conditions,” says Professor Gary Davis, the principal investigator. “MnDOT was interested in extending some or all of these improvements to other corridors but needed to know what the safety impacts were to aid its decision making.”

Posted in Infrastructure, Safety, Technology, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Urban transportation
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