As social media comes to permeate every aspect of modern life, public transit is no exception.

Transit agencies are increasingly making social media an integral part of their day-to-day management, using it to connect with riders about system alerts, live transit arrival information, service disruptions and customer feedback.

However, there is very little evidence to show how effective these efforts really are in achieving agency goals.

Measuring the Impacts of Social Media on Advancing Public Transit, a NITC project led by Jenny Liu of Portland State University, seeks to provide a better understanding of how transit agencies use social media and to develop some performance measures to assess the impacts of social media on promoting public transit.

This project aims to measure how social media actually impacts agency goals like increasing recruitment and retention of transit riders; increasing resources and customer satisfaction; addressing system performance efficiency; and improving employee productivity and morale.

A survey of 27 public transportation providers across the country found that although 94% of those surveyed agencies used some form of social media, only 28% had a social media plan or strategy prior to implementation.

Liu’s research explores the types of performance measures that could...

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Liming WangTransportation Cost Index: A Comprehensive Performance Measure for Transportation and Land Use Systems and its Application in OR, FL, and UT” is a Portland State University research project that will be presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

Portland State University researchers Liming Wang and Jenny Liu are developing a comprehensive performance measure that enables planners and the public to evaluate the performance of transportation and land use systems over time and across geographic areas.

Transportation engineers have a long history of using performance measures such as the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) to evaluate the operation of the transportation system. Traditionally, such measures heavily focus on the traffic condition, especially for drivers. 

Since the last decade, especially with the...

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OTREC Researcher Miguel Figliozzi, of Portland State University, recently explored the collection of freight data through a smartphone application.
Freight data is usually incomplete, scarce, and expensive to collect. Many carriers and shippers are reluctant to install trackers on their vehicles due to privacy concerns, and the enormous variety of companies and people involved in the supply chain makes it difficult to gather a comprehensive collection of truck data.
According to The Oregon Freight Plan, Oregon is the ninth most trade-dependent state in the nation. Because most of that trade moves by freight, the transportation network is crucial to the state’s economic stability.
Knowing the origins and destinations of commercial vehicles, as well as their speed and direction, would help planners sustain an effective transportation system.
Figliozzi’s research centers on a new pilot project which is being implemented by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to simplify the collection of taxes.
 
Oregon is one of the few states to charge a commercial Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax.  Truck Road...
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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has identified some “livability principles” which include healthy, safe and walkable neighborhoods and safe, reliable and economical transportation choices.

Transit agencies and local governments routinely use metrics to evaluate the performance of transit systems, but a uniform standard of transit data collection does not exist outside of the reporting requirements of the National Transit Database (NTD). Because of the types of data collected for the NTD, the focus of performance measurements is often on ridership and financial performance, leaving aside the question of livability.

In a new project sponsored by OTREC, Principal Investigator Marc Schlossberg, associate professor in the department of planning, public policy and management at the University of Oregon, along with co-investigators Jennifer Dill of Portland State University and Nico Larco, also of the University of Oregon, set out to create a set of tested and refined performance indicators that transit agencies across the nation can use to evaluate and improve their system performance in relation to livability goals.

Traditionally, transit systems are thought of exclusively in their wholeness: how the system serves a region, city or community. In order to evaluate...

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Generally, public transit is safer than other personal travel modes. However, not all transit modes are created equal: compared with other forms of transit, buses have a higher safety incident rate.
 
For example, while buses in fixed route service accounted for 39% of the transit industry’s passenger miles in 2009, their associated casualty and liability costs accounted for 51% of the industry total. In 2010 TriMet, the Portland, Oregon region’s transit provider, formed a safety task force to review its bus operations.
The task force recommended that TriMet develop a comprehensive performance monitoring program to better integrate safety in its planning practices. Like other urban transit providers, TriMet was already sending safety performance information to the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database. The task force recommended seeking a deeper understanding of the types of incidents that are occurring, and of when, where, and why they occur. The task force also recommended that operators complete a recertification program annually to ensure that safe driving practices remain fresh. 
In addition to keeping operators current on their safety training, the annual recertification program presented researchers with a unique opportunity to gain a firsthand perspective of the safety risks that bus operators encounter on a daily basis. Thus a survey of operator...
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Freight transportation is a vital component of Oregon’s economy, and many expect shipments to nearly double in the next decade. Making informed decisions to better manage the freight transportation system requires monitoring freight movement and freight transportation performance. Because most of that freight moves by truck, this means better understanding those trucks’ movements.

Existing methods for tracking individual trucks can require buying expensive new equipment, however, and raise privacy concerns. In his report, “Exploratory Methods for Truck Re-Identification in a Statewide Network Based on Axle Weight and Axle Spacing Data to Enhance Freight Metrics,” Christopher Monsere investigated an alternative: Using only existing vehicle sensors, is it feasible to reidentify trucks after they have traveled long distances?

Monsere and his research team used data from existing weigh-in-motion stations, which record axle weight and spacing and gross vehicle weight. They then developed and applied algorithms to match truck measurements at separate sites, allowing them to reidentify the same vehicles at other weigh stations. 

The team found that the algorithms can match trucks with around 90 percent accuracy, while measuring around 95 percent of the total trucks that cross both stations. The algorithms also can be adjusted to yield greater accuracy by reducing the total number of trucks matched....

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The second Oregon Transportation Summit followed in the footsteps of last year's inaugural summit, bringing academics and transportation professionals from a wide range of disciplines together to share their work. This year's summit drew even more people than the first.

New Yorker writer Peter Hessler gave the keynote address, reading and recounting stories from his book "Country Driving." Sometimes somber, often hilarious, Hessler's presentation enchanted the luncheon crowd at Portland State University's Smith Memorial Student Union Sept. 10.

Joshua Schank of the Bipartisan Policy Center gave a frank assesment of performance measures in transportation and the chance for change in a deeply divided Congress. Terry Moore of ECONorthwest gave a detailed and entertaining local response.

Popular breakout session topics included the Transportation Planning Rule cagematch, performance-based desicion-making and transportation governance.

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Recent federal and state policies are placing increasing emphasis on using comprehensive transportation performance measures to guide transportation decision making processes covering policy areas ranging from mobility, safety, economy and livability, to issues of equity and environment. While it is relatively easy to build consensus on mobility measures that center on the transportation system alone, it is much harder for performance measures to incorporate both transportation and land use, loosely defined as accessibility measures, even with continuous efforts to catalog and design such measures.

Two projects at PSU sponsored by Oregon DOT and National Institute of Transportation Communities (NITC) aim to to develop and evaluate Transport Cost Index (TCI), a comprehensive performance measure for transportation and land use, in order to fill important gaps in popular accessibility measures: 

  1. TCI is a composite indicator that is able to present an overall picture of a community’s accessibility, while at the same time is relatively easy to interpret for...
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The US 101 Corridor Mobility Master Plan in San Luis Obispo was a two-year planning effort that evaluated the 70 mile corridor on 12 performance measures. This collaborative effort was led by the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG).

Performance based planning is becoming more important for agencies receiving State and Federal funding. Smaller, rural regional agencies will have to find ways to collect, report, and use performance metrics with limited resources. SLOCOG's first performance-based planning effort was the US 101 Corridor Mobility Master Plan, funded through a State grant.

Funding for this project came from a Partnership Planning Grant awarded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) along with SLOCOG matching funds. The study team — made up of staff from 6 cities, the county, SLOCOG, Caltrans, the Air Pollution Control District, and the Regional Transit Authortiy — evaluated the corridor using 12 performance metrics and input from the public. 140 project alternatives were evaluated on several measures of effectiveness to determine which improvements were more beneficial to the corridor. SLOCOG used the results...

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