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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NITC researchers have tested a method of collecting transportation behavior data using a smartphone app, with promising results.

The process could save transit agencies “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says lead researcher Christopher Bone, and give them access to comprehensive, real-time data about their ridership, all without compromising passengers’ privacy.

Christopher Bone, Marc Schlossberg, Ken Kato, Jacob Bartruff and Seth Kenbeek of the University of Oregon designed a custom mobile application, which allows passengers to volunteer information about their travel habits, and recruited passengers to use it in a test case.

Their report, “Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data,” was released this month.

Download it here.

Participants were asked to use the app for three weeks on Lane Transit District’s EmX bus line located in the Eugene-Springfield area in western Oregon. Researchers placed sensors on the buses and at stops to detect when someone using the app was boarding. When a user came within range of a sensor, they...

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Topic: Airsage cell phone data and its application in travel modeling
Summary: As part of the initial phase of development for the Idaho Statewide Travel Demand Model, Parsons Brinckerhoff developed a base year auto and truck trip matrix using AirSage cell phone OD data, a statewide network in Cube, traffic counts, and origin-destination matrix estimation (ODME) procedures. To begin, the 4000+ statewide zone system was aggregated into a 700 super zone system for collecting the cell phone OD data. Next, the cell phone data was collected for the month of September 2013 for the following market segments: Average weekday resident HBW, HBO, NHB, and visitor NHB trips. The cell phone trips were then disaggregated to zones using each zone’s share of super zone population and employment. These initial trip matrices were assigned to the daily statewide network using free flow travel time for route impedance and iteratively adjusted to minimize the difference between the estimated link volumes and traffic counts by user class.

This iterative trip matrix balancing procedure, also known as ODME, converged nicely by user class and facility type and produced reasonable flows. The...

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Transportation and Road Weather

Where: Room 204 of the Distance Learning Center Wing of the Urban Center at PSU
Speaker: Rhonda Young, University of Wyoming
Topic: Transportation and Road Weather

Summary: Weather has a tremendous impact on the transportation system and is one of the largest contributors to non-recurring delay and increased crashes.  Road weather is the a multidisciplinary area involving transportation engineers and meteorologists who are working to mitigate the negative effects of weather on the operation and maintenance practices of transportation systems.  The talk covers the broad types of issues being studied in this field and looks at ways in which technology is playing a large part in the proposed solutions.  The issue of weather as a complicating factor in the use of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies  is also discussed.

Bio: Rhonda Young is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Wyoming since 2002 and teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in Traffic Operations, Transportation Planning, Transportation Design and Traffic Safety.  She completed her master and PhD...

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Summary: The transportation system is the backbone of the United States' economy, and transportation is an essential part of everyday life for American citizens. It is essential that the transportation system continue to provide accessibility and connectivity to an ever-evolving global economy. A key way to do so is to embrace, develop and implement new technologies. One of the newest and most promising facets of transportation-related technology is in the field of connected mobility. The vision behind connected mobility is of a transportation system where vehicles, travelers, and infrastructure are all wirelessly connected with one another and able to transmit real-time data about things like weather, location, and vehicle and infrastructure status. Such a degree of connectivity could have substantial benefits for the safety, mobility, and sustainability of the domestic transportation system, including accident prevention and congestion reduction. In recent years, major strides have been made into the research and development of connected mobility technology and some field-testing has commenced, but there is a need for more attention and investment from stakeholders throughout the transportation community and beyond. 

Bio: Robert Bertini is a professor of Civil and Environmental...

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Summary: Ten new megatrends will be presented with a discussion on the resulting shifts on the transportation industry. Details will include a look on broken trends and the new challenges introduced for transportation planning. Thoughts will also be presented introducing a pivot to the current model being pursued by the Connected Vehicle program. Finally, planners will be challenged to consider a new question for the future of our connected communities, you have to come to hear it.

Bio: Ted Trepanier is the Senior Director for the Public Sector with INRIX, Inc.  Prior to joining INRIX, Ted was the Director of Traffic Operations for the Washington State Department of Transportation.  In addition to his extensive background in traffic operations, he has experience in design, planning, project management and toll operations. Ted earned his Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering from Washington State University and Masters in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington.

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ORcycle is a new smartphone application (for both Android and iOS) developed by Transportation, Technology, and People (TTP) lab researchers at Portland State University as part of an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) research project. ORcycle collects user, route, infrastructure, crash, and safety data. ORcycle was successfully launched in early November 2014 and presents many improvements over existing or similar apps. Initial data findings and insights will be presented. Lessons learned as well as opportunities and challenges associated with smartphone data collection methods will be discussed. More information about the app can be found here: http://www.pdx.edu/transportation-lab/orcycle

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