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VTPI Newsletter - Winter 2011

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  • Todd Alexander Litman
    ... VTPI NEWS ... Victoria Transport Policy Institute Efficiency - Equity - Clarity ... Winter 2011 Vol. 11, No. 1 ... The Victoria Transport Policy
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2011

                   VTPI NEWS
              Victoria Transport Policy Institute
                 "Efficiency - Equity - Clarity"
                  Winter 2011    Vol. 11, No. 1
      The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website (http://www.vtpi.org ) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services.
      "The First Casualty of a Non-Existent War: Evaluating Claims of Unjustified Restrictions on Automobile Use, and a Critique of 'Washingtons War On Cars And The Suburbs'" (http://www.vtpi.org/carwars.pdf )
      This report evaluates claims of a war on cars, that is, a coordinated effort to unjustifiably restrict automobile use. Objective analysis indicates that no such war exists. Evidence of a war consists of exaggerated objections to policies such as traffic calming (which increases traffic safety), busways and bike lanes (justified to improve transport options, which helps reduce traffic and parking congestion), and more efficient road and parking pricing (justified to reduce traffic and parking problems, and finance facilities). These policies benefit motorists as well as non-drivers. Truth is often the first victim of war. Policy reform opponents use inaccurate information to exaggerate the costs and underestimate the benefits of these changes, and create unnecessary conflict. An example, critiqued in detail in this report, is Wendell Coxs Washingtons War on Cars and the Suburbs, which contains numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations.
      "Pricing For Traffic Safety: How Efficient Transport Pricing Can Reduce Roadway Crash Risk" (http://www.vtpi.org/price_safe.pdf )
      This report evaluates the traffic safety impacts of transport pricing reforms including efficient road, parking, fuel and insurance pricing, and public transit fare reductions. This analysis indicates that such reforms can provide significant safety benefits. Crash reductions vary depending on the type of price change, the portion of vehicle travel affected, and the quality of transport options available. If implemented to the degree justified on economic efficiency grounds (for example, cost recovery road and parking pricing), these reforms are predicted to reduce traffic casualties by 40-60%. Yet, these benefits are often overlooked. Pricing reform advocates seldom highlight crash reduction benefits, and traffic safety experts seldom advocate these pricing reforms. Critics claim that pricing reforms are regressive, but this is not necessarily true.
      "Introducing Spitsmijden: Experiments With Peak Avoidance Incentives In The Netherlands" (http://www.vtpi.org/spitsmijden.pdf )
      This paper by Stuart Donovan reviews Dutch experiments with peak-hour avoidance incentives, which are collectively referred to as the spitsmijden. This research indicates how travelers respond to positive price signals.
      "Changing Vehicle Travel Price Sensitivities: The Rebounding Rebound Effect" (www.vtpi.org/VMT_Elasticities.pdf )
      There is growing interest in the use of transportation pricing reforms (more efficient road, parking, insurance and fuel pricing) to achieve various planning objectives, including congestion reduction, road and parking facility cost savings, accident reductions, energy conservation and pollution emission reductions. An important factor in the analysis of these strategies is the sensitivity of vehicle travel with regard to vehicle operating costs. Some studies found that U.S. transport price elasticities declined toward the end of the Twentieth Century, but recent research indicates that price sensitivity has started to increase. This indicates that the rebound effect is rebounding. This supports implementation of pricing reforms over strategies such as fuel efficiency mandates.
      "Contrasting Visions of Urban Transport: Critique of Fixing Transit: The Case For Privatization" (http://www.vtpi.org/cont_vis.pdf )
      This report critiques the Cato Foundation paper, Fixing Transit: The Case For Privatization, which recommends that all transit services be privatized and self-financed. It claims this would improve efficiency and service quality, but all the private transit examples it describes are inferior quality or high price; none offer the level of integration, quality and affordability provided by public transit systems in most communities. Fixing Transit argues that public transit provides little economic, social or environmental benefit, but the analysis is incomplete, biased, and inaccurate. Note: this report has been significantly expanded from the version described in our previous newsletter.
      Evaluating Seattle Parking Tax Options (http://www.vtpi.org/seattle_parking_tax.pdf )
      This report by Todd Litman, Daniel Carlson, Aaron Blumenthal and John Lee describes and evaluates parking tax options for possible implementation by the City of Seattle. It concludes that taxes on non-residential parking facilities are most consistent with the citys strategic planning objectives.
      Parking Costs, Pricing and Revenue Calculator - Developing Country Edition (http://www.vtpi.org/Parking_DC.xls )
      This spreadsheet by Yash Saxena calculates parking facility costs, cost recovery pricing, and revenue generation. Users can adjust inputs to represent various conditions and assumptions. This version includes default cost values based on developing country conditions.
                  *     *     *     *     *

      Below are a few of many recently updated VTPI documents:
      "Affordable-Accessible Housing In A Dynamic City: Why and How To Increase Affordable Housing Development In Accessible Locations" (www.vtpi.org/aff_acc_hou.pdf )
      "Safe Travels: Evaluating Mobility Management Traffic Safety Impacts" (www.vtpi.org/safetrav.pdf )
      "Guide to Calculating Mobility Management Benefits" (www.vtpi.org/tdmben.pdf )
                  *     *     *     *     *

      Recent Planetizen Blogs (http://www.planetizen.com/blog/2394 ):
      "Threats Of Gridlock Are Greatly Exaggerated" (http://www.planetizen.com/node/48451 )
      "Highways And Labor Markets II" (http://www.planetizen.com/node/47212 ).
                  *     *     *     *     *


      Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity (http://www.growingwealthier.info )
      This report by Chuck Kooshian and Steve Winkelman of the Center for Clean Air Policy investigates ways that land use planning policies affect economic development and various principles that can help guide new development in ways that respond to emerging market demand and bolster the economy. The analysis indicates that smart growth development can help communities, businesses and individuals make money, save money and improve quality of life.
      Driven Apart: How Sprawl is Lengthening Our Commutes and Why Misleading Mobility Measures are Making Things Worse (http://www.ceosforcities.org/work/driven-apart )
      This study by Joe Cortright of CEOs for Cities critically evaluates the Texas Transportation Institutes "Urban Mobility Report." It concludes that it is technically flawed and provides misleading guidance as to the nature of congestion problems and optimal solutions. Video at http://echo360.pdx.edu/ess/echo/presentation/0b84f6d1-b8eb-4e1f-b759-f6373baab019/mediacontent.mp3 .

      Integrated Transport Assessment Guidelines (www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/422 )
      This Land Transport New Zealand report provides national guidelines for integrated transport assessment (ITA) of traffic and local environmental and social impacts, based on an extensive review of international best practices. It recommends that local and regional transport authorities adopt an ITA approach when assessing transportation policies and projects. It includes guidelines on site trip generation analysis, impact analysis and community consultation.
      Transit-Oriented Development Planning Tool (www.reconnectingamerica.org/public/stories/2501 )
      This guidebook by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development is a user-friendly tool for evaluating conditions around transit stations and determining how they influence factors such as per capita vehicle ownership and travel, consumer transportation costs, public transit ridership, energy consumption and pollution emissions. It uses real performance outcomes measured at more than 3,700 existing transit station areas in 39 regions around the United States. This information gives stakeholders the ability to evaluate the performance of the transit zones in their neighborhoods.
      Modernizing Public Transportation: Lessons Learned From Major Bus Improvements In Latin America And Asia (www.embarq.org/sites/default/files/EMB2010_BRTREPORT.pdf )
      This report by Dario Hidalgo and Aileen Carrigan summarizes information on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, based on research and interviews with planners and public officials in cities and transport agencies around the world. It reviews and synthesizes information regarding challenges experienced by transport system decision makers in three key areas: planning, implementation and operations.

      Urban Bus Toolkit: Tools and Options for Reforming Urban Bus Systems (www.ppiaf.org/ppiaf/sites/ppiaf.org/files/documents/toolkits/UrbanBusToolkit/assets/home.html )
      This toolkit produced by the World Bank supported Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility is designed to help government officials and policy makers evaluate existing and alternative urban bus systems in developing and transitional countries. It offers practical advice to enact fundamental system reforms.
      Europes Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation (www.itdp.org/documents/European_Parking_U-Turn.pdf )
      This report by Michael Kodransky and Gabrielle Hermann for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy reviews successful parking practices in European cities. In the last few decades a growing number of European cities have led the world in changing the direction of parking policy. These policies have helped achieve revitalized and thriving town centers, more efficient transport systems, reductions in air pollution; and generally improved quality of life. 

      Do Roads Pay for Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding, (www.uspirg.org/news-releases/transportation-news/transportation-news/washington-d.c.-myth-busted-road-costs-not-covered-by-gas-taxes )
      A new report by Tony Dutzik, Benjamin Davis and Phineas Baxandall indicates that user fees cover barely half the costs of building and maintaining roads.

      Oil Vulnerability in Melbourne (www.sensibletransport.org.au/sites/sensibletransport.org.au/files/Oil%20Vulnerability%20in%20Melbourne%20Feb%202010.pdf )
      This study by the Institute for Sensible Transport assesses the household financial risks of oil price increases. An Oil Vulnerability Index is created using transport and income data for various areas of Victoria, Australia. The analysis indicates that fast-growing outer suburbs are particularly vulnerable to oil price rises due to a combination of high levels of automobile travel and relatively low incomes.
      Eradicating Fossil Fuel Subsidies (http://www.iea.org/weo/index.asp)
      The International Energy Agency recommends eradicating fossil fuel subsidies to enhance energy security, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollution, and bring economic benefits in its annual World Energy Outlook report.

      G20 Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Phase Out: A review of current gaps and needed changes to achieve success (http://www.earthtrack.net/documents/g20-fossil-fuel-subsidy-phase-out-review-current-gaps-and-needed-changes-achieve-success )
      This brief investigates policy and planning reforms needed to phase out existing subsidies to fossil fuel production and consumption.
      Impacts Of VMT Reduction Strategies On Selected Areas and Groups (www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/751.1.pdf ).
      This report, sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation, investigates the equity impacts of the states vehicle miles travelled (VMT) reduction targets (18% reduction by 2020, 30% reduction by 2035, and 50% reduction by 2050) and ways to minimize negative impacts on disadvantaged populations. It identified various VMT reduction strategies and evaluated their impacts on various groups and areas. It identified ways to implement VMT reduction programs with the most positive or least negative impacts on disadvantaged groups.
      Commuting by Public Transit and Physical Activity: Where You Live, Where You Work, and How You Get There (http://journals.humankinetics.com/JPAH-supplements-special-issues/jpah-volume-8-supplement-january )
      This study by a leading team of researchers, published in a special issue of the 'Journal of Physical Activity and Health' found that public transit commuters average 5 to 10 more minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, and walked more to services and destinations near home and near the workplace, than transit nonusers, regardless of neighborhood walkability.
      Examining Walkability And Social Capital As Indicators Of Quality Of Life At The Municipal And Neighborhood Scales (www.springerlink.com/content/xtq06270p27r1v0h )
      This article published in 'Applied Research In Quality of Life' examines how walkability enhances social capital, which refers to an individuals or groups networks, personal connections, and involvement. Residents living in neighborhoods of varying walkability in three New Hampshire communities were surveyed about their levels of social capital and travel behaviors. The analysis indicates higher levels of social capital in more walkable neighborhoods.
      Delhi Pedestrian Design Guidelines (www.uttipec.nic.in/PedestrianGuidelines-30Nov09-UTTPEC-DDA.pdf)
      The City of Delhi, India published this detailed guidebook that describes the role of non-motorized modes in an efficient and equitable transport system; defines minimum requirements for the design, size and maintenance of sidewalks, crosswalks and other pedestrian facilities; and describes international best practices for enhancing the pedestrian environment.
      Street Smart Walk Score Beta Test (http://blog.walkscore.com/2011/01/preview-street-smart-walk-score )
      Street Smart Walk Score is an enhanced version of Walk Score that uses walking distances rather than crow-flies distances to calculate your score. It also looks at the underlying road network to compute the number of intersections per square mile and average block length. These two measures are great indicators of walkability
      Urban Road Transportation Externalities: Costs and Choice of Policy Instruments (http://www.wbro.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/06/02/wbro.lkq005.full.pdf+html ).
      This article by Govinda R. Timilsina and Hari B. Dulal estimates the magnitudes of various external costs resulting from urban road transport and discusses potential policy responses, particularly in developing countries.
      Getting Around When Youre Just Getting By: The Travel Behavior and Transportation Expenditures of Low-Income Adults (http://www.transweb.sjsu.edu/MTIportal/research/publications/documents/2806_10-02.pdf ).
      This study by the Mineta Transportation Institute examines how rising transportation costs affect low-income families. It investigated four general areas of interest: travel behavior and transportation spending patterns, the costs and benefits of alternative modes of travel; cost management strategies, and opinions about the effects of changing transportation prices on travel behavior.
      Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication (www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/GER_synthesis_en.pdf ).
      This report by the United Nations Environment Programme advocates economic development policies that increase resource efficiency and reduce pollution emissions. This will require a fundamental shift in investment patterns. The avoid-shift-improve principles include reducing trips through integrated transport and land use planning, shifting to more efficient modes of transport like public and non-motorized modes, and improving vehicles and fuels to reduce urban air pollution and emissions. Investment in public transit and greener vehicles generates significant economic returns.
      Location Efficiency and Housing TypeBoiling it Down to BTUs (www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/location_efficiency_BTU.pdf ).
      This report by the Jonathan Rose Companies for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency illustrates the relationship between household energy consumption and residential development patterns. It concludes that a homes location has a large impact on energy consumption.  People who live in a more compact, transit-accessible area have more housing and transportation choices compared to those who live in spread-out developments where few or no transportation options exist besides driving. 
      Urban Bikeway Design Guide (http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide )
      This new guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials provides state-of-the-practice solutions for creating complete streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists. It is based on the experience of the best cycling cities in the world. It includes a summary of bicycle planning and design guidelines based on real-life experience from cities around the world.
      Costs and Benefits of Bicycling Investments in Portland, Oregon, (http://journals.humankinetics.com/jpah-supplements-special-issues/jpah-volume-8-supplement-january/costs-and-benefits-of-bicycling-investments-in-portland-oregon )
      This study by Thomas Gotschi, published in the 'Journal of Physical Activity and Health,' indicates that bicycle facility investments provide net benefits considering just health care service and fuel cost savings, and far greater economic returns when total benefits to users and society are considered.

      Manual for Calculating Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Global Environmental Facility Transportation Projects (http://www.thegef.org/gef/GEF_C39_Inf.16_Manual_Greenhouse_Gas_Benefits ).
      This manual, developed by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, for the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility provides a step-by-step guide for the development of baseline, impact estimation and calibration of transport projects across a wide range of interventions including transport efficiency improvement, public transport, non-motorized transport, transport demand management, and comprehensive transport strategies.

      Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation (http://www.pewclimate.org/docUploads/Reducing_GHG_from_transportation.pdf ).
      This report by David Greene and Steven E. Plotkin identifies cost effective ways to reduce U.S. transportation greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report provides three plausible scenarios of technology, policy, and public attitudes. The High Mitigation Scenario can reduce transport GHG emissions by as much as 65% by 2050.
      Livability in Transportation Guidebook (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/case_studies/guidebook )
      This Federal Highway Administration guidebook illustrates how livability principles have been incorporated into transportation planning, programming, and project design, using examples from State, regional, and local sponsors.
      200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00cgkfk)
      Hans Roslings lectures combine enormous quantities of public data with a sport's commentator's style to reveal the story of the world's past, present and future development. In this spectacular section of 'The Joy of Stats' he illustrates dynamically two hundred years of development with a plot of life expectancy against income for 200 countries from 1810 to the present.

      Todd Litman
      Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org)
      Phone & Fax 250-360-1560
      1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, CANADA
      “Efficiency - Equity - Clarity”


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