Matching Items (11)

Policy Brief: Infrastructure and Automobile Shifts: Positioning Transit to Reduce Life-Cycle Environmental Impacts for Urban Sustainability Goals

Description

Public transportation systems are often part of strategies to reduce urban environmental impacts from passenger transportation, yet comprehensive energy and environmental life-cycle measures, including upfront infrastructure effects and indirect and

Public transportation systems are often part of strategies to reduce urban environmental impacts from passenger transportation, yet comprehensive energy and environmental life-cycle measures, including upfront infrastructure effects and indirect and supply chain processes, are rarely considered. Using the new bus rapid transit and light rail lines in Los Angeles, near-term and long-term life-cycle impact assessments are developed, including consideration of reduced automobile travel. Energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants are assessed, as well the potential for smog and respiratory impacts.

Results show that life-cycle infrastructure, vehicle, and energy production components significantly increase the footprint of each mode (by 48–100% for energy and greenhouse gases, and up to 6200% for environmental impacts), and emerging technologies and renewable electricity standards will significantly reduce impacts. Life-cycle results are identified as either local (in Los Angeles) or remote, and show how the decision to build and operate a transit system in a city produces environmental impacts far outside of geopolitical boundaries. Ensuring shifts of between 20–30% of transit riders from automobiles will result in passenger transportation greenhouse gas reductions for the city, and the larger the shift, the quicker the payback, which should be considered for time-specific environmental goals.

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Future Life-Cycle Footprints of Passenger Transportation in San Francisco

Description

Vehicle trips presently account for approximately 50% of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions (San Francisco County Transportation Authority, 2008). City and county officials have developed aggressive strategies for the future

Vehicle trips presently account for approximately 50% of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions (San Francisco County Transportation Authority, 2008). City and county officials have developed aggressive strategies for the future of passenger transportation in the metropolitan area, and are determined to move away from a “business as usual” future. This project starts with current-state source data from a life-cycle comparison of urban transportation systems (Chester, Horvath, & Madanat, 2010), and carries the inventoried emissions and energy usage through by way of published future scenarios for San Francisco.

From the extrapolated calculations of future emissions/energy, the implied mix of transportation modes can be backed out of the numbers. Five scenarios are evaluated, from “business as usual” through very ambitious “healthy environment” goals. The results show that when planners and policymakers craft specific goals or strategies for a location or government, those targets, even if met, are unlikely to result in the intended physical outcomes. City and state governments would be wise to support broad strategy goals (like 20% GHG reduction) with prioritized specifics that can inform real projects leading to the goals (for instance, add 5 miles of bike path per year through 2020, or remove 5 parking garages and replace them with transit depots). While these results should not be used as predictions or forecasts, they can inform the crafters of future transportation policy as an opportunity for improvement or a cautionary tale.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012-05

First-Last Mile Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of Multimodal Transit in Los Angeles

Description

With potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions relative to other modes, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may significantly increase human

With potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions relative to other modes, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may significantly increase human and environmental impacts from door-to-door transit trips. Yet little rigorous work has been developed that quantitatively assesses the effects of transit access or egress by automobiles.

This research evaluates the life-cycle impacts of first and last mile trips on multimodal transit. A case study of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is developed. First and last mile automobile trips were found to increase multimodal transit trip emissions, mitigating potential impact reductions from transit usage. In some cases, a multimodal transit trips with automobile access or egress may be higher than a competing automobile trip.

In the near-term, automobile access or egress in some Los Angeles transit systems may account for up to 66% of multimodal greenhouse gas trip emissions, and as much as 75% of multimodal air quality impacts. Fossil fuel energy generation and combustion, low vehicle occupancies, and longer trip distances contribute most to increased multimodal trip impacts. Spatial supply chain analysis indicates that life-cycle air quality impacts may occur largely locally (in Los Angeles) or largely remotely (elsewhere) depending on the propulsion method and location of upstream life-cycle processes. Reducing 10% of transit system greenhouse emissions requires a shift of 23% to 50% of automobile access or egress trips to a zero emissions mode.

A corresponding peer-reviewed journal publication is available here:
Greenhouse Gas and Air Quality Effects of Auto First-Last Mile Use With Transit, Christopher Hoehne and Mikhail Chester, 2017, Transportation Research Part D, 53, pp. 306-320,

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Decling Car Use in a Megacity: Exploring the Drivers of Peak Car Including Infrastructure Saturation

Description

There is increasing evidence that vehicle travel in developed countries may have peaked, contradicting many historical travel demand forecasts. The underlying causes of this peaking are still under debate and

There is increasing evidence that vehicle travel in developed countries may have peaked, contradicting many historical travel demand forecasts. The underlying causes of this peaking are still under debate and there has been a mobilization of research, largely focused at national scales, to study the explanatory drivers. There is, however, a dearth of research focused at the metropolitan scale where transportation policy and planning are frequently decided.

Using Los Angeles County, California, as a case study, we investigate the Peak Car theory and whether social, economic, and technical factors, including roadways that have become saturated at times, may be contributing to changes in travel behavior. After peaking in 2002, vehicle travel in Los Angeles County declined by 3.4 billion (or 4.1%) by 2010. The effects of changing fuel prices, fuel economy, population growth, increased utilization of alternate transportation modes, changes in driver demographics, income, and freight are first assessed. It is possible, and likely, that these factors alone explain the reduction in travel. However, the growth in congestion raises questions of how a constricting supply of roadway network capacity may contribute to travel behavior changes.

There have been no studies that have directly assessed how the maturing supply of infrastructure coupled with increasing demand affect travel behavior. We explore regional and urban factors in Los Angeles to provide insight into the drivers of Peak Car at city scales where the majority of travel occurs. The results show that a majority of the decline in VMT in Los Angeles can be attributed the rising fuel prices during the 2000s. While overall roadway network capacity is not yet a limiting factor for vehicle travel there is some evidence that suggests that congestion along certain corridors may be shifting some automobile travel to alternatives. The results also suggest that the relative impact of any factor on travel demand is likely to vary from one locale to another and Peak Car analysis across large geographic areas obscures the nuisances of travel behavior at a local scale.

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Exploring the relationship between design and outdoor thermal comfort in hot and dry climate

Description

Moderate physical activity, such as walking and biking, positively affects physical and mental health. Outdoor thermal comfort is an important prerequisite for incentivizing an active lifestyle. Thus, extreme heat poses

Moderate physical activity, such as walking and biking, positively affects physical and mental health. Outdoor thermal comfort is an important prerequisite for incentivizing an active lifestyle. Thus, extreme heat poses significant challenges for people who are outdoors by choice or necessity. The type and qualities of built infrastructure determine the intensity and duration of individual exposure to heat. As cities globally are shifting priorities towards non-motorized and public transit travel, more residents are expected to experience the city on their feet. Thus, physical conditions as well as psychological perception of the environment that affect thermal comfort will become paramount. Phoenix, Arizona, is used as a case study to examine the effectiveness of current public transit and street infrastructure to reduce heat exposure and affect the thermal comfort of walkers and public transit users.

The City of Phoenix has committed to public transit improvements in the Transportation 2050 plan and has recently adopted a Complete Streets Policy. Proposed changes include mobility improvements and creating a safe and comfortable environment for non-motorized road participants. To understand what kind of improvements would benefit thermal comfort the most, it is necessary to understand heat exposure at finer spatial scales, explore whether current bus shelter designs are adequate in mitigating heat-health effects, and comprehensively assess the impact of design on physical, psychological and behavioral aspects of thermal comfort. A study conducted at bus stops in one Phoenix neighborhood examined grey and green infrastructure types preferred for cooling and found relationships between perception of pleasantness and thermal sensation votes. Walking interviews conducted in another neighborhood event examined the applicability of a framework for walking behavior under the stress of heat, and how differences between the streets affected perceptions of the walkers. The interviews revealed that many of the structural themes from the framework of walking behavior were applicable, however, participants assessed the majority of the elements in their walk from a heat mitigation perspective. Finally, guiding questions for walkability in hot and arid climates were developed based on the literature review and results from the empirical studies. This dissertation contributes to filling the gap between walkability and outdoor thermal comfort, and presents methodology and findings that can be useful to address walkability and outdoor thermal comfort in the world’s hot cities as well as those in temperate climates that may face similar climate challenges in the future as the planet warms.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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First-last mile life cycle assessment of Los Angeles transit

Description

With high potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may cause emissions similar to regular automobile

With high potential for automobiles to cause air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is concern that automobiles accessing or egressing public transportation may cause emissions similar to regular automobile use. Due to limited literature and research that evaluates and discusses environmental impacts from first and last mile portions of transit trips, there is a lack of understanding on this topic. This research aims to comprehensively evaluate the life cycle impacts of first and last mile trips on multimodal transit. A case study of transit and automobile travel in the greater Los Angeles region is evaluated by using a comprehensive life cycle assessment combined with regional household travel survey data to evaluate first-last mile trip impacts in multimodal transit focusing on automobile trips accessing or egressing transit. First and last mile automobile trips were found to increase total multimodal transit trip emissions by 2 to 12 times (most extreme cases were carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds). High amounts of coal-fired energy generation can cause electric propelled rail trips with automobile access or egress to have similar or more emissions (commonly greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, and mono-nitrogen oxides) than competing automobile trips, however, most criteria air pollutants occur remotely. Methods to reduce first-last mile impacts depend on the characteristics of the transit systems and may include promoting first-last mile carpooling, adjusting station parking pricing and availability, and increased emphasis on walking and biking paths in areas with low access-egress trip distances.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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An assessment of stochastic variability and convergence characteristics in travel microsimulation models

Description

In the middle of the 20th century in the United States, transportation and infrastructure development became a priority on the national agenda, instigating the development of mathematical models that would

In the middle of the 20th century in the United States, transportation and infrastructure development became a priority on the national agenda, instigating the development of mathematical models that would predict transportation network performance. Approximately 40 years later, transportation planning models again became a national priority, this time instigating the development of highly disaggregate activity-based traffic models called microsimulations. These models predict the travel on a network at the level of the individual decision-maker, but do so with a large computational complexity and processing time requirement. The vast resources and steep learning curve required to integrate microsimulation models into the general transportation plan have deterred planning agencies from incorporating these tools. By researching the stochastic variability in the results of a microsimulation model with varying random number seeds, this paper evaluates the number of simulation trials necessary, and therefore the computational effort, for a planning agency to reach stable model outcomes. The microsimulation tool used to complete this research is the Transportation Analysis and Simulation System (TRANSIMS). The requirements for initiating a TRANSIMS simulation are described in the paper. Two analysis corridors are chosen in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area, and the roadway performance characteristics volume, vehicle-miles of travel, and vehicle-hours of travel are examined in each corridor under both congested and uncongested conditions. Both congested and uncongested simulations are completed in twenty trials, each with a unique random number seed. Performance measures are averaged for each trial, providing a distribution of average performance measures with which to test the stability of the system. The results of this research show that the variability in outcomes increases with increasing congestion. Although twenty trials are sufficient to achieve stable solutions for the uncongested state, convergence in the congested state is not achieved. These results indicate that a highly congested urban environment requires more than twenty simulation runs for each tested scenario before reaching a solution that can be assumed to be stable. The computational effort needed for this type of analysis is something that transportation planning agencies should take into consideration before beginning a traffic microsimulation program.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Automobile path dependence in Phoenix: driving sustainability by getting off of the pavement and out of the car

Description

A methodology is developed that integrates institutional analysis with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify and overcome barriers to sustainability transitions and to bridge the gap between environmental practitioners and

A methodology is developed that integrates institutional analysis with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to identify and overcome barriers to sustainability transitions and to bridge the gap between environmental practitioners and decisionmakers. LCA results are rarely joined with analyses of the social systems that control or influence decisionmaking and policies. As a result, LCA conclusions generally lack information about who or what controls different parts of the system, where and when the processes' environmental decisionmaking happens, and what aspects of the system (i.e. a policy or regulatory requirement) would have to change to enable lower environmental impact futures. The value of the combined institutional analysis and LCA (the IA-LCA) is demonstrated using a case study of passenger transportation in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. A retrospective LCA is developed to estimate how roadway investment has enabled personal vehicle travel and its associated energy, environmental, and economic effects. Using regional travel forecasts, a prospective life cycle inventory is developed. Alternative trajectories are modeled to reveal future "savings" from reduced roadway construction and vehicle travel. An institutional analysis matches the LCA results with the specific institutions, players, and policies that should be targeted to enable transitions to these alternative futures. The results show that energy, economic, and environmental benefits from changes in passenger transportation systems are possible, but vary significantly depending on the timing of the interventions. Transition strategies aimed at the most optimistic benefits should include 1) significant land-use planning initiatives at the local and regional level to incentivize transit-oriented development infill and urban densification, 2) changes to state or federal gasoline taxes, 3) enacting a price on carbon, and 4) nearly doubling vehicle fuel efficiency together with greater market penetration of alternative fuel vehicles. This aggressive trajectory could decrease the 2050 energy consumption to 1995 levels, greenhouse gas emissions to 1995, particulate emissions to 2006, and smog-forming emissions to 1972. The potential benefits and costs are both private and public, and the results vary when transition strategies are applied in different spatial and temporal patterns.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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How does built environment affect cycling?: evidence from the whole California 2010-2012

Description

It has been identified in the literature that there exists a link between the built environment and non-motorized transport. This study aims to contribute to existing literature on the effects

It has been identified in the literature that there exists a link between the built environment and non-motorized transport. This study aims to contribute to existing literature on the effects of the built environment on cycling, examining the case of the whole State of California. Physical built environment features are classified into six groups as: 1) local density, 2) diversity of land use, 3) road connectivity, 4) bike route length, 5) green space, 6) job accessibility. Cycling trips in one week for all children, school children, adults and employed-adults are investigated separately. The regression analysis shows that cycling trips is significantly associated with some features of built environment when many socio-demographic factors are taken into account. Street intersections, bike route length tend to increase the use of bicycle. These effects are well-aligned with literature. Moreover, both local and regional job accessibility variables are statistically significant in two adults' models. However, residential density always has a significant negatively effect on cycling trips, which is still need further research to confirm. Also, there is a gap in literature on how green space affects cycling, but the results of this study is still too unclear to make it up. By elasticity analysis, this study concludes that street intersections is the most powerful predictor on cycling trips. From another perspective, the effects of built environment on cycling at workplace (or school) are distinguished from at home. This study implies that a wide range of measures are available for planners to control vehicle travel by improving cycling-level in California.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Sustainability implications of mass rapid transit on the built environment and human travel behavior in suburban neighborhoods: the Beijing case

Description

The sustainability impacts of the extension of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in suburban Beijing are explored. The research focuses on the neighborhood level, assessing sustainability impacts in terms

The sustainability impacts of the extension of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in suburban Beijing are explored. The research focuses on the neighborhood level, assessing sustainability impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and energy consumption. By emphasizing suburban neighborhoods, the research targets the longest commuting trips, which have the most potential to generate significant sustainability benefits. The methodology triangulates analyses of urban and transportation plans, secondary data, time series spatial imagery, household surveys, and field observation. Three suburban neighborhoods were selected as case studies. Findings include the fact that MRT access stimulates residential development significantly, while having limited impact in terms of commercial or mixed-use (transit-oriented development) property development. While large-scale changes in land use and urban form attributable to MRT access are rare once an area is built up, adaptation occurs in the functions of buildings and areas near MRT stations, such as the emergence of first floor commercial uses in residential buildings. However, station precincts also attract street vendors, tricycles, illegal taxis and unregulated car parking, often impeding access and making immediate surroundings of MRT stations unattractive, perhaps accounting for the lack of significant accessibility premiums (identified by the researcher) near MRT stations in suburban Beijing. Household-based travel behavior surveys reveal that public transport, i.e., MRT and buses, accounts for over half of all commuting trips in the three case study suburban neighborhoods. Over 30% of the residents spend over an hour commuting to work, reflecting the prevalence of long-distance commutes, associated with a dearth of workplaces in suburban Beijing. Non-commuting trips surprisingly tell a different story, a large portion of the residents choose to drive because they are less restrained by travel time. The observed increase of the share of MRT trips to work generates significant benefits in terms of lowered energy consumption, reduced greenhouse gas and traditional air pollution emissions. But such savings could be easily offset if the share of driving trips increases with growing affluence, given the high emission intensities of cars. Bus use is found to be responsible for high local conventional air pollution, indicating that the current bus fleet in Beijing should be phased out and replaced by cleaner buses. Policy implications are put forward based on these findings. The Intellectual Merit of this study centers on increased understanding of the relationship between mass transit provision and sustainability outcomes in suburban metropolitan China. Despite its importance, little research of this genre has been undertaken in China. This study is unique because it focuses on the intermediate meso scale, where adaptation occurs more quickly and dramatically, and is easier to identify.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012