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Promoting Efficiency and Equity in Urban Mobility José Manuel Viegas Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa, Portugal CiSTUP Foundation Day Annual Lecture CiSTUP – Center for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning

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Promoting Efficiency and Equity in Urban Mobility

José Manuel Viegas

Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa, Portugal

CiSTUP Foundation Day Annual Lecture

CiSTUP – Center for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – January 7th , 2011

problem setting i
Problem setting (I)
  • In Urban Mobility...
    • Efficiency is most mentioned objective, but is not the only one
      • Sustainability (gaining weight recently)
      • Equity
  • Three main approaches are used to promote efficiency, mostly separately
      • Technology
      • Prices (incl. Taxes and Subsidies)
      • Regulation and Legislation
  • Concentration on just the efficiency objective, through only one approach is a strong value reduction
problem setting ii
Problem setting (II)
  • Revise the objectives and the instruments
    • Combining efficiency and equity translates into enjoying good quality of mobility in all modes
      • This implies controlling the quantity of cars
    • Plus, making sure that
      • there is a fair distribution of common resources and
      • nobody misses the right to mobility for economic reasons
    • Mobility is an essential right as it provides access to other rights
    • Sustainability can be translated into “efficiency & equity” in a long-term perspective
      • Also here, using only one approach (technology) strongly reduces value
key principles
Key Principles
  • No Transport mode has moral superiority over the others
    • Priority to the citizen and the city, not to specific modes by default
  • Vehicle occupancy (load factor) is at least as important as vehicle technology to achieve high efficiency in terms of space, energy, and emissions
    • And reduce costs, so allowing more affordable prices
  • Adopt Multi-Instrumentality approach
    • Technology + Prices + Regulation
    • Smaller doses of each “pill”, less secondary effects, easier acceptance
main topics
Main Topics
  • Getting the best use of road space for transit and for general traffic
    • Technology with a touch on regulation
  • Filling the gap between transit and the Private car
    • Regulation and Prices with a touch on technology
  • Constrain car use in the city or the abuse of the city by the car?
    • Prices with a touch on regulation and technology

The Intermittent Bus Lane (IBL)

and the best use of road space

  • Bus Lanes in road sections where bus frequency is low (less than 20/h) are inefficient use of road space;
  • But, if those road sections are congested those (few) buses will suffer delays
  • IBL consists of a lane that can change its status from regular lane (accessible for all vehicles) to bus lane, for the time strictly necessary for a bus to pass;

The Intermittent Bus Lane (IBL) signaling

  • The status of the IBL is communicated to drivers using a system of both vertical and horizontal variable message signalization devices: vertical variable message signs and a linear set of LED’s installed on the road pavement.
  • When these devices are activated:
    • The signalized lane will operate as bus lane; and
    • General traffic is not allowed to enter that lane (vehicles that are inside the lane should drive on in that lane).

Operation of IBL

Step 2 – IBL Activation

Step 1 – Keeping watch on Traffic and Bus

C1. LED activation (IBL still with general traffic inside).

Step 2 – IBL Activation

A1. Loop Detectors measure traffic attributes (flow, speed and queue length)

A2. Regular update of bus location, computing estimated time of bus entry into IBL section

B. Motion of Bus and of traffic queue tail allow computation of advance notice requirement.

C2. Queue moves on – Space for bus opens up


Operation of IBL

Step 2 – IBL Activation

Step 3 – IBL De-activation

C3. IBL clean – space for bus movement

D1. Bus detected at IBL section exit

D2. IBL re-opens for general traffic


Demonstration Results: Sept 05 – March 06

Bus Circulation times - stretch of length 1.0 km including one bus stop before and one bus stop within active IBL section

Hourly variation of the Average Traveling Times of buses during the IBL demonstration (1st quarter w/ only short range bus location; 2nd quarter w/ long and short range bus location) and in the Reference Scenario - Peak hour travel time reductions of 55% in average of the 4 lines passing in this section


Filling the gap

between Transit and the Private car

from efficient vehicles to efficient mobility
Even with totally clean vehicles, major congestion levels and associated problems remain

We must act not only on vehicles and on their paths, but also on Load Factors (pax / vehicle), Modal Choices and on Mobility Patterns of people and freight

More difficult, as this requires behavioral adaptations

Similar type of problems exist for freight (not covered here)

From efficient vehicles to efficient mobility
could better transit be the answer
Transit can and should have strong improvements of quality of service through technology

Priority in traffic


Approach alerts

But many mobility requisites outside reach with good quality

dispersion of O/D pairs in single trips

complexity of daily mobility chains (in geography and in time)

Could better Transit be THE answer?

Variable Agenda, Modal Alternation

  • For many people in urban areas, daily agendas are not uniform across the week
    • Transport solutions should follow: some days by car, some days by transit, maybe some days cycling & walking
    • But transit fare schemes assume otherwise  big price penalty from monthly to weekly to day pass
      • You feel “cheated” if you don’t use it everyday
  • Driving your car is most flexible solution !
    • Those who cannot afford driving everyday are “pushed” into simpler lifestyles, with lower diversity
  • And the solution is so easy: a rechargeable card with n day passes, not necessarily consecutive (pay only when you ride)
    • Discounts according to quantity you charge
filling the gap
Searching for the double second-best

Almost as social-efficient as public transport

Almost as consumer-efficient as individual transport

Thus reducing resistance to change

Intermediate modes and services

Enriching the choice set, to be used in a “modal alternation” setting

A closer fit to everybody’s mobility requirements

Contributing to a much more efficient overall result

Main intermediate modes analyzed in our research

Shared Taxi (covered here)

Express Minibus, Car-pooling clubs, Car-sharing (not covered)

Filling the Gap

The Shared Taxi concept (I)

  • Taxis are a very convenient mode, door to door, as fast (or faster) than your private car, no parking issues
    • But very expensive for some people
    • And some times very hard to get one
  • And most often traveling with only one pax...
  • Could we make it more efficient without losing convenience?

The Shared Taxi concept (II)

  • Basic features of shared taxi concept
    • Call by phone, stating start and end of trip
    • Computerized dispatch will locate one taxi with available place for whom serving you is small detour
    • Passengers must check-in & check-out, cashless payment for speed
    • For each additional pax on board, each pax pays less, but operator gets more – payments by distance, adjusted to pax on board
  • Main problems:
    • Some resistance to traveling with strangers in small group  driver role as warden to be enhanced
    • Passenger entry / exit not LIFO  vehicles with higher cabin make this easier (see London Cabs and SUVs)
shared taxis simulation for lisbon
Shared Taxis – simulation for Lisbon

Agent-based simulation program for whole taxi fleet and normal taxi demand (10 % of taxis sharable)

6% of taxi clients rode in a shared taxi (currently taxi supply is ample)

Iterative loops underway for consideration of demand elasticity to price reduction (positive feedback) attracting some current solo drivers

Should also produce some relief in congestion and in parking pressure


A new model development needed

to estimate use of intermediate modes (I)

  • With normal OD matrix estimation, each surveyed person generates many precisely equal trip chains (as many as the inverse of the sampling rate)
    • Impossible to look for matches with fine resolution  A new model to estimate the universe of trips, based on the survey sample
    • Objective: Make estimation using minimum of behavioral assumptions
  • Use a fuzzy logic based reproducer of each surveyed person,
    • Preserving the array of trip purposes stated in the survey
    • Introducing (small) variations in time and in space distance of each trip, keeping all the other attributes of that trip, namely trip purpose and mode used for each trip
    • Space resolution (zone) is the city block

A new model development needed

to estimate use of intermediate modes (II)

  • Each replication of the surveyed person is obtained by random number generation, around the values in the survey
  • Origin of first trip is estimated with a membership function decaying with distance from the origin stated in the survey, weighted by the intensity of residential area in each block.
  • Destination of each trip is estimated with a membership function decaying with difference from the stated travel time from the estimated origin, using the same transport mode, weighted by the land use intensity of the nature associated with the trip purpose in each block

A new model development needed

to estimate use of intermediate modes (III)

  • After generation of all trips in the mobility chain, total travel time is checked against total travel time stated in the survey and this “avatar” accepted / rejected based on another membership function
  • Calibration of the membership functions based on
    • average total travel times by type of mobility chain
    • % of intra-zonal trips (using with the traditional zones)
    • Variance of traffic levels on local streets vs. real traffic data from sensors (each simulation run should “reproduce” one day in the life of the city) – still underway
  • Much more realistic results, many fewer zero cells in matrix, makes possible analysis of traffic conditions and travel choices with much finer resolution

Tariff Integration extended

to Intermediate Modes (I)

  • Tariff integration in transit is common in many cities
    • Promotes the notion of “package deal”, allows passenger to search for best combination
  • Intermediate Modes should not be seen in isolation, but rather in combination and alternation
    • They can often be used in terminal parts of trips (e.g. between home and suburban rail)
    • But they should be market initiated, non-subsidized, thus at a higher price than regular (subsidized) transit

Tariff Integration extended

to Intermediate Modes (II)

  • Include intermediate modes in the integrated transit tariff scheme
    • In multi-stage trips, Pax uses transit card and pays only the upgrade (difference to what transit would charge for the same run)
    • Intermediate Mode operator participates in sharing of transit card revenues
  • Accepting integration in tariff scheme and information system could be set as condition for permission to operate

Constrain car use in the city or

the abuse of the city by the car?


Urban Access Charges with Equity concerns

  • We should not be penalizing the use of the car in the city, but rather the abuse of the city by the car
  • Why not give every local citizen a “mobility ration” that could be used for access by car to the city ?
    • Similar to a free parking place in your street
    • Number of impulses per km variable with saturation level of network in used area
    • Similar to odd / even plate number restrictions, but giving citizens the choice of
      • When to use free ration
      • Whether to pay for more and get access

Urban Access Charges with Equity concerns

  • Allow everyone some basic car mobility without paying for access
  • Consumption above the ration possible but at a price, possibly aggravated in stepwise function, to discourage intensive use
    • More likely modal shift and overall efficiency gain in conjuntion with modal alternation and itermediate modes
    • Calibrate car access price vs. Upgrade prices for intermediate modes
  • If free ration is very large, prices above that limit must be higher to keep total demand under control
  • Trading possible, some redistribution effect

Applicability in India ?

  • These issues are especially serious in Indian cities
    • Efficiency in fighting congestion, given the high urban population volumes and densities, with a richer variety of transport modes sharing the same space
      • And still with a relatively low level of car ownership
    • Equity in ensuring everybody the right to mobility, an essential right as it provides access to several other rights (health, education, work, leisure)
      • And still with a relatively large proportion of urban poor
  • But with the advantage of being less locked-in with the solutions of richer countries
    • This lecture proves that tackling both objectives is possible, with these and or other instruments
    • Each society should decide which mix of tools to use, but You still have more degrees of freedom