Allie Thomas-PI. Urban areas throughout the United States are experiencing growing traffic congestion. According to a study by INRIX Inc., the real cost of congestion in the United States alone is about $305 billion in 2017. In cities like Los Angeles and New York City, the total cost per driver comes to $2,828 and $2,982, respectively. Even in a relatively smaller city, such as Tacoma, WA, the cost per driver is $1,485 per year, amounting to $2.4 billion nationally. These calculations include monetary value of both direct and indirect losses such as wastage of fuel, loss of productivity, higher cost of transportation and cost of pollution. The 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard reports that travel delays due to traffic congestion results in over 3.1 billion gallons of wasted fuel in the US. At the same time, travel behavior has been rapidly changing. Transit ridership has been in a decline, while the use of ride services (e.g. ride hailing, ride matching, car sharing and bikesharing) has risen. This shift is not sustainable; however, policy makers will need to understand the rationale behind this transformation to change it. Millennial and Generation X influence on American mobility is significant. These two cohorts combined number between 155 million to 170 million people (depending which definition we use to define the cohorts). They have shown to be more adaptable to technology and to use it in their daily lives than previous generations. This study seeks to understand the usage of ride services between these two cohorts in the Southeastern region, focusing on North Carolina and Florida. These services include ridematching (e.g., ShareTheRide), ridehailing (e.g. Uber and Lyft), ridesharing (carpools, vanpools), carsharing (e.g., Zipcar and car2go), and bikesharing (e.g., Limebike and Spin). Both of these states have seen a rapid expansion in these types of services within the past five years. North Carolina has seen bikesharing programs take off in just the past year.
Noreen McDonald-PI. Goods movement has been a central element of urban areas for millennia. But the advent of online shopping and technological advances in logistics are reshaping freight in cities and bringing new congestion concerns to the fore. The move to 2-hour delivery windows has increased freight volumes, changed spatial patterns and shifted freight delivery modes. Cities have recognized the changes. For example, NYC reported residential deliveries increased by 29% between 2010 and 2015; the impact of this growth is traffic congestion and delays in freight deliveries as cities grapple with a lack of dedicated curb space for deliveries. But there are few guidelines on how cities should address the impacts of these rapid changes. Some cities have included freight in their transportation plans, but there is little systematic guidance available to shape these efforts. Nor has there been consideration of how this issue will shift as logistics firms employ new last-mile solutions; e.g. droids, cargo bikes, small delivery vehicles, lockers; and build consolidation centers closer to urban cores. The limited existing work on this topic is high-quality but focused on large urban centers such as Seattle which are quite different from the southeastern U.S. The goal of this project is to provide urban areas in the southeastern region with guidance on how municipal governments can accommodate expected increases in freight movements and mitigate anticipated congestion. To do this, we will conduct an environmental scan of current municipal practices around freight planning, particularly curb management and loading zone requirements. These practices will be compared to efforts of leading cities and an in-depth examination of the barriers and facilitators of implementing innovative last-mile solutions. The impact of this project will be: building work on urban goods movement in the southeast, an understudied area; providing a base for STRIDE’s work on this critical issue for congestion mitigation; and increasing attention to this issue in urban planning.
Noreen McDonald-PI. With nationwide declines in public transportation ridership, transit may be falling behind in its ability to help cities deal with congestion. Increasing real-estate values are causing the economic displacement of low-income populations, those most closely associated with transit ridership. A plethora of new mobility options are providing alternatives for transit riders who can afford them. But how will access to transit, ridership and congestion be impacted by these shifts in demographics and the introduction of new mobility services? This project includes researchers from four universities in the STRIDE (Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center) partnership that together will address access to public transportation issues with specific contributions in suburbanization of poverty, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), health care access and vulnerable populations. In thrust 1, a methodology will be developed to assess the externalities of the phenomenon of suburbanization of poverty with respect to access to public transportation. In addition, this thrust will provide a detailed analysis of sociodemographic and accessibility changes over time. In thrust 2, the study team will provide a model for transit ridership on a highly specific spatial and temporal scale to provide useful insights on the impact of service allocation policies and conflicting competition and complementarity happening with TNCs. In thrust 3, the study team will develop a better understanding of the interactions between public transit and TNC providers. In thrust 4, the study team will document the rapid evolution of paratransit services available to access health care. Although the research in all four thrusts focuses on specific areas of the southeast US, the results will be applicable nationally to aid transit and regional planning agencies.
Noreen McDonald-PI. STRIDE-funded research suggests that the density of residential developments with a one-half mile radius of newly constructed schools influence school transportation system design, mode splits and costs. This research, conducted by STRIDE-sponsored researchers at UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and the University of Florida, evaluated school transportation costs for 20 schools in the Southeast United States – 11 in North Carolina and 9 in Florida. However, design and methodological limitations presented by this selection of schools makes it difficult to evaluate the relationship beyond a cross-sectional overview of trends. This research proposal will achieve two important contributions. First, it will expand our understanding of the connections between school transportation costs and site location by utilizing secondary data from North Carolina that will allow us to assess these relationships by school location, size, and age of school. This will greatly increase the generalizability of the research. Second, the phenomenon of school construction and nearby residential development growth is a dynamic issue that must be understood as a function of time. Thus, this research will use secondary data from North Carolina to assess how changing residential patterns affect school transportation costs over time.
Meenu Tewari–PI. India is facing immense urban development challenges, and therefore important and exciting opportunities. During the next two decades India’s urban population is expected to double to 600 million, when this shift is completed nearly 1 in 2 Indians will live in cities. To support this transition, and ensure that economically successful, climate safe and livable cities are fostered as India urbanizes, an extensive body of new research will be needed to influence plans and policy-making. This research proposes to take advantage of advances in geospatial data, and for the first time combine it with on the ground econometric analysis, as well as case studies, to analyze urban growth patterns, their drivers and assess their costs. The research will analyze, assess and maps out the patterns of India’s urbanization and critically analyze the economic, social and environmental costs of business-as-usual urbanization in India. This evidence will provide insights into the benefits of smarter urban development, including proposing innovative approaches towards encouraging more compact and connected urban growth that can support economic development, reduce poverty and cut down carbon emissions.
Townsend Middleton–PI. This project brings together social scientists from anthropology, geography and sociology to examine chokepoints–canals, tunnels, pipelines, geopolitical corridors, etc–from around the world. Chokepoints are sites that constrict–or ‘choke’–the flow of information, bodies, and goods due to their natural and anthropogenic qualities. They are, by definition, integral yet difficult to bypass. These bottlenecks accordingly funnel the movements of capital, commodities and populations in ways that ripple far beyond their immediate surrounds. The project will send six established ethnographers to six corresponding chokepoints to conduct 2-4 months of concentrated research. Fieldwork will be conducted in the summer of 2016, with the team convening for a workshop that will lead to individual and collaborative publications (peer-reviewed journal articles, an edited volume and a website) in 2017 and early 2018. Our mission is to define the problem and intellectual field of chokepoints through rigorous ethnographic and interdisciplinary inquiry. Doing so, the Chokepoints Collective aims to develop analytics of vital interest to a number of scholarly disciplines–and, more importantly, to a range of contemporary global concerns.
Noreen McDonald–PI. This project will develop education materials about school transportation and school location based on previous research. The education modules will be designed for graduate and undergraduate engineering and planning courses. Dissemination of research results will focus on pupil transportation directors and school facility directors in the Southeast.
Noreen McDonald–PI. This project assesses the full costs of school transportation at a sample of NC and FL elementary school. The cost analysis forms the basis of a decision support tool for practitioners.
Noreen McDonald-PI. North Carolina is a rapidly growing state in need of more schools in its Urbanized Areas. North Carolina’s Local Education Agencies (LEAs) face concurrent demographic growth factors of in-migration rates (5.4% annually) and urbanization rates (3.5% annually) that are higher than the national average. As more people move to the Tar Heel state, and those living within the state move to Urbanized Areas, LEAs will be charged with providing additional educational facilities for learning and safe modes of transportation to and from school. STRIDE-funded research suggests that where those new schools are built – and the coordination between education leadership, school facility planners, and school transportation planners – will influence the modes and costs of school travel. This workshop proposes to introduce North Carolina and Florida practitioners and policy makers to the topic of school siting and share recent STRIDE-funded research addressing the nexus between school site selection and school transportation. Further, it will outline the relationship between state-level policies and local decision making and highlight best practices in coordinated school site selection in the state of North Carolina and the Southeast United States.