New digital technology offers new opportunities for smart and emission-free mobility that saves energy, emissions, space, time and money. Creating more efficient flow of people and goods emission-free in city and what business models and policy tools we need for large-scale deployment of intelligent mobility?
A number of DOTs are now repositioning themselves as a platform for mobility innovation that supports greater mode options by providing Data, Mobility and Infrastructure as a Service to all citizens. Transportation policy goals include:
- increasing mobility (e.g., Mobility Plan); keeping pedestrians,
- bicyclists, and motorists safe (e.g., Vision Zero); and, improving
- air quality by decreasing congestion (Comprehensive and/or Sustainability plans).
With the rapid rise of technology in transportation, cities, transit agencies, and DOTs will need to deploy and support an ecosystem or mobility marketplace of advanced technologies to meet these policy objectives and create truly great streets for all citizens. To do so, transportation agencies may need to evolve into platforms for transportation innovation that focuses on three primary customer service delivery goals: data, mobility and infrastructure.
Goal 1: Data as a Service
In the digital age, the DOT must be able to provide and receive real-time data from an increasingly complex marketplace of public and private transportation service providers, other jurisdictions, and connected and automated vehicles to maximize the efficiency and safety of the road and transportation networks.
Data as a Service is the rapid exchange of real-time conditions and service information between service providers, customers and the supporting infrastructure. This requires:
- a seamless data exchange with a variety of partners and stakeholders
- privacy and security protections
- the capacity to analyze data from a variety of resources
- and the ability to integrate this insight into a data-driven decision-making process at the level of elected officials and department management.
This is a relatively cost-effective way to enhance connectivity and system efficiency and reliability without constructing new physical infrastructure.
With better data, the DOT will be in a position to become more responsive to the transportation needs of citizens as both a service provider and regulator of transportation in the region and state. For example, LA’s Urban Mobility in a Digital Age proposes near-term investments in data infrastructure and the public sector workforce to support this service in the future. Data as a Service will support the goals of Mobility and Infrastructure as a Service by tapping into critical data to best align resources to demand.
Goal 2: Mobility as a Service
Mobility as a Service centers on the customer or mobility consumer, a person who purchases and uses transportation for personal use. It is a single platform and payment system that offers access to a suite of transportation mode choices, often bundled together in packages. This approach requires collaboration and coordination across different transportation modes and providers and creates a potentially competitive marketplace of services to meet the real-time and changing needs of citizens throughout the day, week or month, effectively transforming the single-occupant automobile owner model.
While this places the burden of information exchange on public agencies and private transportation operators – both freight and passenger – Mobility as a Service can significantly improve access to jobs, education, healthcare, and other services by making it easier for citizens to find and utilize an increasingly complex suite of services through a single interface. This affords citizens more choice when determining what mode best accommodates their schedule – a key element in rider satisfaction.
In LA, the DOT has already partnered to make it easier for customers to evaluate transportation options through a trip planning application, Go LA, which compares mode options for the fastest, cheapest and/or greenest routes. Additionally, the DOT has piloted a mobile payment application for its transit services and there are plans to expand Go LA to include reservation and payment capabilities in Summer 2016. This experience with smartphone application-enabled services demonstrates the ability of the DOT in its role as a convener or advocate for regional Mobility as a Service. Urban Mobility in a Digital Age recommends the DOT establishes itself as a leading advocate for expanded access across the region through a series of actions to better connect and integrate the existing marketplace of public and private services.
Goal 3: Infrastructure as a Service
Our/the public’s physical infrastructure requires ongoing maintenance and investment, but current funding mechanisms such as the gas tax are unable to keep up with the demand of our existing roadways. Infrastructure as a Service proposes that the use of public infrastructure should be subject to pay-as-you-go user fees that more closely align the costs associated with providing the infrastructure itself to how the infrastructure is being used.
Infrastructure as a Service more transparently reflects the costs for the City and other agencies to build, maintain and operate public infrastructure by charging fees for this service. With a solid data baseline, this approach can also support tiered fees to ensure there is equity in access to the public right-of-way. Infrastructure as a Service can help shift behavior by incentivizing shared mobility, promoting staggered commute times and other active transportation alternatives.
As this is a fundamental rethinking of how we pay for and access our public right-of-way, Infrastructure as a Service requires a phased approach, which is already being introduced: the State of California has launched a nine month pilot this summer to test the concept of charging drivers for vehicle miles traveled as an alternative to the gas tax; and tolling high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on the 110 and 10 Interstates is currently in place. Urban Mobility in a Digital Age includes recommendations to build and grow digital infrastructure in Los Angeles to enable this service and recommends best practice policies and regional coordination to support this goal.
Transportation technologies will continue to create new opportunities for citizens, local government and regional stakeholders to better access existing services while simultaneously creating a marketplace and demand for new transportation options. By becoming a universal platform for innovation and offering Data, Mobility and Infrastructure as a Service, the DOT can enhance connectivity and access across the city and greater metropolitan region.
(Model) Strategy Scope for the Transition at Transportation Agencies
This strategy focuses predominantly on two revolutionary transportation technologies that will reshape the mobility marketplace: shared mobility and connected and automated vehicles. The introduction and growth of these technologies will require an active role by the City to optimize the safety, efficiency and access benefits their proponents claim.
The consequences of inaction could be detrimental to the growth and prosperity of the region.
Shared mobility – the shared use of a vehicle, bicycle or other mode – is an innovative transportation strategy that enables users to gain short-term access to transportation modes as-needed. This includes both publicly and privately operated networks for public transit, on-demand ride services, carsharing, bikesharing, etc. Depending on the jurisdiction or area, shared mobility can serve as the primary mode of transit or as a complement to fixed-route bus and rail services (Shaheen, 6). The proliferation of smartphones and seemingly ubiquitous connectivity in the digital age has created a marketplace of private mobility services that connect travelers in real-time to a variety of modes and a wealth of applications to help improve the travel experience. These services have introduced new and diverse choices for citizens while providing more options to connect with existing public transit services.
Shared mobility services also challenge transportation agencies such as the DOT to define how these services
The DOT must support a quality customer experience that includes a seamless digital interface; comfortable and convenient connections; physical and digital infrastructure; safety; and access to information, big data, to make realtime decisions to respond to demand.
The DOT will have to strike a balance between the needs of existing ridership while attracting new customers to grow the use of shared modes (both public and private) and help mitigate future congestion. As there is no room to build more roads, citizens must shift their transportation behaviors to increase utilization of vehicle and mass transit capacity by filling empty seats and shared mobility can help meet these goals.
This strategy highlights the importance of process improvement, communications, data-sharing and supporting a feedback loop to give a stronger voice to the customer while collecting input from smart city sensors that provide situational awareness on travel conditions. Shared mobility and other supportive amenities to make the trip easier can also help improve connectivity and trip efficiency while providing greater flexibility and choice.
The arrival of the self-driving or automated vehicles (AV) has caused a stir not just among transportation officials, but across the media and technology sector, capturing the imagination of many while raising complicated questions about ethics, liability, safety and opportunity. Technology companies and auto manufacturers are actively testing this technology on our roads today. AV has the potential to transform mobility by providing new populations previously unable to drive themselves with access to vehicles; eliminating human error in traffic crashes; and creating more efficiency through connected vehicle technology. It is estimated that AVs will reduce crashes by 90% and save the United States economy $190 billion annually (Schmitz). DOTs must begin planning today to optimize the safety, environmental and access benefits that could be realized by this technology; otherwise, we may unintentionally see increased vehicle miles traveled, worsened congestion and unsustainable development at the urban fringe.
Ford Motor Company estimates that there will be autonomous vehicles on the roads within three more years (Ungureanu). It will take time for the entire fleet of vehicles on the road to convert to autonomous, as people replace their cars, but rapid adoption is anticipated among taxi services and ride-hailing services since almost 80 percent of the cost of a ride is the driver (Gattis). While the timeline of this technology hitting the market ranges from five to ten years to estimates of 20-30 years for full fleet conversion to AV, DOTs should begin addressing some of the core outcomes today.
Through a combination of AV, car sharing and right-sizing car ownership, it is estimated that up to 85 percent of automobiles in cities can be eliminated with a significant impact on congestion and creating a sea change for the auto industry (Weikel). By creating a culture of shared mobility today and working efficiently to adapt our digital and physical infrastructure to supported AV in the future, our cities and state DOTs can redefine the use of our public rights-of-way and alleviate pressures on the built environment that currently support single occupancy vehicles and the space currently required or devoted to parking.
This strategy proposes a series of recommendations focused on urban design, real-time data exchange, preparing our digital and physical infrastructure, and piloting AV public transit as a primary opportunity to demonstrate the potential of this technology.
While we may not predict the future, we must nevertheless take responsibility to establish a solid foundation that provides the flexibility to become more responsive and ultimately pro-active to changes in transportation technologies and customer preferences. This is a vision for how a DOT can continue to integrate technology into service delivery, regulation, project evaluation and the advancement of meeting policy goals for the future. DOTs and partner agencies in the public sector need to prepare and anticipate continuous technological change and innovation as the pace of change among emerging technologies accelerates.
Urban Mobility in a Digital Age defines five core objectives and outlines key policy and action items so a city or DOT will be better positioned to support a platform for mobility/transportation as a service and data and infrastructure as a service, in the future.
Some of these policies are administrative rules within the purview of the DOT and other departmental management to define and implement; other policy recommendations will require Transportation Commission or City Council action and a more public process for consideration. Following the policy recommendation for each goal, there are a series of actions that have been prioritized and sequenced for implementation. While some of these actions could be implemented concurrently, the time horizon is defined as:
TODAY (0-2 years): Some of these actions have already been initiated by the DOT and partners and may already have dedicated resources committed to their implementation. These actions are intended to help position the DOT for future funding opportunities, partnerships and collaboration with other stakeholders by offering discrete action items and entry points for engagement.
TOMORROW (3-5 years): These actions may require more resources (staff and budget) and therefore need more time to be incorporated into the DOT strategic plan. Many of these actions build upon the TODAY recommendations.
FUTURE (6+ years): These recommendations propose actions for the future that set a broader vision for how the DOT may continue to evolve and propose future outcomes to be phased in over time.
The final component of the transportation technology strategy includes a menu of pilot projects for consideration. These projects explore partnerships and new data resources; highlight opportunities to demonstrate new technologies and service delivery methods in a real world environment; and build on the incredible innovation already underway at some DOTs. These pilots are intended to provide a starting point, a learning opportunity that can help shape future policies and actions that could be scalable across the entire cities and regions. Implementation can be phased as resources are available and should incorporate lessons learned and new technologies as they emerge.
1. Build a solid data foundation.
Data will continue to be a critical tool for effective regulators and transportation service providers. The DOT must be better equipped to manage and evaluate the mobility marketplace and how it is impacting the safety and access to convenient, affordable transportation solutions. This requires better data. These recommendations focus on establishing a transparent, accountable approach to big data by defining what can and should be shared, how it will be used, and creating privacy principles to clearly state these goals and protections of personal data. This should build on the open data initiatives already well-underway in government at many levels, but that typically need reinforcement and extension as well as new data resources to be effective. These policies are intended to shape how the DOT and the City will share real-time transportation data with private and public sector partners while leveraging the information, consuming new data resources, and building capacity through partnership.
DOTs will be in the position of needing to maximize analytics for a deeper understanding of how services and infrastructure address the transportation and access needs of all citizens. This policy framework sets the stage for both internal and external capacity development by creating a pathway to partner with outside analysts while building the professional skill set and data acumen within the DOT. Furthermore, the strategy recommends regional collaboration through participation. LA formed a Coalition for Transportation Technology, a potential mechanism for setting standards, maximizing resources, and enhancing interoperability between systems that would benefit from the perspective and leadership of the DOT. Since data collection will likely require new technologies installed in the field via smart city sensors and other infrastructure retrofits, the final policy recommendation suggests creating urban design guidelines for digital infrastructure to avoid cumulative visual blight in our public right-of-way.
The TODAY recommendations focus on the assessment of existing data resources and the prioritization of a wishlist of additional data that would contribute to better transportation planning and project evaluation in this changing mobility marketplace. With the introduction of technology-enabled private transportation providers, the DOT has an incomplete picture of what options are available, how safe they are, who they are serving and whether they are providing equitable access.
The DOT needs to evaluate what data is needed to better understand this marketplace and develop a roadmap that articulates whether the city or transportation agency will be responsible for collecting this data or if agencies will rely on third party data resources to provide this essential information for more data-driven decision making.
It will take time to transform the public sector workforce and equip it with data analytics skills, essential to the work of this and any City in the 21st Century, so it is recommended that in the interim the DOT establish a bench for contractors who can help with data analysis.
The TOMORROW recommendations focus on making it easier to access and share data within the DOT, across City departments, with regional partners and other agencies. Creating data dictionaries, for instance, will clearly articulate who owns and generates data, how it is used and updated, and what is included within a dataset.
Creating data dictionaries, for instance, will clearly articulate who owns and generates data, how it is used and updated, and what is included within a dataset.
Build a solid data foundation.
- Define what can be shared.
- Adopt privacy principles.
- Develop a standard data sharing agreement.
- Create a regional blueprint for system integration.
- Establish design guidelines for digital infrastructure.
TODAY (0-2 years)
- Inventory available data.
- Create a wishlist for other data sets + prioritize.
- Implement a data analysis bench contract + grow internal analytics capacity.
- Develop a roadmap for new data resources.
TOMORROW (3-5 years)
- Make the data easier to use with data dictionaries and other tools.
- Adopt APIs + other tools to streamline sharing.
FUTURE (6+ years): Leverage data to manage a more flexible transportation system with public + private service providers.
2. Leverage tech + design for a better transportation experience.
Commuting can be stressful and research shows that it affects your mental and physical health as well as how you think about other people. The most stressful mode is driving whereas walking and public transit are the top two most enjoyable ways to commute, respectively (Campbell-Dollaghan). How might the DOT leverage technology to improve the daily commute for citizens for a healthier, happier city?
Research indicates that the two most important indicators of rider satisfaction is service frequency and schedule (Transit Center) Many of the strategies herein address network efficiency and availability of flexible options to meet schedule demands.
The DOT can further increase transit ridership through a shift in travel behaviors, incentivized by a customer experience that both attracts new users and improves on the needs of existing users. In general, government struggles to design services from the perspective of the user, but technology offers new tools to engage customers, fine-tune service offerings, and respond to the needs of citizens. This strategy outlines a variety of approaches that put the customer first – to ease the challenge of getting around while making it easier to access information, weigh options, and choose the best transportation mode.
These recommendations support DOTs’ strategic plans to create a 21st Century traffic management system and calls for funding the proposed changes to support the integration of digital infrastructure and smart city sensors into department operations. Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC) systems provide signal coordination and management for more than 4,000 signalized intersections across the City; it is the technology backbone of our road network. ATSAC (started in the 1980s) requires a significant investment to upgrade and add functionality to meet policy goals and keep up with changes in the mobility marketplace. The strategy also calls for the automation of enforcement around public transit priority lanes to make the daily commute safer and more efficient for transit riders and others sharing the road. Video-as-a-sensor technology, for example, can detect and ticket violators of bus-only lanes during peak periods to keep traffic moving.
Some cities and transportation agencies are working on adopting a customer “bill of rights” as a commitment to providing a quality transportation experience, in addition to defining metrics for transportation happiness. These policies call for improving the built environment for pedestrians, cyclists and those opting for shared modes such as public transit or ridesharing while eliminating rules that perhaps unintentionally support the status quo – the single occupancy vehicle – by proposing changes to land use and zoning requirements. This will require a rethinking of regulations around parking and highway dedication (road widening).
The TODAY actions include a reassessment of curb rules to improve access in the age of shared mobility; creating minimum design standards for public transit access to elevate the experience; integrating data into planning decisions, supporting fleet electrification by expanding the availability of charging station information; and “greening” the transit fleet, installing more electric charging stations, and investigating the potential of new technologies such as roadway electrification. The TOMORROW recommendations include making it easier to navigate with a unified wayfinding program; testing on-demand public transit; expanding smart parking citywide; and making it easier for employers to incentivize shared modes. The FUTURE recommendation is to introduce a universal fare system by collaborating with stakeholders across the region to make it possible to use a single payment tool to access multiple services and modes of transportation. These actions are intended to enhance transportation happiness, improve connectivity and make shared mobility more appealing to an even broader audience of citizens and visitors to the region.
- Create ATSAC 3.0.
- Enforce congestion-busting rules for safety.
- Adopt a customer bill of rights and metrics for transportation happiness.
- Require corridor + building designs that serve multiple modes.
- Eliminate parking minimums.
- Rethink parking garages.
- Stop widening roads.
TODAY (0-2 years)
- Code the curb to optimize access.
- Develop customer-centered requirements for public services.
- Integrate real-time data + tech into urban design and planning processes.
- Publish data on EV charging station locations.
- Advance fleet conversion to greener fuel.
TOMORROW (3-5 years)
- Create a unified wayfinding program.
- Route transit by demand where suitable.
- Expand ExpressPark citywide.
- Introduce a portal for employers to manage transit benefits.
FUTURE (6+ years): Create a universal fare system for the region.
Leverage tech + design for a better transportation experience.
3. Create partnerships for more shared services.
The DOT and the City cannot address congestion by simply expanding travel lanes; this leads to induced demand and increased traffic. There are few areas in the City with the space to accommodate such expansions and little public appetite for eminent domain. And in many locations such expansions have diminished pedestrian access and safety. Shared mobility can improve the efficiency of our physically constrained roadways by increasing the capacity of vehicles, utilizing every seat in a vehicle, reducing vehicle miles traveled, and providing more choices/options that are scalable to shifting needs. With complementary land use strategies such as transit oriented development, shared mobility could provide more citizens with better options and the DOT should consider ways to better deliver these services.
McKinsey identifies four major technology trends that are changing mobility.
- In-vehicle connectivity is creating crowdsourced information and real-time data to relieve congestion and provide new route options to drivers.
- EVs. The sales of plug-in and hybrid vehicles are estimated to quintuple by 2022 to 11% of the global market, reducing pollution and creating new demands on the supporting charging infrastructure. (New estimates are higher)
- Carsharing and true ridesharing (utilizing every seat in a vehicle) will
- Reduce the number of vehicles on the road, but increase vehicle miles traveled by 75% (in other words, fewer vehicles in constant use will make up the majority of trips).
The DOT should foster new partnerships to create better access and opportunities for citizens willing to adopt shared mobility for even a fraction of their transportation demand.
Urban Mobility in a Digital Age includes recommendations to make it easier for new transportation services to engage with the DOT, including
- Updating regulations (and supporting processes such as permitting) to reflect the new technology-enabled modes and services such as carsharing.
- Reviewing existing policies and procedures to make sure they are suitable to the current mobility marketplace and open to future innovations in transportation technology.
- Reviewing existing rules and regulations to ensure that the City offers a level playing field for more traditional transport services as the competition evolves.
- Updating transportation demand management (TDM) practices and ordinances to reflect new transportation modes and measures to help mitigate the impact of new development on congestion.
The actions proposed for TODAY include partnering with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) to develop a shared mobility action plan.(Poticha et al) This will provide the DOT with specific next steps and proven best practices to support shared mobility in the City and will complement a countywide action plan being developed by the Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC). The strategy recommends creating an intra-departmental mobility assessment team to foster an ongoing conversation within City Hall about the impact and opportunities presented when new transportation choices emerge. To support the emphasis on partnerships, it is also recommended that the DOT assign an innovation pilot project manager whenever a partnership or pilot is created to ensure there is a direct point of contact and someone is responsible for tracking the outcomes.
The TOMORROW actions include introducing more shared mobility platforms to executive leadership by adapting existing platforms for carsharing, bikesharing and carpooling to maximize fleet efficiency and reduce vehicle miles traveled. The DOT should develop a mobility lab through public-private partnerships and expand upon its internal technology team that is currently tasked with testing and exploring new tools and software to ensure that staff remain current on evolving technologies and have the opportunity to work with them directly as appropriate. The FUTURE recommendation proposes the DOT implement a comprehensive approach to Mobility as a Service, to create or support a single platform to access transportation services and payment. The DOT should serve as both a regional advocate to advance this goal and innovative thought leader.
- Update regulations to include new modes.
- Make it easier to work with the City + provide a level playing field.
- Adopt a revised transportation demand management ordinance for new developments.
TODAY (0-2 years)
- Develop a shared mobility action plan.
- Form a multi-discipline mobility assessment team.
- Designate an innovation pilot project manager.
TOMORROW (3-5 years)
- Bring sharing to executive leadership/DOT and Transportation Commission/City Hall through carsharing, bikesharing and carpooling platforms.
- Launch a mobility lab.
FUTURE (6+ years): Implement Mobility as a Service.
Create partnerships for more shared services.
4. Establish feedback loops for services + infrastructure.
Cities are complex systems designed to support our daily lives. People, our priorities and needs are dynamic. The City or DOT must be receptive to input and feedback to enable continuous improvement and to ensure stakeholder needs are met effectively. Smart city sensors and other data can provide a dynamic view of infrastructure conditions and demand that more passively conveys the changes in our transportation system. With technology accelerating the pace of change, it will be essential for the City and DOT to identify new ways to ensure it understands demand and create mechanisms for integrating these shifts into its operations and management of transportation systems.
With decades of investment in public transportation services, it can be a challenge to introduce new technologies, amenities and partnerships that will disrupt these systems. Through effective performance management that involves a variety of feedback loops from customers, partners and other jurisdictions in the region, the City/DOT can take regular temperature checks to ensure it is on track to meet goals or pivot if there are unacceptable, unintended consequences. Private service providers have already incorporated this approach by creating reputation and ranking systems to inform the customer before a ride begins. As smartphones and social media increasingly connect people, the City/DOT must offer channels to receive feedback and respond to this input.
The City/DOT should consider policies to enable it to become a more responsive service provider to allow for shorter turnaround for data-driven decision-making. With the pace of change in technology, the City/DOT should not be encumbered by outmoded approaches to decision-making that might impede the department’s ability to incorporate or respond to a new technology, service or tool. Linking customer feedback, for instance, to performance management can help inform decisions to better align resources to demand. Likewise, the City/DOT must adopt a standard project evaluation methodology to ensure that pilots, grant-funded initiatives, and ongoing programs are evaluated by similar measures to allow for deeper analysis and understanding of their impacts. This would also provide greater consistency when the City/DOT publicly reports project status on the proposed project dashboard.
The TODAY actions include the formation of a working group to focus on evaluating and measuring transportation happiness and the quality of experience on public shared modes. This team would also be responsible for the ongoing evaluation of data requirements to ensure it is possible to measure the impact of services. The city or DOT should also investigate the deployment and optimization of technology to help assess infrastructure conditions in real-time – whether transit vehicles are equipped with sensors or smartphone apps crowdsource information on sidewalk conditions, potholes, striping, signage, etc. Providing tools to capture this information on a broad scale can help the City or DOT maintain a more routinely updated asset inventory, which will be helpful in planning maintenance and prepping infrastructure for the advent of AV. Finally, upon completion of the shared mobility action plan, the City or DOT should identify partners to launch a public marketing campaign to promote shared modes.
There are multiple City, DOT, and transit agency websites that are confusing and challenging to navigate. The TOMORROW actions include streamlining online content regarding mobility services, the DOT-funded community initiatives, and other programs to a more user-friendly format. The DOT should learn from web statistics to determine what information is most useful and build on that success.
As these changes are underway, the City/DOT/transit agency must invest in developing the skills of its workforce to integrate new technology into how they work – whether in the planning or engineering processes or as part of daily field operations such as parking enforcement and transit services. The agency should adopt a multi-modal smart fare system and advocate for the region to do the same to enable greater customization for the customer. This will provide the agency with more detailed insight into customer behavior to adapt its services as needed. In the FUTURE, the DOT/city should develop a roadmap to move towards Infrastructure as a Service as outcomes of congestion pricing and road charge pilots (e.g., the CA I-110 and 10 HOV congestion pricing and California Road Charge pilot in southern California) are evaluated and access to improved data continues.
- Become a more responsive service provider.
- Establish a project evaluation standard.
TODAY (0-2 years)
- Create a user experience working group.
- Investigate new tools for the ongoing evaluation of infrastructure conditions.
- Engage the entire community on infrastructure condition assessments.
- Partner and support a marketing campaign on shared mobility.
TOMORROW (3-5 years)
- Streamline the DOT online content + launch a project dashboard.
- Prepare the workforce for changes driven by innovation in transportation technology.
- Adopt a multi-modal smart fare system.
FUTURE (6+ years): Develop a methodology to move towards Infrastructure as a Service.
Subject matter experts can be marshaled to explore the feasibility for a real-time data monetization strategy as a means to support the development and maintenance of connected infrastructure. For example, as the State of California explores the implications of a road pricing pilot, cities are considering advocating for innovation in how infrastructure is funded, to move towards Infrastructure as a Service.
The TODAY actions include the development of an AV business plan for the City. In LA, this will be supported by a FUSE Corps Fellowship beginning in October 2016. The County of Contra Costa, California is actively working towards the deployment of an AV fleet to serve first-last mile connections from public transit centers and the City of Beverly Hills has also recently announced the intent to develop its own fleet to serve a similar purpose. LADOT will compare the business case behind an automated public transit fleet versus an automated city operations fleet and the fellowship will culminate in a specific plan as to how to move forward.
Meanwhile, transportation agencies should:
5. Prepare for an automated future.
When automobiles were introduced, entirely new systems of regulation, infrastructure and supporting services had to be created and these changes occurred very quickly. Transportation planners and engineers must be ready to anticipate how shared mobility and connected and automated vehicles will revolutionize mobility – creating incredible opportunity to impact our environment, economic development and equity in positive ways. However, if ignored, these technologies can have a devastating impact that could induce greater sprawl, inequity and other challenges for the city and region. Since infrastructure is built to last fifty to one hundred years, it is important to understand the potential impacts of these changing transportation technologies today and plan for them early. Investing in infrastructure upgrades will take a concerted effort over many years to attain the desired outcome of a safer, greener and more equitable transportation system.
Connected and automated vehicles (AV) would benefit from real-time information such as roadway conditions, traffic signal timing, pedestrian volumes, or traffic along bicycle networks. There are several potential challenges to relaying data from the infrastructure to vehicles in motion such as connectivity, latency, and standardization.
Likewise, infrastructure managers would benefit from anonymized information from vehicles in the public right-of-way such as the path of travel and roadway conditions as this information would inform planning efforts. DOT that have developed connected infrastructure through its ATSAC system are well-positioned to lead the effort to build digital services and infrastructure to support this technological revolution.
In California, the State Department of Motor Vehicles is developing rules for AV on public streets and the DOT has already advocated for more innovative regulations. As the largest city in the state, Los Angeles is taking an active role to advocate for new technologies and enabling regulations that will make city streets safer, more accessible and sustainable. Furthermore, LADOT is working with regional stakeholders through the recently-formed Coalition for Transportation Technology, which currently includes representatives from Caltrans, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Metro, County of Los Angeles and City of Los Angeles, to advance policies to promote better interoperability between jurisdictions – from data and communications to digital infrastructure and wayfinding.
Technology is already able to enable communications between vehicles and infrastructure which might be an opportunity to generate new fees to support digital infrastructure; DOTs may consider convening working groups to further explore these possibilities.
- Call for mobility innovation in California.
- Collaborate regionally to promote interoperability.
- Launch a taskforce on data monetization strategies.
- Advocate for new approaches to financing infrastructure projects.
TODAY (0-2 years)
- Develop a business plan for a city-owned automated fleet.
- Create a dedicated staff position focused on connected and automated vehicle technologies.
- Implement blind spot detection systems for public transit vehicles.
- Expand the DOT connected bus technologies fleet-wide.
- Invest in lane markings that enhance effectiveness of lane departure warning and prevention systems.
TOMORROW (3-5 years)
- Create better access to ATSAC data and enhance transparency of network prioritization for planning.
- Develop an automated vehicle road network along transit and enhanced vehicle networks.
- Launch a Data as a Service program to provide real-time infrastructure data to connected vehicles.
FUTURE (6+ years): Convert the public transit vehicle fleet to fully autonomous.
Some cities and DOTs are considering establishing a full-time staff position to track changes in AV technologies, provide policy guidance on an ongoing basis as new federal and state regulations develop, and work with planners and engineers to coordinate the integration of this technology into planning and operations. Additional actions for TODAY include the integration of blind-spot detection sensors onto the DOT transit vehicles and the expansion of connected vehicle technologies across the transit fleet to help improve safety and meet Vision Zero plans. These technologies make it easier for bus operators to get realtime information, improve rider experience by providing amenities such as real-time arrival information and public WiFi, and provide a flexible communications platform for adding sensor technologies in the future.
As DOTs and cities resurface roadways they should integrate lane markings that are detectable by vehicle sensors to protect cyclists in bike lanes and pedestrians in crosswalks wherever feasible. The standards for lane markings to support AV have not yet been determined but the DOT can work with auto manufacturers to pilot solutions that could lead to the development of these standards. Caltrans has opted for a 6 inch wide stripe (delineation standard), which will be implemented as re-striping occurs over the next few years.
The TOMORROW actions recommend creating better access to ATSAC data, including considering policies around video retention, to make it easier to use and incorporate into transportation planning at the DOT. This will also require greater transparency on system hierarchies and signal prioritization which will be useful for service planning and scheduling as well as development review. In addition, DOTs are looking at developing (wifi and) AV network(s) along the enhanced vehicle and transit networks, as defined in the Mobility Plan, to focus investment on connected infrastructure. Cities and DOTs also may prepare to launch a real-time data exchange services for connected infrastructure and vehicles which will require preparation and investment in data warehousing, communication capabilities and supporting policies for Data as a Service.
The FUTURE actions will build upon the work proposed and call for the city or transit agency to convert its public transit to fully automated vehicles. As this technology evolves and AV capabilities are tested and standardized, agencies should prepare to rethink its operations and how it will train its workforce to meet the needs of an automated fleet. This will require redefining job responsibilities and adapting the workforce to serve new functions.
The increasingly rapid pace of change can make it difficult to identify what transportation technologies will prevail over time and the lack of standardization can make it difficult to invest public funds in new technologies, service delivery models, and partnerships. Meanwhile, there are a variety of potential funding resources now available at the federal, state and regional level that the DOT could tap moving forward and being prepared with a variety of potential initiatives will help position cities, DOTs, and transit agencies for success.
Cities, DOTs, and transit agencies should adopt an approach to piloting new ideas to mitigate some of the risks associated with being an early adopter while providing a valuable opportunity to establish metrics for success and learn from a smaller scale demonstrations. Identifying partners in academia, the private sector and across the region can provide the agency with both the initial subject matter expertise, funding and capacity to support these explorations, as well as create a pipeline of resources for scaling a successful pilot into successful implementation across a city, region, or state. These pilots should follow the same rigor of project evaluation and reporting, and they should be given the attention of a designated project manager at the agency, to ensure the organization can benefit from lessons learned for future applications. The strategy also defines a methodology for how to identify whether a pilot targets a specific geography (a corridor or district) or market (customer or mode).
In June 2016, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) released policy guidelines for fully-automated vehicles to:
- Promote safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, automated vehicle passengers, and all street users within the multi-modal urban context;
- Incentivize shared, automated, electric vehicles to reduce the environmental impacts of vehicular travel and refocus planning on the principle of mobility as a service;
- Support the future vision of communities as great places to live, work, and play by using technology as a tool to change land use as well as how streets are built;
- Rebalance the use of the right-of-way with less space for cars and more space for people walking, cycling, using transit and recreating;
- Support public transit by providing first and last mile connections to major transit lines via shared, automated vehicles, and by providing cost-effective, on-demand transit in lieu of lowperforming fixed routes; and
- Improve mobility for all, contributing to a more equitable transportation system, where benefits reach all demographics and any negative effects are not unjustly concentrated (NACTO).
Urban Mobility in a Digital Age details a variety of references and best practices for reference as additional background for the recommendations.
Data as a Service – Recommendations and Pilots
Data as a Service is the rapid exchange of real-time condition and service information between customers, service providers, government and the supporting infrastructure to optimize safety, efficiency and the transportation experience. These pilots are opportunities to move the DOT towards Data as a Service by giving the staff experience in managing and optimizing datasharing partnerships, exploring the value of analytics, and testing new tools.
Analyze crowdsourced data for roadway design impacts on congestion – Example
Through existing data sharing agreements with Google Waze and Xerox’s Go LA application, LADOT has access to crowdsourced information about congestion and trip planning preferences that could offer a valuable planning and project evaluation resource over time. This data should be included in the data inventory. The available Google Waze data could provide the DOT with insight into how road diets and protected bike lanes, for instance, impact traffic flow and even the perception of congestion. The DOT should partner to analyze this data and report on the potential opportunities (and potential limitations) that crowdsourced data offers to project evaluation. Test customer feedback tools on public services.
In the digital age, there is a plethora of accessible feedback tools and platforms that would give the DOT better insight into how satisfied citizens are with their mobility experience – whether walking, biking or taking public transit. For example, private transportation services, such as ride-hailing services, provide the means for customers to rate service and access this information in advance of taking a trip. The DOT should test both direct and passive channels and establish a model to measure transportation effectiveness and happiness.
Develop an online project dashboard for each strategy.
There is a lot of innovative work underway, but timelines varies because of how a project is funded, who is executing the work, what is being analyzed, etc. One of the proposed actions recommends creating a project dashboard to make this work more transparent to stakeholders. In the meantime, the DOT should pilot an online project dashboard for this strategy to track status and metrics on proposed projects. Outlining the work underway, funded or planned would simultaneously serve as a valuable internal exercise for the agency while creating a new channel for the community and potential partners to engage with its government. One such means to measure success is by monitoring web traffic.
Deploy connected infrastructure technologies in Promise Zones.
Technology makes it possible to relay critical realtime information from our infrastructure to vehicles, smartphones and other receivers to make our public right-of-way safer, smarter and more efficient. Sensors at crosswalks can detect waiting pedestrians and automatically change signals; buses can sense bicyclists and pedestrians in blind spots and stop the vehicle to avoid a collision; streetlights and traffic signals can be programmed to detect when a vehicle is rapidly approaching an intersection and hold a change of lights to avoid a crash. The DOT should deploy a pilot of these sensors and other real-time communication technologies to better understand how this data can be integrated into its traffic management center operations.
In LA, focus on Promise Zones, communities that are proportionally more dependent on public transit and active transportation, better positioned the DOT to leverage potential funding from the federal government and benefit from the deployment of multiple technologies in a limited geographic area.
Experiment with parking inventory technologies.
Trip planners typically account for the estimated time of travel from Point A to Point B, and often factor historical congestion data into their algorithms. However, the cruising time and distance traveled to find parking – estimated to cause 30% of congestion (Shoup) – is not factored into these tools. With existing smart parking capabilities and technology companies such as Sidewalk Labs investigating new ways to capture available parking, data on parking rules, and payment information can not only help make it easier to find available spots, but even pay for parking. The DOT start with an inventory pilot to understand what is available and eventually move to understanding parking in real-time to make it easier for drivers to find what they are looking for, help set a better pricing strategy, reduce congestion, and potentially encourage mode shift by more accurately reflecting total trip time.
Mobility/Transportation as a Service (MaaS/TaaS)
Mobility as a Service centers on the customer; it provides a suite of transportation mode choices through a single platform and payment system to simplify access to mobility choices. While many elements to deploy a true Mobility as a Service model in the region are beyond the DOT’s jurisdiction, these pilots can demonstrate how more shared mobility options, better connectivity, and improved inter-operability between modes can shift travel behaviors for citizens.
Launch mobility hubs to integrate + connect modes.
In LA, the DOT, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), is piloting a federally funded project to develop ten (10) mobility integrated hubs and dozens of satellite hubs. The vision is to create seamless connectivity between various modes of transportation through a single, integrated platform (the DOT Bike Blog). Mobility hubs, to be located at transit stations and new private developments, are a physical translation of the Mobility as a Service model. These hubs will provide first-last mile connectivity and on-demand services such as bikeshare, carshare, bike repair and storage, fare payment, etc. The DOT should establish an open toolkit for implementing scalable, context-sensitive mobility hubs and the City of Los Angeles is seeking to implement this model at strategic public facilities – to serve both citizens and City staff. The DOT is identifying non-mobility services that could be co-located within the mobility hub model.
In Washington D.C., a pilot with the online grocer Peapod is being tested at three stations. This allows transit riders to pick-up fresh groceries on their way home from an on-site attendant between the hours of 4PM to 7PM.
Pilot on-demand transit.
The DOT DASH is an affordable neighborhood circulator bus service. Resources are limited, however, to extend this fixed-route, fixed-schedule service to new neighborhoods and limited hours of operation may impede adoption by new riders. For lower density neighborhoods seeking new transportation choices, cities, DOTs, and regional entities should explore a public-private partnership to deploy microtransit services, on-demand shared shuttles, and assess how this might improve connectivity to other transportation modes, shift travel behavior, reduce single occupancy vehicle trips, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.
Expand shared services to low-income neighborhoods city or region-wide.
The City of Los Angeles is working to deploy the City’s first carsharing fleet of electric vehicles. This initial pilot is already funded by a $1.6 Million California Air Resources Board (CARB) grant. In addition to EV and hybrid fleet vehicles, the program is providing 100 Level 2 charging stations to support the pilot neighborhoods of Downtown Los Angeles, Westlake, Pico-Union, South Los Angeles and Koreatown. Agencies should evaluate regulatory constraints to expanding carsharing services citywide; potential access issues for communities that are “unbanked” or have limited access to technology; and, the challenges of behavior change when introducing a new transportation choice to a population. The DOT will benefit immensely from tracking the progress of this pilot initiative and evaluating how this could potentially be scaled across other disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Test smart fares.
Today’s payment system technology makes it possible to structure fare systems t o different market segments, offering greater customization and flexibility in the fare structure. This would make buying transportation services more like a cellphone plan where services can be bundled and data can be purchased as appropriate to the needs of the customer.
Smart fares empower the customer to choose from a menu such as off-peak usage, trip chain, frequency of use, and willingness to share their plan with a family member (Davidson), and affords agencies greater flexibility in pricing services.
Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service is the idea that the use and access of public infrastructure should be subject to pay-as-you-go user fees that more closely aligns the costs associated with providing the infrastructure itself to how the infrastructure is being used. Since full-scale implementation of this model is contingent on state legislation and requires standardization, these pilots introduce interim ways to deploy technologies to respond more efficiently to changing infrastructure demand while testing public appetite for new approaches.
Deploy temporary car-free zones across the city.
Dense commercial centers could offer opportunities to introduce more car-free streets that limit access for single occupancy vehicles on either a partial (road diet), temporary or permanent basis. The City or DOT should leverage planned and new infrastructure services such as LED streetlights, protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and roadway resurfacing and painting to expedite road closures and visibly communicate these zones around Los Angeles.
CicLAvia, for example, is the largest open streets event in North America (CicLAvia). The CicLAvia Heart of LA route connects six miles of roadway through the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Civic Center, Chinatown, the Historic Core and Macarthur Park, and could be a potential partner to test implementing infrastructure enhancements to support this regular road closure event making it less costly to host. The DOT should partner with the event organizers and other city departments to develop an implementation plan to quickly execute these changes.
Test assumptions around roadway capacity + utilization.
Standards define how the public right-of-way is designed and new state policies are requiring new measures that will shift away from level of service (LOS) to vehicle miles traveled (VMT). The DOT has access to data through ATSAC, its traffic management center, and other regional systems and partners that could validate our assumptions about how we use our roads during peak periods. Additional data may be required to fully understand the real-time environment but can potentially be captured through smart city technologies available today. The city and DOT should capture and analyze this data around speed and traffic counts to develop an annual review of roadway capacity as a benchmark for future changes to land use, transportation modes, and roadway design.
Identify new infrastructure assessment tools.
What if the City’s and DOT’s fleet of service vehicles and transit buses could collect real-time infrastructure condition information to update asset inventories regularly? This data would be valuable not only for the prioritization of public right-of-way improvements, but also for future automated vehicles, which will need clear roadway striping and signage to make it easier to navigate the region. Agencies could issue a Request for Information (RFI) to assess potential solutions and consider a pilot deployment.
Launch an AV pilot.
Public transit is shared mobility that operates on a fixed schedule and route can provide considerable opportunity to introduce connected and automated vehicles to the public right-of-way in Los Angeles. Alternatively, the City has a large fleet of vehicles that support a variety of operations citywide. LA DOT employed a fellow starting in October 2016 to develop a business plan for the City to deploy a municipal fleet of connected and automated vehicles, and will evaluate the trade-offs of either application. The DOT is considering piloting a deployment as a test of the business plan and coupling the pilot with connected infrastructure.
Pilot an AV network on city streets + incentivize sharing.
Cities around the globe have implemented road pricing models to help discourage single occupancy vehicles, encourage more fuel-efficient vehicles, and promote a mode shift to more shared mobility. The peak travel periods in Los Angeles and many other areas see considerable congestion, which could be mitigated by implementing a road pricing pilot on the most congested roads. New York is again considering congestion pricing, which Gov. Cuomo recently called “a solution whose time has come.” As an interim solution, the City of Los Angeles may pilot a local street network, with priority lanes for AV shared vehicles, to understand how connected infrastructure and incentives can improve mobility. This pilot will require state support.
Cities and DOTs need to develop a transportation technology strategy with the understanding that technological innovation is reshaping transportation today. By looking forward and preparing now for future changes, agencies can better leverage technology to make transportation more accessible, convenient, affordable, safer and better connected. the DOT must accelerate its role in planning for the impacts and benefits of shared mobility, automated vehicles and other transportation technologies by transforming into a platform for transportation innovation so to meet policy objectives and create truly great streets for all citizens
Adoption of associated and anticipatory public policies is likely to make all the difference in the degree to which automated vehicles (AVs) achieve reduced VMT and achieve other social benefits. Lack of planning by the public sector raises the likelihood of increased traffic, VMT/VKM, emissions, infrastructure needs, and health effects. Higher level of anticipatory policy guidance may reduce or stabilize VMT/VKM.
A May 2016 study by the OECD International Transport Forum, Urban Mobility System Upgrade: How Shared Self-driving Cars Could Change City Traffic modeled the impact of replacing all car and bus trips in a city with mobility provided through fleets of shared vehicles. As TRB has pointed out previously, there are two different aspects of “shared vehicles”; i.e., sharing of vehicles sequentially among multiple drivers of SOVs and sharing of vehicles simultaneously among multiple travelers, or Shared Taxis and Taxi-Buses. The OECD-ITF study modeled the latter in a medium size European city (Lisbon), simulating impacts on the number of vehicles required, distance driven, and effects on congestion, CO2 emissions and use of public space in addition to how citizens experience the new shared services and how they affect social inclusion (e.g., level of accessibility of jobs, schools and health services). Notably, the model showed that wide-scale implementation of shared taxis and taxi-buses eliminated congestion, reduced traffic emissions by a third, and greatly reduced (by 95%) space required for public parking, all with a car fleet of only 3% of the size of the today’s fleet and 37% less VMT, even during peak hours. The turnover cycle with cars would be greater, as each running car would average 10x the current mileage annually (vs. today’s mainly parked cars), enabling newer technology and lower emitting vehicles to be incorporated more rapidly. US researchers doubt US fleet size can be reduced by 97%, but what policies do we need to do the best we can?
Transitioning to shared vehicles and shared AV/EVs in particular, brings a spectacular array of social benefits:
- Solves congestion, which is estimated at costing ~$50 billion/year for the trucking industry and 3 billion gallons of fuel and 7 billion extra hours, 42 hours per rush-hour, which TTI estimated at $160 billion nationwide, or $960 per commuter in 2015. TTI notes the problem has become so bad in major urban areas that drivers have to plan more than twice as much travel time as they would need to arrive on time in light traffic just to account for the effects of irregular delays such as bad weather, collisions, and construction zones. (In mentioning the TTI/Urban Mobility study it should also be noted that the report has been criticized for a system/index that penalizes cities that try to shorten work trips and tells a very different story than the numbers that Inrix reports publicly, which suggest that congestion has actually decreased. TTI’s report tries to make the case for using the decade prior to 2005 to predict trends, even though the US may have reached “peak driving” in 2005, with average VMT per day falling nearly 7% since then. Further, public transit, walking, and biking—essential parts of the transportation network in any city—are almost entirely left out.[i] Driving is on the increase, with gas prices in the $1-2/gallon range for the first time in years and congestion is still worsening in most cities, compared to 2013, but over a longer time horizon, stretching back to the pre-recession years of the early 2000s, even TTI’s numbers show that congestion has hit something of a plateau and the average number of hours spent in traffic by an auto commuter is no higher than it was in 2006.[ii])
- $836 billion in economic losses and societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes each year
- $411 billion households spend on cars annually and $328 billion we spend on fuel to run them. It takes over 260 million gallons of fuel to ship fuel itself.
- The health costs imposed by air pollution from traffic, which are vastly underestimated in current estimates, which focus on the diseases where air pollution impacts have been tracked for decades. Cost benefit analyses have not yet caught up with/are not counting the many other diseases, cancers, and conditions – all highly expensive and interrelated with other problems.
- Other health and environmental costs associated with fossil fuel extraction and transport, and the cost-benefit thereof.
- Transportation’s contribution to global warming.
Shared vehicles and Transportation/Mobility as a Service (MaaS) allow citizens to gain in many different ways beyond solving congestion.
- A key mobility benefit, especially given what drivers expect in the US: almost all of their trips are direct, without need for transfers. Mobility is much cheaper thanks to the highly efficient use of capacity; surprisingly, trip prices could be 50% or less of today even without subsidy. This is not insignificant, given that US households spending on cars and fuel, much less the costs of ill health, suffering and missed days of work imposed by air pollution. Transportation’s contribution to global warming is yet another cost.
- With regard to infrastructure management and city planning: more road space would be available for re-allocation; e.g., broader sidewalks, and more and better bicycle lanes.
- Particularly striking is how a shared mobility system improves access and social inclusion. In the simulation, inequalities in access to jobs, schools or health services across the city virtually disappeared; thus the approach produces major benefits for health, safety, and resilience.
The transition phase from individual use of cars to shared mobility appears critical to achieving such socially positive results, hence the discussion at this session will dive into this. The context will matter as will the appetite public authorities have for implementing guiding policies, the vision they have for the traffic systems, the desired livability of urban areas, the type of access they wish to provide for citizens and their capacity to manage rapid technological change. This discussion will be focused on the conditions and set of policies that would lead to different outcomes, which will also vary by part of the world and popular demand. The abilities to formulate and implement such policies under different transport decision-making regimes will also be explored, as well as factors inhibiting or enabling change and action. Early studies of automated vehicles have postulated impacts on energy use and GHG emissions ranging from dramatic increases, especially if empty backhaul occurs, to dramatic decreases.
[i] http://t4america.org/2015/08/26/new-traffic-congestion-report-raises-more-questions-than-it-answers/, http://cityobservatory.org/contradictory-conclusions-and-disappearing-data/, http://www.frontiergroup.org/blogs/blog/fg/news-flash-congestion-still-not-getting-much-worse