Technology & Innovation

Introduction: Change Happens

Melanie Curry

In a constantly evolving field like transportation, it’s crucial for practitioners to be willing to shift perspective, or at least to rethink positions. What seems axiomatic in one period may change when new circumstances arise. Thus, for example, mid-twentieth-century advocacy of more roads to handle growing numbers of vehicles is being re-examined in the face of ever-increasing traffic congestion. Meanwhile new vehicle types slowly replace older ones; new types of buses share streets with old yellow school buses as well as hybrid cars and light rail; and our cities experiment with bus rapid transit, car sharing, traffic calming, and bike lanes.

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2017-05-30T22:02:45+00:00Categories: ACCESS 30, Spring 2007|Tags: |

Beyond the Automobile?

Sir Peter Hall

There is growing international consensus that the world needs a successor to the motor car. A deluge of commentary in recent times has alerted us all to the hazards of air pollution, traffic congestion, petroleum consumption, and now global warming. The automobile is said to be the cause of it all. Some argue that decentralization of cities and low suburban densities force people to use cars. Transportation and urban planners everywhere have been looking for remedies, preferably by finding an alternative to the car such as the bus or train.

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THE ACCESS ALMANAC: The Incredible Shrinking Energy R&D Budget

Daniel Kammen and Gregory F. Nemet

The federal government and private industry are both reducing their investments in energy research and development (R&D) at a time when geo- politics, environmental concerns, and economic competitiveness call instead for a major expansion in US capacity to innovate in this sector. The 2005 federal budget reduced energy R&D by eleven percent from 2004. The American Association for the Advancement of Science projects a decline in federal energy R&D of eighteen percent by 2009. Meanwhile, investments in energy R&D by US companies fell by fifty percent between 1991 and 2003.

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Beyond ITS and the Transportation Monoculture

Daniel Sperling

Mel Webber wrote and thought a lot about cars. He frequently pointed out that cars remain the first choice for transport for most people because their convenience and door-to-door accessibility are unmatched by any other mode. However, many cities are headed toward traffic paralysis because cars are so popular. Car ownership and use continue to increase, but there is little expansion in road capacity.

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Opinion: In Praise Of Diversity

Paul Craig

The car has massively transformed physical and cultural aspects of every advanced society. It has enriched our society enormously. It has also cost us heavily and become a victim of its own success. External factors play growing roles. It seems likely that gasoline prices will remain high and that supplies will remain uncertain. Global climate change is becoming serious. So, it’s time to move ahead—to develop transportation systems for the 21st Century. The devastation in New Orleans makes that unfortunate city a good place to start. It’s going to be rebuilt, and that should be done with a view to the next century, not the last.

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The Transition To Hydrogen

Joan Ogden

Of all alternatives to gasoline fuels, hydrogen offers the greatest long-term potential to radically reduce many problems inherent in transportation fuel use. For example, hydrogen could enhance energy security and reduce dependence on imported oil, since it can be made from various primary energy sources, including natural gas, coal, biomass, and wastes, and from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear energy. Also, hydrogen vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions and are very efficient. If it is made from renewable sources, nuclear power, or fossil sources with carbon emissions captured and sequestered, hydrogen use on a global scale could produce nearly zero greenhouse gas emissions and greatly reduce emissions of air pollutants.

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2017-05-30T22:28:44+00:00Categories: ACCESS 27, Fall 2005|Tags: , |

Hydrogen Highways

Timothy Lipman

The state of California has for many years been at the vanguard of environmental and energy policies, creating strict standards that have afterwards been adopted by other states. Today is no different. Despite a severe budget crunch, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has recommitted the state to a variety of clean energy goals, including deregulation and liberalization of electricity markets, increased energy efficiency in new and retrofit state buildings, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The state has also outlined a major solar-power initiative and a Renewable Portfolio Standard that sets goals for producing electricity from renewable sources. And in pursuit of the elusive zero-emission vehicle — the ZEV — the governor has called for California to take a leading role in advancing the commercialization of hydrogen-powered vehicles with the “California Hydrogen Highway Network.”

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2017-05-30T22:28:54+00:00Categories: ACCESS 27, Fall 2005|Tags: , |

Paying for Roads: New Technology for an Old Dilemma

Paul Sorensen and Brian D. Taylor

Who should pay for roads? How should they pay? These frequently debated questions echoed through the first two decades of the last century as motor vehicle use accelerated. It seemed only fair to ask users to pay for roads, but collecting road– side tolls was costly, slowed traffic, and was feasible on only the most heavily traveled highways. Paying for roads with general tax revenues was far simpler, but was seen as unfair to the many people without cars or trucks who would be forced to pay for roads that they would seldom use. The eventual solution—the motor-fuel tax—was a brilliant one: the tax was cheap and easy to collect, and it charged travelers in rough proportion to their use of roads.

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Economic Consequences of Transport Improvements

T.R. Lakshmanan and Lata R. Chatterjee

Transportation specialists agree that investments in transport infrastructure can generate large developmental payoffs throughout society. But how those effects come about is not readily understood.Variables such as the state of the transportation network, the region’s stage of economic development, the competitive structure of the region’s markets, and technological and institutional changes in transportation, communication, and production systems all affect improvements and the changes they generate, as well as how the overall economy responds. As these contexts vary, so do underlying forces of change, and the consequent social and economic effects. To study them, we can classify these effects along temporal (short-term, long-term) and spatial (local, regional, global) scales. Short-term effects tend to be easier to recognize than long-term ones, but many of the richest effects are subtle and take a long time to be realized.

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Why Traffic Congestion Is Here To Stay…And Will Get Worse

Anthony Downs

Everyone hates traffic congestion. But despite all attempted remedies, it keeps getting worse. Why don’t they do something about it? The answer: because rising traffic congestion is an inescapable condition in all large and growing metropolitan areas across the world, from Los Angeles to Tokyo, from Cairo to São Paulo. Peak-hour traffic congestion is a result of the way modern societies operate, and of residents’ habits that cause them to overload roads and transit systems every day.

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