Monday, May 31, 2010

Density without tears: Singapore's Transportation Secrets

Density. Sprawl. Car-dependence as a result of car use's gradual reshaping of our cities. The unintended consequences of a no-policy transport and land use policy can be catastrophic for many, in many ways. And once the damage has been done(see the map of last week's piece contrasting two cities of the same population size: Atlanta and Barcelona)it is not easy task to get the toothpaste back into the tube. But let's get to that another day. Today let's listen to Christopher Tan on Singapore's no tears transport policy.


Singapore's Transportation Secrets: Density without gridlock

- By Christopher Tan, The Singapore Straits Times

More vehicles, more trips, more people -- but gridlock remain a rarity. What gives?

Singapore is a city on the move. Literally. Furiously. In cars. In buses. On rail lines. At rates of expansion that would make most transport executives blanch.

Workers celebrate the final tunnel breakthrough for Singapore's Circle Line, a 33km orbital MRT line slated for completion in 2011

More and more people are moving - all the time. Three decades ago, they made 2.7 million daily trips. Now it's more than 11 million - in cars, buses and trains. Yet Singapore has little of the congestion that almost paralyzes so many cities around the world.

What's the secret? It's simple. Early planning. Timely action. Massive investment across many modes of transport.

Density without gridlock

Not that Singapore's situation is simple. This sovereign state is just 710 square kilometers -- a bit bigger than New York City. It has 5 million people -- more than double its population 30 years ago. Now, close to 1 million vehicles (of which 40,000 are from across the Malaysian border) zip around in a network of well-paved roads spanning 3,400 kilometers.

And in contrast to neighboring cities such as Jakarta, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur - and indeed, farther flung examples such as London, Paris and Los Angeles -- gridlock is a rarity in Singapore.

This is despite growing car ownership. Back in 1981, there were 163,355 passenger cars here. Today, there are 570,000. Yet Singapore's average car speed on arterial (main) roads during peak hours is 27 kmh (17 miles per hour), compared to as low as 16 kmh in London, 11 kmh in Tokyo and 5 kmh in Jakarta.

Clues to the formula

So, how has Singapore managed this seemingly text book success story on urban mobility?

Mr. Lew Yii Der, group director for policy and planning of the country's Land Transport Authority (LTA), says the the recipe "boils down to two important ingredients: a convenient and well-connected public transport network, and an effective set of demand management measures to regulate traffic flow and keep road congestion in check."

As a relatively young nation (gaining independence in 1965), Singapore's bureaucracy of scholars and technocrats had the advantage of learning from older, more established cities. Urban planning soon became the government's forte, and transport infrastructure a cornerstone of development.

Expanding on a blueprint drawn by the country's British colonial masters, policy makers began to build new roads -- lots of them. Starting in the early 1970s, Singapore opened the first of what today is a network of nine expressways crisscrossing the island, including such technological marvels as a 12-km long, largely underground expressway opened two years ago, and an upcoming (in 2013) link that not only goes underground but undersea.

But like all other modern cities, roads are rarely sufficient to move the masses. Singapore opened its first rail transit line -- 6 kilometers, five stations - in 1987. Today, the rail network spans over 150 km (94 miles), with 106 stations serving four mass rapid transit lines (one partially opened) and three light rail transit lines.

Major added investment -- $40 billion in Singapore dollars (U.S. $28.4 billion) -- is committed to expanding rail lines to 280 km by 2020.

With this ambitious expansion, the current balance in Singapore's average daily trips of 11 million (6 million by private transport, 3 million by bus and 2 million by rail) is likely to shift significantly toward public transit (even with some additional roads).


LTA Rail Group Director Mr. Chua Chong Kheng recalls: "Since the first steps were taken... on Oct 22, 1983, the government has invested heavily to ensure that the rail network form the backbone of an efficient public transport system."

Key ingredient: congestion pricing

Policymakers recognized early, in fact, that that a country as small and dense as Singapore cannot rely solely on road expansion. Demand for road space must be held in check. And the best way to do that, they discovered, are user charges.

Literally decades ahead of European cities, Singapore in 1975 instituted an "Area Licensing System" featuring stiff fees for any car entering downtown Singapore during business hours. In 1998, this congestion pricing system went high-tech with an electronic road-pricing system that requires any vehicle in Singapore (as well as those coming in from Malaysia) be fitted with a stored-value card reader.

As a car passes any of the city's 69 gantries (electronic checkpoints), the card reader charges a fee, which varies significantly depending on time of day. For someone driving into the city during the morning rush hour, tolls across multiple gantries often add up to S$10 a day.

Following Singapore's lead, congestion pricing for traffic-clogged cities has since been adopted by London, Oslo, Stockholm, and Milan. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also proposed the idea in New York City, but was overruled by the New York State Legislature.

Also key: paying for the right to use a vehicle

Singapore in 1990 inaugurated a second method for keeping auto use in check. Anyone who wants to buy a vehicle must first secure a "Certificate of Entitlement," valid for 10 years. Certificates are auctioned off twice a month.

The price today hovers around S$20,000 in Singapore dollars, but it has been as high as S$110,000. On top of that, Singapore motorists pay 44 cents in duty for every liter of fuel they use (roughly $1.75 a gallon in the U.S.).

Pulling it off

But how has Singapore managed to implement controversial policies such as congestion pricing and the expensive auto "certificates of entitlement" when several other cities have tried launching similar systems but failed?

A unified local government with strong leadership has surely been a major factor.

But there have also been persuasive politics. The LTA, for example, softened the blow of the auto certificates of entitlement by lowering car registration taxes which had previously been a stunning 200 percent of the value of new vehicle. And trains and buses have relieved the crush on the roads -- "an effective public transport system that is a viable alternative" to driving, in the words of LTA Director of Road Operations Dr. Chin Kian Keong (who was also one of the authors of the road pricing system).

Observers do not disagree that the public transport system is on the whole effective. But they point out that commuter complaints about packed trains and long bus arrivals have grown louder in recent years, largely because of Singapore's population growth.

Not only that, road traffic has grown noticeably heavier in the past five years.


The city has initiated a slew of responses, including higher driving charges, more frequent train service, more bus lanes -- plus the S$50 billion worth of rail and road projects scheduled for completion by 2020.

Transport Minister Raymond Lim has an ambitious goal: to increase the percentage of public transit trips during morning rush hours from 59 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in the next 10 years. To do this, he acknowledges that public transport has to be as convenient and nearly as speedy as driving.

Analysts applaud the efforts, but some say more needs to be done immediately. Transport researcher Dr. Lee Der Horng, an associate at the National University of Singapore, says: "I am concerned by the peak-hour capacity on our public transport system, and the increased congestion levels on our roads."

Member of Parliament Lim Wee Kiak, who also heads a policy-monitoring committee, believes Singapore may face a serious transport crunch if not more is done between now and 2020. "We have an acute problem now that needs fast solutions in the short and medium term," he notes.

Despite the complaints, a Gallup world poll of 20 cities in 2008 found that Singaporeans were the most satisfied with their public transport system. Whether they will still be so in the next few years remains to be seen.

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Expert Viewpoints

Thomas Downs
Chairman, North American Board of Veolia Transportation. Former president/CEO of the Eno Transportation Foundation, CEO of Amtrak, and New Jersey Commissioner of Transportation.

Thomas Downs There is a strong story here. Singapore shows the advantages of long term comprehensive planning. Transportation infrastructure demands such a long term horizon, something that much of the developed world ignores, and much of the developing world feels it cannot afford.

Singapore also has shown the value of using road pricing and access management to fund capitol investments. It pays off by linking the real price of mobility to the future needs of the entire system. While the author does not mention the obvious gains in environmental outcomes for Singapore, by meeting significant population growth with a balanced transportation system, it is meeting its carbon reduction targets and promoting its own energy independence.

The limits of the Singapore story is the relative simplicity of the political processes in Singapore. It is it's own city, state, and nation all rolled into one. Most of the failures in the cities mentioned are not planning or vision failures. They are political failures. Complex governmental structures -- competing local jurisdictions -- are the primary cause of the gridlock that transportation faces globally. Local and state issues of who is taxed and who gets the money are the real challenge in making the Singapore model a workable one.

We can learn a lot from Singapore about how long range planning benefits a region. Perhaps we can use their experience to spur us on to overcome the political stagnation that has kept us from solving these problems, because Singapore has shown us that they can be solved.

Peter Newman
Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University in Perth, Australia; author of Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems: Principles and Practices

Peter Newman 
In the 1980's I was involved in an intense debate about whether Toronto was the next urban paradigm for developed cities because it had decided not to build freeways but to put its money into urban rail. I was challenged by a freeway supporter in an article Toronto: Paradigm Lost. I replied in an article Toronto: Paradigm Regained that history will show by how many other cities will follow this paradigm. Today it is obviously working as the gloss of urban freeways has worn off and urban rail is resurgent everywhere. 



Nowhere is this more obvious than in Singapore which has in particular become a paradigm for how to build a sustainable city in the high density Asian tradition -- which is over half the world. As Christopher Tan says it demonstrates the obvious value in early planning and timely action, especially in urban rail investment. 

Having just spent a month in Singapore I share Christopher's concern about the growing problem of traffic however.

And I would like to correct a few statistics as this is our game and the new data from Jeff Kenworthy is just completed on Singapore. 

Singapore has an average speed of its traffic of 31 kph in 2005 (down from 35 in 1995) which is better (just) than London at 30 kph, and quite a bit better than Tokyo 24 kph and Jakarta 24 kph. Its public transport is significantly better than any American or Australian city but is only around the average European city.

Singapore's boardings per capita dropped between 1995 and 2005 from 408 to 353 whilst European cities on average went up from 380 to 447. 

Why did public transport drop in Singapore? Train boardings went up 16% but bus boardings went down 25% as service levels were reduced by 11%. This appears to have happened because the bus services are not subsidised, nor is the MRT but it is much faster than the traffic (42 kph) so is being extended to many new lines as demand outstrips supply. Because the road congestion system is so effective at keeping traffic moving (especially at peak times when it costs so much more) then many people have moved to cars rather than wait for buses (which average just 19 kph). In the evenings we were taking an MRT train which came every 6 minutes but the linking bus was often an 18 minute wait so we would take a taxi. 

Perhaps it is time for Singapore to join the rest of the world and subsidise its buses to enable a better service level otherwise it may struggle to retain its status as the paradigm of the Asian sustainable city.

Julie Wagner
Julie Wagner, based in Switzerland, is the Trans Atlantic Fellow for the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. She previously serviced as deputy planning director for long-range planning in Washington, D.C.

Julie Wagner When American and European urban policy makers turn to Asia for insightful learning, the intent is not to learn anything "sustainable." For Americans, Europe is often cited for its innovative approaches in both transport (such as congestion pricing and high speed rail) and land use (such as restoring urban cores and preserving its historic fabric). For Europeans, the U.S. is commonly referenced for its public/private partnerships in transport, local financing tools, and the role of philanthropic-minded city builders.

The conventional wisdom about "Asia" is that it's a region with hyper-growth at hyper-speed. What we see are cities such as Shanghai growing from 300 skyscrapers in 1996 to over 3000 in 2006 and embracing our addiction to cars. Yet as this article shares, Singapore offers sustainable, Asian-based policy and planning lessons for Europe and the U.S. to weigh.

In studying the transportation strategies in cities such as London and Milano, Singapore clearly takes us a step further to advance sustainable transport goals. In fact, it could be argued that Singapore demonstrates how a society functions when social policy objectives take a back seat to environmental ones. The name "Certificate of Entitlement" couldn't be more fitting as it clearly delineates drivers on the road by income. On the other hand, even with the adoption of congestion pricing, some European cities are still choked in traffic. While an entitlement approach would almost impossible to enact politically anywhere else, the Singapore approach is a stark reminder that additional hard-hitting policies are necessary if cities are to have a more even spread across their transportation modes.

Rich Varos
Varos is Director of Intelligent Transportation Solutions for IBM.

For the first time in history, digital and physical infrastructures are converging. Tiny sensors can be deployed in everything from roadways and livestock to even natural systems such as rivers and bays. Advanced analytics can turn the mountains of data supplied by those sensors into actionable intelligence.

As such, we need to stop focusing on pieces of the problem by simply adding a new bridge, widening a road, establishing commuter lanes or encouraging car-pooling.

While all of these traditional methods are still critical, we need to look at relationships across the entire system. By infusing intelligence into the entire system -- our streets, bridges, intersections, signals and tolls -- we can improve our commutes, give better information to city planners, increase our productivity and raise our quality of life.

You're wondering, how does this work? Data collected from cameras and sensors can be linked to databases that track information on speed, traffic volume, incidents, weather or emissions. This information can be analyzed and leveraged to produce new capabilities impossible only a few years ago such as predictive traffic modeling, congestion charging and real-time monitoring.

In Stockholm, a dynamic toll system based on the flow of vehicles into and out of the city has reduced traffic by 20 percent, decreased wait time by 25 percent and cut emissions by more than 10 percent.

City planners in Kyoto, Japan, simulate large-scale traffic situations involving millions of vehicles to analyze urban impact. The system can optimize traffic lights to reduce jams and predict the effect that a new shopping mall or traffic regulation will have on a community's roads.

In Singapore, real-time data from sensors embedded in the roadway, combined with existing probes like GPS systems in taxis and public transportation, are helping to predict traffic flows 15, 30 and 45 minutes ahead of time with greater than 90 percent accuracy.

If we move beyond the old way of doing things and prepare our transportation network for the 21st century, we will improve our quality of life and lay the groundwork for a new era of economic growth.

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About the author:

Christopher Tan is a senior correspondent with The Straits Times newspaper in Singapore, and prepared this article for our colleagues at CitiStates. Thanks to Christopher and CitiStates for permission. (Photographs courtesy of Land Transport Authority.)


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World Streets / Coming Events

Until now we have been more than sparing when it comes to informing you about "coming events", as much as anything else because we are extremely jealous about the limited eyeball space on our pages, and your very limited available time. But we have just worked up what we believe is going to be an efficient way to draw to your attention what we regard as outstanding events, and for that you will see a link just to the left here which bears the title "World Streets / Coming Events" and will take you to our careful selection for your attention.

Click here ffor our carefully selected coming events from World Streets. (Just getting underway.)

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Friday, May 28, 2010

A Manifesto for Sustainable Transport

Sustainable Transportation, New Mobility, Access, Green Transport and the long list of good and great names go on, but upon inspection they have three important things in common. They are all extremely well-intentioned; each is trying to get at a largely shared agenda; and, by whatever name, they are thus far losing the battle against the established interests and old and often quite bad ways of doing things in our sector. However that's not the end of the story. In fact, it's just the beginning. The proponents of sustainable transport and sustainable cities are making real progress on the ground, and we are starting to network worldwide for success. We are ready to build on what we have thus far learned and achieved. So let's have a look through the eyes of Sudhir Chella Rajan to get a better idea of our common challenge.

A Manifesto for Sustainable Transport

By Sudhir Chella Rajan, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

A specter is haunting India; a specter of clean, safe, and affordable access to goods and services for all. Policy makers find themselves at a cusp, not quite sure whether to follow the model of automobile-dominated urban development that characterizes twentieth century North America, or to look at contemporary cities in Northern Europe instead, where pedestrians, bicyclists, and users of public transit are given far greater priority than car drivers.

The former approach, while familiar and congruent with the popular notion that modern human progress is equivalent to increasing levels of car ownership, is patently unsustainable. The latter, on the other hand, seems strange and out of sync with middle class aspirations, although evidence of its superiority in terms of economic, social, and environmental benefits remains very compelling.

For established interests, including motor vehicle manufacturers, petrol and diesel suppliers, road contractors, traditional transport engineers, urban planners, and the urban elite, the favored approach is motorization, suburbanization, and highway development – with expensive metro systems thrown in for good measure.

Yet, on the street, a movement is already gathering steam to shift the transport paradigm from *mobility* per se to * access* to goods and services. That, in turn, implies the continuation of mixed land-uses but with the additional improvement of infrastructure for walking, bicycling, and public transit – especially buses – for their flexibility and affordability. Which argument will gain salience remains to be seen; while recent considerations such as climate change and oil security seem likely to tilt the balance toward improving access against personal mobility, in the short-term, pressures to lock in commitments for motorization continue to be very strong.

The access movement in transport is the result of an epiphany that what people need most of all is painless access to workplaces, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, entertainment and so on, and that personal transport is only one among many ways to achieve this goal. With severe air pollution, crowded streets and appalling rates of fatal and debilitating accidents, it is no surprise that keeping jobs, goods, and services within easy proximity is what matters most to ordinary people. Even among the middle classes, there is widespread awareness of the unsuitability of widespread car use in Indian contexts.

Our cities have developed over decades and centuries in such a fashion that shops, homes, and many workplaces are still largely within walkable distances of one other, except that walkability itself has recently come under threat by the “automobilization” of urban space. More than half of passenger trips in most Indian cities, including large ones like Mumbai, are for distances of less than five kilometers, which can ideally be traversed on bicycles and on foot, but which is now possible only at great risk of collision with faster moving vehicles. Urbanites are frequently displaced from sidewalks and the narrow sides of the road for cycling as a result of a frenzy of activity to create more room for the car, or are forced to rely on buses that are polluted, dangerous, and overcrowded.

The response to these challenges appears in many forms and across social classes. It is evident in the protests of poor cycle rickshaw drivers in Delhi who are seeking the right to earn livelihoods on the streets, as well as the activism of celebrities such as the actor Salman Khan promoting “Car Free” days in Mumbai. It appears as the recovery of road space for public transport in the form of Bus Rapid Transit experiments in Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Pune, with many more cities in the offing, to great effect and at extraordinarily low costs.

It can be detected in the newfound interest even among mayors and administrators in cities such as Chennai and Pune to revive bicycling. It is also evident in urban protests all over the country around issues of land-use, access to water, sanitation, and habitat, where it is clear that urban policies favoring the elites, such as road building and slum evictions, reduces access to existing services and also shifts resources for improving them as a result of distorted government priorities.

On the other side, lobbyists continue to peddle the notion that the ever-increasing use of personal vehicles, and the associated “freedom” for auto-mobility, is a basic human right, one that is only impeded by poverty. They do not like to be reminded that Europeans – particularly the Dutch and the Danes – are quite happy to abandon the car and find their freedom on bicycles, on foot, and on public transport, in spite of their inclement climate compared to most Indian cities.

Most significantly, what remains unstated is that private vehicles serve only a small fraction of the population that do not pay the full costs of occupying the road, polluting the air, draining precious foreign exchange by guzzling imported oil, causing accidents, and destroying ecosystems. It is the poor who engage sustainably with urban space and subsidize others by walking or cycling for short trips and taking public transport to cover longer distances, and utilizing every opportunity available to consume locally available goods and services.

In fact, it is also increasingly clear that the transport and access challenge affects not just the poor but most citizens, as well as policy-makers. Indeed the solutions offered by the access movement can address concerns as varied as asthma and other respiratory diseases, childhood obesity, climate change, community blight, diabetes, fiscal deficits for local and state governments, hearing loss, loss of life and limb due to accidents, petroleum dependence, rising land prices and transport costs, road rage, and sprawl.

For instance, a recent study in the *Lancet* co-authored by Geetam Tiwari from IIT Delhi and Stephen Woolcock from the London School of Economics, suggests that even modest improvements in pedestrian accessibility and the provision safe bicycling routes in Delhi can generate significantly higher carbon reductions and greater health benefits from cleaner air and the reduced likelihood of accidents than technological improvements for motor vehicles. Similarly, obesity and diabetes are on the rise in cities as a result of sedentary lifestyles, a phenomenon that can surely be put under control if urban areas were friendlier to walking and bicycling for children and adults.

Dense, mixed-use, walkable urban spaces are recognized the world over as the most creative and dynamic environments. The mall-like recreations of these spaces are already perceived as being *passé* and gaudy and a poor substitute for the real thing. From Curitiba to Copenhagen to Istanbul, the notion of livable streets – an old Indian concept that once characterized cities as different as Benares and Tanjavur – is now the new mantra of smart urban design.

Policy makers may want to take note of the dark side of developers’ interests to create gated communities in exurbs and flyovers in order to connect them to exclusive commercial and industrial centers, so that the wealthy never have to come into contact with the old city centers and the poor who live in them. The scenario that would then unfold would be more stark than that portrayed in dystopian films like *Blade Runner* or *District 9*, generating the expansion of apartheid urban spaces that are already in existence, in which a small segment of society traverses freeways in air-conditioned vehicles and remains completely isolated from the parallel world of an underpaid workforce that provides them their services, who are in turn forced to navigate large spatial distances at great difficulty and personal risk.

The choice is clear: if sustainability and the preservation of community life are important, then the voices of the access movement must be heeded.

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About the author:

Sudhir Chella Rajan is a Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Coordinator of the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has an extensive 20 year research background in transportation, energy systems, and the institutional and political context of environmental policymaking. Dr. Rajan is broadly concerned with the interactions among social, political, technological and environmental factors relating to sustainable development. Dr. Rajan's current research focuses on the social and institutional conditions needed to form a global political community with a clearly articulated collective interest in the environment, equity, and human development.

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World Streets thanks Ashok Sreenivas for the timely heads-up.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

"In the slums of Nairobi"
What do you do when you are losing a war?

If it is your assumption that we are at present losing the war for sustainable transport and sustainable lives -- and that is very definitely our position here at World Streets -- and if it is your firm intention not to lose it -- as it is ours! -- then what do you do when the going gets tough? Well you look around and put to work every potentially promising tool you can lay your hands on. Now we make a pretty consistent effort in these pages to bring to your attention creative media that illustrates, renders more understandable and supports our noble cause. But we need more: so what about doing more along these lines taken from today's edition of the International Herald Tribune?

* Click above to view full size image.


Is this part of our toolkit? "New wave graphic journalism"?. Let's have a look at what the artist behind this story, Patrick Chappette, has to say about it: http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/video/illustrating-chappatte-new-wave-graphic-journalism.shtml.

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About the artist:

Patrick Chappette is the editorial cartoonist of the International Herald Tribune. He also works for Neue Zurcher Zeitung, in Zurich, and Le Temps in Geneva, where he lives. You can view his blog at http://www.globecartoon.com/.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Brazilians observe how Germans are creating Low Emission Zones in cities

When it comes to the performance and quality of our streets in cities around the world, the simple truth is that for now at least we are stuck with far more losers than winners. But that is only part of the story; and one of the tasks of World is to keep a weather eye out for projects and programs, tools and policies which open up the possibility of creating better streets and better cities. Here for example you have a conversation between a Brazilian environmentalist and a German scientist running a pioneering program for a low emisssions zone which is up and running in Berlin.

Interview with Martin Lutz, Director, Low Emission program of the Berlin Senate

- By Lincoln Paiva , Green Mobility Brazil
(With kind thanks to the author for translating from the Portuguese original text which first appeared this week in http://mobilidadesustentavel.blog.uol.com.br/.)
This week I talked with Mr. Martin Lutz, Responsible for the Department of Health, environment and quality of Air Berlin's Senate. He told me how Berlin instituted the LEZ (Low Emission Zone) in 2005, with the goal of reducing the emission of toxic gases emitted by vehicles, also spoke about the difficulties in convincing companies of logistics, small businessmen and the population which used highly polluting vehicles in areas of high concentration of toxic gas vehicle. Mr Lutz was directly responsible for the Deployment of Low Emission Zones in Berlin. Germany has implemented the most stringent policies regarding the vehicular emissions of harmful gases in Germany, he tells us how the LEZ has been reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the population's health.
Lincoln Paiva: What were the main barriers to the successful deployment of an LEZ (Low Emission Zones) in Berlin?

Martin Lutz: A number of preparatory steps had to be taken before putting the low emission zone (LEZ) into practice. As the LEZ is a selective traffic ban for the most polluting vehicles, a vehicle identification scheme was needed as a precondition for practical enforcement. According to our legislative framework, the Federal Government was in charge to come up with a respective regulation for a nationwide concept, which paved the way for implementing LEZ also in other German cities, if necessary. Contrary to the technically sophisticated approach in London and Stockholm with a CCTV--based automatic number recognition system, the German scheme is based on a simple sticker system for the window screen, which illustrates the emission category of each vehicle willing to enter the LEZ.

In addition, a market for retrofit kits for diesel particulate filter (DPF) needed to be built up, so that most of the diesel vehicles affected by the traffic ban could be upgraded by retrofitting them with a particle trap.

In order to allow vehicle owners to adapt to the emission criteria of the LEZ, for example by retrofitting or replacing their vehicle stock, a 2 1/2 year transition period was granted between the adoption of the scheme in August 2005 and its launch in January 2008. In addition, a more stringent stage 2 came into force in January 2010 with the Euro 4 emission standard as the basic criterion for all diesel vehicles, including light and heavy goods vehicles. Older diesel vehicles can be upgraded to that standards by a retrofit with a DPF.

More information on Berlin's LEZ and the vehicle labelling scheme can be found on our website http://www.berlin.de/sen/umwelt/luftqualitaet/en/luftreinhalteplan/umweltzone_allgemeines.shtml. The site www.lowemissionzones.eu provides an overview on all LEZ planned or in force in Europe.

LP: Public attitudes toward the program?

Martin Lutz: While drawing up Berlin's clean air plan, which stipulates several measures including the LEZ, the concept went through a public consultation process, in order to gain support of the Berlin's citizens for the plan and for the LEZ in particular. Due to the long transition period and additional funding granted by the national government to those retrofitting their diesel car with a DPF the low emission zones was generally accepted by the urban population. However, resistance by truckers and business associations was also voiced, pointing to the economic burden because of the investment in new vehicles or in retrofitting emerging from the introduction of the LEZ. These concerns were accommodated by drawing up a set of rules under which individual temporary exemptions from the traffic ban could be granted to vehicle operators who can prove that they would run into severe economic problems because of the LEZ.

LP: What were the results? Was there a reduction of traffic?

Martin Lutz: After two years since the start of the Low Emission Zone in Berlin its success can be clearly seen in terms of an accelerated shift towards cleaner vehicles, reduced pollutant emissions and better air quality. While traffic flows have not changed due to the LEZ, the turnover of the vehicle fleet towards more cleaner vehicles has speeded up considerably, resulting in the first year of its introduction in 21% less exhaust particle emissions and 15% lower NOx emission from Berlin’s motor traffic. Measured concentrations of black carbon at kerbside spots decreased in 2008 by around 15%. Despite an increasing share of direct NO2-emissions, NO2 concentrations in Berlin have also decreased by 7-10%, after several years without a visible downward trend. With the recent launch of stage 2 of the LEZ its mitigation effect on the air pollution is expected to eventually reduce total particulate matter concentrations (PM10) by up to 10%.

LP: What are the health benefits accruing to a decrease in vehicle emissions and implementation of the LEZ?


Martin Lutz: Given the high toxicity of diesel particle emissions it can be expected that the LEZ-related drop in black carbon levels is also resulting in a fall of respiratory diseases and eventually in a reduction of premature mortality especially among the poorer population living along heavily trafficked roads. Concrete investigations have not yet been launched but are planned for the coming years, when more data on the effects on pollution levels and on public health will be available.

LP: You say that Berlin has simplified monitoring in relation to London. How does that work?

Martin Lutz: As mentioned above a simpler sticker system has come into force, which allows to clearly identify the vehicles allowed to enter the zone, which cover 88 km2 with almost one third of Berlin's 3.6 Mio inhabitants living in the LEZ. Police and staff of the local municipal public order offices have enforced penalties, resulting in about 60.000 fines since the launch of the LEZ.

LP: How are you engaging the public?

Martin Lutz: An extensive information campaign was launched after the adoption of the scheme, with flyers, newspaper articles and advertisements in TV and radio.

LP: Are there penalties for infringement?

Martin Lutz: Driving within the zone without a sticker or with a non-compliant vehicle is penalised with 40€ and with one point in the national road penalty register.

LP:: Finally...What is the cost of monitoring the program in Berlin?

Berlin's spends a lot of effort in monitoring air quality in the city, with a network of 16 automatic stations, which continuously record the pollution concentration within the city area. Extra monitoring of black carbon and nitrogen oxide is being done at additional 20 kerbside spots. In addition with dispersion models and traffic detectors a good data base is available to assess the impact of the LEZ and other measures on the air quality. The costs of these extra monitoring and assessment activities alone are well above 100.000 € per year.

Originally published in Portuguese : http://mobilidadesustentavel.blog.uol.com.br/
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About the authors:

Lincoln Paiva is director of Green Mobility Brazil. How to ensure people’s transportation and at the same time be sustainable? The Green Mobility Project arose from the need to develop a culture concerned with managing the demand for mobility in a sustainable manner in order to reduce the use of individual transportation, responsible for 70% of the occupation of the earth and for the problems arising from this option such as pollution and investments in modal infrastructure, as well as to discuss alternative, more sustainable means for cities.

Martin Lutz has a university degree in meteorology and air chemistry. More than 2 decades ago he started dealing with winter smog alarm management in Berlin. During a four year detachment to the EU Commission he was drafting an European ozone strategy and a new ozone Directive. Back in Berlin he led investigations in the sources of PM10 pollution and an impact analysis of control measures on PM10 and NO2 pollution. He was developing Berlin’s air quality strategy. Mr. Lutz is now head of the sector on air pollution. FOr more on the LEZ project: http://www.life-spas.at/deutsch/includes/12_Lutz-LEZ-Sep09-EN-sent%281%29.pdf


For more information on Low Emission Zones in Europe:
http://www.lowemissionzones.eu/


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Monday, May 24, 2010

How much is that car really costing? You? The rest of us?

Editor's introductory note: I have long maintained that the cost of driving one more car in a city is far greater than normally understood, with the result that the benefits to the city of getting one car off the street are very very considerable. My own working rule of thumb, admittedly crude and entirely unscientific, is that every time a mayor or her team figure out how to remove one car from the traffic stream -- without decreasing the quality of the overall mobility system - brings about a benefit for all equal to at least one dollar a car/km. But let's hear what Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has to say about it.

Transportation Cost Analysis

- by Todd Litman, VTPI, Victoria, BC, Canada. 24 May 2009;

Mobility provides many benefits, but it also incurs significant costs. It is therefore important to optimize our transport system to maximize net benefits, considering all impacts.

What does it cost to commute by car? Would you save by shifting to bicycling or public transportation? How would this affect your neighbors? What are the optimal fees for using roads, parking facilities, vehicle insurance, and fuel?

These and many other questions can be answered with comprehensive analysis of transportation costs. This column explores this issue and discusses the implications of current, based on information from my report, Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis, available free on our website at www.vtpi.org/tca.

By “costs” I don’t just mean monetary expenses, it also includes impacts on non-market resources such as personal time, health and environmental quality.

The table below lists the 23 categories of transport costs considered in my analysis. Some costs, such as parking and accidents, are divided into internal costs, which are borne directly by users, and external costs, borne by other people. My report provides detailed analysis of each cost category.

Table 1 Transport Cost Categories (Click tables and figures for clearer image.) This table defines the 23 transport cost categories evaluated in this study.

Some of these costs are relatively easy to measure. For example, vehicle ownership and operating costs are relatively easy to estimate. Transportation economists have developed good estimates of the costs of building and maintaining roads and parking facilities, and the values of travel time, congestion and accidents. Other costs have received less research, but their values can still be estimated using various data sources and quantification methods.

The figure below illustrates the estimated monetized value of these costs, averaged per vehicle-mile for a typical automobile driven in the U.S.

Figure 1 Costs Ranked by Magnitude

This figure shows costs per vehicle-mile for an average North American automobile.

The results are, for the most part, unsurprising. Vehicle ownership and operation, crash damages, travel time, and the costs of building and maintaining road and parking facilities are among the largest costs. Congestion and air pollution, two costs that receive considerable attention in transport policy debates, are actually moderate in magnitude. Many of the largest costs are internal, borne directly by users, external costs are individually relatively small, but numerous.

Figure 2 summarizes the overall distribution of these costs. About a third are external, a quarter are internal-fixed (motorists pay the same amount, regardless of how much they drive) and less than half of these costs are internal-variable (borne by users according to the amount a vehicle is driven, and therefore directly affecting short-term travel decisions).

Figure 2 Average Car Cost Distribution


This figure illustrates the aggregate distribution of costs for an average car. About 60% of total vehicle costs are either External or Internal-Fixed, and so do not directly affect short-term travel decisions.

These costs vary depending on travel conditions, with higher costs (particularly congestion, pollution, and infrastructure costs) under urban-peak conditions, as illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Average Car Cost Distribution By Driving Conditions

This figure illustrates how aggregate costs vary by travel conditions. Urban-Peak travel has the largest total costs largely due to higher external costs.

My analysis also estimates these costs for different travel modes, as summarized in Figure 4. Of course, these costs vary significantly depending on travel conditions and user needs and preferences.

For example, public transit travel costs are much lower than automobile costs under urban-peak conditions, and under favorable conditions walking and cycling can have very low costs because users enjoy these activities, but under unfavorable conditions their costs per mile can be very high, which can justify investments in sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic calming to improve non-motorized travel conditions, and therefore encourage shifts from motorized to non-motorized modes.

Figure 4 Cost Distribution by Mode


This graph shows the cost distribution of each mode. These costs are measured per passenger-mile, not per vehicle-mile, as in previous graphs. Note that transit costs are based on average U.S. ridership levels and would be lower in areas with higher ridership rates.

Conventional planning tends to consider some of these costs but ignores others, as summarized in Table 2. For example, conventional planning generally ignores parking costs and vehicle ownership costs, it assumes that businesses must supply the same number of employee and customer parking spaces, and households will own the same number of vehicles, regardless of transport policies or planning decisions, and so ignores the savings to businesses and consumers of improvements to alternative modes that allow consumers to own fewer vehicles and drive fewer annual miles.

This tends to bias planning decisions toward highway projects, and away from improvements to walking, cycling and public transit, and away from mobility management policies that encourage use of alternative modes.

Table 2 Scope of Conventional Planning Analysis
Conclusions

If you ask people what it costs to drive they typically mention vehicle operating expenses, which average approximately 16¢ per mile for a typical automobile. Some may include vehicle ownership costs, which average about 27¢ per mile. A few may also mention travel time and crash risk.

These, however, are only a portion of total costs. The full cost of driving includes these direct, internal costs, plus various indirect and external costs. Total estimated costs range from about $0.94 per vehicle mile for rural driving to $1.64 for urban-peak driving. Of course there is considerable variation in the costs of any specific trip, but these estimates, and variations for different travel modes and specific conditions, provide a reasonable basis for analyzing true transport costs.

The largest categories of transport costs tend to be internal, including vehicle ownership and operation, travel time, and crash risk borne by motorists. External costs tend to be smaller, and so are easy to overlook, but numerous, so their aggregate value tends to be significant. About half of transport costs are either external or internal-fixed, and therefore do not directly affect individual travel decisions. This represents underpricing, which results in economically excessive automobile travel (more vehicle travel than would occur in a more efficient market). Other transport modes have different cost profiles, some having much smaller external costs under certain circumstances.

For More Information

European Transport Pricing Initiatives (www.transport-pricing.net) includes various efforts to calculate transportation costs and optimal pricing.

Todd Litman (2008), Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis; Techniques, Estimates and Implications, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org/tca).

Todd Litman (2009), Socially Optimal Transport Prices and Markets, VTPI (www.vtpi.org); at www.vtpi.org/sotpm.pdf.

M. Maibach, et al. (February 2008), Handbook on Estimation of External Cost in the Transport Sector: Produced within the study Internalisation Measures and Policies for All external Cost of Transport (IMPACT) Version 1.1, CE Delft, for the European Commission DG TREN; at http://ec.europa.eu/transport/costs/handbook/doc/2008_01_15_handbook_external_cost_en.pdf.

Nariida C. Smith, Daniel W. Veryard and Russell P. Kilvington (2009), Relative Costs And Benefits Of Modal Transport Solutions, Research Report 393, NZ Transport Agency (www.nzta.govt.nz); at www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/393/docs/393.pdf.

Swiss ARE (2005), External Cost of Transport In Switzerland, Swiss Federal Office of Spatial Development (www.are.admin.ch); at www.are.admin.ch/themen/verkehr/00252/00472/index.html?lang=en. English summary in
Externe Kosten des Verkehrs in der Schweiz; Aktualisierung für das Jahr 2005 mit Bandbreiten.

TC (2005-08), The Full Cost Investigation of Transportation in Canada, Transport Canada (www.tc.gc.ca/pol/en/aca/fci/menu.htm).

# # #

About the author:

Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: litman@vtpi.org. Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Worldwide Parking Scenarios:
In New Delhi, five million vehicles and nowhere to park

Parking facts and policies are a wonderful often mysterious component of both the Old and New Mobility Agendas. Dead (i.e., parked) cars gobble up a huge amount of valuable public space in and around in our cities, on average of three to four times the number of moving cars. And while it is an enormously powerful transport policy tool (potentially), most cities and administrations run scared when it comes to taking a consistent, thought-out, strategic approach. Here are a few crisp words from Neha Lalchandani of The Times of India reporting on the present state of the parking art in that nation's capital. More Old Mobility as you will see.

Demand For Parking Space In Delhi Exceeds
Capacity Over Three Times

- Neha Lalchandani from The Times Of India Mumbai; Date:2010 May 21;

New Delhi: Fears of our cities turning into concrete jungles can now take a backseat – they are turning into parking lots much sooner. With around 1,100 vehicles being added to Delhi’s streets each day, the city is struggling to find parking space for more than 5.2 million vehicles, in addition to those coming in daily from across the border.

Fears of our cities turning into concrete jungles can now take a backseat – they are turning into parking lots much sooner. With around 1,100 vehicles being added to Delhi’s streets each day, the city is struggling to find parking space for more than 5.2 million vehicles, in addition to those coming in daily from across the border.

Vehicles occupy an estimated 10.8% of the city’s urbanized area, increasingly threatening its green spaces. Their sheer numbers are also threatening to undo any benefits that Delhi might have accrued in switching over to CNG and mass transport systems like the Metro. Experts say unless using vehicles is aggressively discouraged, in the form of prohibitory parking charges, taxes and congestion fees, the air quality is unlikely to improve.

“The demand for parking space has clearly overshot the available capacity by as much as three times. The shortfall of space is in the range of 16-52%. The government needs to formulate a parking policy in which parking rates reflect the cost of real estate. That would make it a deterrent for car users,” says Sunita Narain, director of Centre for Science and Environment.

Going by 2005 records of daily registration of cars, demand for parking space exceeded 2.5 million sqm. “Transport planners consider 23sqm of land as appropriate to park an average car. This means in the prime business district of Connaught Place, the rent of such an area can be as high as Rs 36,000 per month. But users pay a minuscule sum for parking,” said Anumita Roychoudhury, in-charge of the Right To Clean Air Campaign for CSE.

The government has failed to come up with a comprehensive policy for parking. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) started charging land users a one-time fee for constructing parking space but that only serves to increase cost of parking to nearly Rs 4-6 lakh per car space, barely any of which will be recovered from the users. Underground parking lots, mostly beneath parks and green spaces, met with resistance from not just the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority but also resident welfare associations.

The New Delhi Municipal Council has recently introduced a graded parking fee in its areas.

“A shift to public transport can only be achieved if driving is not a convenient mode of travel. Big cities such as Portland, Seattle, Bremen, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo and Bogota among others have hiked parking fees and limited parking space to reduce car usage,” said Roychoudhury.

# # #


About the author:
Neha Lalchandani writes for The Times of India.

Note: A lakh is a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to one hundred thousand. Thus Rs 4-6 lakh per parking space translates to 400,000 to 600,000 Indian Rupees, equal roughly to USD 8-10,000. Just to give you an idea.

Thanks to Alok Priyanka and Sustran for the heads-up.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Songs without Words. (Or trying very hard to get a commentary on reversing sprawl)

We invite our readers to write the words to the following "song": 150 words max please, signed with your name, email, affiliation if any, city, country, and URL if you wish. You may either place your contribution just below clicking the COMMENTS link, or by email to editor@newmobility.org. At one point a selection of these comments will be sorted and integrated into a collaborative piece on this theme. Sorry, no other clues.


Population footprints: Barcelona vs. Atlanta




Now what?

Editor's note: 22 May 2010 I have been scolded by several of our number who make the point that the above "song without words" title/proposal is far from clear. So with apologies, let me try to put it right.

The idea is that the graphic strikingly demonstrates one of the most important, and close to intractable, challenges of the move from Old to New Mobility, the huge dispersion of populations and activity that has been caused by the totally unthought-out shift from city living to a car-based hyper-spread life style. I was hoping to elicit comments on that, which is, it must be admitted, something like the proverbial challenge of getting the toothpaste back into the tube. There are responses, of that I am entirely sure, but it is going to be a tough job. So now, hopefully, your comments and clues?


Kind thanks to Lois Sturm, New York City for the heads-up on the graphics. (And to Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy for the inspiration.)

# # #

Supplemental figure and food for thought:

Urban density vs. transport energy consumption


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"Drive for sustainable mobility"
(You're kidding me, right?)

What a great idea! Fresh from the ever-busy "You're kidding me, right?" Department" of World Streets, this title headlined an article appearing today in the "environment" section of a UK journal. No kidding!

For the full text of this thoughtful piece, you may click to http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/the-environment/2010/05/19/we-all-value-our-mobility-the-ability-to-move-around-freely-and-quickly-to-do-the-things-we-want-and-need-to-do-84229-26477125/

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shoup on how parking can make a street great

Donald Shoup has extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy, and the environment -- and that is exactly why World Streets is pleased to welcome this thought-provoking contribution on parking as an instrument for creating great streets and cities that at once offer quality of life and an economy that works.

The Price of Parking on a Great Street:

- By Donald Shoup, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA
How Can Curb Parking Contribute to Making a Street Great?
A city can (1) charge performance based prices for curb parking and (2) return the revenue to the metered districts to pay for added public services. With these two policies, curb parking will help to create great streets, improve transportation, and increase the economic vitality of cities.
Performance Parking Prices

Performance-based prices can balance the varying demand for parking with the fixed supply of curb spaces. We can call this balance between demand and supply the “Goldilocks principle” of parking prices: the price is too high if many spaces are vacant, and too low if no spaces are vacant. When a few vacant spaces are available everywhere, the prices are just right. After the city adjusts prices to yield one or two vacant spaces in every block (about 85 percent occupancy), everyone will see that curb parking is readily available. In addition, no one can say that performance parking prices will drive customers away if almost all curb spaces are occupied.

Prices that produce an occupancy rate of about 85 percent can be called “performance-based” for three reasons. First, curb parking will perform efficiently. The spaces will be well used but readily available. Second, the transportation system will perform efficiently. Cruising for underpriced curb parking will not congest traffic, waste fuel, and pollute the air.

Third, the economy will perform efficiently. The price of parking will be higher when demand is higher, and this higher price will encourage rapid parking turnover. Drivers will park, buy something, and leave quickly so that other drivers can use the spaces. Cities can achieve all these goals by setting curb parking prices to yield about an 85 percent occupancy rate.

Local Revenue Return

Performance prices for curb parking can yield ample public revenue. If the city returns this revenue to pay for added public spending on the metered streets, citizens are more likely to support the performance prices. The added funds can pay to clean and maintain the sidewalks, plant trees, improve lighting, bury overhead utility wires, remove graffiti, and provide other public improvements.

Put yourself in the shoes of a merchant in an older business district where curb parking is free and customers complain about a parking shortage. Suppose the city installs meters and begins to charge prices that produce a few vacancies. Everyone who wants to shop in the district can park quickly, and the city spends the meter money to clean the sidewalks and provide security. These added public services make the business district a place where people want to be, rather than merely a place where anyone can park free if they can find a space. Returning the meter revenue generated by the district to the district for the district’s own use can help to convince merchants and property owners to support performance prices for curb parking.

Suppose also that curb parking remains free in other business districts. Everyone complains about the shortage of parking, and drivers congest traffic and pollute the air while they search for curb parking. The city has no meter revenue to clean the sidewalks and provide other amenities. In which district would you want to have a business?

Performance prices will improve curb parking by creating a few vacancies, the added meter revenue will pay to improve public services, and these added public services will create political support for performance prices.

Parking Increment Finance

Most cities put their parking meter revenue into the city’s general fund. How can a city return meter revenue to business districts without shortchanging the general fund? The city can return only the subsequent increment in meter revenue–the amount above and beyond the existing meter revenue–that arises after the city begins to charge performance prices. We can call this arrangement parking increment finance.

Parking increment finance closely resembles tax increment finance, a popular way to pay for public investment in districts in need of revitalization. Local redevelopment agencies receive the increment in property tax revenue that results from the increased property values in the redevelopment districts. Similarly, business districts can receive the increment in parking meter revenue that results from performance parking prices.

More meters, higher rates, and longer hours of operation will provide money to pay for added public services. These added public services will promote business activity in the district, and the increased demand for parking will further increase meter revenue.

Performance Parking Prices in Practice

Some cities have begun to charge performance prices for curb parking and return the meter revenue to its source. Redwood City, California, sets meter rates to achieve an 85 percent occupancy rate for curb parking downtown; the rates differ both by location and time of day, depending on demand. The city returns the revenue to the metered district to pay for public parking structures, police protection, and cleaner sidewalks.

Merchants and property owners all supported the new policy when they learned the meter revenue would pay for added public services in the downtown business district, and the city council adopted it unanimously. Performance prices create a few curb vacancies so visitors can easily find a space, the added meter revenue pays to improve public services, and these added public services create political support for the performance prices.
Redwood City’s Parking Ordinance
To accomplish the goal of managing the supply of parking and to make it reasonably available when and where needed, a target occupancy rate of eighty-five percent (85%) is hereby established.

The Parking Manager shall survey the average occupancy for each parking area in the Downtown Meter Zone that has parking meters. Based on the survey results, the Parking Manager shall adjust the rates up or down in twenty-five cent ($0.25) intervals to seek to achieve the target occupancy rate.

Revenues generated from on-street and off-street parking within the Downtown Meter Zone boundaries shall be accounted for separately from other City funds and may be used only within or for the benefit of the Downtown Core Meter Zone.

Sections 20.120 and 20.121 of the Redwood City Municipal Code
----------------------------------------------------------

Most cities keep their meter rates constant throughout day and let occupancy rates vary in response to demand. cities can vary their meter prices to keep occupancy about 85 percent. The goal is to balance supply everywhere, all the time. Most cities also limit the length at meters so long-term parkers won’t monopolize the curb spaces. But after Redwood City adjusted meter guarantee the availability spaces, it removed limits at meters.

This unlimited-has turned out to with drivers who can for as long as they pay. The demand-meter rates create the most convenient spaces, and long-term tend to choose the cheaper spaces in off-street lots.

Other cities have also begun to adjust their meter ensure the availability of curb parking. The U.S. Department Transportation has awarded grants to Chicago, Los San Francisco to test performance prices for curb Washington, D.C., has already started them. Pasadena Diego return meter revenues to enhance public services metered districts.
We can call the balance between demand and supply the “Goldilocks principle” of parking prices.

Any city can use a pilot program to test Goldilocks prices for curb parking. All the city has to do is allow business district that requests a pilot program to have cost the city anything, because the meters pay for Dirty and unsafe streets will never be great, so the initially use the meter revenue to pay for clean-and-safe.

Many communities may value clean and safe more highly than free but overcrowded curb parking. community is clean and safe, the parking revenue urban amenities such as street trees, underground public transit improvements. Parking on a great street may not be free, but it will be convenient and worth the price.

# # #

About the author:
Professor Shoup is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University and the World Bank, and has served as Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. His influential book, The High Cost of Free Parking, is leading a growing number of cities to charge fair market prices for curb parking, dedicate the resulting revenue to finance public services in the metered districts, and reduce or remove off-street parking requirements. His research on employer-paid parking led to passage of California’s parking cash-out law, and to changes in the Internal Revenue Code to encourage parking cash out. He can be reached at shoup@ucla.

This article was adapted with permission of the author from a chapter in Planetizen Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning, edited by Abhijeet Chavan, Christian Peralta, and Christopher Steins. Washington, Island Press, 2007, pp. 52–56.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Politics, New Economics and New Mobility :
Frugal Transport comes of age in Britain?

John Whitelegg, Editor of World Transport Policy and Practice, offers up a lead editorial in the latest edition of the Journal which was published today and is freely available here. His proposal makes particular economic sense at a time of great economic uncertainty, and of course not only in the UK. His core recommendation: (a) Cancel systematically all public investments that do not pass the sustainability test. What goes? (b) £10 billion for unnecessary road building. (c) £32 billion for uncalled for high speed rail. And (d) elimination of all but a handful of domestic aviation subsidies and investments. And with those frugal savings, the new government team can really go to work to guarantee the sustainable transport agenda.

A New Deal for British transport:
A beginners guide to sorting out fiscal, social, economic and health problems through transport measures

- John Whitelegg, Editor, World Transport Policy and Practice

On Thursday 13th May 2010 a new government in Britain began making its first decisions. Amongst these decisions was the abandonment of a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport and the cancellation of any new runways at Gatwick and Stansted. The fact that the new government is the first coalition government since the second world war has excited fear and uncertainty as well as hope for a “new politics” but we shall see.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition labelled somewhat unkindly as the “Con-dem” coalition by the Labour Party has enormous potential to get things right so here are a few tips in the best tradition of World Transport Policy and Practice and its 15 years of efforts to inform policy:

1. Cancel the complete road building programme and motorway widening programme and use the (approx) £10 billion to reduce public expenditure and/or reallocate to highway maintenance so that road conditions improve.

2. Cancel the complete high speed rail programme. 1% of all trips in the UK are longer than 100 miles and there is no satisfactory rationale for spending £32 billion of public money to encourage rich people to travel faster and more often to and from London.

3. Implement full internalisation of external cost on domestic aviation through emission charging and implement strict noise and air quality regulations around airports to protect local residents from health damaging environments.

4. Announce that it is the view of the new coalition government to eliminate domestic aviation apart from those services connecting remote Scottish Islands and similar communities elsewhere in the UK.

5. Implement system-wide reform in all UK urban areas to deliver a “202020” vision for cycling - 20% of all trips in all urban areas will be by bicycle by 2020. System- wide reform means general 30kph/20mph speed limits, road closures to reduce rat running and highly connected public services and destinations. All UK cities can be like Freiburg, Basle and Copenhagen. The missing ingredient is political will.

6. De-commission 50% of car parking spaces in urban areas and reallocate the released land for high quality, car free, affordable housing.

7. Implement a serious road user hierarchy so that every junction and every highway link delivers absolute consideration for pedestrians and cyclists and puts car users at the bottom of the list. The road user hierarchy is illustrated and described in the Department for Transport Manual for Streets (DfT, 2007).

8. Introduce land value taxation to produce funds for new public transport infrastructure.

9. Require a year on year increase in accessibility by foot, bike and public transport to all health, education, employment and recreational facilities.

10. Set a target of achieving the rule of one third for urban areas: all efforts will be made to deliver a modal split in urban areas of one third of trips walk/cycle, one third public transport and one third by car.

11. Set high standards of public transport provision for rural public transport and establish the position that the car is not the default option for rural areas. In case of doubt please will Ministers visit Dornach and Gempen near Basle in Switzerland to see what is meant by “high standards”.

This list has been sent to the new Minister of Transport of the new UK government. We await his answer with great anticipation.

DfT (2007) Manual for Streets (para 3.6.8)
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/manforstreets/pdfmanforstreets.pdf

Note to the reader from the author:
"Let's invite comment, rebuttal, ask for other ideas out there. Why not do some role playing along the lines "OK so its the morning after the night before and you are the new Minister of Transport and you have the support of your prime minister and all the cabinet. What are you going to do to sort out our long term transport problems and the way they interact with a wide range of health, social and economic problems? The time for dithering is over. You must act! What will you do?"

# # #

World Transport Policy and Practice. Volume 16. Number 1 May 2010

A free copy of this latest volume is available here.

Abstracts & Keywords

Cycling in New York: Innovative Policies at the Urban Frontierf

John Pucher, Lewis Thorwaldson, Ralph Buehler, and Nicholas Klein

New York has made impressive progress at improving cycling conditions and raising cycling levels in recent years, especially in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The number of bike trips has almost doubled since 2000, thanks to vastly expanded cycling infrastructure, including innovative treatments such as cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes, special bike signals, bike boxes at intersections, and bright green lane markings.

Cycling safety has improved, with steady or declining numbers of cyclist injuries and fatalities in spite of rapidly rising cycling volumes. Some serious deficiencies remain, however. Integration of bicycling with public transport is almost nonexistent. There is not nearly enough bike parking, and virtually no secure bike parking at all. Moreover, the police and courts in New York have failed to enforce the many traffic laws intended to protect cyclists.

Comprehensive traffic calming is needed in New York’s residential neighbourhoods to reduce travel speeds and thus encourage more cycling, in particular, by children, seniors, and women. Cycling has come a long way in New York, but it still has a long way to go before it becomes a mainstream way to get around.

Keywords: bicycling, cycle paths, infrastructure, cycling safety, policy, New York City, gender, bike parking, sustainable transport

Youth transport, mobility and security in sub-Saharan Africa: the gendered journey to school

- Gina Porter, Kate Hampshire, Albert Abane, Alister Munthali, Elsbeth Robson, Mac Mashiri and Augustine Tanle

This paper draws on empirical data from a three-country study (Ghana, Malawi, South Africa) of young people’s mobility to explore the gendered nature of children’s journeys to school in sub- Saharan Africa. Gender differences in school enrolment and attendance in Africa are well established: education statistics in many countries indicate that girls’ participation in formal education is often substantially lower than boys’, especially at secondary school level.

Transport and mobility issues commonly form an important component of this story, though the precise patterning of the transportation and mobility constraints experienced by girl schoolchildren, and the ways in which transport factors interact with other constraints, varies from region to region. In some contexts the journey to school represents a particularly hazardous enterprise for girls because they face a serious threat of rape. In other cases girls’ journeys to school and school attendance are hampered by Africa’s transport gap and cultural conventions which require females to take on this burden (by pedestrian head loading) before leaving for (or instead of attending) school.

Our evidence comes from a diverse range of sources but, for reasons of space, we draw principally here on a survey questionnaire conducted in each country with approximately 1000 children aged 7-18 years across 8 sites. We aim to draw attention to the diversity of gendered travel experiences across geographical locations (paying attention to associated patterns of transport provision), to explore the implications of these findings for access to education, and to suggest areas where policy intervention could be beneficial.

Keywords: children’s journey to school, sub-Saharan Africa, gender, threat, transport, mobility, cultural conventions, education, policy

# # #

John Whitelegg is visiting Professor of Sustainable Transport at Liverpool John Moores University and Professor of Sustainable Development at University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute, and is founder and editor of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice. John is a local councillor in Lancaster.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

New Mobility Partnerships - What's going on this summer?

Two or three times a year your editor sits down and does his best to compile a readable synopsis of some of the more important things going on in World Streets, then to be communicated in one magical shot to the close to four thousand friends and colleagues around the world who have been involved in some way in these dialogues and projects over the last several decades. Here you have today's best seasonal effort, to which as always, comments, criticism and suggestions are warmly welcome.

Judged from a planetary or Kyoto perspective, or from an individual or public health perspective, or an economic perspective, or ... or ... our present arrangements for transport in cities are seriously damaged. As things stand today in city after city around the world, they threaten health in the city and on the planet. They are dangerous. They are costly. They are disruptive. They are thoroughly dysfunctional. And they are howlingly unfair. It does not have to be like that. We can do something about it, and we should. But we need to join forces to get the job done.

New Mobility Partnerships in Brief

Unconstrained by bureaucracy, economic interests or schedules, New Mobility Partnerships was launched in 1988 as a wide open international platform for critical discussion and diverse forms of cross-border collaboration on the challenging, necessarily conflicted topic of "sustainable transportation and social justice". There are no easy answers - but there are answers . . . if, that is, you are willing to take off the blinkers and get to work.

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World Streets in Brief
Insights and contributions from leading thinkers & practitioners around the world

World Streets is an independent, internet-based collaborative knowledge system specifically aimed at informing policy and practice in the field of sustainable transport, and, as part of that, sustainable cities and sustainable lives. Edited by Eric Britton, founder and Managing Director of the New Mobility Agenda.

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This Month on World Streets
Most of our busy readers do not have the time to check into World Streets on a daily basis. For that reason we offer our subscribers and sponsors, in addition to the daily edition, monthly summaries which bring together in one place all postings in a manner in which the reader can review each in a few lines and make a decision as to whether or not to call up the full article with a single click. Time-efficient communication in an overload world.

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New project: World Streets on Facebook
We are not Facebook experts, but nonetheless, and with reservations, we have concluded that this is a legitimate communications tool that can be put to work to increase the worldwide reach of the sustainable transport agenda. So with the help of our colleague Anzir Boodoo, we have set up a first stage site/interface which you can now access via www.facebook.WorldStreets.org. We invite you to have a look, use as your interest and skill level permit, and, better yet, lend a hand and help us to do better.

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Latest reader map
And here you can see where our last eighty visitors came from. Generally representative of overall pattern, but from day to day with considerable variations. Our goal for 2010: bring in all those great white swaths.

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Frugal Transport
Our sector has been notably profligate in terms of its use of public money, while at the same time also offering a generally poor deal in terms of quality of service per dollar spent by the citizens who use the system. This past profligacy is further compounded by the fact that for reasons of the complicated international economy, many countries are going to have to be far more careful about how they spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars in the years immediately ahead. We are not going to need another round of high cost, low impact investments to make it work. We simply take over 50% (your figure here) of the transport related budgets and use it to address projects and reforms that are going to make those big differences in the next several years. This is where the action is going to be in the years immediately ahead and where Frugal Transport kicks in. (This section just getting underway.)

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Slow Down
As most of our regular readers are well aware, World Streets is no friend of speed in cities. To the contrary, it is our firm position that a considerable number of the basic objectives associated with sustainable mobility and sustainable cities can be achieved if we do no more than to reduce top speeds in and around our cities in a strategic and carefully thought-out way. The great technological virtuosity of traffic engineers and technical planners permit us to do this, while at the same time retaining a well working transportation system, a healthier city, and a viable local economy. This is a major target of World Streets and many of our associates worldwide

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Share/Transport: The Third Way of Getting Around In Cities
Share/transport - the largely uncharted middle ground between the familiar mobility poles of "private transport" (albeit on public roads) and "public transport" (scheduled, fixed-route, large vehicle services) at the two extremes. Comprising a very large gamut of services of which among the best known are shared taxis, carsharing, ride sharing, and small private bus systems, it offers a form of mobility service that works when everything else fails or is simply not there. However it is one that until now has been poorly understood by policymakers and is badly in need of informed perspectives and policies. A first international conference is being planned for Kaohsiung Taiwan from 16 to 19 September 2010, with full information available in early June.

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Women as the Metric for Sustainable Lives: Leadership Role
World Streets, and the New Mobility Agenda directly behind it, have long held the position that our sector suffers badly from the lack of female perspective and female leadership. Rectifying this should be one of the major targets of policymakers and citizens at all levels of society and in all countries. We have pursued this recommendation vigorously since the founding of this program in 1988, and firmly believe that a reasonable target for female participation in leadership groups at all levels is in the area of 40%. In our publications and conferences, we go into detail as to how this can be done and why the strong leadership role is critical.

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The Hundred Faces behind World Streets
We firmly believe that the move to sustainable transport and sustainable lives is a very personal matter. For that reason every article that appears in World Streets is accompanied by a short bio note and photo identifying the author. We want you to know who they are and what they look like. To this end we have assembled for your viewing pleasure small photos of 160 of our authors and collaborators. Have a look.

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National Partnership Programs/Language Editions
True, English is a widely spoken and read language. But true too that most of the activity carried out at the working level in countries whose language is other than English is in the language of the place. So if our goal is to have a worldwide impact, we must find ways to reach the people who count, in ways which efficiently and fully engage them. To that end we have initiated a series of collaborative projects which are already reaching out to key actors in several language areas, starting with a highly successful Italian edition and a different approach to reach the key actors in Swedish. Others presently under discussion. Would YOU like to talk about it?

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Now . . . what about you?
Because this is an important set of issues and you can make a difference. So consider this an open invitation to lend a hand in making World Streets a more useful and successful tool and source. We need your help both (a) to improve the technical product, but above all to identify and (b) to take direct contact with eventual collaborators, subscribers, sponsors, and organizations at the national or international level whom you may know and who can help support this unique public interest enterprise and help it make an even more effective contribution. You will be surprised at how much you can do to make it happen, if you choose to.

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# # #

Eric Britton is Managing Director of the New Mobility Partnerships and founding editor of World Streets. Contrary to what you may surmise, he is not alone. You can reach him at editor@worldstreets.org , Tel. +331 7500 3788 in France or +1 (213) 984 1277 in the US. Or via Skype at newmobility.

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