TRB Annual Meeting 2018

TRB Annual Meeting 2018

I’m co-author for three papers at this year’s Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington DC (8-13 January 2018). Here’s a list and some links:

Feedforward Tactical Optimization for Energy-Efficient Operation of Freight Trains: Swiss Case
Valerio De Martinis, ETHZ – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Ambra Toletti, ETHZ – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Francesco Corman, ETH Zurich
Ulrich Weidmann, IVT ETH Zürich
Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern

Application of a Cost-Allocation Model to Swiss Bus and Train lines
Marc Sinner, ETH Zurich
Ulrich Weidmann, IVT ETH Zürich
Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern

Wireless Electric Propulsion Light Rail Transit Systems in Spain

Francisco Calvo, University of Granada, Spain
Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern

TRB Annual Meeting 2017

TRB Annual Meeting 2017

I’m an author or co-author of six papers and presentations at the 2017 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington DC. Here is a list of the papers and presentations, with links for downloading several of the papers. Hope to see you in Washington!

Monday 9 January 2017

  • What’s a Bus? Defining Buses and Trains in the Age of Automation; Marc Sinner, ETH Zurich, Ulrich Weidmann, and Andrew Nash; Session 403, 1:30 pm, Convention Center 144-A.
  • Modeling Real-Time Communications-Based Train Control Operation in Mixed Traffic Networks: Simulation-Based Approach; Valerio De Martinis, ETH Zurich, Ambra Toletti, Ulrich Weidmann, and Andrew Nash; Session 471: Advances in Railroad Operating Technologies; 3:45 – 5:30 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (poster).
  • Using Banedanmark’s Traffic Management System to Develop Concept Timetable 2030; Andrew Nash, Emch+Berger AG Bern, Samuel Roos, Emch+Berger AG Bern, and Bernd Schittenhelm, Banedanmark / Rail Net Denmark; Session 471: Advances in Railroad Operating Technologies; 3:45 – 5:30 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (poster).

Tuesday 10 January 2017

  • How Crowdsourcing Can Help Public Transport Innovate Successfully in an Era of Rapid Change; Andrew Nash; Session 665: New Mobility Services, 1:30 – 3:15 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (poster).
  • A Proposed Method for Measuring Customer Orientation of Companies in the Freight Transport Sector; Albert Mancera, ETH Zürich, Thorsten Klaas, Ulrich Weidmann, Andrew Nash; Session 754: Current Research in Freight Planning and Logistics; 3:45 – 5:30 pm, Convention Center, Hall E (Poster).

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Stadt der Zukunft – City of the Future: Vienna

Vienna Ringstrasse tram in the snow.

Vienna Ringstrasse tram in the snow.

I attended a fascinating lecture and roundtable Wednesday night called Stadt der Zukunft (city of the future) organized by the city of Vienna and Erste Bank. The evening focused on urban mobility. The keynote speaker was Professor Andreas Knie from Berlin. His lecture was followed by four presentations from businesses working in the field of urban mobility, then a roundtable discussion with Knie, Vice Mayor Renate Brauner, Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou, and Emeritus Professor Hermann Knoflacher from the TU Vienna.

Urban Mobility in the 21st Century

Professor Andreas Knie is co-managing director of INNOZ, Berlin, Innovationszentrum für Mobilität und gesellschaftlichen Wandel, (English: Centre for Innovation in Mobility and
Societal Change) and a professor at two universities in Berlin. His lecture was titled: “Networked Mobility in Cities” slides from the lecture (German).

Knie’s main focus was the need for integrating all forms of transport into easy to use networks. This means, for example, a single smart card that can be used for public transport, city bike rental, car sharing, buying things in stores, etc. Knie reviewed some of the more famous examples (Hong Kong Octopus, London Oyster, Netherlands travel card, etc.), as well as some German experiments (Berlin Mobility Card).

One of the main reasons for developing these integrated cards is to create a networked transport system that can provide a similar degree of “automobility” as automobiles provide today. It’s clear that we will be using automobiles totally differently in 25-years (or sooner!). There is simply no way that the auto will be able to provide transport in rapidly growing cities (congestion). It will be necessary to use the right mode of transport for each trip, without necessarily owning the vehicle.

We are seeing the beginnings of this revolution now, and it’s no secret that automobile companies see the writing on the wall, that’s why companies like Daimler are sponsoring car sharing companies like Car-to-go.

So, we need to focus on developing these integrated smart card (or maybe mobile phone) systems. But, this will take time since people’s transportation habits are quite ingrained (we like our routines). For example, the Berlin Mobility Card was a truly exceptional offer (full use of the city-region public transport system, free use of rental bikes, 50 Euro credit for car sharing, all for the price of 78 Euros per month, and despite a large marketing effort, they had about 135 people sign-up (of course it was only for a 3-month trial, but still …). So change is hard.

New York Subway ticket machine at MOMA exhibition Talk to Me.

New York Subway ticket machine at MOMA exhibition Talk to Me.

Introducing smart cards for public transport systems only has also been hard. Early systems were introduced probably two decades ago, but they are only now becoming popular in the USA. I saw a great presentation by Renee Matthews at the US TRB Meeting this year on the introduction of smart cards at the Tri-Rail in Florida (South Florida Smart Card). She gave lost of practical information in her presentation. As an aside, I’ve always thought it was sad that ski areas in Austria have better ‘fare collection’ systems and more information on their customers than most public transport agencies.

This leads to another of Knie’s points, the private sector is much better organised to introduce these improvements than public agencies. And, as evidenced by, e.g. Car-to-Go, they are doing so. His point, to me, was not that public transport needs to be privatized, but rather that public agencies need to become more entrepreneurial.

Electric Cars

Knie talked a lot about the future for electric cars. He pointed out that they were expensive to buy and operate, and furthermore they would remain expensive. Electricity will not be free and developing renewable energy sources will be a big challenge. But, these conditions mean that electric cars are ideal for using in shared systems (e.g. Paris car sharing).

Electric cars could also be used as batteries to store electricity generated using renewable sources, since these sources are dependent on wind, sun, etc. and not always available. I’d heard this argument before, but Knie’s version made more sense, since he linked it to the communal idea: thinking about the cars and electric grid as a shared system, not as individually owned vehicles.

The most interesting aspect of Knie’s analysis of electric cars was the idea that using shared electric cars would start to bring about a change in the ‘transport-space’ concept we carry around in our heads. In other words, because these electric cars will be more expensive to operate and will have limited range, we will shift from a mindset that accepts long travel distances as a tradeoff for less expensive housing (in distant suburbs), to a mindset that looks for proximity and short trips. And, naturally, short trips are ideal for more environmentally friendly modes like walking, biking and public transport.

Projections are that cities will grow significantly in the coming decades, it will clearly be impossible for everyone to have a car and live in the suburbs, so this change in mindset will be very important for future prosperity.

Where will sustainable transport systems be developed?

A particularly interesting point for me as an American was Knie’s discussion of where these new sustainable transport systems will be developed.
Knie pointed out that the ongoing “renaissance of European cities” (for example in the sustainable transport sector), seems to be impossible in the United States because the society is politically not willing to invest in infrastructure. Many US cities seem almost to be imploding, especially when long-term maintenance of physical infrastructure is considered.

In contrast, Europe still has a tradition of building large infrastructure projects in cities. This will be helpful to the economy as it’s a great opportunity for cities to become leaders in new sustainable transport technology. Cities that invest in new infrastructure and ideas will be able to sell these technologies elsewhere.

(Interesting article on Re-imagining American infrastructure on Politico via Planetizen.)

Best Practice Examples

Following Knie’s keynote lecture, four Vienna-based best practice examples were described (links to presentations, in German):

  • IBM: Smart Mobility – two examples from IBM’s Smarter Cities program: Singapore’s fare collection card (important not only for simplifying fare collection, but also gives planners a very important set of data for improving service) and Carbo-Traf (EU research project) designed to reduce emissions by predicting congestion and informing drivers in time to make changes in travel patterns.
  • Siemens – Described a new zero-emissions bus they have developed and are testing in Vienna.
  • KTM Bikes – Austrian bicycle manufacturer has seen huge increase in demand for electric bikes, described the design for a new electro bike that can be used for shopping (can carry 150 kg, “That’s seven and a half cases of beer.” … and it looks pretty cool too).
  • Vienna Stadtwerk – This is the city of Vienna’s holding company for the WienerLinien (public transport agency), power company and other services provided in the city of Vienna. Ilse Stockinger described the comprehensive e-mobility on demand project. The project idea is based on: more variety, more flexibility, more interconnectivity and more space for people. Vienna believes that the ideal coordinating agency for this type of a transport future are public transport operators and are looking at how to evolve to become this kind of agency. Neat idea.

U-6 at night Vienna

Podium Discussion

The last part of the evening was a podium discussion where Knie was joined by Vienna city government officials Vice Mayor Renate Brauner and Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou, and emeritus professor Hermann Knoflacher (TU Vienna) to discuss how Vienna was doing in terms of sustainable mobility. Here are some of the points that made an impression on me, the Stadt der Zunkunft has an excellent summary of the discussion too (Stadt der Zunkunft German).

Vice Mayor Vassilakou started the discussion by highlighting Vienna’s excellent mode share for sustainable transport and the fact that this mode share has been increasing. She told a funny story by Jaime Lerner (former mayor of Curitiba and pioneer in innovative sustainable transport), that “your relationship with your car should be like your relationship with your mother-in-law: it’s OK to love her, but you can’t let her dominate your life.”

Vice Mayor Brauner mentioned that not only is Vienna’s excellent public transport highly appreciated by residents, but, the availability of safe, convient and affordable public transport is the number 2 quality mentioned by tourists in what they like about Vienna (imagine this in your city!). She also reminded the audience that according to FastCompany, Vienna is the world’s #1 smart city.

Professor Knoflacher emphasized the importance of not forgetting about pedestrians. Good places to walk are needed for all the networked transport ideas described by Knie.

Vice Mayor Vassilakou said a big problem in Vienna is that over 350,000 people drive into the city from the suburbs every day. Parking control and better regional public transport is needed (e.g. S-Bahn regional rail service).

Professor Knie at this point played the devil’s advocate and suggested that while Vienna was doing very well, if the city really wanted to make a major change, then Vienna needs to completely re-invent public transport. Public transport operators must really know their customers, make their services attractive to people who don’t now use PT, and change the way people think about public transport.

In response to Knie, Vice Mayor Brauner said that the WienerLinien was, through programs like the e-mobility on demand, QANDO real time mobile phone application, new lines and new tram vehicles, continually re-thinking public transport. She pointed out that the WienerLinien has over 350,000 customers who buy annual passes and they certainly know these people.

(Aside: Part of Vice Mayor Brauner’s portfolio is ZIT: The City of Vienna’s Technology Agency. Last year ZIT gave me a grant to help develop, my game/social network designed to increase public participation in transport planning. The prototype is on line and now we’re searching for a launch partner. IMHO, I think it’s another good example of Vienna’s support for innovative new ideas.)

Vice Mayor Vassilakou pointed out that everyone is now allowed to take their bikes on WienerLinien U-Bahn lines for free now (previously those without a yearly pass had to pay an extra fee). This is just the type of interconnected network that Knie was advocating.

Professor Knie then suggested that Vienna could learn from other cities in the introduction of a single mobility card that could be used for all forms of transport. Another important point is that cities need to consider how they can get their residents to support the complex and controversial activities needed to create truly sustainable transport systems. It’s possible that government-run public transport agencies are not up to this task, the private sector should be more involved.

Vice Mayor Brauner strongly objected to private control over services like public transport which are needed to make cities function for everyone. She pointed out that the WienerLinien is owned by Wiener Stadtwerk, a private company, but controlled by the city. This means it can be innovative (as evidenced by the innovations described above), but remains focused on providing the best for city residents.

All four speakers were asked to describe their wish for Vienna in 20-years.

Professor Knie: Public transport is the hub of an interconnected sustainable urban transport system.

Professor Knoflacher: No more infrastructure would be built for automobiles, the only ones using cars would be disabled persons and deliveries. There would be more people living in Vienna and many fewer cars.

Vice Mayors Vassilakou and Brauner both agreed that Vienna would reach and surpass the goal of 75% sustainable transport mode share by 2020 in the city’s Transport Master Plan. Vienna would also continue to develop and implement innovative new transport ideas and remain the world’s most livable, and smartest city.


For more information see the excellent website (in German) from the event.

Buffalo Freeways to Remove-Part 2

Buffalo Historical Society May 10-1
Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, behind the freeway.
(Source: Andrew Nash, 2010)

Yesterday I wrote about Rust Belt city planning in general. As I was looking through my Buffalo photos for the post I came across the photo above.

Can there be a better illustration of the insanity of building freeways through parks? The huge bright green freeway signs in front of the only building remaining from Buffalo’s Pan-American World Exhibition (1901). Looking over Delaware Park’s Hoyt Lake from the Casino towards the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society building … and there they are, the huge green freeway signs.

Of course the freeway also generates noise and pollution in addition to creating a wall that splits the park into pieces.

Many will argue that once a freeway is in place you can’t remove it, but Portland and San Francisco both did and have not looked back. (Check out the great StreetFilms on San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway replacment). Previously I wrote about tearing down several Buffalo freeways, maybe that’s too much to start.

How about this? Just close the freeway between the Elmwood exit and Parkside. Just this summer. Give people plenty of warning. Install some improvements (and directions) on alternative routes and give it a chance.

Create a Buffalo Beach, just like Paris.

Dulles Airport Transit Blues

Dulles May10-4

Dulles Airport mobile “lounge” (from my flickr photos).

One of my favorite authors is Tyler Brûlé, the chief editor of Monocle Magazine and a columnist in the Financial Times Weekend Edition. Many of his columns focus on transport system design issues. Recently he described some of the problems at Washington’s Dulles Airport. Brûlé especially criticizes the truly awful mobile lounge system for transporting international passengers to immigration and customs.

As an aside, I sort of like the mobile lounges, especially as an example of an innovative idea for getting people between the airport terminal and airplanes. Unfortunately the idea never worked well and with the rise of the airline hub-and-spoke system the mobile lounge approach was doomed to fail. (To see how it was designed to work watch the movie Scorpio. A Russian double agent is threatened with deportation as he is being driven up to the door of an Aeroflot plane in a mobile lounge.) But, I digress.

Dulles Airport Air Train Shuttle -  - 1
Map of airport transport system (sorry for the quality).

Dulles has made many improvements to the immigration and customs areas during the last several years. They have also introduced a rail shuttle system to connect the terminals. The system works pretty well but they made one very significant mistake (in my view).

They built the airport rail system station for the “C/D” concourse several hundred meters south of the “C/D” concourse so that it could also serve as the station for a future “E/F” concourse. This means that passengers using the “C/D” concourse have a long walk back to their concourse and passengers using the future concourse will also have to walk a long distance to their concourse – equally inconvenient for both sets of passengers. Instead of building two stations (one for each concourse), Dulles built one. That saved money, but adds time and inconvenience for air passengers. It would be one thing if the second concourse existed today, but who knows when it will be built? Why inconvenience all the passengers today for a possible money savings later?

Dulles Airport Air Train Shuttle -  - 3

Long walk back to Concourse “C/D” from air train station (maybe they should use the mobile lounges here?).

To paraphrase United Airlines: “We know you have a choice of airports and hope to see you again soon on a Dulles flight.” Well, not if I can choose an airport that gives more attention to making it easier for passengers.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bus Meister Game (beta) – Now online!

BusMeister game screenshot.

BusMeister game screenshot.

I have just finished the beta version of a game designed to help citizens understand public transport priority. The game is linked to a wiki that provides detailed information about measures to improve public transport. Once we are happy with the game we will place it on Facebook and add social networking features so that players can discuss how to improve public transport in their own community.

I am looking for people to try out the game and wiki and to give me comments (also join the wiki as contributors!). The game is available now at:

The wiki is available at:

Instructions for Playing BusMeister are available on

Right now the game works, but we need to refine the values used to run the simulation and calculate the happiness and cost values. We will adjust these in the coming weeks and also add levels (so players advance to more difficult challenges) and other standard game features. We also will add more information to the pages. But, for now, the game works and we would love your feedback.

Finally, I hope to extend the approach to other modes of transport (biking, walking, street design) in the future.

Thanks for your help,

Post Archive