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Cover page of Assessing Public Outreach about Slow Streets in San Francisco

Assessing Public Outreach about Slow Streets in San Francisco

(2021)

In April, 2020, one month into COVID-19 lockdown, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced its new Slow Streets program. This emergency response closed select city streets to thru traffic, providing more space to physically distance for those who want to travel by foot, bike, wheelchair and other modes. Moving forward, the city now has to decide how to build a Slow Streets program that will be sustainable in the long term. To help with this plan, SFMTA issued a public questionnaire that asks where respondents live, what their opinion is of Slow Streets and if they recommend certain corridors for future Slow Streets. This capstone project set out to analyze citizen responses to interpret the project’s effectiveness in communicating to San Francisco residents. Relying primarily on a spatial analysis of questionnaire responses and a qualitative analysis of one-off emails about the program, I examined whether citizens liked and understood the program, and how far-reaching the city’s outreach had extended. I found that many citizens believed the Slow Streets program was for commercial corridors, rather than residential, which is part of the program’s criteria. I also found that responses were absent from neighborhoods with large percentages of low-income populations and high representation of communities of color. Based on these findings, I recommend that SFMTA adjust its messaging to communicate about the residential land use designation of the Slow Streets corridors. I also recommend that the city prioritize future outreach in areas of the city that were not well-represented in the original questionnaire.

Cover page of Lessons for Upgrading Los Angeles’ Slow Streets: A Feasibility Study for Making the L.A. Slow Streets Program Permanent in a Post-COVID City

Lessons for Upgrading Los Angeles’ Slow Streets: A Feasibility Study for Making the L.A. Slow Streets Program Permanent in a Post-COVID City

(2021)

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cities around the world reallocated street space not being used by commuters to people for outdoor recreation. Los Angeles Slow Streets began in May 2020, implemented by LADOT with support from StreetsLA and guidance from the Mayor’s Office. The aim was to slow vehicles and discourage non-local traffic on neighborhood Slow Streets. In June 2020, Councilman Ryu introduced a motion to make Slow Streets permanent. This report is a response to a call for an analysis of the feasibility of implementing permanent Slow Streets. The analysis section of this report includes three main foci: case studies, alignment with other mobility programs, and policy implications.

Based on the findings in this report, L.A. has the potential to implement a program that serves each of its diverse communities using context-based decisions for implementing traffic calming infrastructure and regulations. The feasibility for a permanent Slow Streets program is improved by current state-level political support for legislation that will allow the city to formally designate Slow Street corridors. Additionally, permanent Slow Street development is aided by the momentum from other projects in the city that aim to improve safety and public health across the City’s transportation network. Slow Streets began as an opportunistic experiment for improving safety and health for Angelenos. Now, the City can work with communities to develop a permanent program that will change the way Angelenos use the streets for years to come.

Cover page of Equity Lenses: Targeting Equitable Community Investment Across Southern California

Equity Lenses: Targeting Equitable Community Investment Across Southern California

(2021)

How can SCAG’s Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) improve resource prioritization in communities most impacted by economic, social, and environmental inequities? This research project involves analyzing documentation and conducting semi-structured interviews with staff at SCAG and other organizations. I also selected three Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to feature as case studies. I focused on four specific areas: indicators, scoring analysis areas, mapping, and prioritization. Based on the findings, I’ve come to a set of initial recommendations for a web-based Equity Lens Tool and the start of a scorecard.First, determine a core set of indicators for the Priority Populations and each of the SCAG themes defined in ConnectSoCal: Economy, Healthy & Complete Communities, Mobility, and Environment. Next, use the bin scoring method for the Priority Populations and map those across the entire region on the tool. Use each of the thematic areas as filters on the map. Also, surface details about the communities, past SCP projects, and data methodology for transparency. Then, the project prioritization scorecard could combine existing equity frameworks and data from the tool centered around Connect SoCal’s four thematic areas. Initial sections of this scorecard could include Proposal, Community, Engagement, Benefits, Significance & Alignment, Burdens, and Accountability. Organizations are yearning for clear guidance on how to go beyond the buzzwords and operationalize equity in a meaningful way. If SCAG can lead by example, they have the potential to inspire other MPOs and multiply their impact beyond Southern California to impact people across the country.

Cover page of Slow Your Roll! An Analysis of LADOT’s Slow Streets Program

Slow Your Roll! An Analysis of LADOT’s Slow Streets Program

(2021)

This report explores the effects of the Slow Streets L.A. program in a variety of neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Separating the 30 Slow Streets corridors into 5 neighborhood typologies based on urban form and socio-economic information, I then utilize surveys of community sponsors and traffic analysis through Streetlight to garner a comprehensive snapshot of the benefits (or lack thereof) of Slow Street installation. Analysis of the five Slow Street typologies showed varying success in the program’s ability to shift mobility patterns. When compared with its respective Control corridor, one Slow Street corridor saw smaller increases in vehicle speeds over the first three months of development. Comparison to the Control showed the Slow Street neighborhood producing greater decreases in vehicle traffic along its corridors. While all Typologies saw similar traffic decreases, no typology was fully successful at slowing vehicle speeds.Survey responses confirm ongoing concerns of vehicle speeds along designated corridors in addition to issues related to maintenance and long-term effectiveness of Slow Street signage. Although a majority of respondents agreed that Slow Streets L.A. was successful in extending recreational opportunities while social distancing, all respondents agreed fast cars pose a significant safety concern for the program. For greater effectiveness of the Slow Streets L.A. Program, this report recommends more durable and visible signage, in addition to supplementing corridors with traffic calming interventions and improvements to infrastructure for a more pleasant user experience.

Cover page of California Government Screening Maps: An Investigation into Geographic Prioritization in Support of State Climate and Planning Goals

California Government Screening Maps: An Investigation into Geographic Prioritization in Support of State Climate and Planning Goals

(2021)

The State of California (State) has multiple climate and planning objectives that underscore the importance of coordinating housing and transportation planning to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build sustainable communities. This research examines the extent to which the CalEnviroScreen 3.0, Healthy Places Index, Opportunity Area, and Low-Income Priority Populations Maps, which are used by different State agencies to direct housing and transportation resources, support such coordination to help meet State objectives. To the extent that these maps represent climate and planning goals, I examine housing production relative to the different geographic prioritizations as well transportation characteristics of proximity to transit and level of vehicle miles traveled (VMT). I conduct document, spatial, and quantitative analyses to understand the maps and their relationships to each other, housing production, and transportation characteristics. I find no correlation between geographic prioritization and housing production. There is a positive relationship between housing production and transit proximate and low VMT areas which can support coordinated land use and transportation that helps meet State climate and planning objectives. However, none of the maps include indicators related to these transportation characteristics that would intentionally direct resources towards those areas. I also find there is conflict between the maps’ conceptual bases which may lead to investments by different State agencies that are inconsistent with each other and/or with State climate and planning objectives. Solutions to these conflicts require a broad, multi-agency discussion around State climate and planning goals, and the existing mapping tools.

Cover page of Towards Achieving Carbon Neutrality in California: Forecasted TransportationExpenditures on Fossil Fuel Vehicles and Zero Emission Vehicles from 2020 to 2045

Towards Achieving Carbon Neutrality in California: Forecasted TransportationExpenditures on Fossil Fuel Vehicles and Zero Emission Vehicles from 2020 to 2045

(2021)

California has a goal to reach carbon neutrality in the transportation sector by 2045. As the vehicle fleet becomes cleaner and greener, the way consumers, firms, and businesses spend money on transportation will shift, driving changes in employment in fossil fuel vehicle and ZEV-related sectors. The paper explains the fundamental relationship between how consumers spend their money and consequent changes in the workforce, characterize Californians’ current transportation-related spending, and forecast changes in these spending patterns that will drive employment changes across transportation-related supply chains between now and 2045. We assess three key categories of expenditures (vehicle purchase, fuel, and maintenance costs) segmented by four general vehicle classifications. We find that if California achieves carbon neutrality in the transportation sector by 2045, California will spend $23.3 billion less across the three key transportation expenditure categories in 2045 compared to 2020, with overall expenditures falling from $175.4 billion to $152.1 billion. All three key expenditure categories will be lower in 2045 than in 2020. By 2045, all new vehicle purchases will be made on ZEVs, and the majority of fuel and maintenance costs will be made on ZEVs. Understanding how expenditures will change can help identify which industries and occupations will be highly impacted by transportation decarbonization. This can inform how private and public agencies manage this transition to ensure it produces equitable, high quality jobs, especially for those workers whose jobs may be eliminated.

Cover page of Evaluation of All-Door Boarding: Analysis of Dwell Time Performance

Evaluation of All-Door Boarding: Analysis of Dwell Time Performance

(2021)

All-door boarding is a policy that allows passengers with valid fare cards to board buses via any available door. This program speeds up the boarding process and reduces the amount of time a transit vehicle remains stationary at a regularly scheduled stop. This waiting time, also known as dwell time, can reduce on-time performance and leads to higher operating costs for transit agencies. Metro is currently considering an expansion of their all-door boarding program, and they would like to better understand the effect of the policy on stop dwell time. I used multiple linear regression and difference in difference analysis to determine the impact of the all-door boarding policy. Multiple linear regression was used to see the effect of all-door boarding on weekdays in October 2019 when controlling for differences in boardings per stop, wheelchair boardings per stop, and articulated bus use. Difference in differences analysis was used to see how all-door boarding policy affected boarding times on Lines 720 and 754 in April 2018 vs. April 2019. My statistical models show that all-door boarding is an effective policy that significantly reduces dwell time. The multiple linear regression model shows a 6.5 seconds per stop reduction in stop waiting times due to the policy, and my difference in differences analysis shows a 16 percent reduction in dwell time per passenger boarding on Lines 720 and 754. Routes with articulated buses saw slightly higher reductions, with a 7.5 second reduction in dwell time per stop.

Cover page of It’s Not Just a Sign: Traffic Calming Gives Bump to Safety – A Cost Benefit Analysis ofTraffic Calming in the City of Los Angeles

It’s Not Just a Sign: Traffic Calming Gives Bump to Safety – A Cost Benefit Analysis ofTraffic Calming in the City of Los Angeles

(2021)

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has implemented traffic calming measures across the city, recognizing that collisions may not be preventable but can be reduced in severity through roadway design. The department has a process whereby residents can apply for speed humps on a quarterly basis, but the program is oversubscribed. There are few studies in LA that address the effectiveness and ability to equitably distribute the benefits of traffic calming. This report is framed by the central question: How effective are the low-cost traffic safety interventions that the City of Los Angeles frequently uses on its residential streets? Interventions covered in this study include speed humps, bike lanes, partial closures and stop signs. I used four metrics to evaluate effectiveness, including traffic speed, traffic count (ADT), collision frequency and collision severity. I conducted paired sample t-tests to compare speed and volume one year before and after measures were introduced. Additionally, I used the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) to evaluate collisions. The results of this study show that speed humps are the most cost-effective and proven method of traffic calming included in this analysis. The severity and number of collisions reduced as a result of introducing all measures. Design measures that make a road less viable for thoroughfare like partial closures can reduce cut-through traffic and related collisions. At minimum, LADOT should consider restructuring the petitioning process by lowering the threshold to apply for speed humps and prioritize key places like schools and low-income communities.

Cover page of Daylighting Public Funding Streams: Increasing Equitable Access to Public Transit Across California

Daylighting Public Funding Streams: Increasing Equitable Access to Public Transit Across California

(2021)

This report presents research into the funding categories and other characteristics of active Local Option Sales Taxes (LOSTs) throughout California, with specific focus on the extent to which they make resources available for public transit and the political context that makes it so. LOSTs have grown increasingly popular as a funding mechanism for transportation in California in the context of declining funding from other sources.We find that while LOSTs are increasingly common in California, they vary widely with regards to how they fund transit. In general, LOSTs in rural areas of the state fund transit less, with some of our conversations revealing a preference for additional funds in those areas but others asserting that between LOST funding and other resources such as Transportation Development Act (TDA) funds, rural transit has adequate resources, at least to provide the current level of service. In attempting to characterize which resources are available to transit from each LOST, we also looked closely at local return funds—funds passed on to cities and other local jurisdictions to spend as they see fit, often within some sort of eligibility constraint. Depending on the LOST measure, these funds can either make up a small component or most of the funding program. While our research did reveal that in many cases these funds could be put towards transit, or at least transit-supportive infrastructure such as bus lanes and shelters, we find no evidence of local jurisdictions doing so. Our findings suggest that this is due to local officials and voters seeing road maintenance as the top priority, coupled in some cases with a lack of familiarity with how to support effective public transit.

Cover page of Washington State Ferries Wait Time Analysis and Rider Experience Study

Washington State Ferries Wait Time Analysis and Rider Experience Study

(2021)

Washington State Ferries’ Long-Range Plan, published in 2018, outlines the agency’s priorities for the next 20 years. One of the agency’s main goals is to improve the passenger experience for Washington State Ferry passengers. This study focuses on determining which terminals are most likely to experience poor wait time experiences, ways to measure vehicle wait times and how to most effectively disseminate wait time information to passengers in vehicles.The Washington State Ferry (WSF) system allows passengers to drive their vehicle onto the ferry and ride with it to their destination. While a great first-last mile convenience to many, a problem arises when long lines of vehicles queue waiting for the ferry. Currently, vehicles enter the terminal holding area, pay their boarding fee, and wait in line for the next ferry to arrive. WSF is able to calculate the number of vehicles in the holding area based on ticket sales, but when vehicles queue outside the vehicle holding area, the problem of unknown demand arises. Due to this unknown demand, WSF is unable to calculate accurate wait times and convey them to passengers in an efficient manner. This project answers two questions: 1) Which of the twenty WSF terminals are most likely to experience frequent excess demand? and 2) How does the agency measure the excess demand and convey that information to passengers more effectively and equitably?