Economic Development Research Group Blog

CONGESTION PRICING – AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS FINALLY COME (TO THE U.S.)

congestion_shutterstock_1076438486
In the early hours of March 31 st , New York State took the landmark step of moving forward with implementation of a congestion pricing policy for Manhattan. [1] With this deal, NYC edges out other cities like Seattle [2] and Los Angeles [3] to be the first in the U.S. to impose a charge on all vehicles entering a specific zone of the city. Other kinds of congestion pricing like dynamic rates for express toll lanes have existed for years, but drivers generally have an alternative option to reach their destinations without paying a fee. Starting in 2021, that will not be the case for almost any vehicle traveling into Manhattan below 60 th Street – only emergency vehicles and vehicles transporting someone with a disability are exempt from the charge established in New York’s legislation. I wrote back in February about how congestion pricing and road usage charge discussions...
Continue reading
  228 Hits
228 Hits

Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study Turns Heads in Southern California

Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study Turns Heads in Southern California Port of Long Beach
POLB_Middleton_blog_graphic2.png
The Port of Long Beach – along with its neighbor the Port of Los Angeles – is the nation’s largest gateway for international container trade. EDR Group recently completed the Port of Long Beach Economic Impact Study , which quantifies the massive economic impacts of this critical economic engine and its role in the national economy. The study assesses the full range of Port activities, including not only cargo operations, but also cruise passenger services, retail, tourism, and real estate functions. The media has taken note, with stories appearing in publications like the Long Beach Business Journal and Maritime Executive .  The study is available on the Port of Long Beach web site . The study tells the story of the Port’s importance as a job generator for Southern California, the Golden State, and the nation as a whole. In particular, the study found that the Port is connected to one...
Continue reading
  406 Hits
406 Hits

Resilience Economics in Action: The Example of US-101 in California

US101_blog_cover_photo Credit: Caltrans District 1
Capture-blog_resilience_AW_tables.JPG
Many MPO’s and state DOT’s are beginning to assess not only their vulnerability to transportation system failures caused by natural disasters and weather-related events, but also the wider economic consequences of potential future infrastructure system failures.  As such events may increase in frequency with aging facilities and climate change, understanding the economic consequences of these events should be at the core of any resiliency analysis.  To address this issue, two fundamental questions need to be considered: What are the economic consequences of failures in a transportation system caused by weather or other natural disaster events? What cost-effective transportation solutions can best avoid, mitigate, or quickly respond to these potential failures? Quantifying the scale of economic losses due to a disruption in the transportation system highlights how much of the economy is exposed to natural or weather-related disasters.  This assessment can be used as a benchmark to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various...
Continue reading
  334 Hits
334 Hits

The Case for Forward-Looking Energy Program Evaluations

Assessment_shutterstock_1027182049
Climate-Energy-Cost-Graphic.png
We need to make energy program evaluations more relevant for decision-making . Most   existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs have been concerned with confirming the reasonableness of past investments and impacts on utility ratepayers. But there is also growing interest in evaluations of community programs and state public benefit programs, and they need to focus on learning lessons that we can use to make future choices about spending energy dollars. Looking forward, the questions that we can learn from public program evaluations are: (1) How can we most effectively spend public funds?  (2) How can we best design public programs to achieve desired economic and environmental outcomes?  and (3) How can we best prioritize choices among project and programs to maximize our return on investment?  Program evaluations today often fall short of fully addressing these questions. To make program evaluations most relevant, we need to make them forward-looking.  While...
Continue reading
  362 Hits
362 Hits

Transformational Change and the Future of Public Transportation

autonomous_vehicle_minivan_shutterstock_1009681195
RapidTransit1886.jpg
Emerging Changes. At the January 2019 Annual Conference of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the role of technology change and the future of public transportation both received significant attention –in both formal sessions and informal attendee discussions. Three facts seem clear: (1) There is much speculation but little clarity concerning how autonomous vehicle technologies will unfold and affect transportation services; (2) There is growing interest in a widening set of transit and broader transportation mobility datasets, covering everything from service schedules to mobility performance measures, and (3) There are many new entrants and new variations on transportation services emerging, from micro-transit to new on-demand ride services that are cutting into everything from car rentals to ambulance calls, car sales, parking and bus services. These three dimensions of transformational change– vehicle technologies, data services and mobility services – are leading to both experimentation and an inevitable shakeout (that is already starting), though...
Continue reading
  466 Hits
466 Hits

ROAD PRICING MAY BE COMING: ECONOMISTS ARE ON BOARD, BUT WILL THE PUBLIC BE CONVINCED?

car-traffic-shutterstock_33044002
ElectricVehsCharging.jpg
Most people seem to agree with a “user-pays” principle for transportation infrastructure, especially for roads and highways. The fuel excise tax on gasoline and diesel has long been the primary source of federal and state transportation revenues. While economists have long advocated for other types of fees, transportation professionals, policymakers, politicians and even the public have just recently become more active in pricing discussions. A number of trends in transportation technology and behavior have launched this discussion, which was strongly evident this year at the TRB Annual Meeting. A lot of work that I shared at TRB this year considers how revenue policies might respond to the following trends and what the impacts of those revenue policies would be on household contribution to transportation funding in urban and rural areas respectively. Trend 1: Fuel Efficiency and Electrification. The most recent CAFE standards will significantly increase the fuel efficiency of the fleet,...
Continue reading
  337 Hits
337 Hits

The Missing Link in Resilience Planning (Resilience Series - Part 3)

avalance_asphalt_shutterstock_1177167817
MS_blog_risecapture.JPG
Growing up in the Swiss Alps, the natural hazard I was most aware of as a child was avalanches. My village was especially exposed to this risk. When the road to access the villages in the valley was improved by partly covering it with avalanche sheds, this was regarded as a huge step towards reducing the number of days in winter during which the villages were cut off from the outside world. However, something in the planning process must have gone wrong: The avalanches still tended to bury the road with snow where it had not been protected by sheds. Obviously, while some segments of the road had been made resilient, the road as a whole, with its unprotected segments, was still vulnerable. Traffic engineers know that capacity improvements on a highway can only work as far as adjacent intersections also allow for a higher throughput. The network’s weakest link determines...
Continue reading
  249 Hits
Tags:
249 Hits

When Will Blockchain Technology Reach the Transit Industry?

blockchain_graphic_shutterstock
Blockchain is a new and potentially transformational technology for tracking of transactions between parties in a verifiable and permanent way that also makes tampering virtually impossible. It is already being tested in use for supply chain management by shipping and trucking companies, and freight railroads are also joining in. On the horizon is the potential for blockchain technology for public transportation, especially insofar as it facilitates more integrated transportation services offered by partner organizations. Staff at EDR Group and our affiliate EBP in Switzerland ( www.ebp.ch ) have been assembling information on how blockchain technology can be used by the passenger transportation service providers. We believe that there are plenty of potential uses that could also be beneficial to the transit industry and would be worth exploring further. Below are some of the potential use cases that this technology could provide for the transit industry. Need / use case for BC...
Continue reading
  1899 Hits
1899 Hits

The Explosion of E-Commerce Deliveries in Cities: Predictive Analytics as a Planning Tool (TRB Recap Series #3)

shutterstock_1005670573-1
Amazon_flex_with_text.png
How can we manage rapidly growing demand for same-day e-commerce deliveries within dense urban centers? That was one of the key questions addressed at a workshop during the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on January 13. During the workshop, Dr. Laetitia Dablanc, of the French Institute for Transport Research noted that demand for “instant delivery services that provide on-demand delivery within two hours by connecting shippers, couriers, and consumers via a digital platform” is growing around the world, mainly in cities. In my presentation , I built on Dr. Dablanc’s findings by discussing how e-commerce growth is driving an “explosion” of needs for warehousing and delivery fulfillment space within the “last-mile” of urban centers. On average, every $1 billion in e-commerce sales growth requires an additional 1.25 million square feet of warehouse space. My presentation highlighted some of the innovations firms are using to address these needs:...
Continue reading
  350 Hits
350 Hits

Getting Value from Transit Data (TRB Recap Series #2)

transit app pic
At the TRB Annual Meeting, I had the opportunity to publicize a project that I’m leading: TCRP J-11 (31) Guidance for Trading, Sharing, and Selling Public Transit Data – Now and in the Future . I have been talking to transit agencies and experts about data sharing and getting value out of the data transit agencies collect. We have discussed challenges, including data quality, standardization, and privacy. Many agencies share General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data openly and appreciate the value that private app developers add to this value by producing trip planning apps that transit customers benefit from. Other agencies provide data to researchers whose analysis guides transit agency decisions. While many transit agencies see benefits, there are concerns as well. What information is presented by external data users? Is it accurate and in the transit agency’s interest? How can transit agencies best leverage the power of the data they...
Continue reading
  333 Hits
Tags:
TRB
333 Hits

Presenting Research on Ridesharing Users at TRB 2019 (TRB Recap Series #1)

Last week at the TRB Annual Meeting, I presented to a packed lectern session on the topic “ Shared Mobility, Ridehailing, and Emerging Transportation Trends.” Covering diverse topics such as microtransit regulation, the effect of shared mobility on driver behavior, and strategies for reducing empty vehicle miles, the lectern session drew well over 250 attendees – a standing room only affair! I presented the results of an upcoming journal article I co-authored, titled "Rider-To-Rider Discriminatory Attitudes and Ridesharing Behavior". The paper, spun-off from my own master’s thesis research, is a collaboration between myself and my co-authors at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning: Ph.D. candidate Joanna Moody and Professor Jinhua Zhao. The research explores rider behavior and preferences in ridesharing services (such as uberPOOL or Lyft Shared) and I am excited to say that the research was recently accepted for publication in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology...
Continue reading
  437 Hits
Tags:
TRB
437 Hits

Household Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (Resiliency Series-Part 2)

shutterstock_735803347-1
Katrina . . . Wilma . . . Irene . . . Matthew . . . Harvey . . . Great Smokey’s Fire . . . Mendocino . . . Sandy . . . Maria . . . Irma . . . Camp Fire . . . Michael These are just some of the “named” events that have brought wide-spread damage to U.S. infrastructure and households since 2005. And this does not begin to cover the floods, wildfires, earthquakes and other “un-named” natural disasters that have befallen the U.S. in the past 14 years. From 2005 through June of 2017, 212 major natural disasters in the US produced $1.2 trillion in directly related damage and 9,680 deaths ( Washington Post, October 20, 2017 ). This does not even consider the events of 2018. With this as background, the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) of 2018 points in the direction of even...
Continue reading
  335 Hits
Tags:
335 Hits

Investing in Climate Resilient Cities (Resiliency Series-Part 1)

shutterstock_289331288-2
resilience_assessment_graphic.JPG
About 85% of the U.S. population lived in cities in 2015 (Census FactFinder). These urbanites are subject to unique impacts of climate change, as highlighted by the Fourth National Climate Assessment , released in November 2018. The Climate Assessment provides an update on indicators of climate change, including rising average global temperatures, extreme high temperature events, and more frequent heavy precipitation. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was record-breaking with four high-intensity hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria). And rainfall associated with hurricanes in the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific is predicted to increase due to warmer temperatures. Some studies predict increased frequency and severity of thunderstorms across the United States. At the same time, sea level rise increases coastal flooding risks from weather events. More extreme and rising temperatures mean that in addition to flooding, drought and associated wildfires have also occurred in recent years, including the 2011-2017 California drought. City...
Continue reading
  402 Hits
Tags:
402 Hits

Rural Accessibility

shutterstock_1234585066-1
There are more remote regions in the country, but the Appalachian Region with its population of 25 million is unique in the way that it is comparatively populous, within reach of large metropolitan areas of the East and yet is still isolated in many parts. Poverty in Appalachia was ubiquitous when President Johnson signed legislation to make federal funds available to develop the Appalachian Region. The construction of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) has since been one of the major efforts to overcome economic distress in the region. The relationship between poor access to markets and the lack of economic opportuni-ties has been well known for a long time. With the ADHS nearing its completion and highway accessibility widely improved, economic distress and its consequences remain a prevalent issue in some parts of Appalachia, reinforced by the nation’s evolving economy. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has therefore started a project...
Continue reading
  459 Hits
459 Hits

Defining Geographic Zones for Spatial Analysis

shutterstock_1134490277
Zones Blog Graphics
Spatial data is at the core of transportation analysis. Land use patterns, including the density of jobs and homes, and the locations of transportation infrastructure, such as stops, stations, and intersections, are frequently used to answer transportation planning questions. It is often useful to generate metrics at for a geographic zone. Not only does this allow for mapping and visualization, it often reflects the way that people use a transportation system – while a bus stop or rail station is located at a single point, passengers access it from the surrounding zone. In multi-modal analysis, considering zone-to-zone rather than point-to-point travel allows performance and accessibility assessments to compare or combine different modal options that serve the same areas. Given the importance of zones in transportation analysis, the next question is: which zones should be used? There are many existing zonal schemes including zip codes, census tracts, and transportation analysis zones (often...
Continue reading
  499 Hits
499 Hits

Community Choice Aggregation Accelerates Renewable Energy Adoption

shutterstock_renewable_energy
EDR Group and its parent EBP are involved in Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in California, Massachusetts, cities in Switzerland and other European cities. We monitor and participate in a range of CCA efforts. The City of Newton, MA (population 89,000)  just entered a 22 month agreement that will provide 60% local renewables, procured through a competitive bid process. The standard generation price per kilowatt hour for customers will be 11.34 cents.  This compares to Eversource’s winter Basic Service rate (beginning January 1, 2019) for residential customers of 13.70 cents per kilowatt hour. The utliity’s summer rate will be higher.  Under a 1997 Massachusetts law allowing competitive electricity purchases, about 40 communities now purchase their electricity for the entire community, businesses and residences, significantly cheaper than the basic service rates provided by regulated utilities.   Community Choice Aggregations have been effective at lowering electric rates but over time they have evolved into vehicles...
Continue reading
  575 Hits
575 Hits

Resilience: Beyond the Buzzword

shutterstock_705371167
This fall, Hurricanes Florence and Michael presented a story that is sadly familiar. Disaster strikes, the waters recede and reveal the damage. A national conversation on resilience ensues. Will we be prepared next time? Can we be stronger than the storm? In adapting our infrastructure for a changed climate, the impetus for action is clear. However, translating resilience from buzzword to action is a generational challenge for planners. Understanding the history and meaning of the concept is a good place to start. Here goes. Resilience is not new. The Ancient Romans, for example, were very concerned with protecting their critical infrastructure: military roads, agricultural stores, aqueducts. The earliest Roman aqueducts were built underground to protect them from erosion and military attack. Like the barbed-wire fences surrounding modern airports, Emperors forbade planting and, presumably, loitering near their monumental works. Like ancient civilizations, we put systems in place to protect our critical infrastructure....
Continue reading
  623 Hits
Tags:
623 Hits

Recap from the APTA Annual Meeting

APTA_Meeting_2018
In September, I attended the APTA Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Following the defeat of Nashville’s transit referendum in May, the local transit agency is pressing ahead by investing in its bus fleet and changing its name to “WeGo”—a brand that speaks to transit’s role in building community. A highlight of the conference was a session covering transit ballot measures and how they can succeed. The panelists represented a successful ballot measure (Los Angeles), failed ballot measure (Nashville), and upcoming ballot measure (Las Vegas). The panelist from Nashville shared that many voters were willing to pay for transit but were concerned about how the plan would be implemented after the city experienced an abrupt change in leadership two months before the vote. Organizers from Los Angeles attributed their success in passing Measure M , a 2016 referendum, to several factors. These included a public input process following the release of the...
Continue reading
  610 Hits
610 Hits

Resilience and Social Equity

shutterstock_1181073832
Resilience has emerged as a significant consideration in developing long-term transportation plans in response to US DOT’s Climate Change and Resiliency initiatives.  The focus has been on hardening existing and planned infrastructure and assessing risks and recovery for key elements of the transportation system.  These efforts have focused on facility and human vulnerabilities, and on operational recovery.  However, as we have seen repeatedly, identifying “vulnerability” and assessing resilience and recovery for populations often ignores the unique needs, resource deficits and challenges faced by low-income and minority populations.    These issues are reminiscent of the debates about environmental equity of 25 years ago that led up to the issuance of Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice. [1]   The disproportionate effects of lack of preparedness and recovery from natural and man-made disasters are just as profound (and potentially more-so) as those arising from deliberate investment decisions made by government agencies and sources of...
Continue reading
  986 Hits
986 Hits

Community Choice Aggregation: Moving from just Cheaper Electricity to Greener Electricity (that’s getting cheaper too)

CCE_web_image
In 2018, communities in six states are leveraging their buying power for electric supply through Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs). What’s new in this 20 year phenomenon is electric supply bids increasingly include renewable components at the same or lower rates than utility basic service rates. EDR Group is working in community aggregations from Massachusetts to California.  We are currently reviewing the Clean Energy programs operated by Massachusetts’ Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), including their work in fostering CCAs. The Massachusetts experience shows how the markets are responding to more abundant and cheaper local renewable electricity supply. A 1997, Massachusetts electric deregulation statute enabled communities to aggregate their electric demand and usage and seek bids from competing electricity generators. Procuring electricity for entire communities or groups of communities increases buying power, leading to lower electric supply rates for all types of customers in the aggregation.  The Cape Light Compact was the first...
Continue reading
  669 Hits
669 Hits

AMPO 2018: Planning for an Uncertain Future

AMPO-Annual-Conference-300x48.png
Uncertainty was a common theme at at AMPO’s annual conference , held in September in San Antonio, Texas. It was an opportunity to share strategies for dealing with an uncertain transportation future, ranging from scenario planning to collaboration and data-driven and technical solutions. I presented on cross-agency information sharing in the context of project prioritization, sharing lessons learned from EDR Group’s work with MassDOT on evaluating economic impact. My take home message was that information sharing across agencies makes planning and prioritization more effective and efficient.  In the Boston region, CTPS (the Boston region MPO) and the MBTA (the transit agency) each develop metrics and data products around accessibility that can be used for data-driven evaluation of potential projects. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, agencies can use interactive platforms to consolidate data products and make them usable across agencies. Throughout the conference, I learned about other planning efforts across the United...
Continue reading
  709 Hits
709 Hits

On-Demand Ride Services: A Compelling Case for Research

rendere_20180905-194342_1
Scott Middleton is the newest member of the EDR Group team. Before joining, Scott worked as an analyst and planner at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and completed graduate studies at MIT.  At MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, he completed a master’s thesis that investigated rider behavior and preferences in on-demand ride services (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Waymo). He plans to contribute to EDR Group’s growing body of work in this exciting new discipline.  In July, EDR Group released a new report that measured the economic impact of Uber at national, state, and metropolitan scales. The report generated media attention as the first study to quantify both the economic impacts and benefits of on-demand ride services offered by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber. This work pioneered new methods for putting numbers to intangible features of this emerging industry, including reliability, access, flexibility, income,...
Continue reading
  920 Hits
920 Hits

Brand New National Travel Behavior Data

On August 8th and 9th, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 National Household Travel Survey Workshop (NHTS)  in Washington, DC. I presented a poster called  Evaluating Alternative Transportation Revenue Regimes Using the NHTS Transferability Statistics , based on work EDR Group has done for the Western Road User Charge Consortium (RUC West). This NHTS data product from the 2009 survey allows us to estimate the travel behavior of households at a census tract scale across the U.S. To date we’ve examined 10 states to understand how revenue-neutral conversion from a gasoline excise tax to a road usage charge would affect different groups of households.   While I’ve used the NHTS for several different analyses at EDR Group—from comparing modal choices and trip characteristics to constructing time of day and weekly travel distributions—having only 2009 survey results was starting to be limiting. This conference was a great opportunity to discuss innovative uses of the data with other experts in the travel behavior field and learn about what’s new in the 2017 vintage...
Continue reading
  737 Hits
737 Hits

Measuring the STEM-Intensity of Your Region

shutterstock_1083604265-1
Capture1-AB_blog.JPG
I recently participated in a workforce roundtable at The Council for Community and Economic Research's (C2ER’s) annual conference in Atlanta. C2ER is a membership organization comprised of economic researchers and data providers from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. This year’s conference theme was “RISE: Resiliency, Innovation, Skills, Equity,” which inspired me to present on workforce data and how it can be used to find job opportunities for people who don’t have a college degree. My presentation explained how STEM occupations—those requiring knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math—are often thought of as well-paying, white-collar jobs held by people with high levels of education. These include engineers and scientists, for example. In reality, there are many occupations that require a level of STEM knowledge and still pay well but are accessible to people without a college degree. These include jobs like arborists, diesel mechanics, electricians, and land surveyors. This disconnect is...
Continue reading
  1144 Hits
1144 Hits

A Summer in Zurich

Kyle_Blog_Capture.JPG
Kyle Schroeckenthaler of EDR Group is on assignment to the offices of our parent company, EBP, in Zurich for the summer months.  While in Zurich, Kyle is working closely with the Resources, Energy and Climate division as well as the Transportation group to identify European and global best practices that could be beneficial to our US-based clients.  Kyle’s visit will especially support EDR Group’s ability to provide a range and depth of services to clients on new mobility topics such as vehicle electrification and automated and connected technologies effect on transportation systems.     Last month, I arrived in Zurich, Switzerland to start a two-month long visit, and I am working in the offices of EBP (our parent company) for the summer. I am working a lot with existing US-based projects and clients, but also have many other exciting opportunities to support our Swiss colleagues and build relationships that will be...
Continue reading
  1271 Hits
1271 Hits

Value Capture, Transportation Investment, and Joint Development

NS_NCHRP_blog_Capture.JPG
The Transportation Research Board's (TRB's) National Cooperative Research Highway Research Program (NCHRP) recently released Report 873: Guidebook to Funding Transportation Through Land Value Return and Recycling. With ongoing conversations at every level of government about the best and most equitable ways to pay for our transportation infrastructure, the distribution of benefits created by infrastructure, and the long-term sustainability of our land development patterns, this guidance could not be timelier. Value capture can be an important tool in the transportation toolbox because (a) it is an often-overlooked source of potential revenue and, (b) if pursued wisely can yield better outcomes overall by shaping development patterns to take advantage of a well-performing transportation system (or in some cases, creatively reusing currently underutilized space adjacent to transportation infrastructure). For this project, EDR Group, working as part of a team led by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), documented the implementation of a variety of value...
Continue reading
  1103 Hits
1103 Hits

The Evolution of Transportation + Economic Development: Ten Takeaways from I-TED 2018

ITED_GW Glen Weisbrod Presenting at I-TED 2018
The I-TED Conference on Transportation and Economic Development has now concluded. Judging by the reaction of all the participants with whom I’ve spoken, it was a tremendous success.  Here are some personal observations. The field of Transportation and Economic Development has really matured.  I’ve been going to this conference series since they started in 1989, and we’ve come a long way since then.  A dominant focus of presentations at the 1989 conference was showing how transportation investment supports jobs.  At this conference, in contrast, we had speakers talking about how economic development is (or should) factor in transportation decision processes for asset management, right sizing, maintenance and repair, finance, operations and programming, prioritization, long term planning and resilience evaluation. The speakers and poster session offered a substantial set of examples of how various transportation agencies are now carrying out such processes. The conference was also organized in a way that enabled...
Continue reading
  1432 Hits
1432 Hits

Using New Data to Improve Transit Networks

shutterstock_172414874

The transportation ecosystem is changing rapidly. Individuals have new transportation options, and nationwide trends show transit ridership in decline . New technologies, such as automated vehicles, are expected to continue to reshape mobility in the future. In this environment, transit system owners and operators are seeking to adapt their network design and services. Improved data availability and new processing methods can identify ways to improve transit service. Compared to rail systems, bus networks can be altered at relatively low cost to accommodate changes in demand. Bus network revisions include large-scale overhauls, such as recent redesigns in Houston and Columbus , as well as incremental approaches to bus network change, such as route additions, deletions, and realignments. To make these changes, planners need to understand how the current system is used and where there is potential for improvement. In recent years, contactless smart card-based automatic fare collection (AFC) systems have become increasingly...
Continue reading
  1644 Hits
Tags:
1644 Hits

Project Update - Economic Gems: Hidden in Plain Site


A couple of weeks ago, Steve Landau and I visited Columbus to start up a new project with the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. Over the next few months, EDR Group will be investigating, quantifying, and (perhaps most importantly!) describing the myriad ways in which the Columbus airport system contributes to the economy of the city, region, and state. One of the most significant and rewarding parts of these types of studies is uncovering what might be called “economic gems” hidden in plain sight. Most people only ever experience airports from the perspective of commercial passenger aviation. But really there is so much more going on. You have air cargo operations making sure time-sensitive goods get in and out, general aviation allowing local businesses to be more efficient that they otherwise would be, and oftentimes clustering of related businesses that benefit from airport access on nearby real estate—just to name a few....
Continue reading
  1407 Hits
Tags:
1407 Hits

New Data and Techniques for Transportation Economists

CV-blog-graphic1.jpg
Highway link speed data from vehicle GPS probes has become the standard for performance measurement, available free to state DOTs through the National Performance Management Research Data Set (NPMRDS). This data can add value across transportation planning and policy-making. At EDR Group, we think it extends the potential for informed economic analysis. For Missouri DOT, EDR Group conducted benefit-cost and economic impact analysis of an Incident Management System (IMS) on the rural sections of I-70 and I-44. To evaluate the impact of MoDOT’s proposed IMS, we needed to understand the pattern and costs of incidents along the rural highways. To do so, we used vehicle speed data from HERE. We queried 5 years of speed records at 15-minute intervals for every link on rural I-70 and I-44: approximately 143 million rows of data in total. That’s a lot of data!  Figure 1 Schematic of incident identification. Using heuristics and a spatial...
Continue reading
  1649 Hits
1649 Hits

Accounting for Equity

AssetsEquity
This morning I attended a session entitled "What's It Worth to You? Incorporating Tranportation Asset Value." The session addressed the methods for determining, monitoring, and updating the value of transportation assets to support ongoing reporting and investment planning. It's a topic I find inherently interesting because I think we don't spend enough time asking ourselves to describe the value of our complex and extensive transportation systems--whether from the perspective of the replacement value for existing physical infrastructure, or from the viewpoint of the role such infrastructure supports the basic functioning of society and the economy. What I wasn't expecting was a connection between the sometimes "dry" worlds of accounting and asset management, and the more humanistic perspective of intergenerational equity. However, in her update on TRB's Value of Transportation Infrastructure Task Force*, Shobna Varma discussed how asset valuation can actually be an avenue towards considering the intergenerational equity implictions of failing...
Continue reading
  2233 Hits
Tags:
2233 Hits

Market Access at a Global Scale

BR
This year at the Transportation and Economic Development Committee at TRB, I had the benefit of hearing a presentation by Binjam Reja of the World Bank about the One Belt One Road Initiative. For those, like me, who haven't been plugged into the intersection of international development, geopolitics, and transportation -- the "B&R" is a massive infrastructure iniative launched by China with the intent of strengthening both land and maritime connection between China and other major Eurasian economies. The corridor-based multimodal framework for investment in infrastructure is intended to improve connectivity among 65 countries, 4.4 billion people and about 40 percent of global GDP . There is substantial funding behind this still emerging effort: For me, the most interesting part of the discussion was a considering how countries other than China need to think strategically about the best way to engage with the B&R to sustainabily addresses their own economic development strategies:...
Continue reading
  2205 Hits
Tags:
2205 Hits

TRB War Games In Action: Your Future Mobility is Right-Sized

WarGames
Thanks Waheed for capturing our Energy Team in action at the inaugural TRB 2018 War Games! Attending #TRB War Game: Energy Team focus on #Energy Efficient Personal Mobility. #TRBAM @NASEMTRB pic.twitter.com/PaoDuVL9A1 — Dr. Waheed Uddin (@drwaheeduddin) January 7, 2018 I am happy to report that this simulated exercise/competition certainly got me, and I believe the rest of the room, "out of the box" and beyond our usual thinking. My favorite part was considering the behavioral and energy implications of a future in which individuals are able to more efficienctly match personal mobility options to needs, including the potential for automated "right-sized" personal vehicles. Right now consumers end up buying vehicles to address their maximum needs (think: towing a horse trailer or taking six kids plus equipment to hockey practice), but end up employing that significant and energy consumptive excess capacity on more frequent but less demanding trips (e.g. driving along to and from...
Continue reading
  2105 Hits
Tags:
2105 Hits

The Pre-TRB Whirlwind: Are You Ready to Learn with 13,000 of Your Closest Transportation Friends?

BadgeImage
Hi! It's that time of year again - barely back from winter break and in this case some wintery weather mayhem, we rush collectively into the 2018 TRB Annual Meeting. Unlike last year, I'll be flying out of Pittsburgh, my new homebase to get to Washington, D.C. But just like last year I'll be using this blog to share what I see, do, and learn at TRB. Thanks for joining me! I wanted to take a quick opportunity to highlight things on my agenda that I am excited about: (1) War Games Come to TRB: May the Best Plan for Connecting Technology and Policy Win: I will be participating in a workshop on Sunday where teams compete to answer the question: How can technology, public policy and market forces be aligned to achieve greatest societal benefits and aspirational energy outcomes? I'm #TeamEnergy, meaning we're asking questions like: as methods of delivering mobility...
Continue reading
  1714 Hits
Tags:
1714 Hits

Welcome to TRB 2018

TRB2018Header
Click find for a schedule on where to find us during the conference  
  1724 Hits
Tags:
1724 Hits

Planning for Rapid Technological Change in Transportation and Mobility Services

shutterstock future2
Hardly a day passes without websites, newspapers, and TV news trumpeting our entry into an era of “self-driving cars” and “smart everything.” More and more, our everyday lives are digitally connected and facilitated, enabling us to shop from our phones, have up-to-the-minute travel information, and instantly share information with anyone, anywhere. As the digitization of our society grows and computing power becomes more portable and affordable, we continue to rush headlong into a future of both technological promise and societal challenges. Within this context of technology-enabled and driven innovations and opportunities, the nation’s transportation needs are similarly rapidly evolving. The advances in information technologies and business processes are enabling new forms of integrated transportation services that span multiple modes providing both passenger and freight services. At the same time, planners and researchers need to recognize that the rapid pace of technological change and digital information systems in transportation is occurring largely...
Continue reading
  1432 Hits
1432 Hits

Community Energy Initiatives: Evaluating Their Achievements

Community Choice Energy Costa Contra County
Energy program evaluation has sure changed! Programs to support efficiency in energy use and renewable power sources go back 40 years, following oil crises in the 1970s. Utility companies were mandated to provide incentives to users via “demand side management” conservation programs. These were followed by public rebates for investment in renewable and efficient technologies. The programs were evaluated for effectiveness, and initially there was great concern about net benefits -- not counting “free riders” (who would have made the energy efficient choices even without the program). EDR Group was a part of these evaluations from its beginning in the late 1990s, and our work featured measurement of both economic impacts and net benefits. Now today, we are in a world where energy solutions are more broadly appreciated for their economic, social and environmental sustainability benefits.  And now we are seeing sustainable energy initiatives being taken by residents and municipalities –...
Continue reading
  1542 Hits
1542 Hits

TRANSIT’S ROLE IN HIGH TECH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

shutterstock 104477651 1
The advertisement of Amazon searching for a new location for its headquarters has brought to the forefront the specific search criteria that the company is using to evaluate potential locations. In response to this advertisement, the New York Times wrote an article, "Dear Amazon, We Picked Your New Headquarters for You," applying their search criteria, including economic data, to estimate which city has the highest likelihood of being selected. One specific criteria mentioned is the availability of mass transit. In their own words “An Amazon priority is mass transit, and it has asked applicants to provide their traffic congestion rankings during peak commuting hours. These remaining metro areas are among the top 15 in the country in the share of workers who commute by transit, according to the American Community Survey.” A reason for this request is likely because continued growth in technology-oriented businesses in urban locations will require increasing reliance...
Continue reading
  1622 Hits
1622 Hits

Economic Impact Tools and Models: Are they Useful?

industrial park shutterstock 403126069
Infrastructure investment proposals can generate intense public discussion , and when it occurs, there is almost inevitably talk about how the project will (a) hurt the local economy, (b) save the local economy or (c) both. When the latter occurs, it is often because there are two factions – supporters and opponents. Of course, what is often missing is objective information to help guide and control these fears, hopes and allegations. That is where economic models and tools both come in. What is the difference between models and tools? EDR Group has been working in this field for 20 years now, and yet we still see ample confusion on this topic. Here’s a try at answering the question: A TOOL helps people carry out a function, so a “decision support tool” can be any method or process that helps people assess alternatives. In the case of transportation investments, this includes benefit-cost...
Continue reading
  3108 Hits
3108 Hits

3 Reasons to Invest in a Transit Economic Blueprint

Infrastructure Blueprint shutterstock
The President’s federal budget proposal proposes $2.4 Billion in transportation spending reductions – including significant cuts in federal transit programs. Meanwhile, states from  Georgia  to  Oregon  and places in-between have looked to increase state transit funding and there is growing discussion about the role of public-private-partnerships (PPP)’s in funding transit improvements. These changes create an environment in which transit systems and proponents must make a more compelling case than ever before to business and economically savvy audiences demonstrating their economic role. It is time for states and regions to take stock of what is really at stake in transit investment.  A State or Regional Transit Economic Blueprint  can be understood as a regional study showing the role of transit in the economy, and mapping out the rationale for future investment strategies. Areas like  Hampton Roads , Virginia,  Fairbanks Alaska  and  Austin Texas  in the last year have undertaken significant efforts to define the...
Continue reading
  3452 Hits
3452 Hits

Beyond the Usual Suspects: Looking Past Typical Measures Used in Prioritization and Performance Measurement

Naomi_Freight_Accessibility.jpg
We all know some variation of the saying, what you measure is what you get . At EDR Group, we work with States and regions to help choose the right things to measure – whether for performance management over time or to support project evaluation and prioritization – and to understand how those choices affect long-term policy implementation. Two EDR Group efforts, one recent and one ongoing, address this directly: Freight Accessibility Measurement . Naomi Stein and Glen Weisbrod presented a poster titled Freight Accessibility and Economic Development, Case Studies in Practical Measurement at this year’s TRB annual meeting. Walter Hansen famously defined accessibility as the potential of opportunities for interaction.” The poster focuses on different approaches to measuring freight accessibility, using readily available information, and argues that freight accessibility is an important performance measure and indicator of economic development and growth potential. Examples of common metrics include the number of...
Continue reading
  3335 Hits
Tags:
3335 Hits

It's Time For Transportation Planning to Account for Economic Uncertainty

Blog_graphic.jpg
Changes in the administration, debates in Washington, and  ongoing developments in technology, climate change and infrastructure costs make it harder than ever to undertake meaningful transportation plans, corridor studies and prioritize public investments.   Choosing between different mixes of long-term transportation infrastructure investments for such an uncertain future is a bit like trying to walk ashore in a rising tide. As soon as you find your path, it disappears!  The cost of over-build on an asset or transportation system can have life cycle costs that jeopardize an agency’s ability to respond to new challenges. However the societal costs of under-build in terms of safety, congestion and environmental loss can be even more taxing. It is time for transportation planners and engineers to consider the implications of different economic trajectories when assessing future traffic volumes and investment needs.  What if energy prices (including motor fuel) rise at triple the price currently anticipated? What if foreign trade policies...
Continue reading
  3336 Hits
Tags:
3336 Hits

Quantifying Uncertainty in Real World Decision-Making: Making Smarter More Grounded Choices

Uncertainty_Poster_TRB_2017.PNG
It is the often untold story of project evaluations: We can never be fully certain about the results. Whether it is about the selection of the best alternative for a project or about setting priorities among different projects, the results depend to a considerable extent on assumptions we make. Assumptions are embedded in our analytical choices and results : what are the appropriate weights for each factor in a multicriteria analysis? How about the discount rate in a BCA? How accurate are the data sources we rely on? Do we truly know how much a project will cost or the level of future demand? To be unaware of uncertainties in evaluation results means missing important pieces of information that can help support smart decision-making . Tackling this challenge, Mark Sieber, Chandler Duncan and Naomi Stein of EDR Group presented a poster at the TRB Annual Meeting in D.C., whose purpose was...
Continue reading
  3954 Hits
Tags:
3954 Hits

To Rebuild or Not to Rebuild: Infrastructure and Environmental Justice

On the affirmative obligation to address past discrimination: When it's time to reconstruct infrastructure, can we address exclusionary design that was put in place 50-60 years ago? How does what we know now about the need for connectivity change how we might choose to reinvest in or update our infrastructure in the future?
  2632 Hits
Tags:
2632 Hits

Transportation of the future - imagine...

  2367 Hits
2367 Hits

The Value of Reliability

TRB.jpg
This morning I attended the Freight Transportation Planning and Logistics Committee meeting. Their committee awards a best paper award each year and this year's topic was the Value of Reliability. Xia Jin of Florida International University presented results from a state preference survey of freight system users. The research was conducted in collaboration with Florida DOT. There has been increasing attention paid to the importance of reliability for both passenger and freight transportation. However, we don't always have enough real-world data to support more quantitative analysis. This research demonstrated the importance of differentiating both commodities and freight user types when seeking to understand freight behavior. For example, the data show that perishable products have higher values of time and values of reliability than do non-perishable products. Additionally, carriers and shippers (with and without their own transportation) show markedly different sensitivities towards travel time savings and reliability improvements. Other lessons learned on the...
Continue reading
  2792 Hits
Tags:
2792 Hits

Kickoff

For many of us, this year's TRB kicked off in a primarily social vein, at the Exhibit Hall opening and reception. Sunday has workshops but is also the grace period when we all take a moment to find familiar faces, make introductions, maybe sample a few appetizers. Some facts about this year's TRB: As of Friday, January 6th 13,722 people had registered for the annual meeting. This is 5% over last year's record attendance at the same point in time. 5,900 papers were reviewed There are 800+ workshops and sessions (another record) Looking forward to diving in!  
  2370 Hits
2370 Hits

The calm before the storm

b2ap3_thumbnail_Schedule.JPG
It's that time of year again: the hubbub and organized chaos of the Transportation Research Board conference. Last year I had the pleasure of sharing my experiences here on the EDR Group blog and I'm hoping you'll join me again for the ride. I always marvel at the sheer volume of programming at the TRB annual meeting and this year is no exception (see above if you'e curious what the logistics looks like for us here at EDR Group). As always I'm looking forward to reconnecting with old classmates and past/current/future collaborators at other firms and agencies. This year I will be wearing one new hat at TRB. In addition to attending the Transportation and Economic Development (ADD10)  committee meeting as a member, I have the honor of attending my first in-person meeting as a section represenative for the TRB Young Members Council - Planning and Environment Group . YMC exists...
Continue reading
  2652 Hits
Tags:
2652 Hits

Welcome to TRB 2017

TRB2017.jpg
  2322 Hits
Tags:
2322 Hits

Innovative Infrastructure Finance

Blog_graphic.jpg
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) grades the condition of U.S. infrastructure on a scale of A through F. Since 1998, America’s infrastructure has earned persistent D averages. Underinvestment is a much-studied topic. EDR Group’s recent report on this issue to ASCE "Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future” found that the most significant investment gap across all types of infrastructure is in the transportation sector, where $1 trillion in additional investment is needed over the next ten years.  The U.S. funds federal spending on highway and transit projects through a variety of user fees that pay into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Fuel taxes contribute the largest share of revenues by far. In FY 2014 they constituted 87% of the HTF’s tax revenues . However, over the past 10 years spending from the HTF began exceeding revenues, a condition forecast to...
Continue reading
  3775 Hits
Tags:
3775 Hits

Urbanization vs. Sprawl: New Findings for a Swiss Study

MSieber-1.jpg
  The Swiss Federal Offices for Spatial Development, Roads, Transportation, the Environment and Energy jointly released the new Transport Outlook 2040. Ernst Basler + Partner ( www.ebp.ch ), based in Zurich and an affiliate of EDR Group, worked on this project in collaboration with two other companies. The firm performed the passenger transportation forecast and for the modelling of impacts. The report offers intriguing findings that may be of interest for transportation and land use planners in the US and worldwide. One finding concerns the decoupling of population, economic and transport growth. Switzerland has a fast growing population and a strong economy. Already the retrospective analysis at the beginning of the project showed that these are the two principal forces for a growing transportation demand. Thus, the kilometers travelled will continue to increase substantially (+25% between 2010 and 2040), but less than the population (+28%) and the economy (+46%). A saturation in...
Continue reading
  2755 Hits
Tags:
2755 Hits

Securing Grant Funding for your Rural or Freight Project

To secure funding for projects through the federal TIGER or FASTLANE grant programs, it is critical to demonstrate not only a great project in terms of benefit-cost ratio, but also why the project has economic consequences. Successful TIGER grants for highway or bridge projects have tended to go to applicants who can show community or regional benefits. The new FASTLANE grant program seeks applications that can demonstrate national freight significance and visible economic outcomes. Rural and freight projects can easily be overlooked if the sources of benefits are not understood to go beyond the regular travel time, reliability and mileage savings. In rural areas, where traffic volumes are often low – a strong accessibility and livability case can be essential to a strong application. In 2014 EDR Group performed the Benefit-Cost analysis for the largest TIGER award given that year – the Kentucky Mountain Parkway Extension. Access to state parks, health...
Continue reading
  3667 Hits
Tags:
3667 Hits

Until next year

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMAG0630_1.jpg
Today is my last day at the conference and while it wasn't so jam-packed as the others, it might have been my favorite. This morning I and a client from the MPO in Colorado Springs (PPACG), Craig Casper, presented our poster on the sensitivity of project rankings to underlying land use and growth assumption. While standing in front of a poster for 2 hours has the potential to be a little dull, this time around I actually benefited from a remarkable window into the MPO planning world. Not only did I get to learn more about the multicriteria ranking process used by PPACG (to which our TREDIS analysis provided just one input), I also got to watch members from agencies across the country share and discuss best practices for planning and project evaluation. MPOs, like many public sector agencies, grapple with conflicting demands from many different constituents and oversight entities. They...
Continue reading
  3784 Hits
Tags:
3784 Hits

If you get enough biases, you might get a mosaic of an approximate reality

  3673 Hits
Tags:
3673 Hits

Can you get there from here?

b2ap3_thumbnail_AccessTimeCost2.jpg
This afternoon I attended Session 343 on the  Role of Transit in Creating a More Equitable Society . Each presentation focused in one way or another on assessing the adequate provision of transit service from a spatial and socioeconomic perspective, as well as the role of transit and automobiles in facilitating access to jobs, services, health care, groceries, day care, and education. What struck me about the session--and in particular the discussion afterwards--is that we're getting to the point as a community of practitioners where data and analytical capabilities are no longer the barriers to implementation they once were. And so now we have the chance to really talk about which measures are most instructive--to researchers, policy makers, the public--as opposed to which are most simply possible. Do we want aggregate indicators that take into account the needs of many different population groups? Or do we want individual analyses reproduced over and over again for...
Continue reading
  4170 Hits
Tags:
4170 Hits

Booth time!

  4232 Hits
Tags:
4232 Hits

How late is too late?

Presentation on the effect of on-time performance on ridership and revenue (Mark Feldman, Session 233): The meaning of on-time performance depends on who you ask. Amtrak defines on-time performance using a minutes late threshold that varies by length of the route. But if you're a traveler, 20 minutes late may be a huge deal, or not matter much at all-- it all depends on the purpose and length of your trip, and the flexibility of your plans. This is a challenge more broadly: internal agency performance measures do not always map to the aspects of performance that driver user behavior and ultimately the broader effects on society and the economy. Both sides of the coin are critical to our ability to prioritize improvements.
  4133 Hits
Tags:
4133 Hits

This is real-time learning

b2ap3_thumbnail_Real-TimeLearningGTFS.png
"Transformation Technologies" is one of the the three "hot topics" designated by TRB for this Annual Meeting, so it's only appropriate that my first session of the conference gave me a crash course introduction to GTFS data and all the cool things people are doing to leverage information published in this format. If you're wondering what a crash course looks like with a bunch of very excited data geeks all interacting with data and documentation in real-time, here's a screen shot from today: GTFS is the de-facto standard for transit service information--first defined by google when Portland's TriMet asked: why isn't online trip planning as easy for transit as it is for driving? At current count there are 1000+ public feeds on 6 continents. Wide adoption of the specification allows anyone interested in looking at, analyzing, or mapping transit service information to all communicate in the same language. Fundamentally, GTFS is a...
Continue reading
  4134 Hits
Tags:
4134 Hits

GTFS

Ready to learn.
  4495 Hits
Tags:
4495 Hits

Washington National Airport

Washington National Airport: built, like much of Boston, where once there was only water. Hello DC!
  3742 Hits
3742 Hits

Leaving on a jet plane...

b2ap3_thumbnail_LeavingOnAJetPlane_20160108-172424_1.jpg
My bags are packed—well, not quite. But it's busy here at the office getting ready for the annual pilgrimage down to DC where everyone in the transportation world gets to mingle with thousands of their closest friends. With approximately 11,500 attendees at last count, TRB really does have the feel of a (very large) family reunion. Tune in for the next few days and I'll take you through my own personal experience of the conference. Right now it's all about ensuring that our posters and exhibit materials make it down in one piece. And of course, don't forget a few business cards! One of the best things about TRB is meeting other people with common interests and invaluable experience. My short list of things to look forward to: Learning more about the uses of General Transit Feed Specifications data (GTFS for those prefer alphabet soup), the standardized format agencies all over the...
Continue reading
  3502 Hits
3502 Hits

TRB16

  3604 Hits
3604 Hits

Improving Regional Economic Analysis: A Case Study

Input-output (I-O) analysis is an important technique used to estimate how changes in one sector of the economy affect employment, wages, and overall production in other sectors. An economist named Wassily Leontief developed the technique decades ago, receiving the 1973 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for doing so. Today, analysts customize national I-O “accounts” produced by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in order to study regional (sub-national) effects. These accounts describe how industries, households, and government exchange goods and services, and regional models, in turn, use this information to simulate the magnitude, direction, and timing of economic impacts. 
Continue reading
  3946 Hits
3946 Hits

Incorporating Qualitative Factors in Transportation Decision-making

When funds are short, agencies are often challenged to justify decisions about which projects to do and not to do. One way that agencies address this situation is by conducting cost-benefit analysis, which quantifies all of the potential benefits of projects relative to their costs and compares which investments seem to offer the best outcomes for the money. Agencies may use cost-benefit analysis to justify a particular project (showing its benefits are more than its costs) or to rank projects based on which ones offer the most benefits per dollar spent (often regarded as a ‘prioritization’ process). Using economic methods to compare the benefits of projects can be an extremely useful and powerful tool both for decision making and for explaining choices to stakeholders. However, challenges arise when agencies find that there are “intangible” (or difficult to quantify) outcomes which are known to be important.

Continue reading
  8135 Hits
8135 Hits

What’s Really New? Public-Sector Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Triple Bottom Line

Increasingly, agencies are interested in understanding the benefits of their investments in terms of the "triple bottom line" or (TBL).  TBL is often presented as a new and important type of analysis in transportation and economics.  It is important for planners, economists, and others involved in transportation decisions to understand what this means, and how it relates to the current state of the practice in transportation economics.

Continue reading
  6434 Hits
6434 Hits

Don't Forget It's About More Than Just Safety

On June 17th, 2013 a WSJ article entitled “Rail Safety and the Value of a Life[1]” highlighted the financial struggles that regional transit transportation authorities are facing to address safety concerns: both avoiding train crashes and improving deteriorating bridges.   A federal requirement to install anti-crash gear (Positive Train Control – PTC) for all transit systems that carry over 564 million passengers by 2015 is currently being discussed by the Senate Commerce Committee.   While there is debate over prioritizing schedules of investing in PTC versus the backlog of needed bridge renovations, it highlights the urgent need for overall additional investment in transit infrastructure

Continue reading
  6817 Hits
6817 Hits

Choosing Economic Analysis Software

How would you rank the following tools –hammer, screwdriver and pliers? Now you might ask: Why would anyone ask such a silly question …for each is appropriate for a different use (even though I could bang a nail with a pliers or screwdriver). Well, it is not very different when someone catalogs all of the various types and brands of “economic” software tools and throws together tools for evaluating user benefits, regional economic impacts, land use impacts and economic development targeting into the same list. Yes, they may all have some common economic element (like putting a $ value on time or access), but each has a different intended use.

Continue reading
  11346 Hits
11346 Hits

Is Infrastructure all it is Cracked up to be?

The idea of infrastructure as a necessary ingredient for U.S. economic growth is as old as the republic. Recently, EDR Group completed a series of studies for the American Society of Civil Engineers where we looked at different types of infrastructure and addressed the question of what would happen in the national economy if the infrastructure we have in place decays. The real stories in all four studies are in dollars that will be lost to the nation. The country’s infrastructure is aging, and not keeping pace with population and employment growth. This jeopardizes clean water delivery, sewer and wastewater services, and access to reliable electricity and transportation. These impacts in turn affect locations of businesses and households, and will cost them money as they compensate for poor services.

Continue reading
  6934 Hits
6934 Hits

Fear, Black Boxes and Economic Impact Shortcuts

Drivers of Behavior: Needs and Fears. Infrastructure planning and policy calls for decision-making that must be justifiable and stand up to public scrutiny. And that means considering not only impacts on users or customers, but also consideration of other factors such as wider economic benefits. And herein lies a problem, for one of the greatest fears of public agency staff is being caught unable to explain the justification for a decision or the logic process by which the wider benefits and costs were estimated.

Continue reading
  7543 Hits
7543 Hits

Job Impacts – what are they all about anyway?

“Can’t live without them, and we can’t get enough of them” has been a constant public sector mantra since the call to action in early 2009 through the federal stimulus known as ARRA (American Reinvestment & Recovery Act). The need for validation and evaluation in turning public monies into job retaining/creating activities actually predates the ARRA era and should be a perennial question for any civic leader interested in maintaining or improving the well-being of its working-age residents – through income generation - and the businesses that pay taxes.

Continue reading
  6724 Hits
6724 Hits

A Balanced Examination of HSR and National Transportation Needs

It’s time for a balanced dialog on infrastructure investment needed to support our nation’s economic vitality for the future. We need to get beyond advocacy arguments where someone first decides the answer and then selectively picks facts to bolster it. Let’s learn from the article on high speed rail by columnist Robert Samuelson that was recently published in Newsweek[1]It is useful because it illustrates all three classic elements of erroneous reasoning that many of us learned in school debate and statistics classes:

Continue reading
  5661 Hits
5661 Hits

Latest Blogposts

Twitter Feed

Moving Your Audience: Communication Strategies in Transportation Research https://t.co/H3myYXDjW4
It’s Amazon vs. Braintree in suit over delivery signage. EDR Group's Peter Plumeau quoted. https://t.co/VF0dlaj4YUhttps://t.co/wpFhxe8NLz
RT @city_viewer: This article aligns well with #EDRGroup's work on the relationship of transportation investment to site selection decision…
twitter 2 linkedin 2
 

Telephone: 1-617-338-6775 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

© 1997-2019 Economic Development Research Group, Inc; 155 Federal St. 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02110 USA