More attractive public transport through timed transfers (in Dutch)

The magazine of the Dutch public transport travel information company 9292 features a two page article (PDF) of my research project at the TU Delft.

More attractive public transport through timed transfers (in Dutch)

More attractive public transport through timed transfers (in Dutch)

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Train delays make you fat

Train delays in hamburgers

Train delays in hamburgers

We are all annoyed by delayed trains, of course — that is why a really love my job working on more reliable timetables.

In Warsaw, however, you can see the real negative effect of train delays: they make some people more fat. I didn’t know I was involved in the public health industry.

This makes me wanna cry.

(via HaCon)

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Now this is enough space for bikes

In this #1 cycling country of Holland, bike compartments on trains tend to remain very limited. There is an explanation for this:

  1. the trains being already full with people, it is reasonable to take three more passengers instead of a bicycle, and
  2. loading and unloading a bike (or many) can substantially delay the dwell process and account for delays even further down the network.

These are the two reasons why NS and ProRail rather prefer investing in bicycle parking at the stations and in shared bikes.

So this is what is mostly provided for the bikes on the trains, for 6 euros a day, only outside the peak hours:

Typical bike transport area on Dutch trains (source: wereldfietser.nl)

Typical bike transport area on Dutch trains (source: wereldfietser.nl)

However, if you really want to provide a bit more for bicycles, that is possible: this is the interior of an Arriva train on the MerwedeLingelijn:

Arriva Stadler GTW interior

Arriva Stadler GTW interior

And finally, the current best practice seems to be the Copenhagen suburban rail lines, which (despite being also very crowded and very frequent at rush hour) offer free bike transport any time — and just doubled the available space to follow demand. Note the experiment with the one way signage, i.e. one door for boarding and another for alighting.

Copenhagen S-train interior (photo: Klaus Holsting)

Copenhagen S-train interior (photo: Klaus Holsting)

S-trains (photo: Daniel Sparing)

S-trains (photo: Daniel Sparing)

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Must be fun to drive this Mercedes

The best part is when the third driver bursts out laughing, who also seriously looks like Baló György.

via VEKE.

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Distracted Driving: Evidence

One of the reasons why ensuring alternatives to driving is so important is that road fatalities are the number one cause of non-natural death in developed countries (see for example table here) and increasing in developing countries.

Highway interchange in Dubai (photo: Paolo Keller)

Highway interchange in Dubai (photo: Paolo Keller)

The underlying causes of road accidents can be several from infrastructure to speeding  and alcohol/drug use, but one topic gaining attention especially in the US media is distracted driving (see e.g. http://www.distraction.gov/), the effects of which have been severely underestimated in the previous years.

I.e. in many U.S. states talking and texting on a mobile phone is legal and talking with a headset is legal even in most of Europe. However. not so new research shows that talking on the phone, whether with or without headset, is comparably dangerous to drunk driving.

Last week, “thanks” to Blackberry, evidence have been collected that texting on the phone is indeed probably a major cause of distracted driving and accidents. During the Blackberry network outage, accident rates dropped significantly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, an area where otherwise road fatalities are shockingly frequent.

via Elsevier Transportation.

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Above Schiphol airport at night

Have a look at how Schiphol airport looks like from above in the night in the following short video about the air traffic control room in the control tower.

By schipholtv.com

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Jonge Veranderaars in Switzerland

I have just spent four great days with fellow engineers/consultants working for the Dutch rail sector.

Dutch engineers happy to have just had Wiener Schnitzel for lunch (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Dutch engineers happy to have just had Wiener Schnitzel for lunch (photo: Daniel Sparing)

We have been to the transport authority of Zürich, visited the commuter rail system of the canton of Zug, the main factory of Stadler: the famous David among the train manufacturing Goliaths, as well as the Gotthard base tunnel.

I am still here for the weekend to meet friends and to cycle in the Alps enjoy the rain, maybe more pictures later.

Update: here is a video about the trip.

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Vacuum cleaner for trams: the new tram depot in Rotterdam

RET is the municipal transit operator of Rotterdam. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

RET is the municipal transit operator of Rotterdam. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Rotterdam has just opened a brand new tram depot in Beverwaard to replace an older workshop which was too expensive to maintain. The Beverwaard remise is along the East leg of the motorway ring, on line 23, which itself was laid in 2004.

The depot project was subsidized by an EU programme TramStore21, just the future Starr Gate depot in Blackpool, UK. The conditions of this subsidy required that the new depots become symbols of sustainability (buzzword alert!), so quite a few innovative solutions in terms of water, heating and spatial use were planned.

There is covered outdoor space for trams on some 18 tracks... (photo: Daniel Sparing)

There is covered outdoor space for trams on some 18 tracks... (photo: Daniel Sparing)

...plus indoor workshops and offices. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

...plus indoor workshops and offices. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

The use of rainwater to wash trams is reality, but the P+R on the roof remains a bit empty (it still takes a good 30 minutes ride to reach central Rotterdam from here, as opposed to e.g. 10/15 min train ride from Rotterdam Alexander/Barendrecht) and it turns out that there are better locations in the region to install wind turbines.

Smart energy and resource usage is understandably a requirement given limited budgets, competition, etc. But when talking about going green et al., it is a good idea to look at the forest and not at the trees: a tram depot is as “sustainable” as many car trips an attractive service can replace, so power up those trams :)

More pictures below. Thanks to Jonge Veranderaars and RET for hosting us.

The vacuum cleaner for trams! With a wind power of 6. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

The vacuum cleaner for trams! With a wind power of 6. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

The vacuum cleaner is attached to the open last door, other doors closed (photo: Daniel Sparing)

The vacuum cleaner is attached to the open last door, other doors closed (photo: Daniel Sparing)

The vacuum cleaner sucks yesterday's news out (photo: Daniel Sparing)

The vacuum cleaner sucks yesterday's news out (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Into the tram wash (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Into the tram wash (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Electric and HVAC boxes on the roof can be fixed in this section without overhead lines (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Electric and HVAC boxes on the roof can be fixed in this section without overhead lines (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Here we learned what we knew already: it is not a good idea to fall under a tram. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

Here we learned what we knew already: it is not a good idea to fall under a tram. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

"Together for less carbon emissions in transit". No comment.. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

"Together for less carbon emissions in transit". No comment.. (photo: Daniel Sparing)

photo: Daniel Sparing

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Fixing a Boulevard

This small project in Budapest was already practically completed earlier this year, but some great new before vs after pictures have just been published.

"Károly körút" before "Károly körút" after

The street is called Károly körút (see in Google Maps), which is a ring road around the historic centre of Pest, exactly where a former city wall used to stand. It is a major artery for road traffic, including still too many through trips (i.e. trips neither originating nor ending in the city centre itself). It is also a tram route, which was almost discarded following a new subway line construction, but now, partly due to the reconstruction project itself, the future of the line seems certain and an extension to North is planned.

During reconstruction, the green area has been increased substantially, traffic lanes were removed (without reducing capacity for cars, as that is limited by the intersections anyway), bicycle lanes were added and some street level pedestrian crossings were added where there were only subway underpasses before.

I am proud of my hometown turning more livable step by small step.

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The Swedish Doubling Project

The Swedish initiative to increase the share of public transport is called the Doubling Project, i.e. doubling the share. While this goal seems a bit suboptimal for me (more on that below in the notes), this umbrella covers quite some initiatives from small to big to improve transit attractiveness, such as marketing campaigns or through-city train tunnels.

The video below describes case studies from four cities:

Some notes:

  • Gothenburg is introducing the congestion charge in 2013 and plans to fund transport infrastructure and vehicles from this revenue. Given the experience from previous city-scale road charges, such as London or Stockholm, this seems to be a very ambitious/fragile idea: when organized well, road charge revenues can cover the system costs and some more, and certainly beneficial on a societal level, but can hardly be used to build a huge infrastructure fund. — Also, it is a bit questionable whether the Gothenburg tram system is already prepared for the extra load, as the network is very congested already in the city centre and renewing the tram fleet goes slowly as problems arise with the new Italian trams.
  • It is great to hear that Stockholm is “extending its tram network”, what this really means is that during the big subway works, most of the previous network was discarded — just like many other cities — and now the city struggles to reconnect the remaining pieces.
    Stockholm Metro (photo: Patricia Poon)

    Stockholm Metro (photo: Patricia Poon)

  • Malmö: I covered the new City Tunnel on its opening day, an interesting note to those of us living in the Netherlands is that you can get for your ticket using “any means of payment” — good luck buying a train ticket here with a credit card or with banknotes.
  • In Sundsvall, we learn a new sentence in Swedish: det är inte rocket science, and really, all speakers note that what is key is not some technological innovations, but the vision, commitment and to break away from the former bureaucratic attitude of operator companies.
  • It gives some credit to this initiative that the minister is the last speaker. I can’t resist to notice, however, that the idea of doubling transit market share is not really a sound goal to set for yourself: (1) what about urban regions where the share of public transport is already around 40-50%? Barcelona, Vienna, Central London, Eastern Europe. It is clearly impossible to double the 55% market share, but investments and innovation here is just as important, regarding how many people already trust the transit network. (2) no matter how much some nerd like trams and buses, the real goals are safer transport, less emissions, higher land value/quality of life: no need to replace cycling or the occasional car trip with transit. If you need a simple goal, it is to reduce driving, be it by a shift to transit, cycling, Het Nieuwe Werken or Whatever Works*.

* just kidding, it is a bad movie.

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