Rubén M.Cenzano

Chartered Civil Engineer specialised in Transportation

Ingeniero de Caminos especialista en Transporte

Berlin introduces wireless-charged electric bus line @BVG_Bus

Posted On Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Berlin has become the first capital city to introduce a wireless-charged electric bus.

The Berlin Transport Authority, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) has introduced four Solaris Urbino 12 electric buses equipped with the Bombardier Primove inductive charging system and traction equipment from Vossloh Kiepe, operating on a 6.1 km route.

BVG says that within one year, the four electric buses on this line will travel a total of approximately 200,000 km, saving 260 tons of CO2 emissions.

NYC's metro gradual transition to CBTC (Communications-Based Train Control) @NYCTSubway

Posted On Tuesday, 29 September 2015

This small half-documentary half-promotional video has a special charm: watch how the electronic equipment from ancient times is still used in New York, one of the largest and busiest subway networks in the world. It still uses the 1930's famous meter cables and relays to control the trains and operate the route signs and stations.

Use an electric system almost a century old in a city such as New York has its own complications: no spare parts to replace relays, valves and other components and there is only one company that makes some of them on demand. The rest is recycled as much as possible each time it is "modernized" by any plausible alternative. Such is the shortage that the 1930's original copper cables are kept for future repairs.

Replace the old systems for modern ones is a tremendous cost, not to mention the inconvenience of closing tube lines for several days. Although networks like New York would benefit from CBTC equipment the reality is that this transition can only be done gradually in a very slow pace.

the multiple trends affecting the car industry

Posted On Thursday, 24 September 2015

Since the late 19th century, the invention of automobiles, airplanes, subways, and other new forms of transportation have profoundly shaped where and how we live.  Cars led to suburban flight by enabling longer commutes, while modern transit systems helped facilitate a more recent wave of urbanization. This brings us to the 21st century, we are watching the confluence of several paths.

Many in tech proclaimed 2014 “The Year of Uber.”  In 12 months, Uber expanded from 66 to 266 cities, from 29 to 53 countries, served 140 million rides, and raised $3 billion in new funding en route to a $40 billion valuation. Meanwhile, Lyft scaled to 60 cities and racked up $332.5 million, reaching a $1 billion valuation.We should not forget other companies already stated in this website such as Koolicar, WeTruck or Blablacar. Meanwhile, declining vehicle ownership opens up possibilities for complimentary business models.

The last successful American car startup was founded 111 years ago: Ford. Morgan Stanley calls Tesla "the world's most important car company," and a 2014 nationwide survey found that  Tesla's Model S was the "Most Loved Vehicle in America." CEO Elon Musk continues to steer Tesla’s production line down market to attract a broader segment of the car buying population, the promise of more affordable mass market electric vehicles starts to seem more attainable. This trend opens up the potential for startups specializing in low-end electric vehicles.

Connected cars
As vehicle data gets mined, aggregated, and brought online, new opportunities for innovations that make driving safer, friendlier, and more efficient continue to emerge. Some examples of this technology can be found in this website, under the "smart city" tag.

Autonomous vehicles
Autonomous transportation will impact everything from highway traffic patterns to inner city congestion to commercial parking infrastructure, with major implications for city planning requirements. Self-driving cars also make commuting more convenient, which may help to ease overcrowding in big cities as more people opt to live in outlying neighborhoods.  As autonomous vehicles continue to evolve, new opportunities will emerge for entrepreneurs to innovate up and down the tech stack to ensure these vehicles operate safely and smoothly. Google is currently dominating this technology, but there are also other main players in this game such as Uber.

Meanwhile, we need to programe these vehicles to understand the unpredictable human behaviour; from cyclists to drivers, as well as taking ethical decisions.

North Texas puts up more high-speed rail money

Posted On Wednesday, 23 September 2015

High speed trains are poised to link Fort Worth to Houston and other metropolitan areas in Texas, following the approval by the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) of US$4.5 million up to 2018 for planning, design, project development and preliminary engineering. The plan calls for US$1.5 million per year to be spent on these activities starting in 2016; the current plan is to deliver high speed rail in the Dallas-Fort Worth-to-Houston corridor by 2021.

road diet information

Posted On Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Coming back to how bike lanes actually reduce traffic delays and why 3.00m wide lanes are safer than wider ones at the city, today we have a video to help understanding the concept as well as the Road Diet Informational Guide published by USA Federal Highway Administration (mirror)

As cities across the US build bike lanes, their decisions are often seen as a move to give space to bikes at the expense of cars. But data tells us this isn't always true: In New York City, for instance, bike lanes have actually shortened cars' travel times on several streets, while simultaneously encouraging people to bike and making it safer.

roads under extreme water conditions

Posted On Thursday, 17 September 2015

It is well known that civil engineers manage to build roads under extreme conditions. In addition, these conditions might include constructing roads over water.

However, it is not about building bridges; it is constructing over water.


Long and cold winters allow engineers to link remote places through frozen lakes. The Tibbitt to Contwoyto ice road is a 600 km road, where 500 km are built over lakes, allowing the transportation by road of materials from the mines. Loaded trucks are allowed to drive at 25kph, while unloaded trucks can do it at 60 kph.

Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road is another example of Canada's winter roads, being the first public road to cross the Arctic Circle in 1979.

Depending on the weather conditions, there can be up to six ice roads in Estonia:
  • Haapsalu-Noarootsi; 3,5km long route
  • Rohuküla-Sviby; 9,5km long route
  • Rohuküla-Heltermaa; 25km long route
  • Munalaid-Kihnu; 12km long route
  • Kuivastu-Virtsu; 10-12km long route
  • Hiiumaa-Saaremaa; 18-22km long route

It is forbidden to drive between 25-40 kph to avoid resonance problems with the ice.

The isle of Noirmoutier in west of France, is linked to the to continental France through the Passage de Gois ou Gôa, a submersible road flooded twice a day due to the hide tide.

Los Angeles' new mobility plan 2035

Posted On Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Mobility Plan’s “key policy initiatives” all steer the city in a new direction, one in which the car is no longer the be-all and end-all of transportation, including:
  •  - Establishing new standards for streets design that “will provide safe and efficient transportation for pedestrians (especially for vulnerable users such as children, seniors and the disabled), bicyclists, transit riders, and car and truck drivers.”
  •  - Using data to make transportation decisions, with safety, public health, and equity as top criteria.
  •  - Linking land use and transportation policy.
  •  - Making equity a prime consideration in transportation planning.
  •  - Reducing greenhouse gas emissions “through a more sustainable transportation system.”
  •  - Expanding “the role of the street as a public place.”
The plan also calls for a “Vision Zero” approach to reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Currently, according to the city’s figures, more than 36,000 city residents are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes each year.

Fundamentally, the plan moves away from level of service (LOS) to the vehicle miles travelled (VMT) with the goal of reducing the number of miles driven by the city’s residents. This LOS/VMT replacement is in line with California's movement as already reported last month in this website.

UK tests roads that recharge electric cars while moving

Posted On Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Off-road trial of "dynamic wireless power transfer" technology in the UK is expected to start later this year and run for 18 months.

In basic terms, the system has power lines connected to coils under the surface of a road, which then transmit the electricity through the air to a receiver coil in a car. Simply driving down the stretch of road in a properly-equipped electric or hybrid-electric vehicle will power up the batteries.

Further info

Ingeniero de Transporte, Ruben M.Cenzano, Transportation Engineer 

Slovak satellite based truck tolling

Posted On Thursday, 10 September 2015

Following its enlargement last year to more than 17,750km, Slovakia’s electronic toll collection system covers more than 40% of its roads.

All vehicles over 3.5tonnes are required to pay the tolls which not only apply to motorways and express-ways but also first, second and third class roads. Toll pricing uses a distance-based model using the satellite technology for positioning the on-board units.

The system was implemented in only 11 months as there is no need to install tolling gantries -estimated 4,000 gantries to cover the same network with a toll collection system of equal efficiency.

As there are no gantries to build, satellite-based tolling systems offer both financial and practical advantages and in Slovakia’s case the authorities opted for a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM) model, shifting all responsibility to the contractor -SkyToll.

Both stationary and mobile enforcement are used to detect violators, with 47 enforcement gantries throughout the country and an additional 30 mobile units. These detect where there is no on-board unit or if it is incorrectly set with, for instance, the wrong number of axles.

high-occupancy lane to high-occupancy toll lane through public–private partnerships @VAExpressLanes

Posted On Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Drivers in the Washington DC area are realising time savings following the opening of HOT (high-occupancy toll) lanes on the I-95 -and not only those paying to use the new facility. Last December new HOT lanes were opened along 46.6km, converting HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes to HOT lanes through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP); through the use of a 76-year PPP, the authorities in Virginia has leveraged private investment to finance more than 90% of the project.

This re-designated HOV to HOT reveal time savings for those remaining on the free-use lanes. In February 2015, drivers in the regular lanes have seen their travel times reduced by between 6 and 23 minutes.

new report identifies 21 actions to help address pedestrian safety

Posted On Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A new report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) examines the current pedestrian safety data and research and outlines 21 steps to address pedestrian safety.

The report, Everyone Walks Understanding and Addressing Pedestrian Safety, looks at legislative, enforcement and educational initiatives, providing 21 key takeaways to consider to help curb pedestrian-involved motor vehicles crashes, injuries and fatalities.

Many pedestrian fatalities involve motorists who became unintended pedestrians due to vehicle breakdowns or emergency responders who are struck on the side of the road, while alcohol, speed and distraction play a role in pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes as well.

Distraction’s impact on pedestrian safety is not just a motorist problem. The report cites research that points to an uptick in distracted walkers. While the number of pedestrians killed while using a cell phone increased from less than one per cent to 3.6 per cent between 2004 and 2010, it’s estimated that as many as two million pedestrian injuries were related to cell phone use in 2010.

USA city installs truck side guards to aid pedestrian safety

Posted On Thursday, 3 September 2015

The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts is partnering with Volpe, the National Transportation Systems Center, to install truck side guards on city-owned trucks in order to enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The city intends to install these side guards on heavy-duty vehicles in an effort to lead by example in Massachusetts and to encourage private entities to do the same.

Side guards, devices intended to sweep aside a pedestrian or cyclist in a side-impact crash, rather than being swept underneath the vehicle, are installed on large trucks. These are said to protect cyclists and pedestrians from falling underneath the vehicle, and helped reduce cyclist fatalities by 61% and pedestrian fatalities by 20% in side-impact crashes with trucks in the United Kingdom after the guards were introduced in 1986.

call for greater education for users of smart motorways

Posted On Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A survey conducted by the UK Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) on the introduction of smart motorways found 71% of drivers said they would feel less safe on a motorway with no hard shoulder than a motorway with one.

Smart motorways were officially introduced in 2014 to replace Managed Motorways as the solution to the nation’s congested motorways but concerns have been raised over their safety. Smart motorways utilise variable speed limits and all-lane running, with lane control, overhead gantries and emergency refuge areas.

The IAM has expressed concern that widespread confusion still exists amongst motorway users on how best to use them, saying that Highways England must analyse incident data on a continuous basis and ensure that any lessons learned from the real-world use of smart motorways are implemented quickly. It claims that the smartest way to build awareness would be to allow learner drivers to use motorways under expert supervision.

The IAM has produced a set of tips on using Smart motorways, and how to react on seeing different signals:
  • A red cross without flashing beacons: The hard shoulder is only for use in an emergency or breakdown.
  • A speed limit inside a red circle: It is absolutely mandatory and may have cameras enforcing it.
  • A blank signal: Usual motorway rules apply.
  • A white arrow with flashing beacons: This applies to all lanes and means you should move into the lane which the arrow points to.
  • A red cross with flashing beacons: You should not continue to use the lane.
  • A national speed limit sign is shown: The national speed limit, 70mph maximum, applies to all lanes apart from the hard shoulder.
Pay attention to the overhead gantries as they provide information on traffic conditions and lane access for the road ahead. The signals are:
  • Controlled motorway – these have three or more lanes with variable speed limits. Hard shoulder use is strictly for emergency use only.
  • Hard shoulder running – the hard shoulder will be opened at busy times and the speed limit will be reduced. Don’t use the hard shoulder unless overhead signs show that you can do so.
  • All-lane running – there is no hard shoulder on these sections of the motorway. Obey the variable speed limits and do not stop on the motorway. In the event of an emergency, use an emergency refuge area, motorway service area or exit at the next junction.

EU votes in favour of European emergency call system -eCall

Posted On Tuesday, 1 September 2015

In line with the The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) statement about new safety technologies to reduce casualties -already reported in March, the European Parliament voted in favour of eCall regulation which requires all new cars be equipped with eCall technology from April 2018. In the event of a serious accident, eCall automatically dials 112 - Europe’s single emergency number.

It communicates the vehicle’s exact location to emergency services, the time of incident and the direction of travel (most important on motorways), even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. An eCall can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in the car, for example by a witness of a serious accident.

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