Rubén M.Cenzano

Chartered Civil Engineer specialised in Transportation

Ingeniero de Caminos especialista en Transporte

public transport (@septa) meets @uber to fill the “last mile”

Posted On Friday, 27 May 2016

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) partners from this week with Uber to find new ways to fill the “last mile” gap between home and the train. In this pilot partnership between SEPTA and Uber, SEPTA patrons can hail an Uber ride share at a 40% discount for travel to and from 11 Regional Rail stations.

To receive the discount, the trip must begin or end in the station parking lot. Exact addresses for the stations, which you will need for pick-up and drop-off purposes, can be found on SEPTA’s Uber partnership website. Uber will provide data on usage and distance travelled to SEPTA on a confidential basis; that data will in turn allow the agency to evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot program, which is designed both to increase ridership and to relieve pressure on the parking lots at these stations. The stations were chosen because they combine high ridership with limited parking availability. Should the pilot prove successful, SEPTA and Uber may extend the program and even expand it to more stations.

This announcement is in line with the recent study from APTA (reported on this website), where it was found out that rather than competing with public transportation, shared-ride services such as Uber and Lyft, car sharing networks like Zipcar and bike-sharing networks like Indego promote public transportation use.

Update 31/05/16: Uber fares are to be subsidised by up to 25% by four Florida cities together with Altamonte Springs which launched the pilot project in March. Further info.

seven ways cities are fighting congestion

Posted On Thursday, 26 May 2016

Congestion is plain frustrating. It’s expensive, and it places an enormous strain on the environment, on cities, and on the people who live and work in them. But there’s a way out; Transport Engineers all over the world are coming up with ways to tackle the causes of congestion, clear the clog and re-instate flow, as Xerox states:

 1) Road capacities are maxed out; it is needed to invest in public transport and discouraging car ownership and driving (more roads don't mean less traffic)

 2) No real alternatives to driving; there is a clear need to encourage alternative modes of travel

 3) Cash-based toll collection; introduce all-electronic open road tolling so traffic can flow better (I would rename this as embracing technology)

 4) Driver behaviour; in dense traffic, congestion can happen for no obvious reason, so variable speed limits are an effective way to regulate traffic dynamically (I would call this as Intelligent Transportation Systems; ITS)

 5) No priority for public transport;

 6) Traffic signals aren’t optimized; time to adjust dynamically traffic signals

 7) Drivers looking for parking spaces; it is time to adopt dynamic pricing and customer apps.

trust me; I'm an engineer

Posted On Thursday, 12 May 2016

[EN] Today, May 12th, Spain celebrate Saint Dominic de la Calzada; the Patron Saint of the Spanish Civil Engineers and one of the precursors of Camino de Santiago a.k.a. the Route of Santiago de Compostela.

Nothing better to celebrate it than a WTF video.


[ES] Hoy, 12 de mayo, se celebra Santo Domingo de la Calzada, el Patrón de los ingenieros civiles (ingenieros civiles, obras públicas y caminos) y precursor del Camino de Santiago.

Nada mejor que un vídeo WTF para celebrarlo.

GM and @Lyft to test driverless e-taxi

Posted On Wednesday, 11 May 2016

General Motors and Lyft will test a self-driving taxi service in an undisclosed US city within a year. According to the time-scales provided, this would happen few months later that the pilot test in Singapore lead by a start-up and already reported on this website.

GM recently invested US $500 million into Lyft, a ride-hailing app that’s like Uber but smaller and only based on the US market; GM is also plunking down $1 billion to acquire Cruise Automation, whose technology it plans to use in the robotaxis. And, to complete the high-tech showcase, the company also plans to provide Lyft with its new all-electric Chevy Bolt. 

In the meantime, Google—after failing to sign a deal with Ford—is reportedly teaming up with Fiat Chrysler.

car or e-bike? say velomobile

Posted On Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Mikael Kjellman is an outdoor adventure sports who works as a design engineer and a bike lover. He has designed and built a four-wheeled e-bike with full fabric body to keep dry and warm in all-weathers. He has used it for the last year and now he is considering to move a step further and start a mass-process, being currently looking for funds (this website has no relation with this project and is not asking for any contribution at all. It is a mere information provided without further responsibility).

He claims that his vehicle has approximately the same seating position and seat height as a small car, allowing easy access and good visibility in traffic. It has four wheels to be narrow enough for bicycle paths but still be stable in the curves. It has a full waterproof body to keep you warm and dry in any weather, heated windshield, soft seat with back support, air suspension and studded tires in winter. A small trunk for shopping bags and a tow bar for a bike trailer. The motor and control system are from a standard e-bike system and should make it a street legal bike in most countries. And may then be operated on bicycle paths and without a drivers license.

Regardless where this initiative will end, it is quite clear that the vehicle market is evolving in the last few years.

public transport at the heart of the new mobility world, says @UITPnews

Posted On Thursday, 5 May 2016

With space increasingly at a premium in today’s cities, high quality public transport combined with a broader mix of mobility services is the answer to cutting car dependency, according to the latest publication from the International Association of Public Transport (UITP).

The document, ‘Public transport at the heart of the integrated mobility solution’, claims that the key to cutting urban car dependency is an integrated combination of sustainable mobility services. Cities with strong public transport, complemented with services such as car- and bike-sharing, shared taxi services and ride-sharing offer citizens convenient and flexible travel options.

The paper says urban space is at a premium: private cars are parked 95% of their lifetime and during the 5% of the time they are driven, are much less space-efficient compared to public transport, walking and cycling. With increasing urbanisation, mobility demand will continue to rise: public transport, particularly on major corridors and in peak hours, will remain the only viable solution for cities. 

Although new mobility services such as ride selling apps (Uber, Lyft), free-floating car-sharing (car2go) or ridesharing apps (Blablacar) play a valuable role in helping to reduce car ownership, UITP says that alone they do not have the capacity or capability to meet every journey need or solve congestion issues.

These services thus depend on efficient public transport in order to function well. In Paris, 65% of Uber trips start or end within 200m of a metro station. In Berlin, free-floating car-sharing is well-developed but still represents just 0.1% of total trips. This is precisely the point, though: car usage decreases because car-sharing users walk, cycle and use public transport for the majority of their trips and use a car only when necessary.

"Public transport accounts for 1.2 billion trips across the globe each day", said Alain Flausch, UITP secretary general. "It is this vital backbone role that it plays – in combination with new mobility services - that will ultimately offer more flexible and convenient travel options that will help our cities to become less car-dependent".

transit street design guide published @ITEhq @NACTO

Posted On Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has published its Transit Street Design Guide, produced in collaboration with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).

ITE has adopted guiding principles that seek ways to improve safety and mobility in the movement of people and goods in the surface transportation system. Integral to that success is the accommodation of all forms of land uses and the associated transportation needs, be they residential, business, recreational, or otherwise.

The concepts presented in the NACTO Guide provide a menu of alternatives for urban areas to adopt in creating people friendly public rights of ways which support both motorised and non-motorised mobility for all. These include many issues faced by ITE members in the planning, design, and operation of transit streets, transit stations and stops, transit lanes and transit ways and intersections.

@Uber and @Lyft users more likely to use public transport frequently

Posted On Tuesday, 3 May 2016

When ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft burst onto the scene, they were talking about disrupting the decades-old mobility networks that preceded them. Their targets fell squarely on taxis, but public transport felt the heat too: would people stop hopping on buses if they could summon a ride with a tap of the finger?
The president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the industry group that represents all those public transportation agencies, announced that, “Together with companies like Lyft and Uber, we are integral to creating a dynamic multimodal lifestyle.” APTA had just unveiled a study showing that ride-sharing and car-sharing services can play a valuable role in complementing the fixed routes of traditional transportation agencies.

The APTA study confirmed with data what many users of shared mobility apps intuitively know: they don’t serve the same purpose as public transport. In particular, riders most frequently turn to ride-sourcing apps for social trips, rather than commuting. The peak demand in a week lands between 10pm and 4am on weekends, when public transport has stopped running or operates infrequently enough to be inconvenient.

When comparing people who use public transport with those who pair it with newer forms of shared mobility, the latter group drove less, was less likely to buy a new car, and was more likely to save money on transportation. The new mobility startups are linked to a lifestyle that’s less dependent on car ownership even compared to people who use public transport frequently. That means if public transportation agencies want to help people get around without cars, they might want to encourage their riders to check out more of these auxiliary transportation options, specially in America due to the low density population compared to Europe or Asia.

The four main findings of the study can be summarised as:
 1) The more people use shared modes, the more likely they are to use public transport, own fewer cars, and spend less on transportation overall.
 2) Shared modes complement public transport, enhancing urban mobility.
 3) Shared modes will continue to grow in significance, and public entities should engage with them to ensure that benefits are widely and equitably shared.
 4) The public sector and private mobility operators are eager to collaborate to improve paratranport using emerging approaches and technology. 

Also, 20% of those who have started using shared transportation said they postponed buying a car, 21% sold a car and didn’t replace it, and 18% decided not to buy a car at all.

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