USDOT Region V Regional University Transportation Center

NEXTRANS Seminar Series

  • Moshe Ben-Akiva, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 3 - 4:20 p.m.

    Travel Demand Modeling for Congestion Pricing Analysis

    Purdue University, Lawson Computer Science Building, Room 1142

    Abstract: In this seminar, Dr. Ben-Akiva described recent developments to the following models used to predict users' response to congestion pricing: discrete choice, travel time variability and time-of-travel choice.

    Bio: Dr. Ben-Akiva is the Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Director of the MIT Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Lab. His research areas include demand and network modeling, market research and econometrics. He has developed many of the discrete choice and demand modeling techniques that are being widely applied in a variety of disciplines and industries.

  • Michael D. Meyer, Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 3:30 - 4:20 p.m.

    Climate Change and Transportation: Challenges and Opportunities for the Transportation Sector

    Purdue University, Civil Engineering Building 1144

    Abstract: Dr. Meyer discussed ongoing research looking at the potential threats of climate change (sea level rise, storm surges, higher/lower precipitation levels, higher/lower temperature levels, etc.) on the transportation system in the U.S. and internationally. He presented examples of government agencies from around the world taking steps to protect transportation systems against climate-induced stresses. An analysis framework being developed as part of an NCHRP project he is directing was offered as a conceptual framework of how adaptation planning can be undertaken. Dr. Meyer also discussed the FHWA Gulf Coast 2 project focused on developing a more detailed engineering approach to the strategies that might be needed in the Gulf Coast to protect vital transportation systems.

    Bio: Dr. Meyer holds the Frederick R. Dickerson Chair, is Director of the Georgia Transportation Institute, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and former Chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has written over 180 technical articles and has authored or co-authored numerous texts on transportation planning and policy, including a college textbook. His publications have examined many issues in transportation ranging from land use/transportation interactions to freight and logistics planning to climate change.

  • Yu (Marco) Nie, Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

    Friday, April 1, 2011, 1:30 - 3 p.m.

    Modeling Heterogeneous Risk-Taking Behavior in Route Choice: A Stochastic Dominance Approach

    Purdue University, Civil Engineering Building 1252

    Abstract: Transportation systems are affected by uncertainties of various sorts. As a result, reliability has become a critical dimension in user experience of transportation services. In this talk, a unified approach is proposed to model heterogeneous risk-taking behavior in route choice based on the theory of stochastic dominance (SD). Also, two applications of the SD approach will be introduced. In the first, the first-order SD is used to solve the percentile user-equilibrium traffic assignment problem, in which travelers are assumed to choose routes to minimize the percentile travel time, i.e. the travel time budget that ensures their preferred probability of an on-time arrival. For each application, a formulation will be given, followed by a brief discussion of solution algorithms.

    Bio: Yu (Marco) Nie is an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University. Dr. Nie's research covers a variety of topics in the areas of transportation systems analysis, traffic simulation and traffic flow theory.

  • Gebisa Ejeta, Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 2:30 - 4:20 p.m.

    Global Food Security and the Role of Transportation

    Purdue University, Civil Engineering Building 1144

    Abstract: This seminar presented various dimensions of global food security including the importance of storage, distribution and transportation, with particular interest on developing countries.

    Bio: Dr. Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America, and a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy. Among his many awards, Dr. Ejeta was the recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize; and a national medal of honor from the president of Ethiopia. Dr. Ejeta was born and raised in a small rural community in west-central Ethiopia. He completed his early education in his native country including a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Alemaya College in 1973. He attended graduate school at Purdue University, earning his Masters (1976) and Ph.D. (1978) in Plant Breeding & Genetics.

  • Sankaran Mahadevan, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 3:30 - 4:20 p.m.

    Quantitative Methods for Risk Assessment and Management

    Purdue University

    Abstract: This seminar explored risk assessment and management from a researcher's perspective. Using techniques from across engineering and management disciplines, Dr. Mahadevan discussed the value of a multidisciplinary approach to solving issues of risk and damage as they relate to transportation.

    Bio: Dr. Sankaran Mahadevan is a professor at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, with a joint appointment in civil and environmental engineering and mechanical engineering. Dr. Mahadevan's research interests are in reliability and uncertainty analysis methods, material degradation, structural health monitoring, design optimization, and model uncertainty. His research has been funded by a variety of organizations from both the public and private sectors.

  • Michael Shiffer, TransLink, British Columbia

    Monday, June 28, 2010, 3 - 4:30 p.m.

    Reshaping Transit Planning in Metro Vancouver through Dynamic Illustration, Solid Evidence and Careful Conversations

    The Ohio State University, Hitchcock Hall, Room 410

    Abstract: How can "smart" buses, rail stations and roadways digitally feed maps and a planning process? How can an intermodal transport network help to shape future demand along with complimentary land use? Where does public participation make up for the shortcomings of technology? With constrained resources, the large transportation systems of North America face significant challenges. Yet, new applications of information technology present significant opportunity for strategic decision support and improved planning processes. With a focus on Vancouver, BC, this presentation describes how transportation agencies can leverage new data sources, multimedia tools and participatory techniques to reshape their approach to planning. Finally, the presentation will emphasize the recent successes surrounding the delivery of transit services during the 2010 Winter Olympics and recent transit and roadway infrastructure improvements that will have a legacy for generations to come.

    Bio: Dr. Michael Shiffer is Vice President for Planning at TransLink. He is responsible for planning activities that support the major roads, bridges, bikeways, freight and public transit networks in the Vancouver region. Dr. Shiffer was formerly Vice President for Planning and Development at the Chicago Transit Authority. For over six years in Chicago, Dr. Shiffer led the strategic and operations planning efforts of the second largest public transit system in the U.S.

  • Xuesong Zhou, University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 3 - 4 p.m.

    High-speed Passenger Trains on Freight Tracks: Modeling Issues On Capacity Analysis, Train Timetabling and Real-time Dispatching

    Purdue University, Civil Engineering 1144

    Abstract: There are two different modes of introducing a new high-speed passenger train system: 1) constructing a dedicated high-speed passenger train corridor, or 2) operating high-speed passenger trains on existing freight rail lines. The first mode has been widely used in Asia and Europe. The second mixed-use strategy is now considered an economically viable option for the U.S. to initiate and accelerate its high-speed rail services. This talk addresses three important operational elements in the context of shared-use tracks: capacity estimation, train timetabling and real-time train dispatching. The existing optimization and simulation-based models are first reviewed from the perspective of operations research. Then there is a discussion of potential scheduling complexities between passenger train timetabling and on-demand freight train dispatching.

    Bio: Dr. Xuesong Zhou is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah. He previously served as a Traffic Data Architect and Senior Software Engineer at Dash Navigation, Inc., designing and developing the first commercialized internet-connected GPS navigation system in the U.S. He is also the co-inventor of the Key 2 Safe Driving technology. Dr. Zhou's research interests include dynamic traffic assignment, real-time traffic prediction and rail scheduling. In 1995, he designed the first train timetabling system for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway in China. He is currently the Co-Chair of the IEEE ITS Society Technical Committee on Traffic and Travel Management and is a member of the TRB Committee on Transportation Network Modeling (ADB30).

  • Samer M. Madanat, University of California at Berkeley

    Friday, May 7, 2010, 2 - 3 p.m.

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1105 Siebel Center

    Reliability-Based Optimization of Maintenance and Replacement Policies For a Heterogenous System of Infrastructure Facilities

    Abstract: This research addresses the determination of optimal maintenance and replacement policies for a heterogeneous system of facilities. The problem of optimizing maintenance and replacement policies at the system level is formulated in a reliability-based framework, based on policies that are optimal at the facility level. The facility-level policies are determined using a finite-state, finite horizon Markov decision process in which the state of the Markov chain contains information on the history of maintenance and deterioration. Optimality conditions for the continuous-case system-level problem are explained intuitively. A numerical study shows that the results obtained in the discrete-case implementation of the solution are valid approximations of the continuous-case results. The computational efficiency of the system-level solution makes the formulation suitable for systems of realistic sizes.

    Bio: Samer Madanat is the Xenel Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and the Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He received a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Jordan in 1986, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Transportation Systems from MIT in 1988 and 1991 respectively. His research and teaching interests are in the area of Transportation Infrastructure Management, with an emphasis on modeling facility performance and the development of optimal management policies under uncertainty. He has published extensively in refereed archival journals and conference proceedings. In 2000, he received the Science and Technology grant from the University of California Office of the President, an award given annually to one faculty member in the UC system. Since 2001, he has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems. Several of his former students are faculty members at universities in the US and abroad.

  • Valerie Webb, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

    Monday, October 26, 2009, 2-3:30 p.m.

    Customer Loyalty to Public Transportation Agencies: Travelers explore their options, have you explored yours?

    The Ohio State University, Hitchcock Hall

    Abstract: This research aims to provide a more thorough understanding of customer loyalty to public transportation systems over other available modes. Loyal customers reduce costs for an organization by serving as free, mobile marketing agents who recommend the service to others, and are less influenced by competitive marketing strategies. As is done in other industries, structural equation modeling is used in this study to determine the aspects of a transit system that are most influential in a customer's decision to continue using the service for their travel needs. Given the nationwide budgetary issues that many transit agencies are currently facing, identifying aspects of the provided service to which improvements would yield the highest return on investment in terms of customer retention is very timely. Initial results show that riders' perceptions of the transit agency as an organization (i.e., effective management, customer-friendliness, etc.) are a key element in the loyalty puzzle. Also, there appears to be loyalty differences between those who choose to take transit over other available modes and those who take transit out of necessity. As an undergraduate at The Ohio State University, Valerie was unsure what life after graduation had in store for her. Through a few classes, discussions with her advisers, and a little investigation, the field of public transportation caught her attention and she decided to continue her education with a focus in this area. A little under two years later, she is now writing her thesis and finishing up her graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Between diverse course selections, various research projects, and an internship opportunity at the Chicago Transit Authority, Valerie feels graduate school has exposed her to new thought-processes, research areas, and career opportunities. In this talk, in addition to presenting her research, Valerie is equally interested in discussing graduate school and transportation career paths with students.

  • Venky Shankar, Penn State University (State College, PA)

    Thursday, November 6, 2008, 3:30 - 5 p.m.

    Consideration of Frameworks for Incorporating Accident Severity Heterogeneity in Traffic Safety Modeling

    Purdue University, Civil Engineering 1144

    Abstract: This talk presented methodological perspectives on frameworks for addressing severity heterogeneity that occurs in reported traffic accident injury outcomes. An empirical context was described to illustrate a data-centric view on this framework. Preliminary results from sample model structures were discussed.

    Shankar Penn State

  • Michael Cassidy, University of California at Berkeley

    October 30, 2008

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    December 15, 2008

    The Ohio State University

    Managing Cross-Modal Conflicts on Mulitmodal Transport Networks

    Abstract: This seminar examines the disruptive vehicular interactions that arise when different modes, such as cars, buses, and bicycles, share the same roadway; and describes how the thoughtful management of these cross-modal conflicts can enhance accessibility for all users of a transport system, while encouraging the use of greener travel modes.

  • Yoram Shiftan, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    The Use of Activity-Based Modeling to Analyze the Effect of Land-Use and Public Transport Policies on Travel Behavior

    The Ohio State University, Hitchcock Hall

    Abstract: Land-use policies are often suggested as a means to mitigate transportation problems, and some regions have tried to implement such policies as transit-oriented developments, mixed land use, different concentrations schemes, various forms of urban design, and more broadly Smart Growth. These policies are motivated by the assumption, also supported by numerous studies that residents of neighborhoods with a higher level of density, mixed land-use, transit access, and pedestrian friendliness drive less than do residents of neighborhoods with lower levels of these characteristics. However, our understanding of the effects of the various land-use policies on travel behavior is limited. There are also questions of self-selectivity: do land-use policies affect travel behavior or do people with different travel-behavior preferences select different types of neighborhood in which to live. Advances in the study of travel behavior have led to the development of activity-based models that treat travel as a derivation of the demand for personal activities. Travel choices, therefore, become part of a broader activity-scheduling process based on modeling the demand for activities rather than merely trips. The explicit modeling of activities and the consequent tours and trips enable a more credible analysis of responses to policies and their effect on traffic and air quality. Several studies have already used this approach to analyze various transport policies including various auto restrain and transit policies. The theoretical framework of activity-based models starts with urban and land-use development as inputs; however, there is a need to translate this framework to analyze specific land-use policies. This paper discusses the advantages and potential of activity-based models for analyzing the effect of land-use policies on travel behavior. It starts with showing the use of activity-based models for transit and auto-restrain policies and then suggests improvements that will extend the general framework to achieve a better understanding of travelers' responses to various land-use policies. The improved activity-based approach is illustrated through a case study based on the Portland activity-based model combined with a stated-preference residential choice model. A package of land-use policies – including improved land use, school quality, safety, and transit service in the city center – is introduced, and its effect on household redistribution and regional travel tested.

  • Hani Mahmassani, Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Regime Change: Uncongesting Traffic Flow Through Dynamic Pricing and Real-Time Information

    Purdue University Campus, Civil Engineering 1144

    Abstract: This talk will highlight the role of pricing and real-time information in the management of transportation networks and delivery of transportation services, and discuss methodological implications and approaches for both off-line evaluations of these strategies as well as real-time operational decision-making in this context. Developments in dynamic network modeling tools will be discussed, with particular focus on new methods to evaluate the impact of congestion pricing in networks with heterogeneous users. Models of user route choice and trip timing decisions in response to pricing, information and travel time reliability are incorporated in simulation-based dynamic assignment algorithms. Strategies for anticipatory pricing in conjunction with online network state prediction tools will also be discussed.

    Mahmassani Northwestern

  • Shinya Kikuchi, Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)

    Tuesday, April, 1, 2008

    Making Decision, Judgment, and Adjustment under Unclear Circumstances in Transportation Analysis

    Purdue University Campus, Civil Engineering 2123

    Abstract: Transportation planning decisions take place usually in the setting of the vague multi-objective and multi-constraint environment. The objectives are usually expressed in natural language and the priorities among them are not defined clearly. Many constraints have some degree of flexibility. Decisions in this environment must be sensible to the desire of each stakeholder; and as such, the mathematical process should be faithful to the concerns of each stakeholder as much as possible. This presentation discusses the issues of uncertainty in transportation analysis first, and it is followed by a presentation of the proposed optimization scheme (fuzzy optimization) that incorporates the concerns of the stakeholders in a conversational manner. The scheme is applied to the problems of resource allocation, parameter adjustment, and the multi-objective situation problem. The outcome of the scheme is interpreted in the context of possibility measure. The presentation leads to the general discussion about how to deal with uncertainty in transportation analysis.


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