Let’s perform an experiment. Some people like to judge public transportation investments based on their farebox recovery ratio or the percentage of operating costs paid by passengers as opposed to subsidies or other revenue. The naive assumption is if a public transportation system has a high ratio, it is a good system. However, fairbox recovery ratios may be low because of other priorities such as providing essential transportation services to low income people or maintaining service late into the night when ridership is lower. In this experiment, let’s do the same for roads. (A couple caveats: 1. This is unfair because fairbox recovery ratios only include operating costs and we will look at road construction costs and 2. Similar to other priorities for public transportation, roads may be "unprofitable" but still provide other benefits like a new carpool lane for express buses.)
- Burger - Father’s Office
- California - California Chicken Cafe
- Caribbean - Cha Cha Chicken
- Chinese - Dragon Palace (closed)
- Ice Cream - Sweet Rose Creamery
- Italian - Bay Cities Italian Deli
- Japanese - Noma
- Mexican - El Cholo
- Thai - Thai Dishes Wilshire
When people choose between driving and public transportation for urban trips, travel time (and public transportation frequency) is the most influential factor in their decision. Here we use Python to evaluate public transportation timetable speed between stops to look for slow spots.
A four-step transportation model predicts the traffic load on a network given data about a region. These models are used to evaluate the impacts of land-use and transportation projects. In this example, we will create a model representing California as if it acted as a city.
Over the past two months I have spent several days studying the cycling conditions at El Camino College. While offering affordable parking for staff and students is important for removing financial barriers preventing students from getting to El Camino, I believe you should also dedicate resources to improving cycling at and around the college. Many students cannot afford a car, would rather avoid the expense of driving to school, or enjoy the health benefits of cycling. However, only a small percentage of staff and students cycle to El Camino because of the poor conditions at and around the college. Also, as I am sure you are well aware, constructing parking structures is expensive for the district. Less money could be spent making cycling safer and more convenient for staff and students therefore reducing the need for parking. Below are my initial impressions on the current conditions and potential short-term and long-term improvements. Thank you for your time and consideration.
– David Bailey
Our streets are often not designed for bikes either. Traffic engineers design right and left turn lanes to allow turning vehicles to queue and wait for breaks in conflicting traffic without impacting traffic. After discussing left turns in my last article, let's look at right turns. The configuration in the picture below is common.
The bike lanes end to make room for right turn lanes and restart after the intersection. Ironically the intersection is where cyclists need good bike infrastructure the most. However, we can improve the situation for cyclists without rebuilding every intersection by allowing bicycles to travel straight through right then lanes. Currently bicycles are required to merge into the straight lane, where traffic is often traveling much faster than the bicycle can, and then merge back into the bike lane. This endangers cyclists and places the responsibility on them for traveling straight. Instead, the responsibility should be on right turning vehicles to safely merge into the turn lane. Many cyclists currently ride this way because of the safety benefits. However, this behavior is illegal according to California MVC 21461.
The US likes center turn lanes. They provide median space to help reduce head-on collisions, and they allow for left turning vehicles to move out of the way of through traffic when waiting for a break in oncoming traffic. However, these lanes use quite a bit of road space because they are rarely used and they encourage speeding by widening the perceived road space. Narrower raised medians or center running light rail tracks can provide the same safety benefits with better use of space.
In the case of raised medians, a narrower median often allows for a bike lane on either side of the road. This 'lane diet' is similar to a road diet. In the case of light rail tracks, it is common for cities to prohibit left turns across light rail tracks to prevent car-train crashes. For example, Santa Monica prohibits left turns across Expo Line tracks on Colorado Avenue. This configuration requires drivers to travel over a mile before being able to turn. Many drivers ignore these restrictions and turn in front of trains. Sometimes this causes train-car collisions. An alternate configuration that allows left turns at all intersections is to create a new, exclusive signal phase for trains and parallel pedestrians. This configuration, popular in Munich, Germany, provides a safer intersection because all vehicle traffic is required to stop for the train. Also, the width of the tracks provides a space for a now-legal left turning vehicle to wait for a break in oncoming traffic without disrupting through traffic.
Last, I must note that some fire departments may raise concerns about this configuration because they use center turn lanes when responding to emergencies. However I hope these safety conscious departments would appreciate the increased safety benefits of this configuration.
|What People Think||What Transportation People Think|
|Adding lanes will reduce traffic congestion.||Adding lanes will induce more people to drive. Traffic congestion will stay the same.|
|Removing lanes will increase traffic congestion.||Removing lanes will cause people use other routes, shift modes, shift destinations, change their schedule, or not take the trip.|
|Removing freeways will increase traffic congestion.||Removing freeways will cause people to use other routes, shift modes, shift destinations, change their schedule, or not take the trip.|
|Road diets increase traffic congestion.||Road diets reduce speeding and make the road safer for all users. They also increase the number of walkers and cyclists and can reduce congestion caused by turning vehicles if a turning lane is added.|
It goes without saying that people are looking forward to autonomous cars. However, ever since seeing a class on autonomous bicycles at TUM, I have been thinking about how autonomous electric bicycles, not cars, could have a greater impact on the next few decades. Here are my reasons why.
Landside access to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is notorious for traffic congestion. To improve landside access, the airport has recently completed several projects such as adding additional traffic lanes and is embarking on new projects such as a people mover in the $5.5-billion Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP). Here, I suggest another cost-effective project.
The San Francisco Bay Area just added another ferry to their growing system. In Southern California, a high-speed ferry service linking existing piers around the Santa Monica Bay would provide fast and comfortable service between beach cities for commuters, tourists, and locals. The beach cities of Los Angeles County are primarly connected only by Pacific Coast Highway which is frequency congested during rush hour traffic. Additionally, these areas are lacking with quality public transportation connections. A ferry service would provide an alternative route along the Santa Monica bay linking residents of Malibu and the South Bay with a 30 minute ride to jobs in Santa Monica. Additionally, the coastal areas of the county are some of the most popular with tourists attracted to the beaches. Both commuters and tourists are often willing to pay a premium for fast and comfortable service.
A comparison of the number of lines, number of stations, system length, daily ridership, and best frequency between subways and light rail, suburban rail, regional trains, and long distance trains in Munich and Los Angeles
Eight years ago, the Los Angeles Metro introduced TAP cards, wallet-sized RFID cards that can store passes or cash for use on public transportation. TAP cards are similar to Clipper Card in the San Francisco Bay Area or Oyster Card in London. Tap cards are now accepted by 24 public transportation providers in Southern California.
Tap cards greatly simplified transactions for riders and streamlined operations for providers. Southern California should now take the next leap forward and introduce integrated ticketing. Integrated ticketing allows travelers to use one ticket across multiple transportation providers. This method allows riders to choose whichever provider they prefer while not having to pay double. Riders pay for a trip from a to b independent of the provider. For example, riders have a choice of provider from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles. They can take the Expo Lind (Metro), a Metro bus, or the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. However, these services cost different amounts and riders with a monthly pass from one provider cannot use it on another provider. Also, riders who chose a Metro train or bus get free transfers once they arrive in Downtown Los Angeles, but riders of Big Blue Bus do not. With integrated ticketing, riders can choose either provider for the trip and get the same free transfer options.
Metro is currently evaluating short-term and long-term improvements to the Blue Line including express service between Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles, signal optimization, grade separations, and "the feasibility for a full grade separation and/or station relocation including additional parking at Wardlow Station." While these are all great ideas, I propose that the improvements to Wardlow Station should also study a relocation of the Downtown Long Beach FlyAway service to Wardlow Station.
- Search each country's website for programs that interest you. Filter based on subjects that interest you and English-language programs. Most degree programs (Bachelors, Masters, and PhD) countries cost less than 500 Euro per year. However, some programs, typically MBA programs, cost 10,000+ Euro per year. Also, some countries, such as the UK, are equally as expensive as the USA.
Traffic, parking, and Dodgers: three hallmarks of Los Angeles. How can we address the first two to make a Dodger's game better? Lots of folks have suggested public transit to Dodger Stadium. One of the more reasonable suggestions is an aerial tram between the Gold Line and Dodger Stadium. Let's see how the numbers stack up agains two similar, recently constructed aerial trams, the Portland Aerial Tram to Oregon Health & Science University and the Emirates Air Line in London. Obviously, the Dodger's airline sponsor, United, should buy naming rights to the United Air Line.
Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page recently dismissed healthcare research in America:
Generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It's just a painful business to be in. It's just not necessarily how I want to spend my time. Even though we do have some health projects, and we'll be doing that to a certain extent. But I think the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs. -- Sergey Brin
I am really excited about the possibility of data also, to improve health. But that's-- I think what Sergey's saying, it's so heavily regulated. It's a difficult area. I can give you an example. Imagine you had the ability to search people's medical records in the U.S.. Any medical researcher can do it. Maybe they have the names removed. Maybe when the medical researcher searches your data, you get to see which researcher searched it and why. I imagine that would save 10,000 lives in the first year. Just that. That's almost impossible to do because of HIPAA. I do worry that we regulate ourselves out of some really great possibilities that are certainly on the data-mining end. -- Larry Page
Want to get from Albuquerque to Atlanta on the cheap? Don't buy a ticket from ABQ to ATL; get one to CLT (Charlotte). The flight to Charlotte is $212, but a ticket to Atlanta costs $601. The New York Times reported on this phenomenon a while back, but this is the first time I've seen such a drastic difference in fares myself. Buying the ticket with an extra leg to Charlotte results in a 65% savings! Digging deeper into the fares, the trip to Atlanta has the code M while the trip to Charlotte has the code U on both legs. The Fare Chart at cwsi.net/delta lists both codes as discounted coach fares.
Google is the New Microsoft. You have to use them. Microsoft Office used to be the default business app; now, it's Google Search. Everyone's afraid of them. If you're a startup and Google moves into your space, your company is done. They say scary things: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." This was said by Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2009. Here's a great response to this statement by Bruce Schneier, a computer security specialist.
Barnes and Nobel came out with their NOOKcolor today which is really just a 7" Android tablet specialized for reading ebooks, specifically those from BN's NOOKbooks store. This got me thinking that the killer "device" that everyone is trying to create should really be a original NOOK (e-ink) on one side and a NOOKcolor on the other side. Take the devices and glue them back to back. Call it a NOOKflip. You can browse for books and use all your apps on the color side, but when's time for serious reading, the e-ink side is there. Of course, these two screens would share the same OS, hardware, and storage.
Really though, Apple should adopt this idea in their iPad (and possibly their iPhone and iPod Touch) and add an e-ink screen to the back. These new devices would be a full iOS device but with an e-ink option for reading books, PDFs and long websites. But you can still run all your apps, games and watch movies on the beautiful, color LCD.
The best solution would be a screen that can do both e-ink and color LCD. While I'm confident some people are working on this, I'm afraid it's a couple years off.
What's the first thing most travelers do when they arrive at their destination? Rent a car and drive to the hotel. Most cities require a car to get around. However, these same cities can usually be navigated by bike. But where do you get the bike? Bike shops often rent bikes, but who knows where they are? It's hard to bring a bike with you on a plane. Why not rent a bike from the hotel? Wouldn't it be great to arrive in a new city, take a courtesy shuttle to a hotel, and then jam around on 2 wheels? Exploring a new city by bike allows you to see everything. There's also no parking worries or charges. You don't have to worry about traffic. You can take your newly rented bike on public transit. It'd be cheap for the hotel, and cheap for the guests. Hotels need to offer rental bikes.
Every day at 5:00 PM everyone in LA knows what traffic on the 10 is going to be like. Awful. Every city has these freeways. They're the roads everyone takes to get home from work. As a side note, traffic at 5 is worse than traffic in the morning because people arrive at work at different times, but most leave around 5. Also, many more people do things after work (get dinner, shop, meet friends) than before work. With everyone leaving Santa Monica at 5, how can we improve things? Over-metered freeways.
Contrary to popular belief, an iPad is not the best device for a flight. I just flew from Los Angeles to Albuquerque to San Francisco and back to Los Angeles and developed a this blog from scratch on my MacBook. How could I ever expect to do that with an iPad? Sure, I could hook up a keyboard and write some code. But with my MacBook I'm able to have an Apache server with PHP on my local computer and develop, debug and view what I'm doing in real-time. Now everyone is not a web developer, but most people could get something done on a flight instead of watching a movie. Sure, the ipad can be used to read books, but I think a Kindle or Nook is better for that.
Here's the lowdown on where to eat in Hollywood. Of course there's the trendy places, but these spots are dependable and well priced.
We'll start with Chinese. There's 3 places you might want to check out with different quality levels. Maos (Yelp) has some of the best Chinese in LA and it's affordable. They started out in Venice Beach, but opened up a Hollywood location a couple years ago. They made sure to keep their original character including dishes named Gang of Four fried shrimp and People's potstickers. If you want Chinese a little faster or cheaper, head over to Hoys Wok (Yelp) on Sunset. This is your standard Chinese place, fish tank included. Nothing is going to wow you, but it's not going to really disappoint you. Then there's Chinatown Express (Yelp). You can guess by the name this place is a Panda Express clone. The food isn't bad, it's super cheap, and you always get more then you can eat. If you need to just fill up, go to Chinatown Express.
This is probably the best part of the whole VA experience. You walk past a couple normal (boring) airlines and arrive at VA. The music is playing. The ceiling is dark. The lights are purple. It just feels cool. There's few travelers here, because there are only a few VA flights.
Watching movies on your Mac is easy. However, there are a bunch of ways to get movies on your Mac. Different methods have different costs. With a few notable exceptions, it seems there is an inverse relationship between movie quality and price. Listed below is how to get movies on your Mac in no particular order. (Most of this works for Windows or Linux, but that complicates the title of this article. Also, most of this works for TV shows.)
- Brussels (2007)
- Chicago (2009)
- Dublin (2004)
- London (2009, 1999)
- New York City (2008, 2010)
- Paris (2007 2003)
- Toronto (2002)
Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, etc.
I wrote 6 posts last year. Let's see if I beat that this year.
Here are some photos I just took at the Salton Sea. Beautiful.
I'll keep this brief. News companies are companies just like any other and are driven by profit. This means advertising for the most part. Therefore, the news will show the stories that will either directly make them money (by being paid by a company to show a story highlighting that company), or by showing the story that will get them the most advertising dollars (by showing the most sensationalized news stories.)
Great advertising will always be successful. The classic Apple commercials that make us associate cool, hip music with iPods are the top. So are the Budweiser commercials featuring the clydesdales we love. These are the Super Bowl ads, the ones we talk about with our friends and coworkers. This form of advertising, however, is not limited to TV. Billboards, internet ads, radio, etc. can also be Super Bowl ads.
A few weeks back I took a Metro Blue Line train from Los Angeles to Long Beach. This is what I think of the line.
The NY Times has a great essay entitled "Waving Goodbye to Hegemony" discussing the future of the world written by Parag Khanna. Khanna argues that there will be three superpowers (U.S., E.U. and China) in the near future who will dominate the economics of the world. He also says that second-wold countries like Russia, Argentina and Iran will be the so-called swing states. They will determine who wins economically and will be doing deals behind the backs of the Big 3.
Today I decided to take public transportation from the airport to USC. Although I've been on a bus before in LA, this was my first time alone. Here's how it went.
To everyone who has stumbled onto my website, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a great '08.
This winter I decided to take the Amtrak Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. I thought it would be fun, interesting, and be a little greener than flying. The train leaves Los Angeles nightly at 6:45 and is scheduled to arrive Albuquerque at 12:12 the next day. However, the word on the street is that Amtrak trains usually run half an hour late. This is the story of my journey.
This fall, I've decided to try to live a greener life. I bike almost everywhere I go. I try to conserve electricity whenever possible. However, I have also met opposition. Three roadblocks preventing greenness. Maybe one of you has the answer, because I don't.
The great recruitment team at USC's VIterbi School of Engineering, code-named Viterbi Student Ambassadors (VSA), has just launched a blogging tool coined vTHiNK. I'm not sure about the capitalization, but I like the name. This sounds like a great idea for a school always on the edge of technology.
There used to be a sweet screenshot here, but it has been lost.
In my continual quest to find quicker routes from USC to Disneyland, a Google Maps search presents me with the longest route yet: 11,908 km (about 31 days 12 hours). This includes step 60: "swim across the Atlantic Ocean", a distance of 5,572km. I'm unsure how much of the 31 days is to be devoted to this feat, but it is interesting that this distance is part of the 11,908km for the total trip, as this time would obvisiously not be spent driving. Also, I can think of numerous spots named USC that are alot closer to Disneyland than Poland.
The future of blogging is something I am going to call live-blogging or dynamic-blooging. As blogs move more into mainstream media coverage areas, bloggers will cover events as they happen. Similar to how MacRumors covers Apple events, these blogs will be updated by the minute as new information about a story, game, event, etc. becomes available. Photos will be added as they are taken. People are also going to pair together and create wiki-blog conglomerations, not unlike the archaic press agencies. These groups will be and are able to cover a city or topic as this is already going on today in most major cities. These sites will continue to encroach onto the grounds previously only held by the papers and TV stations as time goes by.
Looking back at all these posts, I am starting to see what I already know: I suck at writing. Even though I've been in the top classes at the best schools, teachers have beaten this horrible format into me. This is great for writing dry, boring papers for school; those I can churn out in no time. Thought-provoking, creative writing, that's another story. I've noticed all these posts have started with a plain, introductory first paragraph. If I deleted the first paragraph to any of these articles, they would instantly become more interesting. Second, I always had a problem writng to a specific length. I would either express all my ideas on one page or write a book on one topic. Now that I have freedom, I don't know what to do. How many paragraphs should I write? How long should they be? Third, I was never taught to write in a format other than an essay. Journalists never write articles with an introduction or a conclusion. They care about things like leads and know that readers will usually never reach the end of the article. Writing for the web is another story altogether. I don't have any idea what to do. I guess that it just goes back to the old idea that the best way to learn to write is to read and write for yourself.
Ok, so to that one person who read my wordpress blog and are now looking at my blogger blog, this might be interesting to you. First, when I got started this whole blogging thing, I really had no idea what it was all about. Come to think of it, I still have no idea. Anyway, I just used wordpress because that's what a friend of mine was using. Please don't take this the wrong way; I love wordpress. It is easy to use yet expandable for lots of content. It has some awesome features like better tagging then blogger, great themes, and better organization than blogger. However it does have downsides to blogger, otherwise I would have stayed.
The following was inspired by a TWiM episode from before the new year.
Convergence is happening, just slowly. Cell phones are getting better internet access. Computers are becoming more mobile. And other devices (cameras, video cameras, etc) are becoming more connected. Give the designers and the engineers a couple of years and we are going to see some truly awesome stuff (iPhone).
The current trend towards open source has brought about incredible products and vast amounts of change in people and business. This can easily be seen in the Mozilla and Apache Foundations that control a surprisingly large amount of the web with the Firefox web browser and the Apache HTTP server. Other open source projects like bittorrent represent a large amount of the traffic across the internet. These 'revolutions' are not, however, a result of their open source roots, but rather a result of open standards on the internet. Think about all those open source software packages out there that attempt to duplicate closed, proprietary packages. They are great software packages because of their love of open standards. The world, business especially, is not falling in love with open souce software, because most people) are fine paying for software. However, people are starting to realize the value of open standards that are supported by multiple software packages. The internet is the best example of this. Aside from a few IE only pages, the internet is a gigantic collection of documents all encoded into an open format, HTML. People can use whatever piece of software, free or not, to browse the internet.
Linux veterans, you probabily want to skip to the next paragraph. Those new to Linux, read on. Ubuntu is my new absolute recommendation for novices. Here's why. First, Ubuntu has by far the easiest installation process i have ever used, and i have tried quite a few distributions. Also, all my hardware just works with Ubuntu; I didn't have to touch a kernel or install any specific packages, which can be daunting to a new user. Second, Ubuntu has a great culture of community support. All of my questions were quickly and painlessly answered by a quick stop at google and I fully believe yours will be too. Third, Ubuntu comes with the best selection of software. While some other distributions include more software and more choice, I find that the simplicity of Ubuntu fits all my needs and leaves out all the clutter. A list of software included with Ubuntu is available at the end of this document for those unfamilar with the open source desktop. (By the way, all of this software is free, and most of it will run on your existing Windows or Mac system.)