Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ACTC members made a good impression at Transportation Camp East

The Transportation Camp is an “unconference” or participant-led conference organized by OpenPlans in order to bring together technology developers, urban planners, policy makers and marketing and social media experts to the same discussion table.

Transportation Camp East took place in New York City, March 5th and 6th, bringing together people from a wide variety of backgrounds to present their work covering a multitude of transportation issues –from cost to access and from mobility to safety issues.

The camp presented a unique opportunity for ACTC members to interact with policy makers and other advocacy groups. We also got an overview to the new paths that the Department of Transportation is planning to follow. Most notable were keynotes presented by H. Giovanni Carnaroli, Senior Accountable Official for USDOT and Chris Vein, the new Deputy US CTO for Government Innovation. We would also like to point out the presentation about DOT’s research on connected vehicles given by Christopher Pangilinan , P.E., Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator during the #IGNITE night. He brought humor and a human touch to technology. *

A core issue for transportation is urban congestion. Heavy traffic in urban areas has a multitude of negative consequences: delays, costs due to time loss , safety, and higher stress. A multitude of solutions were discussed from transit to cycling and from car sharing to bike sharing, however one solution was remarked by most : multimodality. And we had the unique opportunity to listen to Susan Zielinski from SMART describing how owning five cars is so last millennium. And perhaps even owning one if car sharing will make a good, reliable vehicle to be more accessible.

Ana Bayne suggested a similar concept during the #IGNITE night presentation - integrating transportation modes such as transit and personal vehicles with bicycles, sidewalks, etc., is not just “increasing access even as it reduces our need for mobility” but increasing mobility overall. Another session co-lead with TransportGooru Andy Palanisamy, YPT’s vice-chair for Communication, focused on social media applications to transportation. A few key words ensuing from the conversation: Credibility, Transparency, Marketing Potential, Mobile Government. And an interesting case study for transit agencies and local governments dealing having to deal with vertical hierarchies making them slow to react and less transparent : the US Army tweep.

Michael Sypolt and Stu Strickland talked about “Getting Non-Riders to Use Transit” by “Designing a System to Meet Demand”. Some suggestions ensuing from this conversation – the utility of system maps; interlining two routes with odd frequencies in order to meet demand but reduce cost instead of eliminating service in the area altogether; streamlining routes. More about technology and development can be read in: "Highlights of TranspoCamp! (includes Travel Log) "

Some other focal points for the conference were a discussion with Ellyn Shannon from the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA on how they are funded and how they are able to influence transit related decisions. Also Tana Green made an interesting presentation on High Speed Rail and we were able to discuss how transit and High Speed Rail advocates can support each other.

Our participation in the Transportation Camp also raised the interest of potential investors, and for our technology whizzes, an opportunity to develop networks of connections with developers from the North and North-East.

* Peter H. Appel the Administrator for DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Department with whom we had the occasion to exchange a few ideas is also "to blame" for the research.

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