Last April, the Transportation Planning Board’s Commuter Connections program debuted new mobile apps making it possible for thousands of Washington area commuters to find carpool partners in their area using web-enabled smartphones or tablets.
At a national transportation conference going on this week here in Washington, DC, Commuter Connections director Nicholas Ramfos discussed the new apps during a half-day workshop on innovations in mobile communications.
Ramfos described the process of developing and launching the new apps, and demonstrated how they allow commuters to find carpool matches and park-and-ride lots on the go. He also offered predictions as to what the future of mobile technologies holds in helping commuters find and use modes other than driving alone to get to work each day.
Clara Reschovsky (far right), a TPB data analyst, helped organize a poster session showcasing innovative uses of new neighborhood-level Census data on household travel patterns.
Ramfos was joined in the workshop by two other panelists, from Texas and Iowa, who also discussed how their organizations are using mobile technologies to communicate with stakeholders and the public in new and innovative ways.
In a separate workshop, Ramfos talked about ways to measure vehicle trip-reduction and mode-shift impacts of alternative commute programs like Commuter Connections ahead of new anticipated performance measurement requirements under MAP-21.
Another member of TPB staff active in this year’s conference was Clara Reschovsky, a data analyst who helped organize a poster session to showcase innovative uses of new neighborhood-level Census data on household travel patterns.
The session brought together researchers and practitioners from around the country who have developed creative ways to use the fine-grained data to aid in transportation planning activities. The session also featured posters describing new methods for overcoming or graphically visualizing the statistical uncertainty inherent in such small, localized data samples.
The annual conference showcasing innovations in transportation is organized each year by the Transportation Research Board, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The conference takes place each January in Washington, DC, and this year is expected to attract more than 12,000 transportation professionals from across the country and around the world.
About two dozen TPB staff are attending this year’s conference. Ramfos and Reschovsky are playing an active role in one of the nearly 750 planned workshops, lectures, or poster sessions. They and eight others are also participating as members of standing committees that help guide future TRB research and identify innovations to be featured at future conferences.
Last year, about a dozen TPB staff attended the annual gathering. Three gave presentations, including Rich Roisman, who showcased the results of the TPB’s biennial air passenger survey. Wenjing Pu and Jim Yin, two TPB engineers, presented the findings of research using new GPS-based speed data to monitor traffic conditions on area roadways.