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Urban mobility

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

World premiere of new smart fortwo and forfour

July 16, 2014

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The new smart fortwo: Body panels in white, tridion safety cell in lava orange (metallic). The new smart forfour: Body in white, tridion safety cell in black. Click to enlarge.

In a world premiere staged in Berlin, Daimler brand smart unveiled the new versions of its iconic smart fortwo and forfour city cars. The new smart fortwo, developed in partnership with Renault (sharing the third-generation Twingo platform) has undergone improvements in virtually all areas and is markedly more comfortable, while the smart rear engine concept is now being offered for the first time in the four-seater smart forfour as well.

Drive power is supplied by three-cylinder engines rated at 45 kW/60 hp, 52 kW/71 hp and 66 kW/90 hp, while power transmission is performed by a five-speed manual transmission or the twinamic automatic dual clutch transmission. A new version of the smart fortwo electric drive (earlier post), based on the new model, will follow.

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Ford launches innovate mobility challenge series

Ford launched its Innovate Mobility Challenge Series, inviting the developer and maker communities to come together to find innovative mobility solutions in eight different locations around the world. The worldwide challenges kicked off in Lisbon, Portugal; Los Angeles, United States; and Mumbai, India; before moving on to Delhi and the Chennai region in India; Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; and a countrywide challenge in Argentina.

For each competition, Ford will partner with local authorities and experts to address different issues in each location. The competitions will be judged by a panel of Ford executives involved in researching mobility solutions, as well as by local experts selected for each competition.

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UR:BAN research project gives mid-term update on advanced driver assistance systems, connected vehicles

May 24, 2014

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Mid-term review in the UR:BAN research project. Click to enlarge.

Partners in Germany’s UR:BAN research consortium recently gave a mid-term status report on the three major component projects in an event at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Braunschweig, Germany. UR:BAN—User oriented assistance systems and network management—is developing advanced driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities. The focus is on the human element in all aspects of mobility and traffic.

Consortium members in the four-year project include: Opel; Audi; BMW Group; BMW Forschung und Technik; Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen; Continental; Daimler; Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft u. Organisation; GEVAS Software; Heusch/Boesefeldt; ifak Magdeburg; Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes; MAN Truck & Bus; PTV Group; Robert Bosch; RWTH Aachen; Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf; Stadt Kassel; Technische Universität Braunschweig; Technische Universität Chemnitz; Technische Universität München; TomTom Development Germany; TRANSVER; Universität der Bundeswehr München; Universität Duisburg-Essen; Universität Kassel; Universität Würzburg; and Volkswagen AG. Numerous additional university and research institutes as well as small and mid-size companies are also participating in the projects as subcontractors.

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European Court of Auditors finds 2/3 of EU-funded transportation projects underutilized

April 11, 2014

A report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA)—the official institution that audits EU finances—found that two-thirds of urban transport projects co-financed by EU structural funds are underutilized. Weaknesses in project design and inadequate mobility policy were two of the main contributory factors identified.

The EU auditors analysed the performance of 26 public urban transport projects in 11 cities in five Member States. For each project, the audit team met the relevant stakeholders involved in implementing the audited projects. The auditors also physically visited the co-financed facilities, and the operating and maintenance centres. They found that overestimation of users and the lack of coordination between modes of transport, parking policy and the absence of urban mobility plans contributed to underutilization.

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APTA reports record public transportation usage in US in 2013; growth outpacing population and VMT growth

March 10, 2014

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Growth in public transit ridership since 1995 has outpaced population and VMT growth. Data: APTA. Click to enlarge.

In 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation—the highest annual public transit ridership number in 57 years—according to a report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This was the eighth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. While vehicle miles traveled on roads (VMT) went up 0.3%, public transportation use in 2013 increased by 1.1%.

Since 1995 public transit ridership is up 37.2%, outpacing population growth, which is up 20.3%, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is up 22.7%.

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Mayor of London: all new London taxis will need to be zero-emission capable from 2018

January 16, 2014

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero-emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero-emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst—such as parts of central London.

The Mayor confirmed his plan at Transport for London’s (TfL’s) “New Taxis for London” event, at which he met five manufacturers developing zero emission capable taxis—Frazer-Nash, Nissan, Karsan, London Taxi Company and Mercedes-Benz. The new zero-emission capable taxis being developed include both plug-in full series hybrid vehicles and full electric models.

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Audi wraps up Audi Urban Intelligent Assist (AUIA) project

January 10, 2014

Audi has wrapped up a three-year partnership launched in 2011 involving the Volkswagen Group’s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Silicon Valley and four leading US research universities to develop innovations in predictive driving technology that would allow a car to anticipate future traffic trends and to “learn” a person’s driving habits for a customized driving experience on each commute. (Earlier post.)

Audi this week demonstrated some of the early concept results of the Audi Urban Intelligent Assist (AUIA) project to media in San Francisco. The demonstration focused on two primary applications: Driver Centric Urban Navigation and Urban Assistance.

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Study finds that suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores in US

January 07, 2014

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East Coast metropolitan statistical areas (J), with a larger map of New York metropolitan area (K, outer line) and New York City (K, inner line) highlight the consistent pattern of relatively low GHG urban core cities and high GHG suburbs. Credit: ACS, Jones and Kammen. Click to enlarge.

Although population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits, according to a new study by Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen at UC Berkeley. The average carbon footprint of households living in the center of large, population-dense urban cities is about 50% below average, while households in distant suburbs are up to twice the average.

The study, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), used local census, weather and other data—37 variables in total—to approximate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy, transportation, food, goods and services consumed by US households. A key finding is that suburbs account for half of all household greenhouse gas emissions, even though they account for less than half the US population.

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INRIX partners with BMW to introduce intermodal navigation in the i3 and i8

January 06, 2014

INRIX is partnering with BMW to introduce of the first in-car intermodal navigation system. Debuting in BMW ConnectedDrive systems in the new i3 and i8 electric vehicles, INRIX Intermodal Navigation integrates local public transport connections into journey planning.

The service monitors real-time traffic conditions alerting drivers to faster alternative modes of transportation when major delays occur along local routes. Upon selecting an alternative mode, the system provides turn-by-turn navigation to the nearest public transport station in time for the next departure.

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US PIRG report finds reduced driving and rates of car commuting in most populous US urbanized areas

December 08, 2013

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VMT per capita has declined across the US (2006 to 2011). States with shading are missing reliable data for all or part of an urbanized area, and ‘X’s denote the location of excluded urbanized areas. Source: US PIRG. Click to enlarge.

A new report by the US PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in the US’ most populous urbanized areas, as well as greater use of public transit and biking in most cities. The average American drives 7.6% fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004.

The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data and is, according to US PIRG, the first national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities and lists results for each. Among the report’s national findings:

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IEA report finds “avoid, shift and improve” policies for urban transport could deliver up to $70T in savings through 2050

July 18, 2013

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Expected urban private motorized travel (in passenger kilometers). Source: IEA. Click to enlarge.

Policies that improve the energy efficiency of urban transport systems could help save as much as US$70 trillion in spending on vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure between now and 2050, according to a recently released report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Among the three broad categories of policies recommended in the report and policy guide, “A Tale of Renewed Cities”, are those that allow travel to be avoided; those that shift travel to more efficient modes; and those that improve the efficiency of vehicle and fuel technologies. The report notes that if fully implemented across the transportation sector, this “avoid, shift and improve” approach could deliver the up to US$70 trillion in savings.

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