I’m attending the Transportation Research Board conference in Washington, D.C. for the third time, and my first time as a student. Is it easier to have everything covered by your consulting firm? Maybe. But it is fun to get out to sessions and explore freely? Yes.
TRB is *the* big transportation conference in the US, if not the world. It has 11,000 participants this year, three hotels, a really capable iPhone app, and sessions on any and every topic even tangentially related to transportation. If you want to listen to people talk for two hours about taxis, pavement mixtures, or airport transit access, this is your place.
This year I co-presented a poster with a colleague from Berkeley. I’ve been to a handful of poster sessions, and this was by far the most intense. People were asking questions from the minute it went up until we took it down 15 minutes after the session ended. I didn’t get a chance to look at a single other poster (and there were two of us to field questions!), but I was told that ours was the best looking design there.
The best question by far was from a fellow at WMATA. Our poster explored congestion pricing for BART, based on certain entry and exit stations that get particularly crowded, and trying to reduce that crowding. The big capacity problem in DC is actually transfer stations. It’s impossible to tell from someone’s entries and exits if they used the major transfer stations. How can WMATA levy fees on users that pass through the critical transfer points at peak times? I suggested RFID on choke points within those stations – escalators, stairs, elevators. But that wouldn’t work for paper tickets. Second rounds of turnstiles would just increase congestion. Tricky. Maybe careful timing: narrow down the likely transfer options based on trip timing? It was a great question, and one that reminded me how much I love transit planning.
The research paper, model, and an earlier version of the poster are available on this blog already. Here we are in action!
Unlike the good ol’ consulting days, I’m on my own for accommodations. DC may be the major east coast city where I know the fewest people, or at least the fewest people near Dupont Circle, so I’m staying at a great AirBNB rental a block from the main conference hotel. My host is an awesome Cal Public Health alum, and she’s across the street from the Loagai Museum of Chinese Human Rights Abuses and this cool bike rack. This really is a cool town. I hope post-TRB I will have more excuses to come back.