2023 SB1 and RIMI Projects Funded

August 14, 2023

The Institute of Transportation Studies Berkeley (ITS Berkeley) is excited to award 16 projects through the State of California’s ongoing, annual allocation from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1) and a one-time allocation in the 2021 State Budget for the Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative (RIMI).         

ITS Berkeley received 27 proposals, requesting $3.1 million, and awarded 16 projects totaling $1.6 million. Proposals came from a variety of departments and centers across the university and awardees form a diverse group of research interests in transportation.

Designing Microtransit Services to Complement Public Transit

PI: Susan Shaheen, Transportation Sustainability Research (TSRC) Center Co-Director       

To answer the research questions noted above, our multi-campus, multidisciplinary team proposes an 18-month, multi-pronged and integrated approach. Our team (UC Berkeley (lead), UC Davis, and UC Irvine) has deep experience in conducting feasibility assessments and evaluations of shared mobility, smartphone apps, public transit linkages, and simulation modeling. Our team also has expertise in measuring public transit impacts, transportation equity, and job accessibility. This study builds on the collective past work of our team members. The proposed research examines microtransit use among individuals and will assess who uses the service, for what kinds of trips, and mode substitution. The proposed study also employs simulation models to assess how trade-offs between different service provisions (number of vehicles, types of routes, etc.) affect outcomes. Outcomes the research team will consider include passenger service quality (e.g. wait times and detour times), equity in the provision of service, and costs associated with the service, among others. In addition, these outcomes will be assessed with respect to different levels of fixed route transit. Throughout the duration of the project the team will consult with transit agencies and other entities involved in the provision of microtransit services in each use case and identify key areas for inclusion in performance metrics. A key consideration is the different service models and geographies served by the cases. In this proposal, three Via-supported microtransit case studies are deployed in different land use and built environments and focus on various uses cases, including locations in the Central Valley and East and South Bay. Some focus on blended models (e.g., paratransit and overall mobility integrated approaches and others on commuting). The Yolo County Transportation District (YCTD) operates microtransit services that connect remote rural areas to small urban centers, whereas the service operated by MARTA in Atlanta serves a large metropolitan area.

Clean Miles Standard (SB 1014): Advancing Equity in Electric Vehicle and Charging Access with an Emphasis on Part-Time Ridehail Drivers

PI: Susan Shaheen, TSRC Co-Director

California’s SB 1014 (Clean Miles Standard) mandates an increase in zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) among transportation network companies (TNCs) by 2030. There are numerous implementation barriers to this policy including: electric vehicle (EV) costs, charging access, social equity, and labor concerns. Many TNC drivers represent underserved populations, and proposed policies do not distinguish between full- and part-time drivers. However, part-time
drivers make up more than half of all TNC drivers according to expert estimates from Shaheen’s ongoing STRP-funded project. Part-time drivers face economic circumstances distinct from full-time drivers including reduced TNC revenue, managing other jobs, and different travel patterns. Building on our current research (focusing on part-time drivers), this project aims to understand the equity barriers to EV access among part-time TNC drivers, as well as targeted business/policy opportunities to lower implementation barriers. We propose to conduct: 1) part-time driver focus groups (n=2-4); 2) part-time driver interviews (n=~10); 3) multilingual part-time driver surveys (n=500+); 4) expert interviews (n=up to 5) with state agencies and TNCs; 5) TNC trip and charging analysis from activity data; and 6) cost analysis of TNC EV acquisition/use. Finally, we will explore policies tailored to meet the electrification needs of both full-time and part-time TNC drivers.

Toward a Low Carbon California Corridor

PI: Mark Hansen, Civil and Environmental Engineering  Professor

The project aims to address the substantial carbon emissions generated by intercity travel along the California corridor, spanning from Sacramento through the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles and San Diego. We recognize the need for near term planning and policy actions to expedite the transition towards a low-carbon multimodal transportation system including low carbon air services, road vehicles, and high speed rail. The project's main objectives are two-fold. Firstly, we will define technically achievable low carbon scenarios for the California Corridor, focusing on 2035 and 2045, evaluating their implications on carbon emissions, cost, level of service, equity, and job creation. Secondly, we will identify the necessary near-term policy and planning actions to actualize each
scenario. By integrating low carbon aviation, high-speed rail, and road transport, this study will contribute to the development of a long-term vision for a Low Carbon California Corridor.

RED-EV: Readiness of Electric infrastructure in Disadvantaged communities for Electric Vehicle charging

PI: Scott Moura, Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) Faculty Director

This research project, named "RED-EV: Readiness of Electric infrastructure in Disadvantaged communities for Electric Vehicle charging" examines the readiness of grid infrastructure in disadvantaged communities (DACs) to support transportation electrification. This project will provide actionable insights into infrastructure investment requirements, utility rate structures, charging control strategies, behavioral shifts, and targeted policy mechanisms to enable deep EV
penetration in California. Relative to existing studies, RED-EV incorporates data-driven geo-spatial models of mobility and distribution grid circuits/components, into an integrated assessment. The project outcomes will include (i) a final report, (ii) a two-page policy brief, and (iii) stakeholder workshops at the project kick-off and conclusion. Ultimately, RED-EV will provide both researchers and policymakers with critical insights to enable deep penetration of
zero-emissions vehicles in California by creating deeper insight into the misunderstood challenges and opportunities in DACs.

Applying Racial, Health and Mobility Equity to Transit-Oriented Development Research

PI: Charisma Acey, Institute of Urban & Regional Development (IURD) Research Director 

Low income communities of color in formerly redlined neighborhoods face persistent racial disparities and inequities in pollution exposure, access to transportation and safe streets, and inadequate provisions for health, safety, stable housing, clean air, education, and employment. To ensure that new transportation infrastructure investments benefit these communities without exacerbating existing environmental disparities, gentrification, and displacement, this research project employs a case study approach in East Oakland and Richmond, guided by Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) principles. The Applying Racial, Health, and Mobility Equity to Transit Oriented Development Research Project wil: 1) Apply a Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) to examine how “race-neutral” transit-oriented development policies have impacted low income residents' access to health, economic stability, housing, and social cohesion and belonging; 2) Utilize mixed methods research, including public agency data and community knowledge, to analyze the intersection of transportation, air quality, land use, housing, displacement and health outcomes at regional and neighborhood levels; and 3) Provide for a greater understanding of the regional and neighborhood level impacts of ports and transportation systems and policies.

Mapping the potential of hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles across transportation sectors in California

PI: Timothy E. Lipman, TSRC Co-Director  

This proposal extends recent UC Davis and other work on developing a hydrogen roadmap for California in several ways, and in the context of hydrogen system planning now being led by the ARCHES partnership. That GoBiz-led group is focused on a specific early rollout plan for trucks and buses and some ports vehicles, hoping that this spurs a much larger hydrogen vehicle rollout across modes and sectors. Investigating that broader rollout is the focus of this project, including links to other modes (ports/ships, airports/aircraft, rail, and LDVs). These modes need clarity on hydrogen use potentials, timing and cost, with identification of potential common infrastructure with the HDV sector; also what contributions each can make to system scale-up, cost reduction and sustainability. We will use various techniques (technical and cost comparisons of hydrogen use across modes, vehicle choice analysis of road vehicle uptake, spatial analysis of vehicle travel and relevant stationary uses, infrastructure siting, systems analysis of supply chains) to create new state-level scenarios and identify appropriate targets and milestones. We will create a more detailed roadmap for California’s roll out of a transportation-hydrogen system to 2030 and beyond. It will provide important inputs into ARCHES efforts to create a fully realized and self-sustaining hydrogen system.

Preferences for Infrastructure Investment: Evidence from California’s High-Speed Rail

PI: Cecile Gaubert, Berkeley Economics Associate Professor

We study preferences and support for transportation infrastructure investment in the context of California's High-Speed Rail (CHSR). We provide a detailed model of the expected economic benefits of the project and how they vary over space. The model combines value of time saved and indirect economic benefits. Combining the economic model applied to the initial CHSR design with geographic data on the 2008 Prop1a votes for the CHSR, we then estimate how much
constituents’ preferences are driven by economic benefits vs. political preferences for the project. In turn, we use these estimates to assess a range of possible future CHSR designs, both in terms of economic benefits and popular support. Finally, comparing the 2008 distribution of CHSR stations with alternative feasible placements, we estimate the planner’s preferences for redistribution and popular approval. We solve for the optimal CHSR design under alternative planner preferences. This allows us to identify stations whose initial placement seems to respond to political or distributional concerns, as well as to identify alternative optimal CHSR designs that implement more redistribution towards specific groups.

Lifecycle Emissions and Economic Analysis Tool for Hydrogen Production and Distribution Pathways for Road Transportation in California

PI: Timothy E. Lipman, TSRC Co-Director   

This project will develop a practitioner and policymaker facing analysis tool called the California Lifecycle and Techno-Economic Assessment for Hydrogen Pathways (CALTEA-H2) model. This public model, developed in a user-friendly spreadsheet format, will provide for a transparent analysis for a range of stakeholders to examine the energy and environmental impacts of hydrogen pathways for transportation modes in California. Along with full lifecycle emissions
impacts, including upstream feedstock and materials, the project will carefully assess both greenhouse gas and key criteria pollutant emissions. Criteria pollutants will also be assessed geographically within the state, including especially pollution impacts (and net benefits) for disadvantaged community (DAC) areas. Along with battery-based electrification for transportation modes, hydrogen and fuel cells are considered an important additional set of technologies for meeting California’s goals for carbon-neutral transportation by 2045, but with a lower level of general understanding that this project is designed to help inform.

Reviving public transit ridership to downtowns and employment centers: Public official, business leader, and commuter perspectives and strategies for moving forward

PI: Elizabeth Deakin, Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) Professor Emerita

Many downtowns and other major activity centers in California are struggling, with reduced overall activity post-COVID and low transit ridership. This threatens the state’s ability to meet climate commitments and improve equity outcomes, expand economic prosperity, and maintain sound public finances. In this environment, some argue that the traditional employment-focused “central business district” is anachronistic and a more appropriate and resilient strategy for downtowns – and for shopping centers and business parks as well - is to become a mixed-use “central social district,” often with a significant increase in residential population. Often missing in such discussions are the impacts on local and regional transit ridership. This study will look at transit use, development patterns, and revitalization strategies in five San Francisco Bay Area downtowns of differing sizes, functions, and transit orientation. In each downtown
we will interview city officials, transit officials, and real estate experts to gather information on revitalization proposals. These will form the basis for scenarios for downtown change. We then will evaluate the scenarios through focus groups and additional interviews. We will develop policy recommendations for downtowns of various types that could support the greater concentration of downtown activities that attract significant levels of transit ridership.

Reoptimizing Public Transportation for Zero-Emission Suburban Services

PI: Michael Cassidy, Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor

Modeling work will be pursued in consideration of California’s Innovative Clean Transit rule, with focus on suburban settings, where costs per transit trip served are high. The goal is to provide detailed and much-needed guidance that enable: (i) bus agencies to respond to ICT in ways that best fit location-specific needs of the state’s varied suburban communities; and (ii) policymakers to enact targeted subsidy schemes, worker compensation packages and other incentives that make the optimal responses viable for all stakeholders. Stakeholders can include shared mobility firms that are induced to operate large fleets of electric, shared-ride taxis in cooperative ways that serve society’s interests beyond their own. Teams at Davis and Berkeley will work with agency partners throughout the 2-year project, first to identify the varied costs of ICT and of inequitable responses. Mathematical models and computer simulations will be used to identify optimal short-run responses for bus agencies; and longer-run responses that establish the cooperative, socially optimal bus/taxi systems envisioned. Parametric tests will be used to produce an ICT guidebook of fully detailed system designs and smart incentives for zero-emission suburban mobility.

Transit System Vulnerability and Resilience

PI: Kenichi Soga, Berkeley Center for Smart Infrastructure Director

Certain nodes in transportation networks are especially critical to system functionality, such as interchange stations where multiple lines with high utilization rates pass through. Accordingly, the seismic resilience of such nodes disproportionately impacts the ability of the urban centers in which they are located to recover following a disastrous earthquake. This collaborative project will develop a methodology to assess seismic hazard and risk at critical transit nodes, their recovery, and impact on the resilience and recovery performance of regional multimodal transportation systems. The project team involves multi-campus expertise on seismic hazards, soil-structure interaction, transportation network modeling, organizational communications, and system recovery, aiming to make a comprehensive assessment of the resilience of transportation systems from both structural and transportation perspectives. Apart from the technical modeling, the project will also engage public agency and private company stakeholders continuously through expert interviews and advisory meetings, to identify key scenarios and parameters, with the ultimate goal to build the capacity for the stakeholders for understanding the resilience from a system, multidisciplinary perspective.

Labor Unions in Sustainable Transport Policy

PI: Daniel G. Chatman, DCRP Chair

Transit workers are widely unionized in California and these roles remain some of the highest paying, highest quality jobs available to workers without a college degree. At the same time, the state faces a shortage of transit workers. Unions—as well as supporting wage growth, worker protections and overall job quality—are also policy actors shaping both the future of industries and engaging with wider social, economic, and political questions, including transportation sustainability and equity. Unions’ role in a high road decarbonization tradition in transport remains relatively unexplored. Transit agencies and their workforce must contend with change and evolution of transit to meet goals of VMT reduction. This includes improved last mile connectivity, integration or competition with micromobility and TNCs, and the challenges of possible long-term changes in downtown office occupancy and declines in commuter travel.
This also comes in tandem with land use and urban planning policies, such as road pricing, transit-oriented development and parking regulations. This study will explore unions’ positions on these topics in California, and develop policy recommendations for engaging with transport workers’ unions as partners to reflect transport sustainability, workforce development, and broader social equity goals.

Customer-Oriented Open Data for Accessible Transit: A Case Study in Contra Costa County

PI: Huadong Meng, PATH Assistant Research Engineer

Accessible Transit (AT) is a type of microtransit service designed for travelers with special needs, particularly seniors and people with disabilities who do not drive. Previous studies and policy discussions focused on consultation through stakeholder workshops, coordination meetings, and customer surveys.
However, there has been little effort to closely examine operational data for accessible transit service, including system capabilities, service performance, and customer satisfaction. This project aims to investigate the needs and the approach to establish an open data framework that enables responsive,
informative, and cooperative transit services. Based on the conclusions from previous studies and practices, the key challenges for this study arise
from the characteristics of "on-demand" and "customer-oriented" services that go beyond traditional fixed-route transit options and focus on accessibility. The study aims to find out how open data from both transit providers and travelers can benefit the entire transit system, as well as to identify the gaps. Additionally, an operational data portal is planned to be designed to reflect the complexity of demand, operations, and interactions between operators and passengers.
Given the unequal service capabilities of different mobility providers, the participation and engagement of stakeholders will be crucial for this project.

Developing an Equity-Focused, City-Scale Framework for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Siting and Investment

PI: Kenneth Paul Alex, Berkeley Law Project Climate Director

California policymakers have set ambitious targets to transition from gasoline-powered to electric vehicles, including policies to phase out new fossil fuel vehicles by the mid-2030s and to add over 85,000 megawatts of new grid capacity to support those vehicles, but access to of parking space at multi-family homes, and limited grid infrastructure. City governments need deliberate and strategic plans for infrastructure development—private and public—to ensure that these communities are not left behind in California’s EV transition. The proposed project would develop a comprehensive, open-source data analysis and mapping
framework for equity-focused electric vehicle (EV) and mobility infrastructure siting and investment for cities of all sizes throughout California. Building on an existing collaboration between CLEE and ERG through CLEE’s EV Equity Initiative, the project would identify, prioritize, and map criteria for potential infrastructure locations such as socioeconomic indicators and community demographics, pollution burdens, transportation and employment access, housing
types, and more. The result would be a prioritization framework that augments CalEnviroScreen and a set of mapping tools for civil society, local governments and the State to use in private sector engagement, community forums, and public decision-making.

A Data Science Primer for Transportation Professionals

PI: Jane Macfarlane, Smart Cities Research Center Director 

The transportation sector is experiencing a digital transformation as a consequence of advanced technologies that provide new sensing information and advanced algorithms for analyzing transportation infrastructure performance and design. This project addresses the workforce development needs of government organizations that seek to leverage these technologies, but lack the data science background necessary to evaluate new data sources and design data analytics for their own purpose. A key goal of this project will be to design a week-long professional development course for employees of government organizations that do not have computer science skills. It will provide an overview of data science specifically applied to transportation related problems. Real-world open-source transportation related data sets will provide a foundation for understanding how to evaluate quality and usefulness of datasets. Applied analytics will be demonstrated to support understanding of transformations and algorithms that can create valuable derived data for supporting decision making and strategy development. Attendees will be encouraged to bring data that they work with regularly so that useful results will be directly seen.

Regional-scale network and traffic resilience understood through Mobiliti

PI: Anthony Patire, PATH Program Leader and Research and Development Engineer  

This proposal is for a seed grant to engage with California stakeholders to prioritize what needs to be done to improve an existing tool to address practical questions about priority area H2: Infrastructure resilience, and F6: Reduced road and parking capacity. The existing tool, Mobiliti, is a cutting-edge software platform developed in the UC Berkeley Smart Cities Research Center, to simulate the movement of an entire population through a regional road network by leveraging high performance computing (HPC) and cloud resources. For the entire San Francisco Bay area (population ~8 million), the system can simulate one day of trips in under four minutes. This game-changing performance opens up new possibilities to ask "what if" scenarios and to iterate rapidly to develop new insights. Ideas for scenarios will be solicited from the City of San Jose and other California stakeholders. Analytics resulting from the scenarios will be presented and iterated upon. This experience will inform the development of a research roadmap. The roadmap will identify research gaps and promising applications; prioritize future development of Mobiliti capabilities and toolchain elements; define a series of Mobiliti scenarios for exploration; and, consider pathways toward
wider use of the Mobiliti platform.