Life Cycle of U.S. Sport Utility Vehicle Sales

Transportation Deployment Casebook

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This Casebook describe the lifecycle of a transportation technology or mode. It has been built largely by students of CE5212/PA5232 at the University of Minnesota and CIVL5703 at the University of Sydney.

The Assignment Edit

Recall that the cycle of technology includes a birthing phase, a growth-development phase, and a mature phase (and perhaps a declining phase). The stage of the life-cycle, it has been argued, determines the nature of transportation policy-making -- both the problems faced and the responses to these problems. In this assignment, you are to research and reflect upon the life-cycle of a transportation mode. Your final product should be about 15 pages of single-spaced 12 point Times New Roman text, including tables and charts.

Your initial step is to select a mode (or transportation or related technology). As long as the technology you pick can be related to the movement of people, goods, or ideas it is fine. If you have questions, contact your instructor.

Then the assignment has two parts: Quantitative and Qualitative. Each part is worth 50% of the assignment.

Quantitative Edit

Overview the life-cycle of the mode. Using S-curves (status vs. time), identify the periods of birthing growth, and maturity. For status use variables that reflect the level of deployment or use of the mode (number of vehicles, kilometers of track, passenger-kilometers traveled). You may develop these curves for the US, some other country, or geographical unit, as data availability and your focus dictate. Use the data to estimate a three-parameter logistic function:



  •   is the status measure, (e.g. Passenger-km traveled)
  •   is time (usually in years),
  •   is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 K is achieved),
  •   is saturation status level,
  •   is a coefficient.

  and   are to be estimated.

Graph the model and the data. How accurate is the model?

Interpret your results, and use them to help affix dates to the birthing, growth, and maturity stages of the life-cycle.

Sources of data vary. There is sufficient data on the world wide web to do this assignment for many technologies and modes, though there are obviously modes and technologies for which this will be difficult. For a good starter source, try the Bureau of Transportation Statistics ( ). However, make sure that you get data that goes to the birthing phase of the technology, many of their data series only go back to 1960. For other data sources, the world wide web and the university library, as well as the Mn/DOT library are good places to go.

Get your data Edit


How to estimate a model: Edit

Basically, this is an exercise in curve fitting. There are better and worse ways to do curve fitting, one (a better way, but not the best way) is shown in the example spreadsheet.

Worse ways to do curve fitting include random trial and error (pick some values, see how close the curve is, and adjust the values).

Better ways involve using a formal statistical procedure (e.g. Ordinary Least Squares Regression). Fortunately, regression is a routine procedure found in many statistical packages, as well as in spreadsheets. To do a regression in an excel spreadsheet, you can find the tool under the TOOLS menu in the DATA ANALYSIS option. (If DATA ANALYSIS does not appear on your menu, go to TOOLS/ADD INS, and Check the DATA ANALYSIS Toolbox).

A single variable linear regression simply estimates the coefficients c and b in a model of the form:


The question is then, what is y (your dependent variable) and what is x (your independent variable)

In the example spreadsheet



The goodness of fit of the model is explained by the R-squared and the t-statistic. You want an R-squared close to 1.0, but are unlikely to get an exact value. You want t-statistics on your estimated variables to be as high as possible, and generally higher than 2 (which indicates the variable is statistically significant at the 95% confidence level).

The constant term, along with the coefficient on the independent variable give you your t0.

Qualitative Edit

  1. Describe the mode. What are its essential technological characteristics, its main advantages, and its main markets.
  2. Set the scene prior to the advent of the mode. What other modes were available? What were their limitations? How were markets for transportation evolving? How did these factors stir interest in new possibilities?
  3. Describe the invention of the mode / technology. What different types of technological expertise were brought together? How? How was the shift from the initial design altered in the face of early experience? Describe the shift from the initial technology to the predominant technology. Remember that technology refers both to hardware (physical artifacts) and software (the way the artifacts are used to produce transportation).
  4. Describe early market development. What were the initial market niches? What roles did functional enhancement (serving existing markets better) and functional discovery (serving new markets) play in market development?
  5. Assess the role of policy in the birthing phase. Describe how policies from precursor models were borrowed, and how other policies were innovated. Identify policies that were embedded and policies that were imposed or sanctioned by government. Identify policies that were "locked in" during this time.
  6. Describe the growth of the mode. What roles did the public and private sectors play in the growth? What policy issues arose, and how were they resolved? How did the policy environment influence policymaking in this period.
  7. Describe development during the mature phase of the mode. Describe attempts to adapt the mode changing markets, competitive conditions, and policy values. Describe how "lock-in" has constrained these adaptations. Identify any opportunities you see to "re-invent" the mode so that it can better serve the needs of today and tomorrow.

Some Useful Online Datasets Edit

Comments: Edit

  1. All analysis should be in SI (metric) units if appropriate.
  2. All research should be properly cited in a standard bibliographic format. All writing should be original, with sparing use of quotes from other sources. Plagiarism will result in an "F".
  3. A complete history of any technology or mode is the work of a doctoral dissertation, not a term paper. Be as complete and as thorough as possible in the time and space allowed; your instructor understands the constraints you face.
  4. Start early, last minute work shows. This is a large assignment, pace accordingly.
  5. Your word processor has spelling and grammar checkers, use them. Attention to detail in writing and presentation is important to persuade the reader you have attended to detail in the analysis. Get a classmate to proofread your work if you have trouble doing so yourself.
  6. If you have any questions, email or see your instructor, he is happy to help and read and comment on preliminary drafts.
  7. You are free to talk to classmates about the assignment, but your work must be your own.
  8. Visit (yes, physically visit) the library. Use multiple reference sources, preferably primary sources, including web and at least 5 non-web sources. Do not use or cite online encyclopedias as primary sources (although they are fine to read and get ideas from). Cite references as appropriate in the text. Cite also the source for your data when you present your data.

Please create a page with your results at Transportation Deployment Casebook.

[note: adapted from Garrison and Hansen UC Berkeley CE 250 Assignment]

Cellular Telephone

K. Vaseeharan

History of the Cell Phone Edit

Birth of Wireless Communication Edit

In the latter half of the 19th century, two major innovations in communication technology occurred. The first, made in 1876, was the invention of the wire-based telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. Near instantaneous voice communication over long distances became possible, but only between points on a fixed infrastructure. Roughly one decade later in 1887, "German scientist Heinrich Hertz deduced the existence of wireless waves".[1] Signal transmission through the air became a possibility.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the young scientist Guglielmo Marconi began putting the two together. By 1986 he had patented a system for short-range wireless communication using telegraph signals. In 1901 he successfully transmitted a Morse code signal across the Atlantic ocean using wireless radio signals proving the possibilities for long-range wireless communication. At roughly the same time, Reginald Fessenden was adding audio to wireless transmissions for the first time.

Initially, these systems were adopted by maritime and aviation modes to overcome the difficulty of communicating between ship or plane and ground. Into the early decades of the 20th century the military and police of the United States also caught on to wireless communication. Motorola introduced the Handie-Talkie and Walkie-Talkie to provide real-time communication on the battlefield. In the years after Lee de Forest first communicated with an automobile (1906), Police cars were also kitted with one- or two-way radios to communicate with their dispatch officers and more efficiently protect and serve.[2]

However, these early wireless communications devices were large, bulky, and expensive which kept them out of the hands of the general public. In 1947, the famed Bell Labs made a breakthrough that would change wireless technology forever. The transistor, a simple amplifier/switch component vital to modern electronics, greatly improved the portability and reliability of wireless communication against the older vacuum tube technology.

Through the early 1970s, wireless communication was primarily limited to the wealthy (who could afford car phones and the expensive subscription fees for operation) and amateur users within the Citizen Band (CB). Ham radio was extremely popular due to the relatively low cost of entry in both training and equipment. CB became a part of popular culture through both film and song.

Wireless Telephones Edit

Wireless communication was severely limited in terms of concurrent users. "As late as 1981 [...] only twenty-four people in all of New York City could be on their mobile phones at once."[3] To solve this issue, cellular technology was developed. Instead of using high-powered, tall transmitters, cellular uses many smaller, low-powered transmitters. In this way, the geographic region covered by the towers is split into smaller areas that can provide service for several 10s or 100s of individuals simultaneously.

The first real tests began in the late 1970s in Chicago and the Washington D.C./Baltimore areas. AT&T and Motorola were granted the operation of the systems to prove the potential of cellular phones. At the time, there was skepticism concerning the potential within the cell phone market. A 1980 study by AT&T estimated a national subscriber base of only 900,000 by the year 2000 leading AT&T executives to largely ignore wireless communication.

Others were more optimistic. In 1983 the Federal Communications Commission began opening wireless frequencies for businesses to operate cellular phone services. The entire nation was broken into segments based on city population and waves of 30 cities each were assigned to applicants by lottery. In the first round, 190 applications were submitted; the second round saw 353; the third and fourth had 567 and 5180 applications respectively. As investors and entrepreneurs saw the possibility of huge returns, more and more crowded in to get a share of the spectrum being raffled off.

The rounds were fraught with red tape and behind-the-scenes dealing. Of the many disparate applicants, coalitions and alliances began sprouting up to share and trade ownership of cities. By the end, several major companies emerged to consolidate the majority of the United States. Interestingly, the giant of land line communication - AT&T - obtained wireless spectrum but this was calved off to smaller companies when AT&T was forced to split due to an anti-trust suit.[4]

The Mobile Phone Worldwide Edit

The earliest days of establishing the cell phone network were perilous. Significant capital investments were required to reach across large rural areas. Hardware and software had to be developed, standardized, and deployed. Policies had to be created to govern the interaction of cell phone users across different provider networks (roaming), what sorts of information could be relayed (voice or text via short-message system), and so forth.

Meanwhile international companies were also developing and deploying mobile phone technology. Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, and others were getting into emerging markets throughout Europe. Nokia in particular became a juggernaut of global cellular electronics, with products sold in 140 countries by more than 55,000 worldwide employees.[5] As the cell phone, both analog and eventually digital, reached out across the world, other technological advances also arrived to help push mobile communication even further. The commercialized Internet emerged through the 1990s (along with the Dot-Com boom and bust) and radically changed the way business and society view communication.

The phones themselves also improved. Smaller, lighter, longer lived phones became mass produced and extremely inexpensive. It became easier for some extreme rural areas to get cellular service than clean water. The current iteration of the cell phone, the smartphone, connects us through voice, video, text, web, and on and on. Our pocket devices are no longer just mobile phones; they are fully fledged computers with access to a wide variety of communications avenues.

Because of this flexibility, mobile phones can be used to spur growth where it was previously impossible. In rural areas of India, for example, micro-loan banks began opening through the mid 1990s and into the 2000s.[6] These banks communicate by cell phone in order to reach low-infrastructure villages. The villagers could also become more connected by using mobile phones, opening their community up for larger business opportunities that would have otherwise been lost to geography.

Similar Technologies Edit

Land Line Telephone Edit

Through the 20th century, the land line telephone became ubiquitous in the United States. Short and long distance services were available nationwide through AT&T and telephone use became commonplace. Land lines have the advantage over wireless in speed and signal quality. By using wire (previously copper and more recently fiber optic cable), signals can be carefully controlled so that loss is minimized and bandwidth is carefully allocated.

However, cell phones allow the extremely important feature of mobility. The entire allure of mobile and cellular phone technology is the ability to connect with anyone from anywhere. As technology improves and cell phones become more sophisticated, lighter, cheaper, faster, and longer-lasting, it is likely that most land-line telephones will be replaced.

Satellite Phone Edit

Satellite telephone systems offer a close competitor to conventional cell phones in terms of mobility. Instead of relying on cell towers for communication, a satellite phone communicates directly with a transceiver in orbit. Demonstrated in 1962 by AT&T, satellites have long been used to send information across the world for telephone, television, and now internet services.[7] However, due to the extremely high cost of placing a satellite into orbit, person-to-person direct communications via satellite phone are prohibitively expensive for everyday consumer use. They do find use for extreme environments or natural disaster sites where traditional mobile phones would be ineffective.

Quantitative Analysis Edit

To model the rise of the cell phone in the United States, annual subscription numbers were found for the years from 1985 to 2010.[8] Note that the data source did not include data for 2007 so that year was excluded from the fit. The raw data shows the start of what could be an S-type curve with some carrying capacity at or above 300M annual subscribers. Using regression tools, best-fit carrying capacity and curve parameters were found. Using those values, the modeled subscriber growth curve was generated and is shown in the figure.


The best-fit parameters have a carrying capacity of 320M annual subscribers. This is only a slight increase over the current number of subscribers, suggesting that the US cell phone market is nearing or at saturation. The model curve is slightly slower in growth during the 1990s than the actual values but exceeds actual growth in the later 2000s.

Best-Fit Model Stages
Birth 1985–1997
Growth 1997–2005
Maturity 2005–2015

However, based on growth estimates for the United States population, this carrying capacity could be too low. Over the past 50–60 years, the population growth of the United States has been roughly linear and even with a slowing growth the US population will likely grow over 350M in the coming 30–40 years. A figure shown here gives one possible estimate of US population growth through 2050.

Based on this growth, it is conceivable that the total number of cell phone subscribers in the United States would approach something in the neighborhood of 450M. This would mean an average of between 1 and 1.3 cell phone subscriptions per person across the entire US. (Users with multiple subscriptions could push the total subscriptions above the population.) Using the 450M subscriber capacity, a second model was generated.

Alternate Estimate Model Stages
Birth 1985–1999
Growth 1999–2008
Maturity 2008–2017

It could be that the S-curve model being used does not represent the growth of the cell phone market. The initial growth up to the year 2000 does seem to fit the S-curve, but from roughly 2002 to 2010 the growth year to year has been more or less linear. A better model may use three parts: an S-curve fit through 1999-2000, a linear fit from 2000 to sometime in the 2010s, and an S-curve in the 2010s to 2020s and beyond to model the slowing and end of growth in the market. In this way, the steady growth through the 2000s would be better captured, but the early increase and eventual slowing of subscriptions would be captured by the S-curves.

Actual and Modelled Annual Subscribers
Year Number of Subscribers (US) Best Fit Alternate
1985 340213 814055 1062908
1986 681825 1144192 1432811
1987 1230855 1607541 1930892
1988 2069441 2257198 2601113
1989 3508944 3166789 3502152
1990 5283055 4437802 4712029
1991 7557148 6208949 6333949
1992 11032753 8667552 8503486
1993 16009461 12062284 11397054
1994 24134421 16715210 15241256
1995 33758661 23028741 20322021
1996 44042992 31479447 26991339
1997 55312293 42586545 35667716
1998 69209321 56840566 46824391
1999 86047003 74582843 60957396
2000 109478031 95846166 78525336
2001 128374512 120202446 99856804
2002 140766842 146697466 125032571
2003 158721981 173948060 153768162
2004 182140362 200406947 185341305
2005 207896198 224698645 218613099
2006 233000000 245881068 252166811
2008 262700000 277712639 314458597
2009 276610580 288750497 341040881
2010 300520098 297144364 363838310
2011 303413087 382805650
2012 308031710 398192131
2013 311400727 410419632
2014 313840346 419978822
2015 315597628 427356711
2016 316858595 432994855
Curve Fitting Values for a Range of K-Values
K 301 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 450
-6.78 -6.81 -6.85 -6.88 -6.91 -6.94 -6.96 -6.99 -7.19
-6.09 -6.12 -6.15 -6.18 -6.21 -6.24 -6.27 -6.29 -6.49
-5.50 -5.52 -5.56 -5.59 -5.62 -5.65 -5.67 -5.70 -5.90
-4.97 -5.00 -5.03 -5.07 -5.10 -5.12 -5.15 -5.18 -5.38
-4.44 -4.47 -4.50 -4.53 -4.56 -4.59 -4.62 -4.65 -4.85
-4.02 -4.05 -4.09 -4.12 -4.15 -4.18 -4.21 -4.23 -4.43
-3.66 -3.69 -3.72 -3.75 -3.78 -3.81 -3.84 -3.87 -4.07
-3.27 -3.30 -3.33 -3.36 -3.40 -3.43 -3.45 -3.48 -3.68
-2.88 -2.91 -2.94 -2.98 -3.01 -3.04 -3.07 -3.10 -3.30
-2.44 -2.47 -2.51 -2.54 -2.57 -2.60 -2.63 -2.66 -2.87
-2.07 -2.10 -2.14 -2.17 -2.21 -2.24 -2.27 -2.30 -2.51
-1.76 -1.80 -1.84 -1.87 -1.91 -1.94 -1.97 -2.00 -2.22
-1.49 -1.53 -1.57 -1.60 -1.64 -1.67 -1.71 -1.74 -1.97
-1.21 -1.25 -1.29 -1.33 -1.36 -1.40 -1.44 -1.47 -1.71
-0.92 -0.96 -1.00 -1.04 -1.08 -1.12 -1.16 -1.19 -1.44
-0.56 -0.61 -0.65 -0.70 -0.74 -0.79 -0.83 -0.87 -1.13
-0.30 -0.35 -0.40 -0.45 -0.50 -0.55 -0.59 -0.63 -0.92
-0.13 -0.18 -0.24 -0.30 -0.35 -0.40 -0.44 -0.49 -0.79
0.11 0.05 -0.02 -0.08 -0.13 -0.19 -0.24 -0.29 -0.61
0.43 0.35 0.28 0.21 0.14 0.08 0.02 -0.03 -0.39
0.80 0.71 0.62 0.53 0.45 0.38 0.31 0.25 -0.15
1.23 1.11 0.99 0.88 0.78 0.69 0.61 0.53 0.07
1.93 1.71 1.52 1.36 1.22 1.10 0.99 0.90 0.34
2.43 2.11 1.85 1.64 1.47 1.33 1.20 1.09 0.47
6.44 3.46 2.74 2.32 2.03 1.80 1.62 1.46 0.70
Intercept -772 -706 -684 -669 -658 -648 -640 -634 -600
Slope 0.3859 0.3527 0.3415 0.3340 0.3283 0.3236 0.3197 0.3163 0.2995
Rsquared 0.9401 0.9841 0.9842 0.9820 0.9793 0.9767 0.9742 0.9718 0.9580
Inflection 2001 2002 2002 2003 2003 2003 2004 2004 2005

References Edit

  1. Murray Jr., James B. Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America. Perseus Publishing, 2001. p. 15
  2. Steinbock, Dan. The Nokia Revolution: The Story of an Extraordinary Company that Transformed an Industry. AMACOM, 2001. p. 93.
  3. Murray Jr., James B. Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America. Perseus Publishing, 2001. p. 19
  4. Cauley, Lesley. End of the Line: The Rise and Fall of AT&T. Free Press, 2005. p. 34
  5. Steinbock, Dan. The Nokia Revolution: The Story of an Extraordinary Company that Transformed an Industry. AMACOM, 2001. p. 136.
  6. Sullivan, Nicholas P. You Can Hear Me Now: How Microloans and Cell Phones are Connecting the World's Poor to the Global Economy. Wiley, 2007. p. 36
  7. Tomasi, Wayne. Advanced Electronic Communications Systems. 5th Ed. Prentice Hall, 2001. p. 374
  8. Cell Phone Subscribers in the U.S., 1985-2010.

United States Post Office

Introduction Edit

The United States Post Office (USPS) services 151 million delivery points in the United States. [1] This network of mailboxes, post offices, sorting facilities, and delivery trucks provides the means for any individual or business to ship goods or information from one destination to another. As electronic means of transmitting information increase in availability and decrease in cost, it is reasonable to expect that this physical postal network will decline in relevance over time. This article examines historical data on the number of post offices in the United States and the volume of mail handled by the post office to identify a birth, growth, maturity, and decline lifecycle for the postal service mode of transport.

Postal Service as a transportation mode Edit

Centralized postal service is a coordinated transport system that physically moves goods and information between destinations. It is essentially a freight system that is accessible to any individual or business.

Monopoly and service obligation

Sub-modes: Post offices vs. home delivery Edit

The postal service's deployment model originally was a network of post offices and transshipment in between them. Post office customers were responsible for bringing mail to the post office and for picking up their letters and parcels from general delivery to their local post office.

In the 1860's, the postal service started to deploy home/business delivery within urbanized areas. This enabled the closing of post offices, as there was less demand for customer assistance in the post office. Each post office as able to serve a larger area and population base because a network of carriers was deployed to distribute the mail to people's homes and offices.

In the 1890's, the post office began to experiment with rural home delivery to see if it would be feasible. By 1901, rural home delivery was the postal service's official policy. At this point, the number of post offices in the United States began to contract as larger and larger portions of the country were connected to this home delivery network.

This shift from an exclusively post office-oriented network to an expanded point-to-point network connecting all residents is essentially a mode shift within the postal system. It altered the primary role post offices played in the system, shifting their role from a public face and a distribution point to a logistics center coordinating postal carriers, The average number of people to post office continued to increase with population growth and post office consolidation.

Enabling modes Edit

Postal service evolved over time to incorporate technological advancements. What started as a horse and carriage operation incorporated river boats, railroads, highways, and eventually air freight.

Competing modes Edit

Technological advancements in information technology are supplanting much of the postal service's information-transporting function. The number of pieces of mail handled each year started declining in 2006. When averaged across the population, the number of pieces of mail handled per person has been in decline since 2000.

Data Edit

Independent & Control variables Edit

 Time in years, 1790 to 2010  Population, 1790 to 2010 [2][3][4][5]

Dependent Variables Edit

 Number of post offices, 1790 to 2010[6]

 Number of pieces of mail handled, 1847 to 2010[6]

Constructed Dependent Variables Edit

  • Number of post offices abandoned  

For  ,  

  • Post offices per 10,000 people  :


  • People per post office  :


  • Pieces of mail handled per person  :


Linear Transformations Edit

Dependent variables   were transformed to facilitate using a linear regression model.


Methodology Edit

Model 1: Dependent variable as a function of time in two phases Edit

  • Model 1a: Birth, growth, and maturation phase, all years prior to  
  • Model 1b: Maturation and decline phase, all years following  


Dependent variables tested using this model:

  • Pieces of mail handled,  
  • Number of post offices,  
  • Number of post offices abandoned,  , [decline phase only]
  • Number of post offices per 10,000 people,  
  • People per post office,  
  • Pieces of mail handled per person,  

Model 2: Dependent variable as a function of time, controlling for population Edit

  • Model 2a: Birth, growth, and maturation phase, all years prior to  
  • Model 2b: Maturation and decline phase, all years following  


Dependent variables tested using this model:

  • Pieces of mail handled,  
  • Number of post offices,  
  • Number of post offices abandoned,  , [decline phase only]

Results Edit

Descriptive Statistics Edit

As evident in the Descriptive Statistics table, both the number of post offices and the volume of mail handled have already peaked. Post offices peaked in 1901 when USPS made rural home delivery standard practice. Volume of mail peaked more recently in 2006. Post offices per 10,000 people was highly volatile in the 1800's as USPS rolled out home delivery incrementally.


Notably, both mail handled per person and post offices per 10,000 people peaked before the absolute measures of mail handled and post offices. Even before the rural home delivery policy in 1901 that precipitated the closure of many post offices, fewer post offices were needed to serve the same number of people. This could be explained by urban home delivery, increased efficiency of operations, or better supporting transportation infrastructure. Mail volumes per person peaked in 2000 and has been declining. This can reasonably be explained by shifting information technologies and the rise of electronic transmission supplanting physical print material delivery.

Correlations Edit

All of the variables presented in the Dependent Variable Correlations table have a statistically significant correlation with year, population, and transformed population. The direction of these correlations is not unexpected: mail volume has increased dramatically over time and with increasing population, while the number of post offices has declined. The average number of people each post office serves is positively correlated with population both due to the declining number of post offices and the ever-increasing population.


Regression Models Edit

Pieces of mail handled over time Edit


The mail volumes over time models demonstrate the significance of a growing market in the deployment of this particular transportation "mode". While mail volume has a strong and statistically significant coefficient in Models 1 and 1a, controlling for population in Model 2a eliminates the effect of time. Model 2a fits the growth phase of these data quite well, with an   value of 0.977.   values for Model 1 and Model 1a are reasonable given the parameters of the data and the qualitative history of USPS and competing modes.


Since the peak volumes of mail handled occurred in 2006, there were not enough data points to conduct a meaningful analysis of the decay phase while controlling for population. Even though Model 1b has t statistic values with a magnitude greater than 2, this model should be considered with caution because it only contains 4 years of data. Conversely, since the decay phase is only evident in the final 4 years of data, the overall models (Model 1 and Model 2) fit the data almost as well as the growth-specific models (Model 1a and Model 2a).

The   value for Model 1b reinforces the decay model's weakness: 2010 is the final year of available data, so it is unreasonable to expect with any certainty that 2010 will indeed be the inflection point on the decay curve. The decay model assumes that mail volumes will ultimately drop to zero as other modes replace it quickly, while it is easy to imagine the postal service retaining modest importance as other modes slowly substitute in.

Number of post offices over time Edit

Unlike the mail volumes model, post offices peaked in 1901 and the overall models are not a very good fit for the data, with   values below 0.355. The coefficients are not consistent with our knowledge of the post office trends: Models 1 and 2 have positive coefficients for time, when it is evident from the graph in the descriptive statistics that the number of post offices has been in decline for over a century.[7]


Both the growth and decay models fit the data much better than the overall models. The coefficients in Models 1a and 1b are consistent with the expected direction of influence and have strong t-statistics. Controlling for population in Models 2a and 2b strengthens the coefficients for time, and they remain statistically significant. Controlling for population also improves the model fit slightly for both the growth and decay phases.

While the decay model failed for mail volumes, the decay model for post offices uses a much longer trajectory of data and is consistent with the slow fizzle of post office coverage over time, rather than the precipitous drop the mail volume model predicted.

The   values for Models 1a and 1b are reasonable given the parameters of the data.

Number of post offices abandoned or closed over time Edit


These data only required Models 1b and 2b because post office closure did not start until after the number of post offices peaked in 1901.


This model fits the post office data much better than simply the number of post offices from 1901 to 2010. Model 1b has   values of 0.941 for the post office closure data and 0.747 for the number of post offices data. Model 2b has   values of 0.965 for the post office closure data, again compared to 0.790 for the number of post offices.

As apparent in the Curve Types image to the left, when transformed and adjusted to the same scale, the closed/abandoned curve more closely resembles the S-Curve function we are using to predict the birth, growth, and maturity cycle. The curve representing the actual number of post offices remaining is the inverse of this graph, with steep changes occurring while the closed/abandoned curve is in the more gradual birth and maturity phases. The next image plots these data alongside the projected values using the regression coefficient and calculated   from Model 1b.

Ratios of volumes and facilities to population models Edit

The final three dependent variables tested are all ratios of mail volumes or post office facilities to total population, so Models 2, 2a, and 2b controlling for population have been eliminated.

Post offices per 10,000 people Edit


People per post office Edit


Mail volumes per person Edit


Discussion Edit

These experiments suggest that while the S-Curve model of predicting transportation mode deployment as a function of time fits relatively well, population growth is also a significant driver of deployment. Controlling for population directly through the regression model or indirectly by testing the rate of mail volumes or post office facilities to population facilitated in isolating the effects of population versus time.

The post office facility models best demonstrated the S-curve deployment pattern. The growth models for   for number of post offices had high   values. Controlling for population increased the strength of the regression coefficient and the   value. The decay model for closure/abandonment of post office facilities best modeled the shift to home delivery and then technological mode shift. Controlling for population decreased the regression coefficient but still improved the   value.

References Edit

  1. "Delivery Points, 1905 to 2010, in Millions". Historian, United States Postal Service. 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011. {{cite web}}: Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  2. "US Census History: Fast Facts". Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  3. "US Census Historical National Population Estimates, July 1 1900 to July 1 1999". Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  4. "US Census National Intercensal Estimates, 2000 to 2010". Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  5. Pre-1900 Intercensal population estimates constructed using linear projection:  
  6. a b "Pieces of Mail Handled, Number of Post Offices, Income, and Expenses, 1789 to 2010". Historian, United States Postal Service. 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011. {{cite web}}: Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  7. J. E. Schoner (2011). "Descriptive Statistics". {{cite web}}: Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

Life cycle of the post office

Introduction Edit

In 1775, as the threat of war loomed over the American colonies, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia to plan for the defense against impending aggression from the British Crown. Understanding the vital importance of reliable channels of communication and intelligence during a war, a committee led by Benjamin Franklin was established to evaluate the possibility of developing a formal postal system. A month later the post service was established with Benjamin Franklin as the founding Postmaster General.

While post offices did exist in early years of the postal service, it took until 1788 for the newly formed nation to authorize the postal service to expand the system. In 1780, there were only 75 post offices. Shortly thereafter, the volume of post offices expanded rapidly. While the volume of mail delivered continued to expand through the conclusion of the twentieth century, the post office as a structural component of the postal service peaked in 1901.

Benjamin Franklin played a pivitol role in establishing the Post Office Department (today the United States Postal Service)

This paper offers a lifecycle analysis of the post office as a lens through which to view the United States Postal Service. This analysis is couched within the historical and political context within which the post office grew and matured.

The United States Postal Service Edit

While federal (though it wasn’t technically federal at this point since the United States had not yet been established) involvement in mail delivery began in 1775 under the Post Office Department, mail delivery within the colonies significantly predates this. It began informally. Messages were communicated throughout the colonies by friends and merchants, as well as American Indians. Most mail however was carried over the Atlantic to and from Europe, which is what led the British Crown to establish the first official mail service in 1639. At this time taverns and coffee houses were used as post offices. Early growth of the postal system occurred in fits and starts through prodding from the British Crown. But eventually a postal system began to emerge with regular routes and dedicated post offices.

To the credit of Alexander Spotswood, postmaster general for America beginning in 1737, a 31 year old Benjamin Franklin was given an appointment in the postal system as postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737. Franklin worked vigilantly to improve the postal system and in 1753 he was appointed by the Crown as joint postmaster general for America, a position he held until dismissed for acting in league with the colonies as the Revolutionary War drew near. During his tenure as postmaster general, significant improvements were made to the system. Routes were surveyed and operated on scheduled times. Post offices were inspected. Delivery routes were re-organized.

After Franklin’s dismissal, William Goddard established the Constitutional Post as a replacement service for colonial mail delivery and he based it on subscriptions. Goddard’s service grew quickly and by 1775, when the Second Continental Congress met, his private postal service was quite successful with 30 dedicated Post Offices in operation.

On July 25, 1775, shortly after the earliest skirmishes of the Revolutionary War, the Second Continental Congress authorized establishment of the Post Office Department in recognition of the critical need for reliable conduits for intelligence. Benjamin Franklin, already a veteran of the postal business, was named its first postmaster general. William Goddard was appointed surveyor for the department.

Early efforts of the department were dominated by military communications. By 1783, with the war ended and Ebenezer Hazard at the helm, efforts were refocused on system expansion. New westward routes were established and stagecoach companies were contracted to deliver mail. In 1788, the Post Office was granted authority by Congress “to establish Post Offices and Post Roads.” This led to a rapid expansion of post offices and mail delivery as a whole. As the country grew so did the Post Office Department. States and territories continued pressing for new routes and even faster delivery. In 1789, shortly after the authority of the Post Office Department was expanded, revenue for the department was a meager $7,510. By 1860, just one year before the Civil War, revenue had swelled to $8.5M. This was not without cost however. Expenses for the department often outstripped revenue.

Early finances of the Post Office Department (today the United States Postal Service)

The magnitude of growth in the Post Office Department in its early years seem substantial, except when compared to the growth that occurred later later in the life of the department. In 1930, revenue for the department was just over $800M, an order of magnitude greater than existed in the 1860s. Seven decades later, revenue for the department (by now renamed the United States Postal Service) was another two orders of magnitude greater than revenue in 1930 with income peaking out at nearly $75 billion.

Historical finances of the Post Office Department (today the United States Postal Service)
Historical finances of the Post Office Department on a log scale (today the United States Postal Service)

There are a great many factors that have influenced the postal service over the course of its history. As a public or quasi-public agency (depending on the time), it has always been heavily influenced by policy in Washington DC. Considering the longevity of the postal service, it has also had to adapt to a great deal of technological innovation. The following represent significant dates or eras that bore significant impact on the postal service:

Basic Timeline Edit

1788 - the postal service is granted authorization to establish post offices and postal roads, which dramatically expands service options.

1800s - the geographic scale of the United States expanded rapidly as states and territories were added.

1823 - Congress declared waterways to be post roads. Steamboats were regularly used for mail delivery.

1832 - just three years after the locomotive completed its first run in the US, the Post Office Department adopts rail as a mode for mail delivery.

1847 - first postal stamp issued

Winter of 1860-61 - the Confederate Post Office Department was established to serve the Confederate states.

Summer of 1861 - the Pony Express (which had been privately established a year earlier) was adopted as a mail route for enhanced delivery to the Pacific coast.

Fall of 1861 - the transcontinental telegraph line was completed, which precipitated the decline and discontinuation of the Pony Express just months after it was commenced.

1863 - Congress establishes free city mail delivery. This is the first time personal addressed were required on an envelope.

1872 - the Post Office Department was established by congress as an executive department.

1902 - free rural mail delivery became a permanent service. This precipitated a significant decline in the post office as a vehicle for mail delivery.

1910 - delivery of mail by rail peaked when more than 10,000 trains moved the mail. Trains were equipped with mail cars capable of sorting, storing and distributing the mail.

1918 - schedule airmail service began

1930-60 (approx.) - road and automotive technologies begin improving dramatically, thereby enhancing the efficiency and speed of mail delivery.

1971 - delivery of mail by rail was finally discontinued and Post Office Department renamed United States Postal Service

1994 - USPS launched an internet website...the beginning of the end for standard mail delivery.

The Post Office Edit

History of the Post Office Edit

The post office as a technology played an integral role in the early development of the Post Office Department. The earliest post offices were merely taverns and coffee houses where mail would be left for individuals to collect. As mail volumes increased the need grew for a more formal delivery mechanism. Taverns and coffee houses weren’t capable of handling, sorting or distributing large volumes of mail. Post offices had been developed in England prior to this point, but the first official post offices in the US were established in 1692 by Thomas Neale. Interestingly, Neale never actually visited America. He managed the system from England.

In 1789, when the federal government was first formed, there were 75 post offices in the United States. In their first year of office, Congress granted the still young Post Office Department authority to establish post offices (and postal roads). That authority, coupled with an increasing demand for mail and an expanding American geography, precipitated a rapid expansion in the number of post offices. By 1830, just four decades after the postal service was permitted to establish post offices, the number of post offices had expanded to almost 9000. The graph below charts the early growth of the post office as a technology.

Early growth of the Post Office Department (today the United States Postal Service)

The number of post offices expanded steadily in US until 1860s when the country devolved into civil war. During that period post office growth stalled and even declined. After the war was over, steady growth resumed. That growth continued until 1901 when it peaked and began a dramatic decline.

Historical growth of the Post Office Department (today the United States Postal Service)

In recent years the volume of post offices has continued to decline, albeit at a reduced pace. The function more as nodes within the mail system as opposed to origin or terminations (though they do still serve that capacity on a limited scale). The decline of the post office was caused by permanent implementation of free rural mail delivery at the turn of the century.

Function of the Post Office Edit

As a technology, the post office was important because it served as the point of origin and termination for mail within the postal system. Any person wishing to send a letter would be responsible for conveying that letter to the post office. There were no mailboxes and there was no door-to-door delivery in the early system. Similarly, if a person received mail they would be responsible for collecting it themselves (or arranging for another to collect it). An entertaining exception to this rule occurred in the 1830’s at the Post Office in Springfield, IL where a young Abraham Lincoln was appointed postmaster. As was his custom, if an addressee did not collect his/her mail, Lincoln would delivery the letter personally.

In addition to serving as a point of transfer for mail into and out of the system, it also served as a sorting house. The mail from any given day was inevitably bound for a variety of destinations. Postal staff were responsible for sorting that mail by destination and assigning it to a route. When the destination of a letter was relatively distant, mail would be directed through intermediate post office hubs.

Because mail was collected by addressees, there was a need for post offices to be accessible. This led to a substantial multiplication in post offices across the country. As is noted above, a shift in service caused a reverse in the growth of the post office. This shift in service was the adoption of free rural mail delivery. This diminished the need for post offices because the need for access to a post office diminished. If a resident could expect mail to be delivered to their door, there was no longer a need for a nearby post office. The other rationale for fewer post offices was a matter of internal efficiency. It was more economical to sort and distribute mail from a single central post office than from two post offices. As a result of these new service dynamics, there are fewer than half the post offices than there were at its peak in 1901.

Life Cycle of the Post Office Edit

As is true is some regard for most technologies, the deployment of the post office can be described as an S-curve with a birth phase, a growth phase and a maturity phase. The equation for this S-curve is below.

S(t) = K/(exp(-b*(t - t0))


S(t) = status measure (# of post offices) t = time (year) t0 = inflection point/time when ½ K is achieved (year) b = coefficient K =saturation point (maximum # of post offices)

Depending on the age of the technology and the phase it is in, the process for developing a fitted curve may vary. For a technology still growing, K will not be known, though it can be estimated. If the technology is very young, it may not have even passed its inflection point, which further complicates the process of developing a good curve fit. In the case of the post office, however, the maximum volume of post offices was achieved in 1901, which makes K and t0 easy to ascertain.

In order to determine the final coefficient ‘b’, it is necessary to develop a best fit curve. There are many approaches to solving this problem. One of the easiest ways to develop a best fit curve is by transforming the s-curve function to a linear equation and using the built-in functionality within Microsoft Excel. Below is the linear equation:

y = b*x + c

where: y = LN(# of Post Offices/(K - # of Post Offices)) x = year

Because this s-curve is designed to model the birth, growth and maturity of a system, the available post office data has been cut at its peak. Including the decline of the post office would diminish the appropriateness of a s-curve in modeling the lifecycle of the post office. Since 1901 represent the peak year for the post office, that is the final year included in the life-cycle analysis.

For the sake of comparison, below is a graph of an idealized life-cycle curve. Important qualities of the curve include symmetry around t0. T0 is at 50% saturation and is also at the midpoint in time. Depending on the context of the technology, this curve can occur over a shorter or longer span of time.

This curve is used to model the life-cycle (excluding decline) of various technologies, with varying degrees of accuracy. In this case, the curve is applied to the deployment of the post office in the United States.

Applying the s-curve to the post-office produces the following results:

Life cycle curve of the post office in the United States

An visual analysis of the data suggests that the life-cycle model does a reasonably good job of representing the life-cycle of the post office. A statistical analysis finds an R2 value of 0.93, which is strong but could be better.

There are a couple important consideration when reviewing the data. First, the Civil War clearly interrupts the growth pattern of the post office. After war is over, growth resumes as life-cycle model suggests it should. If the war years were removed from the analysis, we would inevitably find a better relationship between the actual data and the model. The other important observation is that, from the perspective of the model, the history of the post office is that of a life abbreviated. It doesn’t appear to fully enter maturity as we would expect it to. Visually, it appears to be just leaving the growth phase when it abruptly peaks and begins diminishing.

The reason for this of course is the policy of free-rural delivery, which was implemented at the turn of the century and was discussed earlier. Because 65% of the population lived in rural areas and because of the sheer scale of rural area, this was a substantial change in service. Furthermore, because the shift occurred entirely within the postal service (and because the postal service monopolized mail delivery) the transition from post offices to direct delivery was abrupt. If the technology would have matured as the model suggests it should, its growth would have gradually slowed before declining (assuming it declines eventually).

For the sake of analysis, the following chart assumes the Civil War never happened. It also assumes free rural delivery was never established as a policy. To do so, the years of 1861-1865 were removed from the data. Additionally, K is estimated to be higher than the actual peek. The estimated K is that which produced the greatest R2. The estimated K value for this modified data set is 85,000 and the R2 is .96, which is marginally better than the original fit.

Life cycle curve of the post office in the United States. The source data was modified to exclude the civil war and adoption of free rural delivery.

Notes Edit

  1. All historical information in this wikibook was drawn from Pub. 100 by the United States Postal Service.
  2. All data on the number of post offices as well as income and expenses of the USPS were drawn from the document title “Pieces of mail Handled, Number of Post Offices, Income, and Expenses Since 1789.”

References Edit

Pub. 100 - The United States Postal Service: An American History 1775-2006. Government Relations, United States Postal Service. 2006.

“Pieces of Mail Handled, Number of Post Offices, Income, and Expenses Since 1789.” United States Postal Service. 2012.

Beijing cars

The use of civilian vehicles

The mode to be analysed is civilian vehicles in Beijing, China. The introduction of civilian cars aims to benefit the private car owners by providing them a convenient and flexible way to reach a destination. As there are more potential car buyers in the market, civilian vehicles are also capable of providing a more comfortable driving experience such as featuring air-conditioning system, leather seats,heated and ventilated seats. Its main market is group pf people who prefer travelling to a destination without sharing with other people in an isolated space or reaching a destination where other transportation does not reach to.

What are the transport modes looked like in Beijing before the advent of civilian vehicles

Prior to the 1949 (the founding of New China),there is no petrol civilian vehicles in China. The primary transportation modes provided to Beijing residents was the locomotives, bicycle and rickshaw (a two-wheeled vehicle drawn by man). There are indeed petrol vehicles used in Beijing prior to 1949 but only for the government or military use. Prior to 1949, the locomotives are the only mode that civilians can take to travel a relatively longer distance (excluding planes that are only used for military purpose). However, the locomotives have low energy efficiency and generates unpleasant noise. The mode that were publically used in beijing is bicycles are eco-friendly but can exhaust users if used for long distance. Man-powered Rickshaw travels at the slowest speed and are used for shorter distance and time. Comparing to the bicycles, Rickshaw was only used by middle class or aristocracy. After the newly established government established the birth of the new china at 1949,the vehicles market was open to the public in accordance with the reform and opening-up policy. The Government see the needs of introducing cars in the market can partly ensure that Chinese people can be internationally compatible.

The first “automobile” was built as a scaled down model around 1672. It was steamed powered and was a gift for the Chinese emperor.

 Setright, L. J. K. (2004). Drive On!: A Social History of the Motor Car. Granta Books. ISBN 1-86207-698-7.

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first full-scale, self-propelled mechanical vehicle in about 1769. The external combustion engine was adapted to a variety of modes such as steam cars or steam buses during the first part of the 19th century. Design could follow the same developing pattern and process but achieving the different outcomes. The internal combustion engine was invented at 1807 by Nicéphore Niépce and his brother Claude but was used on powering a boat. surprisingly, in the same year, the Swiss inventor François Isaac de Rivaz invented a similar internal combustion engine which was used to power a vehicle. The invention of combustion engine stimulates the development of the vehicle. Later on, the gasoline powered vehicle was invented in 1893 and the diesel engine was invented in 1897. Steamed powered, electric powered and gasoline powered vehicles has competed for a long time till the gasoline internal combustion engine dominated the market in the 1910s.

Accessible Public Transportation

The market for handicap accessible public transportation, specifically flexible modes of transit like buses, have arguably been a public concern since the dawn of that mode of transportation. In America the first large scale demand for accessible public bus transit likely emerged following the waves of disabled veterans returning home from World War II. This surge in potential users coupled with a rapidly shrinking network of inner city trolley services created a niche in the transportation market that would take another 50 years to fill. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed created a federal mandate enforceable by law, that would further strengthen the steps many municipalities had taken to provide accessible public bus transit for their residents.

Quantitative Analysis Edit

The life-cycle of the handicap accessible bus is unique in that it modified an already existing mode of transportation rather than creating an entirely new mode. The birth of this mode was not simply a response to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 as one might think. The Americans with Disabilities Act only accounts for the about half of the total growth in handicap accessible buses in service as of 2006. Analysis of the data shows a likely inflection point (the time when the mode goes from growth that is constantly increasing to growing but slowly decreasing) of 1995.65, a time only a few years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.

In fact this mode owes its birth to a growing market of handicapped users that pre-dates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991. This indicates that municipal transit agencies where recognizing the need to provide transit services to disabled citizens long before the federal mandate made by the ADA and FTA. As shown in the data in figure 1 there is a relatively steady rate of growth (the growth phase) from 1993 to 2001, although it is likely that the growth phase began prior to the 1991 ADA regulations. At the end of the curve you can see the mode begins to enter its mature phase around 2002 at which point the number of accessible buses only increases by about two thousand a year.

Figure 1

In figure 1 the regression line very accurately depicts the trajectory of the data as indicated by the R-squared value of 98.386. This model predicts the mode will reach capacity at around 74,300 accessible buses nationwide. Given the current trend of this line it is likely that this figure will be reach within the next decade however a rapidly expanding elderly population in the United States may push actual figures beyond the predicted capacity.

Qualitative Analysis Edit

Essential Technological Characteristics Edit

There is a long list of characteristics and measuring associated with providing equal accessibility to bus transit users that include physical changes to equipment and instructional changes for operators and users. Part 38 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Appendix 1) lists these and other specification as part of the accessibility standards for buses:

  • Audible & visual stop announcement (Section 38.37)
  • Safety lighting (Section 38.31)
  • Visual route identification & audible announcement (Section 38.39)
  • Harnessing, adaptable seating (Section 38.23)
  • Hand rails, railings (Section 38.23.13 & 38.29)
  • Clear paths of travel and turning(Section 38.23)
  • Right to assistance (ADAAA)
  • Kneeling buses, ramps, & lifts (Section 38.23)
  • Handicap seating policies and signs (Section 38.27)

Advantages Edit

Providing accessible buses for transit users has several benefits and drawback, for both the system and its users, some of which are clearer than others. Perhaps the clearest advantage to providing handicap accessible buses is the resolution of the moral imperative this practice provides. Because many disabled individuals rely on public transportation as their primary, and in some cases their exclusive mode of transportation, provisions for their use of this public amenity provides for the public good. It also dramatically increases the productive capacity of these individuals by providing them more flexible and reliable access to sources of employment, shopping, recreation, and other resources. It is also important to remember that these amenities provide access to public transit for those who are temporarily disabled, increasing the flexibility of the system to provide for a wider range of users.

Another important advantage is the potential to increase transit ridership. With public transportation systems across America constantly working towards increased ridership, both to cover operational costs and promote expansion of transit networks, those with permanent and temporary disabilities represented an untapped source of potential users. Knowing that mobility can be impaired in a range of ways, it is logical that a disproportionate number of this demographic group has some reduced capacity to provide directly for their own transportation, due either to physical or mental impairments. These barriers, discrimination in the job market, and other factors that economically disadvantage the disabled, make owning a specialized (adapted to enable a disabled driver) automobile even more difficult, further increasing their reliance on and need for accessible public transportation.

There are of course costs to increasing the capacity and ridership of any public transit system. The foremost drawback is the initial cost of retrofitting existing buses already in service to accommodate the disable. Additionally there are increases in costs associated with designing and building the complicated systems needed to make new modern buses and their stops handicap accessible. Increasing accessibility will also inevitably result in reductions in system efficiency, with handicapped riders requiring longer boarding times, extra time for route and stop identification, and in some instances the need for driver assistance (securing wheelchairs, etc.).

Primary Markets Edit

The primary user market for accessible buses is those individuals with permanent physical disabilities requiring some assistance in boarding, seating, and off-loading. Other markets include those who are mentally impaired, those with temporary disabilities, the elderly, and those who have other mobility barriers such as child strollers and shopping carts. Geographically these buses tend to service the densest centers of population, typically central cities and areas of low income levels. Additionally the expansion of transit services has given rise to handicap accessible Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus lines extending into suburban rings.

History of Other Handicap Accessible Transit Options Edit

The appearance of alternative modes of accessible public transportation is unique in their collinear evolution. Since its inception, ADA regulations have required the modification of all modes of ‘public’ transportation for equal accessibility. This created an environment of rapid collinear modification that essentially impacted all modes simultaneously in the United States. Prior to ADA regulation, there was very little in the way of accessible public transit options due in large part to the high cost of retrofitting existing stations, vehicles, and other infrastructure.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable modes of handicap accessible transportation came with the advent of the van and mini-van in the 1960’s and 1980’s. The introduction a private automobile with a sizable interior space resulted in the subsequent appearance small companies that emerged to modify these vehicles for handicap use. The high cost of modifying these vans for handicap use has been a consistent barrier to access for this mode of transportation. Because of the high cost of ownership small businesses and public services emerged to provide ‘by request’ service for those who could not afford their own vehicles. Facilities with high levels of handicapped users such as nursing homes, hospitals, etc. also became early users of these limited modes of handicap transport. The limited capacity of these vehicles, often limited to a single handicapped passenger, was another limiting factor to this mode capturing more of the market.

An important emerging market trend is the coming of ‘age’ of the baby-boomer generation. As this large generation ages, their physical ability will continue to decline, a trend that will put increasing pressure on the existing accessible public transportation system. Further compounding this trend is the increasing life-span of the average American, increasing levels of obesity, and to some degree the new generation of disabled veterans emerging for the decade long War on Terror. Certainly these phenomena working in concert with local conditions will drive increases in system capacity and innovation.

Invention of the Accessible Buses Edit

The principle technological innovations for improving accessibility have focused on both physical and operational improvements to buses. Early bus modifications focused on improving movement in and out of the vehicle first with lifts and then with lowering. Early lifts were of two primary types, integrated stair assemblies and dedicated. Each of these early access technologies had drawbacks. Integrated stair lifts occupied the stair space during deployment, preventing boarding by other passengers until loading is complete. This type of lift is also difficult to deploy manually and been notorious for mechanical failures. Alternatively dedicated lifts, while being more reliable and providing simultaneous boarding capacity, occupy large amounts of space in the bus that would otherwise be used of seating. New boarding innovation has focused on level boarding. Level boarding buses use a combination of sliding ramps and air suspension to temporarily low the bus to boarding level using the ramp to compensate for large grade and slope variations.

Other technological innovations have focused on conveyance of information to and from disable riders. Stop request systems feature standardized mechanisms, multi-sensory indicators, and multiple initiation mechanisms allowing disabled users to recognize their stop, and access the indicate mechanism to convey their intent to disembark. These include but are not limited to:

  • Braille stop request button
  • Audible signals from the driver
  • Audible and visual station/stop name indicators
  • Audible and visual stop indicators
  • Multiple level stop indicator mechanisms

Signage standards for bus stops are also required to comply with ADA standards as shown in figure 2.

Figure 2

Integration has also been a key sector of innovation for making accessibility improvements to buses that do not sacrifice efficiency. For example most new buses have handicap seating areas that are integrated into the seating configuration of the bus. This provides a handicap spot when needed and allows for standard seats to be folded down in place when the area is not in use for handicap seating.

Policy changes have also made for more efficient and standardized boarding and seating for all users. The gentlemen’s rule is now a standardized policy for most transit authorities throughout the nation allowing handicapped riders to load first, disembark first, and sit in front of the bus. ADA policy also dictates that drivers are required to provide assistance for boarding, seating, stop indication, and disembarking.

All of these innovations have been geared to increase efficiency while still providing a level of service equal to the typical able-bodied user. One key distinction made by ADA regulations is that there should be no limitation to accessing public services like transportation, meaning that all users should be able to access all of the benefits of the transit service at the same level regardless of physical or mental status. The requirement to avoid differentiation in service has impaired past transit efficiency, steering many agencies towards integration of technologies and standardization of processes as a means of streamlining the accommodation process.

Early Market Development Edit

The transit market for disabled individuals was a wholly under-served market for decades. This market has several segments, each requiring specific service provision to meet ADA guidelines. Broadly these categories of users can be defined as follows:

Mobility Impaired
Primary needs include boarding and departure assistance, as well as restraint assistance
Sensory Impaired
Primary needs include stop and information indication and information
Mentally Impaired
Needs vary widely, but informational conveyance is a typical concern
Not necessarily disabled or impaired, but may need some assistance.
Needs vary, but boarding and departure assistance and seating provisions are common
Temporarily Impaired or Encumbered
Seating provisions and in some cases boarding and assistance needs are common

Functional enhancement as required by the ADA, has serendipitously provided better transit service for temporarily impaired and encumbered users by mandating technological improvements that would have not been economically justifiable in other circumstances. Similar benefits have also been extended to the elderly as a result of ADA requirements making public buses easier to enter and exit as well as providing priority seating.

The Early Role of Policy Edit

Although guidelines from the ADA and Federal Transit Administration do not require the immediate conversion of buses, the data shows that just a few years after the Americans with Disabilities Act is passed there are very high levels of accessibility across all bus types by 1993, as seen in figure 2. This indicates that many municipalities had already begun the conversion process prior to the ADA requirements as a means of meeting the needs of local residents. This is particularly true for the smaller and more flexible buses, seen in figure 3, which had in many cases already been converted for on demand handicap transport and para-trans operations by the mid-1990s. Newer bus technologies like articulated buses had much lower levels of initial compliance with these standards, but rapid reconfiguration coupled with the mandate that new orders must meet with ADA guidelines resulted in a rapid increase in the percentage of accessible articulated buses by the year 2000.

Figure 3

Because ADA regulations are the principle driver of change for this mode of transportation, and because the United States has such a strong focus on equal rights it is unlikely that policies were derived from other modes or countries. Policy creation has instead been a continual process of innovation and refinement, often driven by the users (disabled users) who encounter new or persistent obstacles in their day to day activities. ADA policies are created through an iterative process which looks like this (ADA, 2010):

  • A user, agency, or other entity encounters an obstacle or anticipates a future problem and initiates the formal process.
  • Guidelines, regulations, or changes are then published in the Federal Register
  • These guidelines, regulations, and changes are then subject to a period of public comment and agency review.
  • Final Rule is published in the Federal Register.

Nearly all accessibilities policies are sanctioned by government through ADA regulations. As the mode of accessible buses continues into maturity operational changes and technological advancements can arise from embedded policies as long as they comply with federal regulation. These regulations apply to any entity that is receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department of Transportation or any public entity that provides designated public transportation or intercity or commuter rail transportation, any private entity that provides specified public transportation; and any private entity that is not primarily engaged in the business of transporting people but operates a demand responsive or fixed route system (FTA, 2007).

Growth Phase of the Accessible Public Buses Edit

The growth in this particular mode of transportation has been almost entirely driven by public sector involvement. The high cost of technology per user in this market has been a barrier to entry for large scale deployment of accessible route-based bus transit outside the public sphere. Although the public sector is the primary market actor, private sector participants may provide services provided they follow FTA and ADA guidelines according to FTA sections 37.7 which states that requirements apply to all over-the-road buses acquired by public entities or by private contractors to a public entity (FTA, 2007). This and other details in sections 37 and 38 of the FTA/ADA regulations are important to the evolution of this transit mode because of their use in litigation action against both public and private entities.

Lawsuits against both public and private bus service providers have had many functional impacts on the system as a whole. A few examples of important precedent cases for litigation against both public and private transportation providers and their importance are listed below:

Olmstead v. L.C.
Relevance: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bars the unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities in state institutions
Larry Beauchamp -vs- Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority
Relevance: A case where plaintiff claimed ADA discrimination from an on-demand transit service offered by a private company as a supplement to the regular transit service provided by a city.

Litigation has become a primary mechanism for ADA standards enforcement for several reasons. First the scope of ADA regulation is massive and would be impossible to enforce through agencies monitoring alone. Second the ADA regulatory system can only be called on to ensure that initial design standards are met, any changes after initial inspection typically require a complaint report to trigger additional inspection and corrective action. Third the ADA regulatory system by its nature has built in compliance monitors in the individuals it protects. Users conducting their day to day activities function much more efficiently as standard monitors because of anonymity (not associated directly with the ADA or FTA), local knowledge, and repeated exposure to chronic offenders.

Although this monitoring function acts as an effective monitoring for compliance mechanism it has also become a contentious issue over what has been viewed by some parties as over-litigation. Business and small business owners maintain that this litigation is placing undo financial strain on their business do to legal and compliance costs. In many instances their chief complaint is that the regulations are too complex and that compliance is difficult and expensive to achieve and maintain, especially for small businesses that are unfamiliar with ADA regulations. These costs represent a significant barrier to entry for many private agencies attempting to provide regular or supplementary on-road transportation services.

Maturation of Accessible Bus Transit Edit

As the mode has matured and litigation concerns persist, attempts by the ADA, FTA, and private consultancies has been made to provide design and regulatory guidance for transit system operators in order to alleviate some of the complexities associated with the ADA and FTA regulation. Additionally transit agencies themselves have in many cases created internal positions for ADA accessibility experts to ensure that all facets of the transit system comply with regulation. Enforcement and maintenance of standards have also become inter-agencies roles as transit and planning authorities educate operators, assessors, and transit police on ADA requirements.

Although the standardization of accessibility technologies has made systems easier to use and understand these same standards have also resulted in the stagnation of technological innovation in signaling, signage, and loading mechanisms. This standardization has undoubtedly permeated bus manufactures seeking economies of scale. This combined with a relatively saturated market for accessible buses creates an environment which does not promote innovation in these technologies. That said, the focus on expanding public transit networks in major metropolitan areas coupled with a figure of one fifth of the America’s population being disable (a number that is projected to continue to rise in the coming years) it is quite probable that we may see a market revitalization in the coming years.

Opportunities Edit

While the accessible bus market is relatively mature in its life cycle there are still steps to be made in improving the system. One key area of improvement is a more complete provisioning for the conveyance of information. Specifically there are no regulations governing the conveyance of transit system specific information such as route and scheduling information. This makes understanding the operation of system routes more difficult or impossible for those who are visually impaired. Currently most systems rely on interaction between the driver and the disabled individual to convey bus number, where it goes, whether the bus is on time, crowding conditions on the bus, availability of other buses nearby that may better fit the user’s needs, etc. This issue could be at least partially resolved with multi-sensory data conveyance tools. Opportunities exist to integrate these tools with other high-tech bus management systems like GPS tracking and real-time updating station schedules.

The maturity of the system, and the constant monitoring and threat of litigation has resulted in an environment that has necessitated the rapid maturation of handicap accessible buses in the U.S. Technological advancement in accessible buses has therefore been largely the result of regulatory requirements rather than market forces. The rapid rate of technological advances that punctuated early system improvements is likely to continue to decline while system operational and informational advancements are likely to yield the remainder of accessibility gains in the future for this mode.

Conclusion Edit

As the average age and rate of obesity of U.S. citizens continues to climb over the next few decades it will be interesting to watch how accessible bus systems adapt to handle inevitable increases in demand over the coming decades. It may be that significant system changes will not come until the mode itself is changed in some dramatic way, i.e. double decker buses may allow for advancements in different loading system technology. Information technology may also improve system efficiency by conveying information more effectively allowing disabled rider to make more efficient system choices and transit operators to anticipate handicap user needs.

Bibliography Edit

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Department of Justice, 15 Sept. 2010. PDF.

1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Department of Justice, 1994. PDF.

"New or Proposed ADA Regulations." ADA Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Department of Justice, 8 Oct. 2010. Web. 10 Oct. 2011. <>. Nguyen, Long X., and Deborah D. Johnson. National Transportaiton Statistics. Washington DC: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2011. PDF.

"Part 37--Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities - 0726CB3D4779478E8B60DA001A4ABF47." Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities. Federal Transit Administration, 1 Oct. 2007. Web. 9 Oct. 2011. <>.

"Part 38--Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles - 0726CB3D4779478E8B60DA001A4ABF47." Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles. Federal Transit Administration, 1 Oct. 2007. Web. 10 Oct. 2011. <>.

United States. U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Transit Administration. Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities. U.S. Department of Transportation, 6 Sept. 1991. Web. 9 Oct. 2011. <>.

Battery Electric Vehicles

Overview Edit

The following wikibook includes a life-cycle analysis of the electric vehicle with a primary focus on the batter electric vehicle (BEV), specifically. A general history of the electric vehicle and automobile at large, as well as quantitative analysis on the number of BEVs estimated in use in the United States in modern times (1990s-present), is presented herein.--Thornstar (discusscontribs) 03:18, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

Life-cycle Analysis Edit

If you plot the life-cycle of any major technological product, you will most likely see a curve that resembles the English letter "S". Just take a look at the second image from this article from the New York Times from 2008. The basic reasoning behind this phenomenon is that there is usually a rather slow, but increasing growth in adoption of a new technology at the beginning of its life-cycle, but one that is followed by rapid expansion and growth as the product becomes mass produced, or widely accepted, for instance. Then, later on, sometimes years, decades, possibly centuries later, something happens that triggers the decrease in the numbers of a product purchased. This could happen due to an infinite number of things, but it is likely because the market has reached saturation, or a new product has out-placed the old. Therefore, it is a common assumption (and somewhat accurate) that the life-cycle of a new technology will take on the shape of an S-curve. However, the trouble lies in predicting when and where the curves will take shape.

There are a number of techniques used to predict things about a certain technology if data has been collected or estimated. One can try to estimate when in time a product will reach certain points of market saturation, which can be very helpful for marketers, investors, business owners, and consumers alike. Of course, it is extremely difficult to predict anything such as market growth or adoption of a product to absolute certainty, but by using the proper techniques, and by being careful and rational with your assumptions, one can make fairly accurate predictions.

Making predictions about the life-cycle of any given technology is not easy, especially when trying to do so with a young technology that incidentally has little data in terms of its likely "lifetime" (i.e. Modern Battery Electric Vehicles, which have only been sold by major manufacturers as major production cars since around the year 2000, and have only seen major and promising growth since about 2008 with the production of the Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt, and Nissan Leaf.) One needs to make assumptions about where the market saturation point will be, for instance, a relatively easy thing to do with some technologies. However, for estimating the life-cycle analysis of the BEV, one needs to decide if the saturation value is simply all of the vehicles registered on the roads being BEVs, 50% of the vehicles? 30%? 80? The answer is unclear. Will everyone adopt this environmentally cleaner technology over time, or will another technology come along that replaces it. Will more people choose to take public transit over owning their own vehicle as more and more people move into cities and incidentally closer to their office? No one is really sure. This is why multiple projections are typically made when trying to predict life-cycles for any technology, and why when trying to understand someones prediction it is best to make sure their assumptions seem logical to you.

There are a number or reasons to expect growth in the BEV sector, and there is considerable room for growth, considering BEVs probably make up less than 1% of all new vehicle sales in the United States as of the end of 2013. (Based on estimates from the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA)[1], which claim that roughly 100,000 BEV's were sold in 2013, and estimates from the United States Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics[2] that claim there were roughly 11.58 million new vehicle sales in the United States in 2010.)

Stages Revisited Edit

As mentioned above, there are three primary, or common, stages in the life-cycle of a product; birth, growth, and maturity. Alone, these three stages have been known to come in all different types of shapes and sizes, but the big picture and the way they are defined remain the same. However, there is still more that can be said about a life-cycle. For instance, what if someone wanted to study the decline or "death" of a product. Here too there is a similar pattern. Often times, during the decline of a product, it will react similarily to how it grew in the first place. If you plot the death of a product, you will see a similar shape, the "s-curve", which can be analyzed in the exact same way as the growth s-curve.

Reincarnation Edit

These three stages are not cut-and-dry for every product by any means. Just look at the electric vehicle, which took off in the late 1800's around the exact same time that gasoline powered automobile, and steam automobiles were first invented. These three technologies competed for market dominance for 10 years or so until the gasoline powered vehicle began dominating, putting the electric vehicle and steam vehicle manufacturers eventually out of business. Yet, here we are in the 21st Century, seeing a resurgence in electric vehicle technology, awareness, and focus.

Thanks to modern technology, fuel dependence uncertainties, and big breakthroughs in battery tech, from companies like Tesla Motors, the BEV is beginning to see a resurgence in sales. It is highly likely that over the next few decades and into the future, electric vehicles will become a main competitor to internal combustion engine vehicles.



The electric vehicle is a subset of the automobile, which has been on of the most important technologies of the past century. Before the automobile, it took weeks, months, or even years for people to travel coast-to-coast in the United States.

A map showing how long it took to travel to various parts of the US in 1857, starting from NY city

Before the turn of the 19th century, when the automobile was becoming more affordable, people needed to board a train, or wagon to travel anywhere significantly, or they would have boarded an open-sea vessel or canal boat. Inherently, people did not have the freedom or accessibility to travel somewhere “on a whim”, the passengers were bounded by scheduling, and availability.

The invention of the automobile came in part from inventors taking technologies already used for trains, and boats, and applying it to a smaller, more personal surface vehicle. At first, the market was shared between electric, steam, and gasoline powered cars, and in 1896 there were more than one model of each type made. At the turn of the century the most popular car was the steam car, commonly known as, the “Locomobile”. “In 1899, there were 1,575 electric vehicles, 1,681 steam cars, and 936 gasoline cars sold,”[3] but, the electric vehicle was showing promise great promise. At the time, Thomas Edison promised that the problems associated with batteries poor ability to store energy was close to being solved. It was thought that the electric car was the most advanced car on the market, and in fact, an electric car was the first car to reach 100 km/h.[4]

The early electric car had certain qualities that made it more desirable than its gasoline and steam powered equivalents. For one, it didn’t require a hand crank to get it started, like the gasoline car did. This feature was said to make it more desirable for women drivers, because the hand cranks were not easy to operate. Plus, electric cars weren't as dirty as the steam or gas powered car, and they didn't have the smell, noise, or vibrations associated with them. The electric vehicle also didn't require difficult shifting maneuvers, which is often cited as being the most difficult part of driving the early automobiles. As for the range of the early vehicles, electric vehicles actually had longer ranges than steam-powered cars, because the steam cars would run out of water quickly, but gasoline powered cars could have large tanks, and refuel faster, giving them an advantage for longer trips. Another advantage that electric cars and gasoline powered cars had over steam cars was that they did not require long warm up times – the steam car would sometimes need to warm up for 45 minutes, depending on outdoor temperature.

Unfortunately for the electric vehicle manufacturers, inventions and upgrades to the gas powered cars caught up quickly, and in 1912, Charles Kettering invented the electric start, ultimately removing the need for a hand crank. The EV market edge did not last for very long. From 1899 to 1909, even though they saw a doubling of sales, their gasoline car competitors saw an increase of close to 120 times their 1899 sales. The success of the gasoline car, and comparable failure of the electric car is likely attributed to two things; cost and range. In 1900, electric vehicles were on average $1,000 more expensive than gasoline vehicles, mostly because gasoline vehicle manufacturers focused on mass production, lowering their costs, whereas the EV companies were focused on producing higher end, higher performance, and incidentally, higher priced cars. Gas car companies also spent money on marketing to the masses, while most of the big electric car companies were focused on vertical integration between inter-city street car systems.

By 1914, the biggest manufacturer of electric vehicles, Detroit Electric, was charging $2,850 for their standard four-seater, while the Ford town car was a mere $640, and the roadster was only $440. It is easy to see why the electric vehicle manufacturers didn't survive against the likes of Henry Ford with his mass production, low-cost vehicles. It is probably safe to assume that the gasoline powered vehicles were also more convenient, pricing aside. For instance, the average range of an electric vehicle in 1914 was roughly 55 miles, it's battery had a lifespan of just 6 months, and it took a much longer time to “re-fuel” compared to a gasoline powered car. Funny enough, the electric vehicle ranges of the 1914 are fairly similar to those of 2013, and even better in some cases (not considering Tesla Motors' Roadster or Model S, which can get 200 miles or better on average per charge). Of course, the batteries are of much higher quality in 2013, so they last longer than 6 months. Cars are also much heavier than they were back then.

The range played a key advantage for the gasoline vehicle in the 1920’s and continues to be a big factor today. As the highway system became more developed, and American cities became linked together across the country, it became feasible to drive farther distances, thus making the gasoline car that much more desirable. That, and the discovery of larger oil reserves in the southern United States, making gas more affordable and obtainable. [still proofreading and EDITING from here on out, January 10, 2013]

Since then, the gasoline powered car has remained dominant. Even early on, the numbers were staggering – In 1924, 381 electric vehicles produced in the United States, compared to the subtle 3,185,490 gasoline cars[5]. Up until 1999, there wasn’t any considerable amount of electric vehicles sold domestically, and even when considering hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which sales started around 1999, the gasoline powered vehicle is still in much control. However, in recent times, since 1999, there has been a gradual increase in the number of sales of HEVs and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), and their chunk of the percentage of total automobile sales has been growing along as well. At this point in history, the total number of automobile sales in the United States has more or less flat-lined, though, suggesting that the automobile is in the mature phase of its life-cycle. The total number “light vehicle” automobile sales was floating steadily around 17,000,000 from 1999-2007, and decreased to about 13,000,000 per year over the following 5 years,[6] but the percentage of those that are considered hybrid or plug-in electric is up to nearly 3%. There was a depression in the economy in 2008, so this would explain the drastic decrease, and the slight increase in previous years (2011-2013), but even so, as mentioned, it would seem that the automobile is mature in the United States. That times are changing, and there could be a shift to alternative fueled vehicles (AFVs), though, could mean that there is simply a new life-cycle appearing as a subset to the automobile. There could even be a reduction in sales year-over-year into the future, and a reduction in total number of vehicles on the road if sociological and economical changes incur.

Most of the issues that prevented the electric automobile from achieving mass market dominance over the internal combustion engine in the early 1900s are the same ones doing so today. The automobile was changing the lives of Americans, and people all over the world, in more ways than any other technology before it had ever done.

Advantages over Gasoline Vehicles Edit

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on developing networks and technology to compliment the automobile, and much of our lives are clearly entrenched by them. However, if the population continues growing at an exponential rate, and we continue to rely on the same finite resources like oil to fuel our automobiles, we will be left immobilized with a bunch of useless scraps of metal. In order to prevent this, there will need to be a radical shift in driving habits, whether that be in the amount of driving we do, or in the types of vehicles we choose to do it in. Fortunately, there is no need to panic at this point, for there is currently no accurate prediction for when the world may run out of oil, and it’s very unlikely to happen in the next decade or so, but there are still issues surrounding the use of fossil fuels for energy. Most notably, there are environmental concerns with burning fossil fuels, there is a concern that the supply will run out, people think there is too much reliance on foreign nations, and an internal combustion engine is noisy relative to an electric engine.

The electric vehicle has the potential to help offset our global reliance on fossil fuels. Electric vehicles will also help individual nations become less dependence on the nations with the largest supplies of fossil fuels. And, electric vehicles can help offset the carbon footprint, but just as there are pros to the electric vehicle, there are cons, and tradeoffs that will occur. The success, the environmental impact of the EV depend on a number of variables.

Pros Edit

Cities are dense, short range vehicles satisfy most driver’s needs according to reports, such as the one by[7]. Based on statistics from the National Household Travel Survey of 2009, Haaren concludes that 98% of urban trips and 95% of rural trips were under 50-miles. The study which was based on survey questions regarding trips taken, is a small sampling of the total trips nationwide, but nonetheless, it is probably a fairly good approximation. These stats seem to suggest that “range anxiety” shouldn’t be as big of a problem for electric cars as it seems. Average daily commutes was around 14 miles of those in the study, but people still need a long range vehicle for the yearly trip to grandma’s house. .

Gasoline is expensive, EVs can reduce the cost of driving. The price of gasoline fluctuates all the time, and there is not telling how expensive it will become further into the future. Electric vehicles, therefore, that don’t rely the supply and demand of fossil fuels can greatly reduce the operating costs associated with driving.

Cons Edit

Range, currently the best EV gets a range of 200-300 miles per charge. As mentioned above, under ‘pros’, an electric vehicle with a range of 200 miles would suit the majority of Americans. The problem still arises when these families want to take a family vacation, or drive somewhere outside of this range. Charging infrastructure is currently insufficient for most trips, but even if there was sufficient infrastructure, people have the impression that charging takes much longer than the conventional gas re-fueling. They are not too far from the truth, but Tesla Motors (and perhaps others), seem close to solving this issue, if not making it a more tolerable difference. Tesla currently offers the technology (called a supercharger) to charge one of their car’s batteries in about 1-hr, which corresponds to about 300 miles of range per hour of charge. That’s not bad, as according to a useful calculator on Tesla Motors website, a 400 mile trip would only require 55 minutes of charging, resulting in an approximately 7-hr and 5-min trip, at an average speed of 65 mph. To put that into perspective, a trip from Minneapolis, MN to Chicago, IL, which is about 409 miles, would take approximately 6-hrs and 25-minutes driving 65 mph (including a 5-minute refuel stop). Considering the fact that the average human eats a meal every 5 hours, and that an average rest stop meal might last anywhere from 15-45 minutes, the cost associated with waiting 55 minutes every 300 miles is not that high.

Additionally, there have been attempts by companies to perform battery swaps instead of recharges. This technique has the potential to make “re-fueling” even faster than conventional gasoline cars. Infrastructure, since the 20th century, the century dominated by automobile production, and adoption, was dominated by the internal combustion engine, the entire roadway infrastructure is catered to gas powered vehicles. People can travel almost anywhere across the continent comfortably knowing that they will be nearby a gas station for refueling. Electric vehicles, require completely different “fueling” infrastructure. EVs are still in their infancy, the infrastructure is even more so. Before a lot of people will consider adopting the technology they will want to feel comfortable with the infrastructure that compliments it. The cost of building new infrastructure will be huge, but if early adopters choose the best practices and technology, their costs will be made up quickly infrastructure is a big factor for consumers adopting a technology.

Tradeoffs Edit

Quieter could also mean more dangerous, for pedestrians, bikers, and other drivers. Batteries, rely on resources still found mostly in foreign countries (lithium, for instance), so an independence from gasoline simply causes a reliance on a new resource. Electricity used to charge the electric vehicles can be generated from multiple sources; nuclear, solar, wind, hydropower, natural gas, petroleum, coal, etc. Unfortunately, the majority of United States electricity generation still comes from fossil fuels, about 67%[8], so the waning off of petroleum through the replacement of gasoline powered vehicles substitutes’ one fossil fuel for another in one sense. The percentage of U.S. electric generation coming from renewable energy has been increasing, which is promising, since the cleanliness of the electric vehicle is highly dependent on the source by which its power was provided.

The electric vehicle is more efficient than the gasoline powered vehicle. “Electric vehicles convert about 59-62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels”, while typical gasoline powered vehicles only convert about 17-21%[9]. Of course, the actual efficiency depends on the efficiency of the power generating facility that supplies the energy to the grid, but reports suggest that it is most often more efficient.

If the entire grid was powered by renewable resources that don’t emit any pollutants, then electric vehicles wouldn’t emit any pollutants during their operating life-cycle. One problem with gasoline powered vehicles is that they emit harmful emissions from the tailpipes, due to the byproducts of internal combustion. Even while electric vehicles are supplied energy from fossil-fuel burning power plants, the overall environmental impact of an electric vehicle is still less than the gas car. It is thought that even when electric vehicles are charged with energy from a fossil-fuel, air polluting source, they are still less impactful on the environment. At a power generating facility all of the pollutants are concentrated at one spot, and therefore treating them becomes a much more controllable task. Whereas with cars that emit harmful pollutants into the environment, they are everywhere, spread around the country, they pollutant “scrubbers” in the vehicles are usually less sophisticated, and the restrictions are usually less stringent. Also, power plants are usually located away from city centers and high-density populations, and they tend to have tall smokestacks that emit the pollutants further away from humans. This coupled with the fact that most power plants have stronger air quality control regulations, compared to those of individual automobiles, means that the emissions coming from the smokestacks are usually cleaner as well.

Cost Comparison Edit

Much like in 1914, the upfront cost of an electric vehicle, compared to that of a comparable gasoline powered vehicle, is still higher. However, when the cost of gas is factored into the price (something that most people probably don’t consider with much thought), the price comparison changes, and quite drastically in some cases.

Currently Tesla Motors is in the process of building a supercharging network, which boasts the technology of supplying one of their vehicles with 200 miles per 20 minutes of charge – quite a feat in terms of modern charging abilities. The cherry-on-top of these supercharger stations, they are free for Tesla Model S drivers.

According to the research paper mentioned above by Haagen, the average vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per driver per day was around 36.5. A quick multiplication by 365 (days in an average year) to get average VMT per year produces a value of approximately 13,300 miles. If the average vehicle owner drives 13,300 miles per year, and owns the car for six years (the average length of new car ownership in the United States according to a study done by global market intelligence firm R.L. Polk & Co[10]), they will end up spending approximately $12,200 on gasoline (based on market average gas price of $3.50, and EPA estimated 23 mpg new vehicle average).

The average price of a new car in the United States set a record in August, 2013 - $31,252, according to a study done by[11]. Adding $12,200 to that price produces a simple, yet crude, approximation of the basic cumulative cost of owning a brand new 2013 car for 6 years - $43,4521.

Tesla Motors provides a convenient calculator on their website for figuring out the cost associated with charging one of their vehicles. Using the national average of $0.12 per kW-hr, it would cost approximately $1.39 per day for the average driver in Haagen’s research (36.5 miles per day). Therefore, in comparison, a driver would spend approximately $3,0002 to drive an electric vehicle 13,300 miles per year, for six years, a pretty remarkable 75% decrease in “fueling” cost.

The baseline cost of a new Tesla Model S, is around $75,000, though, and so even if a driver was somehow to manage only charging his/her vehicle using Tesla’s free Supercharging stations, his/her car would still be more expensive than a gasoline counterpart in the long run. Still, $75,000 compared to $43,000 is a better margin than considering just the baseline initial purchase cost of $31,252, and the fact that Tesla is building a huge network of superchargers that are free for their users has the potential to be a big game changer in the near future. For instance, on these facts alone, it can be assumed that if Tesla is somehow able to lower the cost of their vehicles to approximately $40,000, they will be cost effective compared to modern gasoline vehicles. Indeed, if Tesla was able to lower their price to even $45,000, the Model S would be cost-effective compared to a new $31,252 car owned and operated for 10 years (rather than the average 6) under the above assumptions, considering that the Model S actually has a 10 year battery warranty.

By comparison, the Nissan Leaf is more than cost-effective, under these assumptions. The Nissan Leaf is simply inhibited by lower range (approx. 50 mpc), less advanced charging infrastructure (no superchargers), and charging stations are not free. Over the life-span of 6-years, the Nissan Leaf, $31,000 + $3,000 (for fueling) = $34,000, is 22% more cost-effective.

1The real cost of owning a vehicle would include maintenance costs and insurance, and according to a study done by auto club AAA the average owner of a sedan ends up paying around $10,000 a year to own and operate the car. The reason this wasn’t used is that electric vehicles also require insurance payments, and have maintenances costs associated with them. At this point the cost of maintenance is difficult to compare since the main modern electric vehicle competitors like the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf have only been around for 5 years or less. However, it is very likely that the maintenance cost of electric vehicles is less than that of an internal combustion engine driven vehicle, since there are inherently less mechanical, moving parts.

2Assuming the driver charges his/her car from a NEMA 14-50 240 V | 40 A outlet

Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis Edit

The total number of electric vehicles has been growing rather rapidly since 2010 as seen in figure 5 below. Before that, there was an overall trend of growth since 1992, but it was rather slow, although sales did pick up momentarily at the turn of the century. The growth spurt in 2000 is likely due to an increase in crude oil price, and another scare over the dependence on foreign oil. However, the sales didn’t last long, and in 2003, electric vehicle sales slowed down albeit a continued rise.

In the modern era life-cycle of the electric vehicle (I am referring to anything after 1990), the electric vehicle has seen two periods of growth; a short phase from about 1999-2003, and the current phase that took off in about 2010. The overall trend of the data, economy, and technology suggests growth. How many Americans will buy electric cars, and how quickly they choose to adopt the technology if they do, however, is unknown. But, by looking at current statistics and making a few basic assumptions, an approximate projection based on the limited data and knowledge can be made. The following charts and figures will help define some of these assumptions and scenarios.

The data over the time period 1992-2011 used within the following sections is from a collection of studies formed by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the following is an excerpt from one of the reports, explaining what the data is and what is to be expected from it.

“Some degree of uncertainty is associated with electric vehicle estimates because of the differences in the definitions of an onroad electric vehicle. To eliminate some of this uncertainty, the definition of electric vehicles has been restricted for this report. For example, prototypes, large golf carts, schoo-based kit vehicles, unconfirmed hobbyist vehicles, and nonhighway vehicles were excluded from the electric vehicle definition.”[12]

As it mentions, the electric vehicles measured in these surveys are to be assumed to be onroad highway vehicles. This includes Light Duty vehicles which are measured as weighing less than 8,500-lbs, Medium Duty vehicles (8,501 – 26,000 lbs) and Heavy Duty vehicles (26,001 and greater).

The estimated values of total EVs in use in 2012, and 20133 are from the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA)[13]. They compare with popular media publications around the web.

For the following comparisons, it is assumed that the data is for onroad highway electric vehicles. The data following is for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).

3Estimated based on current YTD values, and average 2013 monthly sales assumed for October, November, and December

Birth Edit

Figure 5: Modern statistics gathered by the Energy Information Administration on estimated total number of battery electric vehicles in the United States

The actual birth of the electric automobile happened a little before the 1900’s, as discussed in the overview and history above, but since very few electric automobiles lasted, were driven, or let alone were even produced from 1920-1990, the birth phase of the electric automobile will be contained to the modern life-cycle of the technology, meaning 1990-onward.

The renaissance of the modern electric automobile could be credited to a number of events leading up to the 90’s, but a strong correlation exists between the state of California’s goals to improve air quality and the rise in sales and money spent on R&D. In 1990, the Californian government passed the 1990 Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV I) Program as a part of the CARB ZEV[14] program to promote zero emission vehicles as a means to reduce air pollution. A timeline of objectives were set, relating to the number of “zero emission”, “low emission”, and “ultra low emission” cars that were required to be sold per year, with one of them being that by 1998 2% of all new cars sold in California must be “zero emission.” – It doesn’t come as much of a surprise then that California still has the majority of electric vehicle registrations in 2013.

Nevertheless, very few electric vehicles actually entered the market each year. As seen in Figure 4 below, the year 2000 marked the first significant rise in number of electric vehicles on the road.

Figure 6: Picture inside the cockpit of a 1998 GM EV1

During this time period (1999-2003), GM, Toyota, and Ford were offering fully electric vehicles, just to name a few. GM produced the EV1, which they sold about 1,200 of, and Toyota sold a RAV4 EV, a version of their renowned model, which sold about 1,300.

This leaves a rather large portion of vehicles from the statistics unaccounted for. If the two biggest mainstream markets only accounted for 2,500 vehicles from 1996-2003, where did the other 44,205 vehicles added to the market come from? Short answer: I don’t know. According to the data compiled by the EIA, though, 15,313 “nonhybrid electric vehicles were “made available” in 2002, as seen below in Table 3[15].

The number of total nonhybrid electric vehicles made available matches up closely with the estimated number of electric vehicles added to the market from 2002-2003. Anyways, it is unclear what defines an electric vehicle in this data from the EIA, and the first phase of growth is a bit uncertain. What is important though is that there was some slight growth in the early 2000’s, and legislature in California and at the federal level was giving EVs more attention.

Growth Edit

The growth phase of the early 2000’s is probably better defined as part of the birth phase, since there wasn’t any strong, lasting products to develop from it. After the failure of the GM EV1, Toyota RAV4 EV, and others, a period of slow, but steady growth ensued for the next 6-7 years.

It is likely that the failure of the early 2000 EVs was due to their range, mixed with the lack of charging infrastructure, and their unreliability – the same problems they have been faced with since the 1900’s. The most significant growth began in 2008. Since then, the number of EVs in the United States has more than doubled. Three major car companies control the majority of the sales right now; Mitsubishi, Nissan, and newcomer Tesla Motors. While the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i have ranges from 70-100 miles, it is the Tesla Model S that shows the most promise with its ranges from 200-300 miles per charge.

Tesla Motors is proving that they are very dedicated to building the infrastructure needed to support their vehicles, which is also unique to the brand. Rather than waiting for the industry to catch up, they have seemingly decided to take matters into their own hand.

While the prices of the Nissan and Mitsubishi EVs are much more cost-effective than the Tesla, the range and vertical integration of Tesla is hard to ignore. Tesla has been beating its own expectations over the past year in number of sales, and production capacity of its plants. Tesla especially made headlines when it paid back nearly $450 million in government loans 9 years early, doing so before the other five companies picked for clean vehicle R&D (Nissan, Ford, Fisker, and The Vehicle Production Group LLC).

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has mentioned to media that a car with a 200 mile range with a $35,000 price tag could be on the market as soon as 2016.

Projections Edit

Based on current growth, using an S-curve to fit the data, and assuming full highway registered vehicle fleet conversion4 into EVs, the year 2047 will mark the year in which 50% of all vehicles are battery electric. See Figure 8, below.

Figure 8: Projected S-curve total number of electric vehicles in use in the United States based on current data from the EIA. Saturation is assumed to be 250,000,000 vehicles, the total number of highway registered vehicle in the U.S. in 2013. In other words, full fleet conversion to electric. t0 = 2047 under this projection (the inflection date in which 50% of saturation would be met under current growth.

The above projection is not very realistic since it assumes that every highway registered vehicle will be replaced by electric vehicles. There are a number of reasons why that is a bad assumption. For starters, if gasoline cars are to be replaced completely, there is a good chance that the market would be shared by multiple alternative fueled vehicles. There is research into fuel cell vehicles, nitrogen gas vehicles, hydrogen powered vehicles, and many more. The odds that the market will be completely dominated by electricity is not likely to happen right away. Also, the average age of a vehicle on the road today is 11 years old, and it is continuing to grow. As technology advances and cars last longer, people will most likely hold out from buying a new car even if it is electric and cheaper on an operating basis.

A better, safer assumption would be that electric vehicles achieve full light vehicle conversion. This would mean that the market saturation of electric vehicles would reach approximately 190,000,000 vehicles by 2011 statistics. Although, even this is a risky assumption, but it at least accounts for some error since it seems unlikely that electric will completely replace gasoline powered cars. Also, 190 million electric vehicles is conservative since the total number of highway registered vehicles is 290 million today. Even if the population keeps growing, the number of registered vehicles may not grow much higher, since congestion levels are already high. However, streets could be widened, and there is no telling if behavioral changes might occur causing people to drive less, choose different modes, carpool more, or something else. Either way, the following graph gives another scenario in which the saturation limit for EVs is 190 million, rather than 250 million, as in Figure 8.

Figure 9: Projected S-curve total number of electric vehicles in use in the United States based on current data from the EIA. Saturation is assumed to be 190,000,000 vehicles, approximately the total number of highway registered light-duty vehicle in the U.S. in 2013. In other words, full fleet conversion to electric. t0 = 2045.7 under this projection (the inflection date in which 50% of saturation would be met under current growth.

Figure 9 does not look much different than Figure 8, and the inflection point in which 50% of the saturation is projected to occur is similar. At the end of 2045, based on this data, 50% of the 190 million cars will be BEVs.

4According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there are currently 253,000,000 highway registered vehicles on the road (based on 2011 data). This includes light duty, short wheel base; light duty, long wheel base; motorcycle; truck, single-unit 2-axle 6-tire or more; truck combination; and bus. See for more details

Conclusion Edit

Current statistics appear to show a positive upward trend for the growth of electric vehicles. They are still in their infancy, though. The estimated total number of EVs in the U.S. today is 120,000, which is a small fraction of the total number of registered vehicles in the country – 250 million.

The life-cycle of the electric vehicle is an interesting one, since it began in the late 1800’s, had a short growth period, peaked, and then declined and was dormant for most of the 20th century. Then, again in the late 20th century, they experienced a period of growth for a few years from 1998-2003, only to level off for the six following years.

The growth experienced in the past two years seems to beat any previous trends, and technology and early success of Tesla Motors has something to do with that. There are still many hurtles to be cleared before the electric vehicle achieves widespread adoption, but the future is more promising than it has ever been. If a car company can make an affordable 200 mile range car that charges in about as much time as a gas tank, chances are very strong for full scale implementation. Based on a best curve fit (S-curve) on data relied upon by the EIA, and an assumption that all 250 million cars will be converted or replaced by electric, 2047 will be the year in which 50% of the market has been replaced.

If we model 190 million as the saturation point, t_0, the inflection point, would happen 1.25 years earlier.

References Edit

  3. Cowan, R., & Hulten, S. (1996). Escaping Lock-In: The Case of the Electric Vehicle. New York: Elsevier Science, Inc.
  4. Cowan, R., & Hulten, S. (1996). Escaping Lock-In: The Case of the Electric Vehicle. New York: Elsevier Science, Inc.
  5. Cowan, R., & Hulten, S. (1996). Escaping Lock-In: The Case of the Electric Vehicle. New York: Elsevier Science, Inc. pg.68
  6. Laboratory, A. N. (2013). Transportation Energy Data Book. Retrieved from Oak Ridge National Laboratory:
  7. Haaren, R. v. (2012). Assesment of Electric Cars' range Requirements and Usage Patterns based on Driving Behavior recorded in the National Household Travel Survey of 2009. New York: Earth and Environmental Department, Columbia University.
  8. Administration, U. E. (2011). Electricity Explained: Electricity in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved from
  9. Electric Vehicles. (2013, November 2). Retrieved from U.S. Department of Energy:
  10. Polk. (2012). U.S. Consumers Hold on to New Vehicles Nearly Six Years, an All-Time High. Southfield: R.L. Polk & Co. Retrieved from
  11. Healey, J. R. (2013). Report: Average price of a new car hits record in August. USA Today. Retrieved from
  12. Administration, E. I. (1997). Alternatives to Traditional Transportation Fuels 1996. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved from
  13. Electric Drive Vehicle Sales Figures (U.S. Market) - EV sales. (2013, October). Retrieved from Electric Drive Transportation Association:
  14. History of Air Resources Board. (2010, November 16). Retrieved from California Environmental Protection Agency: Air Resources Board:
  15. Historical Data: Alternative Transportation Fuels (ATF) and Alternative Fueld Vehicles (AFV). (2002). Retrieved from Energy Information Administration: Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government:

Cable Car

The cable car is a mass transit vehicle that uses a grip, manipulated by an operator, to reach under the street and clamp onto a cable moving at a constant speed. The cable itself is guided by pulleys powered through stationary motors located in powerhouses. In order to move, the operator gradually pulls a lever that moves the grip down towards the conduit and clamps it onto the moving cable. When the operator wants to stop the cable car, he or she releases pressure on the cable by opening the grip and applying the brakes. Today much of this process is automated.

The cable car started out in San Francisco as a solution for traversing its steep hills. However, others realized that it could replace animal power as well. The cable car was cheaper, faster, cleaner, and stronger than animal power. By the turn of the nineteenth century, every large United States city had a cable car line except Boston, Detroit, and New Orleans. Although the cable car rose quickly in popularity, it fell almost as fast. Today, San Francisco has the only operating cable cars in the United States.

Seattle Cable Car, 1888.

Pre-Cable Car Transportation and Its Limitations Edit

Before the cable car, there was animal and steam-powered mass transit. Nineteenth century animal powered mass transit consisted of horse-pulled omnibuses and its larger descendant, horse-pulled streetcars. Essentially, these were large wagons with benches inside that were pulled by horses, or sometimes mules.

There were significant drawbacks to these modes. First, horse power was very constrained. Horses had limited energy and could only work so many hours in a day, often averaging four to five hours [1]. Their carrying capacity and speed were limited. Horse-powered vehicles were very slow; barely faster than the average walking pace. Horses were even slower if the street condition was poor. Travel was smoothest on macadam or planked roads, but not all cities could afford paved roads. In addition, horse cars were limited by terrain. Often one horse could not pull a streetcar up a hill. Second, horses posed a public health risk with their manure and urine on streets. Diseases like tetanus threatened the public. Third, horses were expensive. The average horse was $200 in the nineteenth century [2], and this did not include the horse's maintenance. Cheaper mules could be used, but they depreciated faster than horses. However, a horse was only expected to work three or four years. Fourth, these modes took up a lot of road space, often leading to congestion.

One of the first solutions to animal-powered mass transit was steam-powered elevated rail (or “El” trains). Steam-power was already harnessed by steamboats in the country’s then vast canal network and by railroads connecting the coasts. In the late 1860's, congested inner city roadways were a serious concern. The idea of the elevated rail connected steam and rail technology already used on the ground and moved it above the street. Manhattan and Brooklyn were the first areas in the United States to build the infrastructure. The “El” alleviated congestion and decreased travel time. However, many residents considered coal derived steam-power as dirty. This was solved with the innovation of electric-power, but then residents considered the infrastructure as blight on the city skyline. Again, engineers and planners looked back down to the streets.

The Birth of the Cable Car Edit

Andrew Hallidie Edit

The innovation of the cable car is often credited to Andrew Hallidie. Hallidie’s first experiences with cable and wires were with his father, who tinkered with the two and had a few patented inventions. As a young man, he moved to California to prospect. It was there in the Sierra Nevada mountains that he had his first idea of using cables to pull carts. He even obtained a patent in traveling rope-way used to transport buckets over mountainous areas[3]. In 1869 while in San Francisco, Hallidie also witnessed a horrible horse car accident, in which one of four horses slipped while pulling a car up a hill, bringing the entire party down[4] . Having his cable and wire knowledge, he innovated his patent to solve San Francisco’s dangerous hill transportation issue. Hallidie figured out that his cable system could work there as it had in the Sierra Nevadas, but he innovated it by making the cables underground instead of over steep terrain.

The Grip Edit

The next step was figuring out a mechanism to attach the cart to the moving cable. Hallidie and engineer William Eppelsheimer developed the first lever system that raised and lowered the grip, along with the opening and closing jaw mechanism [5]. However, this early grip proved unreliable. Henry Casebolt, Asa Hovey, and T. Day improved the grip technology by having the grip come down and clamp from the side as opposed to the bottom. This removed the need for turntables because the operator could now shift position on the lever to change directions. However, the side grip let go of the cable frequently, so Eppelsheimer returned to the bottom grip and made improvements. Eppelsheimer’s improved grip is currently used on all San Francisco cable cars. In addition to the grip, Eppelsheimer discovered how to ease the grip onto the cable to reduce the cart’s jerkiness, which had been an issue on elevated trains.

The Roebling Cable Edit

As for cables, early Roebling cables were approximately an inch thick, consisting of 96 steel wires wound into six strands of sixteen wires each that were wrapped around tar covered hemp rope[6]. The average cable was about four miles long (6.44 km), weighed 60,000 pounds (27,215.5 kg), and cost $7,000 in the 1880s’[7]. It was able to stretch up to two percent as it broke in[8]. This meant the cable needed consistent readjustment in order to work at the correct level. On average, cables lasted around one year in ideal conditions. The cable was originally powered through coal-fed steam engines in a powerhouse. Today, they are electric. This combination of Hallidie’s expertise in cables and Eppelsheimer’s grips with previous streetcar knowledge created the first cable car, which was launched on San Francisco’s Clay Street on September 1, 1873. Through the years, cable cars that remained became automated and electrified; however, San Francisco’s cable cars are still manually operated.

The Cable Car's Early Days Edit

Early Markets Edit

After the Clay Street cable car, Hallidie, with the financial help of three friends, worked hard to add cable car lines in San Francisco[9]. Many investors throughout the country saw the cable car’s advantages over horse cars and invested. After San Francisco expanded its Clay Street line, other cities adopted cable cars. Chicago was the second city to use cable cars. With a rapidly growing population, animal power was not serving its residents well. The city saw the cable car, in addition to elevated rail, as the answer. Chicago experiences winter though, so engineers had to figure out how to keep ice from building up in the conduits. Ultimately, they used expensive extra-sturdy ironwork to get around the problem. Together, the two modes removed the horse element of mass transit, which relieved congestion, lowered public health concerns, and saved travel time and money. Many residents were proud of their city’s cable car system, with one resident even writing “the cable car system constitutes the finest method of locomotion ever introduced here or elsewhere”[10].

While most cities invested in cable cars in order to replace horse power, other hilly cities, like Los Angeles and Seattle, invested to combat the hill issue. Cable cars allowed residents to expand to new parts of the city that were previously unreachable. An example is the Temple Street Cable Railway in Los Angeles that led to the development of Angeleno Heights.

On a last note, it should be acknowledged that initial cable car investment was expensive. A city needed to dig deep trenches, install a succession of hundreds of iron yokes to support track, build the conduit and pulley system, and install the cable. Only cities that could afford this investment could have cable cars. In the end, most large American cities did choose to invest. Only Boston, Detroit, and New Orleans opted not to have cable cars.

Early Policies Edit

In the cable car’s infancy, policies used from previous modes, such as the horse car, elevated rail, and railroad, were applied. Many of these policies concerned safety, service, and fares. One safety measure was the addition of a bell to let passersby know that the cable car was approaching. New signs had to be added to let passengers know where the cable car stopped to let riders on and off. A five cent fare policy, currently used on other modes, was adopted[11] Since cable cars shared public roads with other modes, right of way was not an issue. Overall, the transition from horse car to cable car was not difficult for riders. It was a similar mode with a new energy source. However, safety concerns would continue to grow.

The Growth of Cable Cars Edit

By 1890, cable cars carried 373 million passengers in the United States [12]. Like the majority of transit modes before World War I, the cable car was privately-owned. Overall, it was difficult to start up a cable car agency because cable cars were expensive to operate. Powerhouses had to constantly run at full capacity to power the line. Cables had to been replaced annually, if not sooner due to their likelihood of breakage. Grips and brakes, too, wore down quickly. However, once more cable cars were running, economies of scale lowered costs. The most profitable lines were those that went out towards the outer rings of the city. These lines allowed for new housing developments, which provided riders to the cable cars. Los Angeles’ Temple Street line is an example of this. The government's involvement included approving and financing the initial start up. After that occurred, laissez faire attitudes prohibited local governments from interfering in what was considered private business decisions. There was one exception: public safety.

Although cable cars were much more efficient than horse cars, they were more dangerous. Cable cars’ cables or grip levers could snap, preventing the operator from braking. Other times, people would fall out of cars or walk in front of them to be crushed. Many municipalities crafted legislation to improve cable car’s safety records. Chicago is an example. As aforementioned, cable car agencies maximized profits if it ran more cable cars. Chicago, a growing city with congestion issues, was a cable car city that needed more cars to achieve higher capacity. Instead of pulling one or two trains at a time, Chicago tried pulling three to four cars a train. This proved to be very dangerous, and policy was put in place to limit the number of cars.

The Decline of the Cable Car Edit

Cable cars peaked in 1893 with 305 miles of track. With the addition of electric power, streetcars became the cable car’s main competition in 1892. The electrified streetcar was faster, cheaper to assemble and operate, and less burdensome. Streetcars did not require as much expensive upkeep as cable cars did. This new mode became more attractive to city officials than cable cars. Attempts were made to electrify cable cars, but this proved ineffective. In San Francisco's case, the 1906 earthquake destroyed much of the cable cars' network, and city officials deemed it more practical to build the "modern" electric streetcar than return to the "archaic" cable car. The only remaining cars were those not severely affected or those that went up the steepest hills. As time went on, other modes took the cable car's place. Today, San Francisco's three remaining lines are the only cable car lines left in the United States.

The Birth, Growth, and Decline of Cable Cars Through An S-Curve Edit

As has been discussed, transportation modes proceed through four phases: birth, growth, maturity, and decline. The cable car is no exception. Looking at its track mileage over time, we can see these stages. From 1873 until 1882, the cable car was in its birth stage. People were slowly becoming familiarized with this new mode, and cities were starting to build the necessary infrastructure. From 1883 until 1893, the cable car grew to replace horse cars in most major U.S. cities. It is interesting to note that the cable car did not have a maturity stage. Right after its peak year in 1893, the cable car started on a steep decline due to the increased competition of the electric streetcar. Below is a table of the cable car's track mileage in the United States from 1873 to 1913 as obtained from George Hilton's The Cable Car in America (1982).

Year Track Mileage Year Track Mileage
1873 0.6 1895 289.5
1877 2.1 1896 255.7
1878 4.6 1897 241.7
1879 7.0 1898 220.2
1880 11.2 1899 183.3
1881 11.2 1900 147.9
1882 20.3 1901 120.3
1883 31.1 1902 108.4
1884 31.1 1903 101.4
1885 46.5 1904 95.3
1886 62.3 1905 95.3
1887 93.0 1906 29.9
1888 151.4 1907 29.3
1889 213.0 1908 28.2
1890 266.4 1909 27.7
1891 272.3 1910 25.9
1892 287.6 1911 25.0
1893 305.1 1912 21.0
1894 302.3 1913 20.0

Due to the fact that it can show status over time, an S-curve was used to show the cable car's history graphically. The S-curve was created through the formula:


S(t) = total mileage in a given year
K = saturation status level (in this case the maximum miles of track - 305.1)
b = coefficient
t = year
t0 = inflection point (year in which 1/2 k is achieved)
A linear regression was needed to determine the coefficient (b) and inflection point (t0) in order to use the S-curve equation. This was done through the equation:
This was done twice - first for the birth/growth stage and second for the decline. In the birth/growth stage, b was found to be 0.47 and t0 was 1887. In the decline stage, b was found to be -0.78 and t0 was 1904. After running this regression, the newly calculated variables were plugged into the S-curve equation to determine the predicted track mileage. All together, these points were then graphed with the actual track mileage in order to see a comparison. This can be see in the graph below. For the birth/growth stage, the s-curve had an R-squared of 0.97, meaning it is a very close prediction. However, for the decline stage, the R-squared was 0.31, reflecting a poor prediction. This may be due to the fact that the S-curve predicted a maturity phase when in actuality the cable car never had a maturity phase.

Actual and Predicted Mileage of Cable Cars in the United States

The Cable Car's Lasting Impact Edit

The cable car may have had a brief life, but it made a lasting impact on transportation history. It was the cable car that finally took the horse and all its negative externalities out of the equation. It served as a bridge from the old mode, horse cars, to the new mode, electric streetcars. While it tried to compete with the latter mode by turning to electric power itself, it was not enough. However, the electric streetcar did not completely kill off the cable car. Due to the fighting efforts of a grassroots group, the Citizens' Committee to Save the Cable Cars, San Francisco still has three operating lines today for people to enjoy.

Powell and Market Cable Car, San Francisco

References Edit

  1. Post,R. (2007).Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  2. Post,R. (2007).Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  3. Post,R. (2007).Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  4. Cudahy, Brian J. (1990). Cash, Tokens, and Transfers: A History of Urban Mass Transit in North America. New York: Fordham University Press
  5. Friends of the Cable Car Museum. (2011). "The Grip". Cable Car Museum, retrieved from [1]
  6. Post,R. (2007).Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  7. Post,R. (2007).Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  8. Post,R. (2007).Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of a Technology. West Port, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  9. Palmer, P. & Palmer, M. (1963). The Cable Cars of San Francisco. Berkeley, CA:Howell-North
  10. (1885, August 16).The Cable Roads of Chicago.Chicago Inter Ocean. Retrieved from [2].
  11. Garrison, W.L. & Levinson,D.M. (2005)Transportation Policy, Planning, and Deployment. Oxford English Press.
  12. McKay, J.P. (1988). "Comparative Perspectives on Transit in Europe and the United States, 1850-1914". Technology and the Rise of the Networked City in Europe and America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Hybrid Electric Vehicles Edit

Toyota Prius

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) are a cross between an electric car and an internal-combustion car. They combine the electric motor and battery of an electric car with a small internal-combustion engine. The electric motor receives power from the batteries which are charged by the internal-combustion engine batteries as needed.[1] The Hybrid separates itself from electric vehicles by its much greater range. Unlike electric vehicles, which are typically limited to 130 km between charges, HEVs can run until both the batteries and gasoline are depleted, giving it a substantially greater range.[1] The electric motor tends to run at lower speeds, while the internal combustion engine is used at higher speeds and to charge the batteries when they are depleted. Also, because the internal-combustion engine charges the batteries, HEVs don't need to be plugged in as electric vehicles do.

Compared to a typical internal-combustion vehicle, the main advantage an HEV provides is increased fuel efficiency. This leads to fewer emissions and fuel savings. In particular, HEVs excel in their fuel efficiency over internal-combustion vehicles in city driving. The electric motor tends to be more efficient in dealing with the frequent acceleration and deceleration. This is partly because HEVs are able to capture some of the power lost during breaking. This is done by reversing the engine and charging the batteries.[2] This leads to even greater fuel savings over internal-combustion vehicles. When stopped completely, HEVs can shut off their engine automatically, conserving energy, while internal-combustion vehicles (ICVs) continue to run unless the driver manually switches them off.

One feature of HEVs and EVs which is both advantageous and, at the same time, a safety concern is their lack of noise. When operating their electric motor (typically at low speeds), HEVs are much quieter than their ICV counterparts. Quieter vehicles are typically desirable because they reduce noise pollution, an expensive transportation externality. The problem is that pedestrians are accustomed to the noise of internal-combustion vehicles. Pedestrians rely on the noise generated by vehicles to warn them that they are nearby. The lack of noise generated by slow moving HEVs presents a concern for pedestrian safety. The U.S. Congress enacted the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act which includes a minimum sound requirement for motor vehicles.[3] Manufacturers have begun adding vehicle noise and warning sounds to help protect pedestrians.

The primary market for HEVs includes economically and environmentally conscious consumers who are looking to reduce emissions and save on fuel but do not want to be confined to the limitations of electric vehicles. Most HEVs are smaller vehicles and so the market revolves around drivers willing to drive compact cars. This trend has been changing, however, with the development of hybrid SUVs. Due to the higher cost of HEVs over ICVs, the market tends to include higher income drivers. Also, because HEVs are relatively new, fewer used HEVs are available on the market. This restricts the market further to those willing to purchase new, or nearly new, vehicles.

The success of HEVs in the market is largely dependent on the price of gasoline and the prevalence of environmental concerns. This can be seen by looking at the history of HEVs sales in comparison to gasoline prices. As oil prices rise, the fuel savings from driving HEVs also increases. As seen in the 1970s however, a sustained period of high oil prices is needed for HEVs to capture sufficient market share. In Encyclopedia of Energy, German discusses new vehicle purchasers lack of concern for the cost of fuel.[2] Often, the short term savings of ICVs win out over the possible long term fuel savings of HEVs.

One problem HEVs have encountered in trying to establish their market share is that manufactures continue to make enough improvements to ICVs. The improvements limit the benefits of HEVs. As concerns about fuel efficiency rise, manufactures produce more fuel efficient ICVs. If fuel prices drop, no action is necessary from manufacturers as consumers will continue to purchase ICVs. The internal combustion engine continues to win out because the "incremental advantages [of HEVs] are less than the cost of switching infrastructure."[2]

History Edit

HEVs were not new to the U.S. in 1999 as the sales data seems to suggest. In fact, their origins go back all the way to 1905. At that time, American engineer H. Piper came up with the concept of a hybrid vehicle. His motivation was an increase in performance. His hybrid electric vehicle could accelerate to 40 km/h in 10 seconds while internal-combustion vehicles of the time were requiring 30 seconds.[1] Although this was a drastic improvement, the internal-combustion engine caught up by the time Piper received his patent. A major disadvantage of the gasoline engine was the requirement to start by crank. Once Piper received his patent, this barrier had been overcome and the internal-combustion vehicle went on to dominate the market.[1]

Some electric vehicles had been developed around the same time as Piper with the help of electricity pioneers like Edison and Tesla.[2] Like EVs today, the major drawback was the battery technology which greatly limited the vehicles' range. However, this originally was less of a concern due to the limited road infrastructure between cities. The range was sufficient for city driving.[2] As roads began to expand, though, the internal-combustion vehicle made its run. The heavy batteries required for EVs weighed them down. Adding additional batteries had diminishing returns because of the extra weight. Hybrid's had to rely on mechanical means of switching between the electric and gas motors. This was complex and less efficient than today's HEVs which have computers optimizing and controlling its operations.

Until the oil crisis in the mid-1970s, the gasoline car went virtually unchallenged by electric vehicles.[1] With gasoline prices relatively low, oil plentiful, and with existing dominance over the market, gasoline cars were not threatened. Improvements in power and efficiency further helped to prevent any potential competitors from entering the market.

In the 1970s, with the oil crises causing gas prices to rise, a brief opening appeared for alternative vehicles. Wouk discusses his own attempts at bringing an HEV during this time. His model was able to achieve much higher fuel efficiency and seemed to be on for manufacturing. However, the crisis was too short-lived and once oil was readily available again, funding for alternative vehicles such as his declined.[1] The oil crises did bring about the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) requiring new fuel efficiency standards. HEVs such as Wouk's immediately met these standards but automakers had until 1985 to comply with their ICVs. This allowed them sufficient time to improve ICVs and left little chance for alternative vehicles to enter the market.[2]

Nearly 20 years later, President Clinton makes a deal with major U.S automakers. Instead of raising CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, the deal requires GM, Ford and Chrysler to establish a "Supercar." The program would combine government and corporate money in the development of an 80 miles per gallon vehicle.[2] The biggest problem with the deal was this somewhat arbitrary milestone of 80mpg. The goal was attainable, but required automakers to use very light, and therefore expensive, materials.[2] The automakers were successful in developing an 80mpg vehicle, but due to its enormous expense, it was simply not marketable to the public. Perhaps a more modest goal would have produced a marketable vehicle which was still drastically more fuel efficient than ICVs of the time. Nevertheless, the Supercar program did help spur innovation in the alternative vehicle industry. Several years later, Toyota and Honda rolled out their hybrid vehicles, first in Japan. Their cars achieved more modest fuel efficiency than the Supercar but still double the average ICV.[2] The Japanese market was also more suited to an HEV. With higher gasoline prices, higher density driving and culture more accustomed to compact cars, Toyota and Honda saw success in their home market. Driver demand for vehicle performance was also less than in the U.S. Both companies worked to adapt their hybrid technology to suit the U.S. market. Beginning as early as 1999, but primarily in 2000, Americans began purchasing HEVs.[4]

Innovation in HEV Technology Edit

Technological innovations in the last 100 years has made all types of vehicles safer, faster, more efficient and cheaper. HEVs are no exception. They have greatly benefited from technological breakthroughs between the Piper HEV of 1905 and Toyota's Prius of the 1990s. A difficulty of early 20th century hybrids was the mechanical method of switching between electric and internal-combustion power. This had to be controlled mechanically, whereas today's hybrids are controlled by tiny microcomputers. In fact, even ICV's systems are computer controlled. The implementation of computers into HEVs allows for optimal control between the two power sources.

An area which has seen less advancement and continues to be a limiting factor in HEVs is battery technology. Although batteries in today's hybrids are certainly an improvement over previous models, they have improved at a much slower pace than other vehicle technologies. The batteries continue to add substantial weight to the vehicles and are greatly limited in their capacity. As mentioned earlier, the great weight of the batteries means a non-trivial amount of energy must be taken from all the batteries to transport the weight of the additional battery.

Policy and Market in the Birth of HEVs Edit

Initially, HEVs served a niche market, appealing to the economically and environmentally conscious community. As the technology has improved and HEVs have become more popular, the market has expanded. Initially, HEVs were compact cars in order to be as fuel efficient as possible. However, as HEVs have looked to expand and gain more of the market share from ICVs, manufacturers have begun developing larger HEV models. One can now buy SUV hybrids, proving that the hybrid is no longer restricted its initial niche market. EVs on the other hand, are limited in their range and require charging stations. Although they pose some advantages of HEVs, their limitations cause them to primarily serve a niche market where electricity is cheap, readily available and distances are short.[5] Drivers in this market must have a high value on reduced emissions and smaller need for driving long distances. Additionally, EVs require extra infrastructure such as charging stations to be readily available. In contrast, HEVs are able to capture some of the ICV market because they don't require additional infrastructure and have fewer limitations.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 was legislation during the oil crisis of the 1970s which contained new requirements aimed at improving fuel economy. The act imposed new fuel efficiency standards on automakers, but allowed manufacturers 10 years to comply. Similar policies such as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards would appear to be helpful in encouraging alternative vehicles. By creating stricter fuel efficiency standards, new vehicle types may be able to capture a share of the market if gasoline cars cannot keep up. Car manufacturers may decide to invest additional capital in alternative vehicles. On the other hand, the policies require car manufacturers to improve the fuel economy of their ICVs or to stop producing them. Demand for ICVs is not affected by the policies and therefore, manufacturers go ahead with improving the fuel efficiency. This has the effect of reducing the net benefit which HEVs provide over ICVs. With more efficient ICVs on the market, the fuel savings provided by HEVs is reduced. It's possible that the cost of ICVs could rise as well if manufacturers passed on this additional cost. However, policy such as CAFE causes a reduction in price for high efficiency vehicles as manufacturers encourage their sales to offset the low efficiency vehicles. This further hurts the market for HEVs.

President Clinton took alternative approach to increasing fuel economy standards by agreeing to a deal with major American automakers to develop an 80mpg Supercar. The program had some benefits but ultimately, didn't directly lead to the development of a domestic HEV due to the high cost of the Supercar materials.[2]

Growth and Maturity of HEVs Edit

As can been seen in the quantitative analysis below, hybrid electric vehicle sales in the US experienced a very rapid lifecycle.[6] If we consider 1999 the birth of HEV sales in the US, maturity occurred just 8 years later. The birthing years encompass roughly the first 4 years.

Most government tax incentives occurred during the rapid grown between 2004 and 2007. During this time, various tax deductions were available at a national and state level. The monetary incentives, however, seem to have played little role in the growth of HEVs. One possible explanation including that dealers may have factored these incentives into their prices, leaving the consumer with little or no net benefit.[6] More likely, was the influence of the economy, especially fuel prices. The rise in fuel prices around the country between 2004 and 2008 likely played a significant role in the growth of HEVs.[6] The decline of fuel prices between 2008 and 2009 and the recession correspond to the decline in HEV sales. However, HEV sales continued to decline even as fuel prices steadily rose between 2010 and 2012. Perhaps this suggests that HEVs matured in 2007? Although fuel prices rose between 2009 and 2012, the American economy was still in recession, influencing sales of all vehicles. Consumers that absolutely need a vehicle will continue to buy, but will be less likely to pay the additional upfront cost necessary to purchase a HEV.

The infrastructure for HEVs is certainly not going away. Unlike past transportation modes which have seen rapid decline after their maturity, HEVs will likely experience slower decline after maturity. This can be seen in the data since 2007. Modes such as railroads, which saw their tracks being removed and highways built instead, experienced rapid decline. As long as highways continue to be used and energy is of concern, HEVs will likely remain an alternative to the internal-combustion vehicle. The most likely scenario to contribute to a more rapid decline of HEVs, would be improvements to electric vehicles or discovery of a new energy source. Battery technology has seen little improvement in 100 years. If that were to change, EVs may experience growth, leading to the further decline of HEVs. In any case, the last 100 years are a pretty clear indication that the internal-combustion vehicle is not going away anytime soon.

Data and Analysis Edit

U.S. Hybrid Electric Vehicle Sales Edit

Data Source: National Transportation Statistics[4]



Data Source: National Transportation Statistics[4]

Year HEV Vehicles Sold Predicted Sales
1999 17 51
2000 9350 254
2001 20282 1254
2002 22335 6124
2003 47566 28386
2004 84199 106674
2005 205828 240706
2006 253518 322522
2007 352862 346286
2008 315688 351515
2009 290740 352590
2010 274421 352808
2011 269178 352852

Regression Results Edit

Variable Value
K 352863
b 1.6
tnought 2004.5227
Regression Statistics '
Multiple R 0.98529429
R Square 0.970804838
Adjusted R Square 0.968150733
Standard Error 29355.56109
Observations 13
' Coefficients Standard Error t Stat P-value Lower 95% Upper 95% Lower 95.0% Upper 95.0%
Intercept -8565.603014 13168.79222 -0.650447123 0.528754947 -37549.91924 20418.71321 -37549.91924 20418.71321
X Variable 1 1.199158717 0.062700327 19.12523876 8.6304E-10 1.061156228 1.337161205 1.061156228 1.337161205

Analysis Edit

The following model was used to predict HEV sales

S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)]


S(t) is the status measure, (HEV sales traveled)

t is time (years),

t0 is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 K is achieved),

K is saturation status level, b is a coefficient. K and b are to be estimated

The regression equation derived is:


In completing the regression, a K value of 352863 was used. This value represents the HEV market maturing in 2007. Whether this is the case or not is difficult to determine. Since 2007, HEV sales in the U.S. have been on the decline. The recession certainly has been a factor in this. What remains in question is whether HEV will begin to climb again and reach a higher peak, or whether 2007 will remain the peak. Factors such as the economy and gas prices will certainly influence this. Since no one can say with certainty where future gas prices will go, it's difficult to say with certainty that the HEV market has peaked. If gas prices skyrocket, HEV sales will certainly increase, but their decline may also be sped up by a drop in fuel prices. The trend now puts HEV sales on a slow, but steady decline. This regression model assumes that 2007 was the peak of HEV sales in the U.S.. Alternative vehicles as a whole are still in the birthing phase. If HEVs continue to decline, other alternative vehicles are likely to step up and experience growth. Due to the relatively slow decline since 2007, however, HEVs may make a comeback. Only time will tell.

The regression resulted in an R-squared value of 0.9708 and t-statistic of 19.125. An R-squared value close to 1.0 and t-statistic as high as possible are desirable. A b-value was estimated in order to achieve the most desirable fit, and therefore, the best R-squared and t-statistic values. Analysis of the curve shows that the model originally underestimates sales, then overestimates during the growth period before tapering off in 2007 for the mature phase. Unlike the real data, the model does not predict the decline after the peak in 2007. Also, the t-naught value was chosen based on the 2007 peak and the slope between years 2004 and 2005. T-naught represents half of the peak which occurs between '04 and '05.

Although HEV sales can be volatile due to the various influencing factors such as fuel prices, tax credits, regulations and the economy all changing, the data between birth in 1999 and maturity in 2007 represents a fairly consistent S-curve of transportation modes. Since 2007, the decline has been somewhat different and HEVs may reach a higher peak in years to come which would greatly influence the model. However, due to the nature of growth between 1999 and 2007, the model was able to generate a fairly good fit. As data from future years comes out, the model will continue to be modified.

References Edit

  1. a b c d e f Wouk, V (1997). Hybrid Electric Vehicles, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN-AMERICAN EDITION
  2. a b c d e f g h i j German, J. M. (2004). Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Encyclopedia of Energy, 3, 197–213.
  3. The Library of Congress (
  4. a b c National Transportation Statistics (
  5. Chan, C. C. (2002). The state of the art of electric and hybrid vehicles. Proceedings of the IEEE, 90(2), 247–275. doi:10.1109/5.989873
  6. a b c David Diamond, The impact of government incentives for hybrid-electric vehicles: Evidence from US states, Energy Policy, Volume 37, Issue 3, March 2009, Pages 972-983, ISSN 0301-4215, 10.1016/j.enpol.2008.09.094. (

Hybrid-Electric Bus

Quantitative Analysis Edit

The following analysis seeks to analyze the life cycle of alternative energy source bus technology, as defined by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The APTA does not collect their data by individual vehicle type from its member organizations, but rather categorizes the vehicles (specifically buses) by the number of energy sources used to provide driving power. In the case of Hybrid-Electric buses (HEB), the data is grouped together with other vehicles that use two or more different energy sources, which includes compressed natural gas buses (CNG) and electric buses, although HEBs are generally regarded as a more feasible option for the future. In addition to the nature of the categorization done by APTA, the organization is also only able to collect the specific (alternative or conventional diesel) vehicle data from their member organizations who opt to participate in APTA’s annual vehicle survey; the 2010 vehicle survey includes responses from 338 transit agencies within the United States. Furthermore, the data collected in the vehicle survey is used to estimate a total market share of alternative and conventional buses in the U.S. Finally, the estimated market share is multiplied against the actual total number of vehicles available for maximum use in the U.S. (APTA data) to calculate the estimated number of alternative energy source (heavy-duty) buses available for use in public transportation from 1992-2009.

Graph 1 displays the estimated number of alternative energy vehicles from 1992-2009. The visual representation of the data is that of an S-curve, which can be conceptually applied to the life cycle of many other transportation technologies.

Graph 1

In addition to the display of the estimated number of alternative energy buses available for use as heavy-duty public transportation vehicles in the U.S., an Ordinary Least Squares (logistic) regression was used to estimate the following logistic function: S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)]

Where: S(t) is the status measure, which is number of alternative energy buses t is time (annual, 1992-2009), t0 is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 of the saturation of the number of alt. energy buses, is achieved), K is saturation status level, b is a coefficient, measuring an amount of impact on the independent variable. Through the OLS logistic regression, multiple iterations are completed to find the 3 parameter estimated coefficients that create the “line of best fit,” and therefore have the highest adjusted R2 value in the logistic regression output. K, as previously mentioned, is the saturation level of the transportation technology. In the case of alternative energy buses, it represents the maturity of alternative energy bus systems in the market. After multiple iterations of tested values of K, the optimal results are listed in the summary table below (K = 41,000).

As reported in Table 1, the Adjusted R2 of .9361 is significant at the standard 90th percentile; the closer the R2 is to 1, the more statistically accurate the regression formula is in predicting the values for the status of the technology. In this particular application, the Adjusted R2 value, in conjunction with the value of the T Statistic, broadly states that the equation can explain approximately 94% of the variance in the number of alternative energy vehicles (and therefore inflection and saturation points) over time.

Table 1

The estimated inflection year, which indicates the point when the rate of growth of the vehicles begins to slow, is approximately 2009 (intercept of -341.94/-(b of .1701)). With these two estimates, the model is generally estimating that the infancy stage of the alternative energy bus technology could generally be considered between 1992 and 2009. The period following 2009 until the saturation level of 41,000 vehicles implies a general period of continued growth, and the time period following the saturation level of K=41,000 is that of maturity for the technology.

It seems particularly challenging to identify the accuracy of the equation, especially in a practical application, for multiple reasons. Of course, the estimation of the share of alternative energy vehicles is challenging, as well as the large categorization of hybrid-electric, electric, and compressed natural gas vehicles. Finally, the share of heavy-duty buses that these vehicles hold is certainly in a young stage, but the inflection year of 2009 is also likely to change once the 2010 number of vehicles in the market data is released. As a share of vehicles, the 2010 measure for alternative energy buses increased from 30.4% up to approximately 35%. However, with all of this aside, the R2 and T-statistics suggest that the equation is relatively accurate in explaining the variance in the number of alternative energy vehicles over time.

Graph 2, if only anecdotally, suggests additionally interesting information to keep the analysis of the life cycle of alternative energy vehicles in perspective. Although the equation estimates the inflection year of 2009, the data below shows the proportion of the market of alternate energy buses, as well as the number of vehicle total miles for alternative and conventional buses. Because the share of the market dropped in 2009 for alternative vehicles, and the number of vehicle miles decreased significantly, the data here suggests that an inflection year of 2009 may be too early (or late) of a prediction

Graph 2

Qualitative Analysis - Hybrid-Electric Buses Edit

Technology Edit

Despite the data limitations in public transit buses present due to the lack of segmentation by vehicle type, this analysis shall focus largely on the main emerging technology within the alternative energy source sub-population, the Hybrid Electric Bus. However, a brief overview of the other significant alternative energy source buses will also be provided at the end of the analysis.

A hybrid electric bus (HEB) combines a conventional model of the internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric system, used for propulsion, regenerative energy, or as an independent power source, depending on the alignment of the power-train system in the HEB. Series, parallel, and blended hybrids are the generally how the power sources are sub-categorized among HEBs; a series has no mechanical connection between the engine and drive axle. Instead, the engine sends power to the generator, which then powers an electric motor. Conversely, the parallel hybrid’s engine powers the generator, which can either charge directly drive the vehicle’s axle or charge the battery pack. The self-descriptive blended HEB is a combination of the two power alignment schemes, as displayed in Diagram A

Diagram A - Parallel and Series Hybrid Design


Advantages Edit

The hybrid electric bus has multiple environmental advantages over the conventional diesel bus. Perhaps the most widely cited environmental benefit of the HEB is the reduction of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and hydrocarbon emissions that contribute to broad and local environmental and health problems. In addition to the resultant reduction in greenhouse gases and localized ozone, an air pollutant related to many human respiratory problems, HEBs also have lower levels of particulate matter and carbon monoxide emitted than conventional diesel buses. Similar to ozone, both of these pollutants can cause significant damage to the human respiratory and immune system, and high concentrations of the emissions are considered significant health problems.

In addition to the reduction of harmful emissions, the decreased use of petroleum based fuel offers a potentially significant cost reduction for transit agencies over time. According to the Federal Transit Administration, fuels costs are only second to labor costs in the operating expenses of a transit agency, and HEBs have recorded fuel economy increases ranging from 10% to 48%, relative to a conventionally powered diesel bus. The HEB system has a particularly positive effect on fuel consumption in urban driving situations and during rush hour. The regenerative breaking process converts kinetic energy from the braking process into energy that can be stored in the generator and eventually used to power the HEB. Because of this, this powering system is ideal for city buses, which brake and accelerate frequently.

Significant Markets Edit

Within the U.S., most transit agencies are motivated to shift their vehicles in their fleet to alternative energy sources by local political actors, such as environmental advocacy groups, as well as environmental commitments to reduce emissions and improve air quality above or beyond EPA regulations. New York City, although it is inherently prone to higher levels of toxic emissions because of its congested nature, is an excellent example of a region or locality that chose to divert from conventional diesel buses due to pressure on the local and national level; the City had not achieved the air quality attainment goals set in the EPA’s 1990 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and the increasing public awareness of health problems related to the harmful emissions, as well as growing state and national pressures to reduce emissions led NYC’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to replace its entire fleet over a decade, and began this environmentally oriented endeavor in the mid 1990s. HEBs were not widely available until the late 1990s, so NYC opted for a significant investment in the natural gas re-filling infrastructure to support a fleet of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses. However, since converting its entire fleet of heavy-duty buses away from conventional diesel power systems, NYC has also invested in HEBs. As part of the largest alternative energy bus fleet in the world and the largest transit bus operator in North America, MTA now regularly operates over 600 HEBs[2].

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has also played a major role in influencing the growth of HEB use in the U.S. In response to EPA regulations regarding diesel fuel and engine performance, such as the Clean Air Act, the ARB declared the particulate matter emissions from diesel engines as a known human carcinogen in 1998. Since then, the ARB and California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment have studied the health impacts and risks due to diesel emissions and implemented further rules to decrease emissions throughout the state, such as the 2000 Diesel Risk Reduction Plan. The measure, which aimed to drastically reduce diesel emissions by 2010, in addition to its specific 14 point plan, influenced the adoption of vehicles such as HEBs. The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, signed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has provided another incentive for the increased use of HEBs through the state’s urban areas; as part of the Act, the ARB is required to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% by 2020, and the board’s enforcement of the reduction required forced technology upgrades for heavy-duty conventional buses, such as the retrofitting of new and existing engines with particulate matter filters to reduce emissions. Additionally, the Act required the increased use of low sulfur diesel fuel. In addition to the adoption of HEBs in New York City, as well as early adoption in Los Angeles following a successful trial period in the notoriously polluted city, another trial adoption of the HEB technology in the U.S. did not have as much of a picturesque outcome. Cedar Rapids, Iowa proposed a cold-climate trial of the batteries needed to operate a hybrid-electric powertrain and electric buses to add to its public bus fleet to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in the early 1990s, and received over $10 million to purchase, operate, and maintain 5 HEBs and 4 electric buses. The FTA funding was also used for the construction of a facility, infrastructure for charging the batteries, and training[3].

Prior to the hybrid-electric and electric testing, the moderately sized city of 100,000 had tested alternative fuels such as CNG, LP gas, hydrogen injection, ethanol, and bio-diesel since 1987. Following the implementation of the four electric buses in 1995, three HEBs were introduced in November of 1997, and the other two followed within three years. Amidst the six year evaluation process after the final HEB was added to the fleet (2000), an FTA analysis of the project anticipated that the city could overcome training, electronic, and mechanical issues it often had with the vehicles and see rewards from the significant investment. Despite the average fuel economy increase of 15% and improved emissions to help bring Cedar Rapids up to attainment of the NAAQS for ozone, issues such as battery size, financial feasibility of improved battery technology, maintenance, and reliability outweighed the benefits, and city officials sold the buses in an online public auction for $30,000 in 2008. The mothballed vehicles, which only had a collective 200,000 miles logged, had an added purchase requirement that required the winning bidder to haul the buses away, which seemed to imply that Cedar Rapids could not get the fleet out of its hands quickly enough.

Life Cycle of Hybrid-Electric Bus Edit

Birth of Hybrid Technology Edit

Conceptually, the idea of powering a vehicle with an electric source has been privately tested for over a century. Electric vehicles were introduced into the London taxi market and even produced in Connecticut in the late 1800s, and continued to develop until approximately 1920. A hiatus from the electric based automobile in the U.S. from 1920-1965 ended with the introduction of multiple bills in Congress advocating for electric automobiles as a method to reduce air pollutants emitted by the conventional ICE in 1966 [4]. Eventually, the commercial development of the modern hybrid started growing in the late 1980’s and early 1990s. Toyota, who released the first commercially accepted hybrid automobile in 1997, the Prius, started development in 1993 [5]. 1997 was also the release year Toyota’s Coaster Minibus, which it claimed as the first heavy-duty HEB, but this release wasn’t quite as established as the market’s first. Other commercial developers claimed their release as the first in the HEB market; Gillig Corporation released its own HEB model in 1996.

Growth and Saturation of Alternative Energy Buses Edit

Despite Cedar Rapids’ negative account of alternative energy heavy-duty buses, vast improvements in technology, such as battery weight and lifespan, training, and maintenance knowledge have specifically contributed to an increase in the adoption of HEBs since their introduction into the market. International, private companies, striving to meet the increased demand for efficient vehicles with lower emissions, contributed largely to the initial increase in technology that would have helped a case like the FTA trial in Iowa. Cedar Rapids had specifically identified a battery that was significantly lighter than the one ton batteries it maintained; the batteries, which also had vast improvements in maximum operating length, were developed by a German company, but were simply too expensive due to a tariff at the time Transportation Research Board[6].

Although transit fleet managers continue to search for methods to lower costs, decrease emissions, and satisfy related interest groups, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Acts (DERA) of 2005 and 2010 may be encouraging less growth in the alternative energy heavy-buses, including HEBs. The 2005 Act provided $200 million/year for five years for congressional appropriations to encourage a major reduction in diesel emissions. Although the $10 million in appropriations were never fully funded, $300 million was added to the incentive program in 2009 as a one-time stimulus, and the 2010 Act reauthorized the bill for another five years, which matches the actual $500 million that was appropriated from 2005 through 2009[7].

A significant outcome of DERA was, of course, a reduction in diesel emissions throughout the U.S. that ultimately becomes a significant investment in public health; every $1 spent by the DERA program (which often is a match to local and state expenditures on the diesel emission reduction) is estimated to yield between $13 and $28 in improved health (benefits) to individuals due to decreased cancer, asthma, and other health improvements related to strengthened respiratory and immune systems[8]. The practical implications of the incentive program, however, shifted the focus away from decreasing or eliminating the use of petroleum-based fuels. Particulate matter filters, which have decreased diesel emissions to a level almost identical to HEBs, were developed and retrofitted to conventional diesel bus fleets at a significantly lower cost than the investment otherwise required to adopt alternative vehicles, such as HEBs, into a fleet.

Although preliminary figures for 2010 from the APTA signal an increase in the market share of alternative fuel heavy-duty buses in the U.S., the DERA seemed to perpetuate some lock-in issues present with conventional diesel technology[9]. The high costs associated with the infrastructure, training, and battery replacement and disposal, which is still a significant and untested variable in the cost structure of alternative heavy-duty vehicles like the HEB, are simply too overwhelming to justify a major switch in bus technology and new capital investment for transit agencies. Instead, the upgrades in technology on the existing diesel vehicles are widespread and much less expensive for agencies to implement.

Although the saturation model suggests that the inflection year for alternative energy heavy-duty buses compared to conventional buses is 2005, technology such as the HEB seems to have more of an uncertain future than the model may suggest. Heightened awareness to the extraction of oil, burning of petroleum based fuels, and imminent international pressure for the U.S. to join the European Union and other prominent nations in the drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions may have impacts on the alternative heavy-duty bus market that simply cannot be predicted at this point.

Moving forward with HEB technology Edit

FTA research, in combination with improvements in international trade agreements that will improve U.S. access to new and future technology, show a hopeful future for alternative energy heavy-duty bus development. February of 2010 saw the signing of the first science and technology agreement between the United States and Germany, which provides a framework for cooperation and will bring multiple research entities together to address “cross-cutting scientific issues” [10]. Additionally, the countries signed a memorandum to initiate further research cooperation to address energy, climate change, and health issues, among others. Multiple German companies have produced innovative research and developed advanced batteries and bus technologies that have been helpful in advancing HEBs in the U.S., and this agreement facilitates an even larger sharing of technological advances in the future.

Not unlike any other rapidly evolving technology, the hybrid-electric bus has its drawbacks. As demonstrated through the FTA trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, intricate maintenance management, technical training, battery weight, and the technical design of powertrain, including the battery, are all invaluable in the successful implementation of HEBs. As technology continues to improve (ex. the dramatic reduction in the size and weight of the battery), the higher maintenance and training costs inherent in the relative infancy of a technology are equally stressed by a 2010 FTA assessment of hybrid-electric technology. Additionally, the complexity of the electric drive components will likely increase overall maintenance costs. However, as the technology matures in the long run, maintenance costs and unfamiliar complexities will naturally decrease, and have the potential fall below similar costs related to conventional diesel buses because of decreased repairs on transmission and brake linings [11].

Hybrid Electric Buses vs. Other Alternative Energy Buses Edit

CNG buses were the dominant alternative energy bus technology when HEBs entered the market, and maintain a presence in the bus fleet; the APTA Fact Book shows an estimation of 11% of the total bus fleet as of the end of 2004. Related to the earlier discussion of New York City’s CNG fleet, many transit agencies are more reluctant to deploy CNG buses because of the overhead infrastructure costs related to establishing a fueling location for the vehicles and installing compressors. At the time of New York’s initial investment, CNG was the main commercially viable clean fuel alternative to the conventional diesel bus[12]. Although the life cycle cost of a CNG bus usually falls below that of a HEB, the fuel efficiency is also lower than HEBs and conventional diesel buses. Although they become more attractive when liquid fuel prices increase but the price of natural gas remains stable, pricing trends for different fuels usually follow one another.

An alternative to HEBs an CNG buses, electric buses also have a small presence in the alternative fuel market for heavy-duty buses, but have similar drawbacks to HEBs regarding the battery technology. Although they provide an even smoother and quieter ride compared to the HEB, which is an improvement over the noise and vibration of the conventional diesel ICE, pure battery buses have energy storage capacity and battery cost issues that have stopped the buses from being a viable vehicle for most applications of public transit. In addition to these problems of sufficient traveling range, it is also challenging for transit agencies to take their buses out of operation for recharging. At best, pure electric buses are seen as niche market and useful for those who need a bus without emissions and may be benefited by the lack of noise; parks and indoor uses are the most viable applications for pure electric buses today.

Ultimately, fuel cell buses are seen as the long-term goal by many transit agencies, health advocates, and environmental advocates. However, doubts as to when the technology advances will actually materialize are fairly widespread. HEBs, though, are seen as a bridge from conventional diesel to a future technology. Although many issues still need to be addressed, they are regarded as a “here now” technology that also has many benefits.

References Edit

  1. London, Transport for. Hybrid Buses. 2011. (accessed October 7, 2011).
  2. New York Power Authority. Clean Transportation. 2011. (accessed October 5, 2011).
  3. Transportation Research Board. TCRP Report 59: Hybrid-Electric Transit Buses. Transit Cooperative Research Program, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.
  4. Hybrid Cars. History of Hybrid Vehicles. June 13, 2011. (accessed October 6, 2011).
  5. Taylor, Alex III. "The Birth of the Prius." Fortune, February 24, 2006.
  6. Transportation Research Board. TCRP Report 59: Hybrid-Electric Transit Buses. Transit Cooperative Research Program, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.
  7. 111th Congress. "Public Law 111-364." Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010. Washington, District of Columbia, January 4, 2011.
  8. Kassel, Rich. National Resources Defense Council. January 5, 2011. (accessed October 9, 2011).
  9. American Public Transportation Assocation. "2010 Vehicle Survey." 2010 Public Transportation Factbook. Washington, D.C.: American Public Transportation Association, 2010.
  10. U.S. Department of State - Office of the Spokesman. "United States and Germany Sign First Science and Technology Agreement." U.S. Department of State. February 18, 2010. (accessed October 6, 2011).
  11. Brecher, Dr. Aviva. Assessment of Needs and Research Roadmaps for Rechargeable Energy Storage System - Onboard Electric Drive Buses. Innovation and Research Needs Assessment, Washington, D.C.: Federal Transit Administration - U.S. Department of Transportation, 2010.
  12. Northeast Advance Vehicle Consortium. Analysis of Electric Drive Technologies for Transit Applications. Final Report, Washington, D.C.: Federal Transit Administration, 2005.


Trolleybus in Lyon, France

Trolleybuses are electrically powered buses. Unlike other electric vehicles, however, trolleybuses draw their power from overhead lines running along the trolleybus’ route instead of batteries. The bus is connected to the line by two poles and wires, whereas a conventional trolley draws its electricity from a single connection point overhead.[1] While there are limitations in route choice due to the vehicle requiring a tie-in to the line at all times during operation, this method of drawing power does provide advantages over traditional electric vehicles (as well as non-electric).

History Edit

The Elektromote, circa 1882

The trolleybus dates back to 1882 in Berlin, in its origins as “Elektromode”. The Elektromote was run on a 591 yard track between train stations. It consisted of a four-wheel carriage equipped with motors run off electricity from an overhead cable. The track was dismantled after a few months of demonstration.[2]

The first “true” passenger-carrying trolleybus was developed and implemented nearly 20 years later, in Fontainebleau, near Paris, which ran until 1913.[3] Later in 1901, a system opened in Biela Valley, near Dresden, Germany. This trolleybus, like its modern counterpart, used two overhead wires with spring-loaded connection poles to draw power. This system ran until 1904, inspiring other systems around the world.[4] In 1903, trolleybuses were introduced to the United States in a demonstration in New Haven, Connecticut, and Scranton, Pennsylvania. By the 1920s many systems around the country were up and running, and the number only increased over the next 30 years. In the mode’s peak years, near and just after 1950, over 900 trolleybus systems were operating worldwide.[5]

However, due to the advent of the private vehicle and diesel bus, as well as the Federal Aid Highway act of 1956, the trolleybus fell into rapid decline along with other form of mass transit, like the streetcar.[6] The trolleybus reached maturity and did not stay there long. By 1951 and 1952, there were over 7000 trolleybus vehicles in operation. By 1956, that number had decreased to just under 6000. By 1973, the number was down to just over 700, a tenth of what it had been twenty years prior.[7]

By 2010, only around 570 trolleybus vehicles were operational in 5 states: California (San Francisco), Massachusettes (Boston), Ohio (Dayton), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and Washington (Seattle).[5] Just as the traditional streetcar has seen a revival by city planners, it is possible that trolleybuses will regain popularity. In some countries, like Russia, the trolleybus never experienced a decline. The system in Moscow has around 1500 vehicles and 100 lines.[8] However, as more US cities are exploring the possibility of implementing trolleybuses again, cities with existing systems like Seattle are looking at reducing or eliminating the service completely. By 2013, all of Seattle’s electric bus fleet will need replacing; in 2011 a comprehensive trolleybus system evaluation was held to determine whether or not the trolleybuses would be replaced by diesel.[9]

Advantages and Disadvantages Edit

Trolleybuses are able to accelerate faster, more smoothly, and more effectively up hills than their non-electric counterparts. Electric motors are more effective than diesel when providing torque upon startup. In addition, their rubber tires have better traction than steel wheels on steel rails. This may be why San Francisco and Seattle, both hilly cities, still use trolleybuses today when most American cities have switched away from the mode. Trolleybuses are lighter than their counterparts as well, due to not having a standalone battery carrying the charge required for operation.[10]

Another advantage is that while the trolleybus runs on a fixed route, disabled vehicles can easily be detached from the overhead line and moved out of the way, rather than impeding other vehicles upon the same route. In addition, this allows trolleybuses to pull up to the curb as other buses do instead of requiring boarding islands in the middle of the street. This also promotes level-boarding, making accessibility to the mode easier to pedestrians with mobility impairments than those modes which cannot provide level boarding.[4]

Something that may be both an advantage and disadvantage to the technology is its quietness in operation. Pedestrians may not notice a vehicle coming when it does not make noise. To combat injuries and accidents due to this, speakers may be attached to the front of the vehicles which may direct sound toward pedestrians and other motorists in danger areas.[10]

A disadvantage is that while a trolleybus is more maneuverable than a fixed-track method of transit (LRT, streetcar) it is less so than a bus. If a road is undergoing construction in an area the trolleybus line runs, the line has to be discontinued temporarily, rather than re-routed. Also, trolleybuses cannot overtake one another like modes of non-fixed track transit can.

An overhead, three way trolleybus switch

Another major disadvantage to the trolleybus system is the need for overhead cables. The cables are considered by most to be visually unattractive, and installation of new lines may be cause for protest. Where lines come together, the effect can be especially hard to ignore. In addition to being unsightly, the cable connectors can come undone or be actively disconnected. This will cause delays in transit while the driver must reconnect the cable. Also to be considered is the effect of weather on the cables and the cable-poles; if installed in a wet and cold climate, the wires may ice up, causing the line to be unusable.

Like with non-cable buses, another point to consider is the wear and tear to the roadway by sustained heavy vehicle impact. Rail transit has an advantage here, as once the rail tracks are put in place, excessive loading is removed from the pavement. Another comparison to non-cable buses is that travel by bus is deemed less pleasant than other modes of transit. Cleanliness, demographics, and schedule reliability are potential reasons why people choose not to take a form of bus when other modes are available.

Environmental impacts of the trolleybus are also an advantage to using this mode. Any sort of mass transit has an advantage over the personal vehicle, using less energy and space. Installing a trolleybus service is more initially expensive than establishing diesel-powered bus routes due to the cost of installing overhead lines, but that extra cost may be recoverable due to lower fuel and maintenance costs. In addition, cities that draw large amounts of power from sustainable sources and use that power to operate a trolleybus system are much more sustainable than not; Seattle, Washington, USA uses hydroelectric power from the Columbia and other rivers to operate the system.[9]

Future policies Edit

Streetcars and other forms of rail transit are seeing rebirth in many cities (such as the LRT lines in Minnesota). It is possible that trolleybuses will see rebirth, as well; a more likely renaissance will come from hybrid technologies. Hybrid trolleybuses allow for a majority of the line to be placed under cable, but with an option for a battery or diesel-powered engine to cover distances where putting cable in is unfeasible, or in the event of the need for rerouting. This still may result in issues; adding batteries or engines to the vehicle will increase the cost of production as well as increasing the vehicle's weight, and giving up space for passengers.

Although trolleybuses may not see a rebirth, a related technology—trolleytrucks—are being proposed as a supplement to cargo trains. Trolleytrucks operate under the same principle as trolleybuses, and are powered by connecting to overhead wires. In the 2008 book, Transport Revolutions, authors Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl propose a plan that would move a majority of cargo shipments from trucks onto trolleytrucks.[11] Currently, Los Angeles is looking at implementing hybrid-diesel-trolleytrucks in an effort to combat air pollution due to the shipping industry.[12]

Qualitative Analysis Edit

Graph 1: Trolleybus life cycle data

Data were taken from the APTA 2012 Public Transportation Fact Book, found online. The oldest data presented by APTA comes from 1928, approximately 25 years after the first trolleybus systems were established in the United States. Data is continuous until 2010. This dataset is unique in that the entirety of the innovation period of the trolleybus in the United States was completed roughly 30 years after its initiation, around 1952.[7]

The innovation of a new technology (transportation or not) can be described as an S-curve with four major parts: birth, growth, maturity and decline. Initially after a technology is developed, its growth is slow as people are hesitant to adapt to it. Once it reaches a certain level (perhaps of understanding and/or acceptance), the growth exponentially increases. At another certain level, this growth slows and remains steady (possibly due to physical constraints, e.g. miles of land available for building interstate, number of cell phones the population can reasonably own). As the technology ages and newer technology develops, the old will decline, sometimes rapidly and sometimes slowly.

In the trolleybus life cycle graph, the entirety of the life cycle is shown; one can see the clear S-curve innovation period of birth, growth and maturity followed by a drastic decline.

Graph 2: Trolleybus real data v. statistical model

In order to perform statistical modeling, only the innovation period (1928–1952) was analyzed. An Ordinary Least Squares (logistic) regression model was applied to estimate the following logistic function:

S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)]


  • S(t) is the status measure (number of vehicles)
  • t is time (annual, 1928–1952)
  • (t0 is the inflection time (half of the peak)
  • K is saturation status level (the peak)

And b is a coefficient, measuring an amount of impact on the independent variable.

As the life-cycle of the trolleybus has already run through a complete iteration, K could be set to the peak value (7180 vehicles, in 1952) and t0 could be estimated as the year in which half that number of vehicles was reached (roughly 3590, in 1944). Using Solver, multiple iterations of analysis were run and final values of K=7951 and b= 0.225 were achieved. The resulting equation is then:

S(t) = 7951/[1+exp(-0.225(t-1944)]

Which gives a model of the data as shown in Graph 2.

References Edit

  1. "Fact Book Glossary." Fact Book Glossary. APTA, 2012. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.
  2. Dunbar, Charles Stuart. Buses, Trolleys & Trams. [S.l.]: Bounty, 2004. Print.
  3. Ashley Bruce, Lombard-Gerin and Inventing the Trolleybus (Trolleybooks, 2017, Print. ISBN 978-0-904235-25-8,
  4. a b Sebree, Mac, and Paul Ward. Transit's Stepchild: The Trolley Coach. Cerritos, CA: Interurbans, 1973. Print.
  5. a b North American Trackless Trolly Association. "All-Time List of North American Trolleybus Systems." All-Time List of North American Trolleybus Systems. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.
  6. Weingroff, Richard F., Summer 1996, Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, Creating the Interstate System: Public Roads, v. 60, no. 1,
  7. a b "Public Transportation Fact Book." Public Transportation Fact Book. APTA, 2012. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.
  8. "Trolleybuses and Trollytrucks." : Get Wired (again): Trolleybuses and Trolleytrucks. Low-tech Magazine, 10 July 2009. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.
  9. a b Seattle Department of Transportation. "Electric Trolley Bus Fact Sheet." Seattle Department of Transportation, n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. <>.
  10. a b Murray, Alan. World Trolleybus Encyclopaedia. Reading: Trolley, 2000. Print.
  11. Gilbert, Richard, and Anthony Perl. Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil. London: Earthscan, 2007. Print.
  12. Media, High Gear. "Diesel-electric Hybrid Trolley Trucks to Be Tested in L.A." Fox News. FOX News Network, 30 May 2012. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. <>.

Life cycle of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs)

Warning: Display title "Life Cycle of U.S. Sport Utility Vehicle Sales" overrides earlier display title "Life Cycle of U.S. Hybrid Electric Vehicle Sales".

The Chevrolet Tahoe, a common example of a Sport Utility Vehicle.

The Sport Utility Vehicle, or SUV, is defined by the United States Department of Transportation as a light truck which is historically built around a traditional truck chassis. SUVs are often equipped with a mix of off-road performance technologies, with many containing four-wheel drive and towing capacity of pickup trucks. SUVs tend to display high clearance, boxy bodies, and a high H-point compared to compact vehicles. [1] SUVs have roots to contemporary personal pickup trucks as well as military vehicles, and began to gain consumer popularity in the 1990’s in North America. United States sales of all types of SUVs increased by 70% from 1994 to 1999, based on sales data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

History Edit

SUV Origins Edit

SUV’s have roots to the 1930’s, where vehicles with high axle clearance used for off-road travel and the attribute of having an enclosed rear cargo area were used by government officials. Although most original SUVs were based on off-road ability, not all early SUVs had four-wheel drive capability; the Chevrolet Carryall Suburban was originally offered as a real-wheel drive only vehicle. SUV brands like Jeep, Hummer, and Land Rover are based from military vehicles that were used for this purpose. The concept of the more rugged and higher clearance vehicles originated from World War I and II. In an attempt to market their concept to American families after World War II, Willys-Overland created the Jeep Wagon in 1948, among other box-based models. The popularity of post-War baroque models seen in the station wagon and contemporary passenger vehicles led to the original SUV’s inability to attract regular consumers. Ironically, the Jeep Wagon led to the development of all-steel station wagons, which became the more “family-oriented” vehicle for the next three decades.

1948 Willys Jeepster (Jeep Wagon)

The SUV did not make a large impact in consumer purchases until American Motors bought the Jeep brand and brought it to the United States in 1969. AM modified the wartime Jeep and the failed Jeep Wagon in an attempt to market to a more urban consumer. The Jeep was the most common, although still niche-focused, SUV in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and were still seen as impractical during this time. Jeep’s tendencies to be top-heavy and their higher rates of rollovers also contradicted their early image as a safe, family vehicle.

SUV Policy, Past and Present Edit

A large push for corporate marketing and production of the SUV derived from an amendment to the Clean Air Act in 1970, as well as the establishment of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) in 1975 to increase fuel economy of passenger vehicles. The establishment of the CAFE was rooted around the OPEC oil crisis of the mid- to late-1970’s in an attempt to lessen the dependence on oil consumption in America.[2] The first averaged fuel economy standards for regular passenger vehicles were set to be 27.5 mpg by 1985, but fuel economy requirements for light trucks were lower to accommodate for their perceived use as work vehicles. To lessen the burden on business owners who commonly used light trucks for their work, the average fuel economy requirements were set to be 20.5 mpg in 1985. Due to SUV’s large truck-based frame and heavy build, they were able to fall under the “light truck” vehicle category, and were therefore exempt from the CAFE passenger vehicle standards. Bradsher states that the federal government’s inability to raise gasoline taxes to keep fuel prices low, coupled with the SUV’s fuel economy exemption as a light truck, helped catalyze the SUV to eventually replace the car and the station wagon as the next generation of the “family car”.

SUV’s status as a light truck also helped them garner tax incentives. Since many farmers held working trucks, federal policies within the Clean Air Act assisted these farmers by reducing taxes on their depreciating trucks. Tax code regulation changes around 1984 that were meant to charge business owners for purchasing passenger vehicles also unintentionally helped the SUV rise into a large-scale market, since the tax charges were dropped if the vehicle was over 3 tons. Also, a 1990 bill to assign a luxury tax on passenger vehicles was also exempt for vehicles over 3 tons. Most SUVs in the 1980’s and in 1990 were not over this weight threshold; however, by the end of the 1990’s, many were as automakers created larger SUV models to sell through the decade.

In August 2012, automakers and the Obama administration agreed to update the CAFE standards for 2017-2025 vehicle models. The average fuel economy of the United States vehicle fleet must be 54.5 mpg by 2025, increased from an original average 34.1 mpg by 2016. Light trucks are not exempt from new CAFE standards, but SUVs with footprints 41 square feet or smaller must achieve a fuel economy of 50 mpg by 2025. [3] The updated CAFE standards will allow vehicles to save nearly $8,000 in fuel costs over its lifetime, the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gasoline. [4]

Common Sport Utility Vehicles Edit

Manufacturer SUV Class Country of Origin Years Produced
Chevrolet Tahoe Luxury fullsize United States 1995–present
Chevrolet Suburban Extended Length/Luxury Extended Length United States 1933–present
Dodge Durango Fullsize United States 1988–present
Ford Expedition Fullsize United States 1997–present
Freightliner Sport Chassis Luxury fullsize United States 2008-present
GMC Yukon Fullsize United States 1992–present
GMC Yukon Denali Luxury fullsize United States 1998–present
GMC Yukon XL Extended Length United States 1960–present
Honda Ridgeline midsize SUT(2005-2014) United States 2005–2014
Infiniti QX Luxury Fullsize(2004-present) Japan 1996–present
Lexus GX Luxury midsize Japan 2002–present
Lincoln Navigator Luxury fullsize United States 1997–present
Nissan Xterra Compact Japan 1999–present
Nissan X-Trail Compact Japan 2001–present
Nissan Armada Fullsize United States 2004–present
Suzuki Escudo 5-Door Compact Japan 2005–present
Toyota 4Runner compact(1984-2002), midsize(2003-present) Japan 1984–present
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 5-Door midsize/Luxury midsize Japan 1990–present
Toyota Sequoia fullsize/Luxury fullsize United States 2000–present
Hummer H1, H2, H3 Models Luxury fullsize United States 1992-2010

SUV Technology Edit

Structure Edit

The SUV is usually based on a body-on-frame chassis derived from light pickup trucks used for personal and local business use. Similar to passenger vehicles, SUVs are designed and built with normal engine compartments, a combined passenger and cargo area, and front and back seating. However, most SUV’s do not have passenger and cargo area separators commonly seen in sedan and coupe bodies. Some larger models, like the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon, have three rows of seats commonly seen in contemporary minivans. [5] The third row is almost always able to fold down to accommodate more cargo. SUVs tend to display high clearance, boxy bodies, and a high H-point compared to compact vehicles. Most modern SUVs have four-wheel or all-wheel drive capability, and due to their higher clearance, are commonly seen as better performing for off-road and inclement weather uses. Due to traditional SUV’s truck-based chassis, many companies used their off-road ability and large quantities of space as a main selling point, even though most vehicles were and are still not used extensively for off-road driving. [6] Many buyers are also attracted to the SUV for its higher seating, and its perceived driver safety compared to other vehicles.

Safety & Criticism Edit

Although often perceived as safe passenger vehicles, modern SUVs have large burdens to bear when dealing with other forms of traffic. SUVs may be perceived as safe by the driver and passengers inside, but they also increase the risks to other road users, including bicycles, pedestrians, and other non-SUV vehicles. (Berkeley) On August 9th, 2000, Bridgestone Firestone company recalled fourteen million ATX and ATX II tires commonly seen on Ford Explorers during the time. Explorer owners had complained repeatedly their dissatisfaction with the tires, and many claimed that they would come apart and cause the SUV to roll over. Federal records later showed that 271 fatalities were directly caused by the failure of the Firestone tires. [7]

The perception of safety in SUV’s also hinders on the efforts to complete a safer road for all users. Gladwell concludes that the added height and clearance compared to compact cars allow SUV drivers to become passive, and due to this, SUV drivers usually give up 30 feet more braking distance. Drivers’ attitudes in this situation are more tuned to the idea of accidents as an inevitability rather than an avoided incident. Gladwell concludes that when drivers feel safe, they are more unsafe to themselves and road users around them. Ulfarsson and Mannering (2004) concluded that although driving behavior varies based on gender, SUV drivers experienced different behaviors and appear as risk compensation resulting from perceived SUV safety with respect to size and driver position.

In a 1998 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, SUV drivers were found less likely to wear seat belts and more likely to drive recklessly during their trips. [8] The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also revealed in a 2011 report that “pound for pound, cars almost always have lower death rates than pickups or SUVs.” [9]

Precursors Edit

The common precursors to modern SUVs were regular passenger cars and station wagons, also known as estate cars. Station wagons were often referred as large quantity cargo carriers, and were designed with an extended rearward roof over a shared cargo and passenger section. The station wagon’s position of having the combined cargo and passenger space with available folding seats is a common trait also seen in SUVs. Many station wagons also contained a wide use of the rear door, with some models containing hatchback abilities and some holding pull-down tailgate abilities. The hatchback feature is commonly seen in modern luxury SUVs, where the traditional truck-based tailgate is seen in personal pickup trucks. Station Wagons enjoyed a long period of consumer sales from the 1930s to the 1980s, due to their family-friendly image and their relative carrying efficiency. Like many vehicles of the mid-20th century, station wagons required a large amount of maintenance. Their common wood paneling was eventually seen as outdated, and their image for holding long road trips were viewed as wasteful beginning in the 1970’s OPEC oil crisis. Station wagon sales began to decline in the 1970’s due to the oil crisis. Since the SUV was considered a light truck and therefore did not have to conform to American CAFE standards, automobile companies began marketing the SUV much more heavily as the new “family vehicle” to reap the tax incentive and fuel economy benefits. Many American models of station wagons were phased out in favor of the SUV in the 1990’s and 2000’s; however, station wagons remain popular in Europe where emission regulations do not differentiate the car and the light truck. [10]

Evolution, Vehicle Idealism & Growth Edit

The post World War II mentality of automobile-based mobility captured the imagination of many consumers and policymakers during the mid-20th Century. The outward expansion from the inner cities to surrounding suburbs was fueled by the bustling post-war economy allowing middle-class families to own a car. The expansion was also catalyzed by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which originally granted $25 billion for new separated highways to be built across the country. Since many of the highways were constructed radially into city centers instead of circumferentially around them.

Much of the mindset of outward expansion was initiated with a humanist stigma encouraging people to be closer to nature. Owen observes that from Henry David Thoreau excursions into wilderness, the general population "natually wants to be closer to nature." Although many of the original residential suburbs were created in close proximity to original city centers, some exurbs and previously rural communities began to see suburban growth that were more distant than the first-ring suburbs commonly growing in the 1960s. The developed suburbs and growing exurbs contributed to the idea of being closer to nature, and according to Owen, away from the dirty, overly dense city.

As suburbs expanded to second and third-ring suburbs, the growing desire to be closer to natural environments led to the elevation of the SUV as a practical consumer vehicle. Many automobile manufacturers spent large amounts of money to advertise the SUV as a vehicle able to escape into nature and away from natural disasters. Automobiles spent nearly $9 billion on SUV advertising from 1990 to 2001. The advertising efforts, favorable tax incentives, and inclination for the SUV to be based on an image relating to wilderness excursions helped the automobile industry regain profits in the 1990’s.

Peak & Maturity Edit

Profits to many automobile companies rose rapidly in the mid- to late 1990’s, with much of the profit being based on the sales of SUVs. Each sale of an SUV in the 1990’s correlated to $10,000 in profit. [11] High labor costs in the US deterred automakers from producing compact cars during this period, and low labor costs in Japan led to many foreign companies to sell more small vehicles. Due to this, most American brands focused their attention to building and creating more profitable SUV models rather than less profitable compact cars. Cheap fuel prices throughout the 1990’s also helped sales for SUVs grow. The Michigan Truck Plant, where many Ford Expeditions were manufactured, was the most profitable factory in any industry in the world in the 1990’s

Although sales continued to incline throughout the early 2000’s, the to value based on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics data was found to be in mid-1996, where sales began increasing at a decreasing rate. Peak SUV sales occurred in 2004, and remained slightly lower but steady until 2008. Due to the worldwide Great Recession beginning in December 2007 and elevated gas prices in the summer of 2008, SUV sales plummeted 45% in 2009 and have remained lower than 2006 levels ever since. During the Great Recession, many considered the SUV to be wasteful and a relic of the excessive economic boom experienced since the 1980’s. In an interview with, industry analyst Aaron Bragman stated that “the SUV as a lifestyle choice, as a personal statement, is dead. People are downsizing from their big trucks to smaller cars.” [12]

Since the depths of the Great Recession and the U.S. Bailout of General Motors, automobile companies have seen a resurgence in SUV sales, although as of 2013, sales had not eclipsed 2004 levels. Lock-in constraint for SUVs are likely based around their perception of being overly large, unnecessary and wasteful. Although fuel economy on SUVs has increased in the past five years, the large footprint nature of the SUV is a deterring factor for new sales.

Auto manufacturers have combated the SUV image problem by creating more models of "crossover SUVs", which often have a smaller footprint, smaller cargo space, and better fuel economy than the traditional large SUV. Crossover sales were 36% higher in August 2013 from the previous month. [13] Many crossovers take the best attributes from various models and craft them into a more practical, scaled down version of the larger traditional SUV. Sport Utility hybrids have become more popular since the release of the crossover SUV Ford Escape hybrid in 2004. [14]

Analysis Edit

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics[15]



Year SUV Sales Predicted Sales
1990 635616 476700
1991 863765 609505
1992 750246 770466
1993 825795 960720
1994 1291408 1179045
1995 1503496 1421244
1996 1401168 1680038
1997 1888104 1945720
1998 1983348 2207501
1999 2191409 2455209
2000 2371179 2680787
2001 2309047 2879153
2002 3010705 3048297
2003 3131296 3188776
2004 3601998 3302919
2005 3271665 3394022
2006 3005865 3465705
2007 3314387 3521478
2008 3072065 3564494
2009 1713082 3597447
2010 2305409 3622560
2011 3069224 3641623
2012 2796703 3656051

In this analysis, a three-parameter logistic function was used to fit the S-shaped curve of SUV sales. The equation is shown below.



b = Coefficient, determined from regression ( )

K = Saturation status level constant ( )

t = time (years)

t_o = Inflection time, where   is achieved.

To analyze the data accurately, values for K and b need to be estimated to fit an appropriate model. A regression model based around a natural log derivation is useful in fitting an appropriate curve with estimated K and b values. The regression equation that was used in calculation is seen below.


The regression equation was used to linearly interpolate the curved data in a logarithmic format. After matching an appropriate K value, the regression process was used to find b. Data Analysis was used in Microsoft Excel to display results based on the equation found.

Regression Summary Edit

Fit parameters Value
K 3,700,000
b 0.287835
t_o 1996.64
Regression Results Value
Multiple R 0.97928
R-squared 0.95900
Adjusted R Square 0.95584
Standard Error 194675.9
Observations 15

Description Analysis Edit

In this analysis of 15 observations (from 1990 to 2004), the R-squared value was 0.959, and the standard error was 194675.91. Data from 2004 to 2012 was not used in the S-curve model, as the numbers declined after the 2004 peak and therefore negatively affected the shape of the curve fit. The intercept and X variable t-statistics were -17.36 and 17.43, respectively.

The R-squared value for a goodness of fit model is desired to be as close to 1.0 as possible. Since this analysis outputted a value of 0.959, the curve fit is generally accurate with the observations provided. The t-statistic of 17.43 for the variable also illustrates good significance level at 95%, since it resides greater than 2.

Overall, the data and fit curve illustrate the birth, growth, and maturity phases of SUV sales well. Due to the Clean Air and CAFE policies unintentionally favoring SUVs, as well as the sustained low gas prices throughout the 1990's and early 2000's, Sport Utility Vehicle sales grew annually for over 20 years. Maturity began to show after the 2004 peak in sales, and although the Great Recession did impact sales significantly, signs of true maturity began before as SUV sales declined in 2005 and 2006. SUVs have seen a resurgence since the sales valley of 2009, but have yet to recover to peak levels, which could match the sales estimate curve well in the future.

References Edit

Works Cited Edit

Bradsher, Keith. High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV. New York: Public Affairs, 2003. Web.

Gladwell, Malcolm. "Big and Bad: How the S.U.V. Ran over Automotivesafety." The New Yorker, 12 Jan. 2004. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.

"History of SUVs a Tragedy of the Commons." UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center Newsletter 2 (n.d.): n. pag. UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center Newsletter. UC Berkeley Traffic Safety Center, Summer 2005. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Mannering, FL, and GF Ulfarsson. "Differences in Male and Female Injury Severities in Sport-utility Vehicle, Minivan, Pickup and Passenger Car Accidents." NCBI. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2004. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Owen, David. Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability. New York: Riverhead, 2010. Print.

"Period Sales, Market Shares, and Sales-Weighted Fuel Economies of New Domestic and Imported Light Trucks (Thousands of Vehicles) | Bureau of Transportation Statistics." Table 1-21: Period Sales, Market Shares, and Sales-Weighted Fuel Economies of New Domestic and Imported Light Trucks. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Bay Area Rapid Transit System

By David Giacomin

Introduction Edit

A Map of the Current Bay Area Rapid Transit System
The BART Logo

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System is a public transportation system that serves the Bay Area in northern California. It is comprised of 5 train lines complete with 44 stations over 104 miles of track.[1] It's average weekday ridership is 379,300.[2] It has been a part of the transportation system in the Bay Area since 1972,[1] and has slight additions planned for the near future.
It has not always been a total of 5 lines over 104 miles; the system has been implemented over many decades and is the result of extensive planning and work over many decades. Obviously its main market are inhabitants of the Bay Area, primarily San Francisco and Oakland as residents of these areas have direct links to many other destinations, not needing to make transfers as often as a resident of Fremont, for example. This is perhaps a general reflection of the higher populations (and population densities) of Oakland and San Francisco. Other beneficiaries are of course anyone who would like to use the system, such as people from out-of-town arriving to San Francisco International Airport. Plans are in place to expand the BART system to provide service to Oakland International Airport, currently served by an "airBART" bus. These plans are currently under construction by a private firm Doppelmayr, and are scheduled for completion in 2014.[3]

History Edit

An older car used in the BART System, now decommissioned.

The Bay Area in northern California is host to a number of cities including San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland. In total the area had over 7 million inhabitants.[4] As a large area with many inhabitants, a comprehensive transportation network is demanded. Of course the area grew to its current population level, and has not always been a populous area. In 1946, the idea for BART was first devised.[1] It came from the many people living on both sides of the bay (in and around San Francisco and Oakland) demanding a quicker means of traveling across the bay. The current primary option was crossing the bay by automobile, while other options included traveling south around the bend (near San Jose) or traveling across the bay by water. By connecting the two areas, travel times could be greatly decreased. While the demand initially came from the public and business owners, the project ultimately required government implementation. With the area facing a post-war population boom, in addition to a boom in the demand of automobiles, it became clear that the Bay Bridge would not be able to handle inclement demand.
The project required cooperation from a number of municipalities, and required revenue from a number of locations. Unfortunately, throughout the construction process many litigation suits formed, causing increased and unforeseen costs both financial and in time delays. This obviously hurt development of the technology, and decreased the public benefit.
Initially, the BART System was composed of only 75 miles of rail, with 33 stations.[5] The payment system has always been an automatic one, only recently in 2002 switching over to a "Clipper Card", discussed further in the Payment Section. This original 75-mile composure was approximately over 25 miles of aerial structures, 25 miles of subway, and only 25 miles of surface track.[5] The varying types undoubtedly increased cost.

Technology Edit

A BART Train Car at the Daly City Station.
A view of the wide gauge used in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System
A BART Train stopped at a station.

The tracks are split 5'6" in the BART System.[5] This is unconventional, and creates difficulty if another train system wanted to connect to the BART System. In other words, it would be nearly impossible. The purpose behind this wide gauge was to reduce train sway when traveling at high speeds. A 1,000 Volt Direct Current line that runs about the entire system is what powers the trains as they move, provided by a trackside "third rail".[5] Each car has seating for 72 passengers.[5] The train can peak around 80 miles per hour with an average operating speed around 50 miles per hour.[5] The cars will be complete with carpeted floors, automatic air conditioning, reading lights, and wide windows.[5] These features are rather lavish for a commuter's public transportation system. The carpeted floors also raise concerns for high maintenance costs, especially in cleaning. This is not as difficult and time-consuming with a hard floor, where one can simply mop to clean the floors.
According to reports, the carrying capacity of the BART System is "30,000 seated passengers per hour on a single line in one direction".[5]
Vibration control has been a focus of recent research, as there are currently proposals to expand the BART System to San Jose, a city on the south of the Bay. While the vibration controls initially implemented are largely performing as expected, there have been some unanticipated results causing damage to the system, which would like to be solved before another link is implemented.[6]

Bus Connections Edit

The BART System is well connected throughout its 44 stations to provide bus service to many other areas not served by the trains. Unfortunately, connecting do a bus does not always mean that one can use their "Clipper Card" for payment. WestCAT and Dumbarton Express are examples of bus connection services that to not make use of the same payment system. This system makes it difficult for users thus discouraging them, and is in stark contrast with a metro system like that of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

Earthquake Preparation Edit

A study completed in 2002 concluded that the BART system is largely unprepared for a serious earthquake in the Bay Area. The link of primary concern is the Transbay Tube, a link between San Francisco and Oakland. Not only is this link a high-usage link of the system but damage to the link could be severe should an earthquake occur, making it a primary concern. Other main concerns include aerial structures and train stations.[7]
Unlike previous developments of the BART System, Doppelmayr will provide the deep foundations, columns, and bent caps necessary to withstand an earthquake in their development of the Oakland International Airport Connector, scheduled for completion in 2014. Their production will also provide an increase in capacity to the Oakland International Airport, further enhancing the BART System.[8]
Many concepts have been discussed regarding improvement of the technology behind the BART System in preparation for an earthquake, though little has resulted.

Payment Edit

A Clipper Card being swiped at a pay terminal.

The primary and encouraged method of payment for the BART system is to use a reloadable card, that can simply be passed over a payment terminal to pay for a charge. The technology, called a "Clipper Card", was first implemented in 2002 and has since been rebranded to its current name, the Clipper Card. It is functional across eight transit agencies[9]: AC Transit, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, SamTrans, San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), and the San Francisco Bay Ferry (for use on the South San Francisco - Oakland/Alameda route only).

Riders' Noise Exposure Edit

A recent study by Dinno et al. noticed that there is a significant amount of noise exposure for riders on the BART System. By observing and analyzing three dosimetry measures, they concluded that 1% of the line segment rides on the BART System posed acute hazardous exposures to adults and 2% of the line segment rides were hazardous to children. They identified specific rail segments that could be improved, and noted that the noise problems were a function of high velocity, flooring of the train cars, as well as enclosed tunnels the trains pass through.[10]

Role of Policy Edit

Policy played a crucial role in the development (or in some cases lack thereof) of the BART System in the Bay Area. Their policies towards specific events have also played an interesting role. Unfortunately according to recent research by Renne, policy may have not played as important a role as it should have during the development of the BART System over the past 40 years.[11] Renne looks at transit-adjacent and transit-oriented development of transit stations of the BART System.
Initial studies conducted in the 1970s indicated that the BART System didn't play a tremendous role in land-use patterns.[12] While there were some consequences, it apparently caused minimal changes. However, the BART System has not achieved what it was intended to do in terms of encouraging growth according to a study in the 1990s.[12] In order to do this, stronger public policy initiatives are needed in many other sectors, not just from BART, so that growth is encouraged around the BART corridors and stations.
The methodology behind the initial planning phase of the BART System may hold answers to a lot of the questions that surround the system. For example, the planning was divided up into many segments that seemed to favor municipalities, and had little overarching policy or views.[13]

Cell Phone Shutdown Incident Edit

In late 2011, protests were planned in the Bay Area, that were the result of the killing of Charles Hill. In response to the protest, BART had cell phone communications disabled at four of their train stations, to act against the public's ability to organize.[14] This attracted much controversy.[15]

Ticket Pricing Edit

The fares for a trip within the BART system can vary, starting from $1.75 and is based on distance. The most expensive trip possible on the system can be $10.90, a rather steep price for public transportation. This methodology differs from a metro area like Minneapolis-St.Paul, where their metro system offers a flat rate for system-wide transit (within 2.5 hours) with a rate based on peak or non-peak hours.[16] Like many other systems, there are multiple types of tickets a customer can purchase, though it is largely based on age and status.[16]

Life Cycle Edit

As is the case with any mode in transportation, there are multiple stages that the mode will endure. One of these stages is the magic bullet, which arguably never happened to the Bay Area Rapid Transit System technology. Because the gauge for the rail in the transit system is proprietary, albeit beneficial, it is difficult for others to adopt and is seldom used elsewhere.
Nevertheless, because the municipal governments in the Bay Area have not abandoned the technology, the system has seen multiple improvements throughout its history and continues to receive enhancement projects as well as future planning. It could be argued that given the cost of already installing the system, it would make no sense to abandon the asset, despite the BART System having never met initial ridership projections.

Ridership Edit

While the BART System has been fully developed and serves many municipalities within the Bay Area, it has largely failed to meet expectations and initial and preliminary estimates for ridership.[13][17] Furthermore, expansions to meet those ridership estimates have also failed.[18] The initial policies towards the BART System implementation from 40–50 years ago may be to blame for these continually failed projections.[13]

Ridership last year was 105,800,594 alightings. For the past few years, ridership has increased. This has not always been the case and the system has seen a few down years, such as 1980 and a continual decrease from 2001–2004, among others. More notably, the BART System has never seen the rate of ridership increase over any two year span. While it has stretches in which ridership increases for many years, the rate at which that is variable, and we rarely see any sort of sustained exponential growth.

Analysis Edit

After conducting an analysis to fit the data from the BART System annual alightings to that of a typical S-Curve used to model the life cycles of modes of transportation, it was concluded that the BART System is very near its peak ridership, which is projected to be 116,121,000. With last years ridership at 105,800,594, and this years ridership expected to be a little higher than that, it can be expected that the system will peak in the next few years.
To put a specific year on this analysis is naive, however, because it would not take into account multiple things including some aforementioned. First of all, the system is seeing current expansion, such as the work being done to connect the BART System to the Oakland International Airport. Also, population is not constant in the Bay Area, but is growing. As public transportation is also a function of the economy, it is simply too soon to state exactly what the peak ridership will be or when the peak will occur. Given that the system remains constant as well as population and economic conditions, it is probable that the system will reach peak ridership within the next 10 years.

References Edit

  1. a b c "History of BART", Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2012,
  2. "BART Reports", Bay Area Rapid Transit,
  3. Doppelmayr, 2012,,_Oakland,_USA_detail.aspx.
  4. Bay Area Census 2010, 2010,
  5. a b c d e f g h BR Stokes, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Highway Research Board Special Report, Number 111, 1970.
  6. Saurenman, H. and Phillips, J, In-service tests of the effectiveness of vibration control measures on the BART rail transit system, Journal of sound and vibration, Volume 293, Issue 3, 2006, Pages 888-900.
  7. Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2012,
  8. Jones, J, Oakland Airport Connector to Keep Travelers Moving, Civil Engineering-ASCE, ASCE, Volume 81, Issue 4, 2011, Pages 24-26.
  9. Clipper Card, 2010,
  10. Dinno, A, Powell, C, King, MM, A Study of Riders' Noise Exposure on Bay Area Rapid Transit Trains, Journal of Urban Health, Springer, Volume 88, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 1-13.
  11. Renne, JL, From transit-adjacent to transit-oriented development, Local Environment, Volume 14, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 1-15.
  12. a b Cervero, R and Landis, J, Twenty years of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System: Land use and development impacts, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 31, Issue 4, 1997, Pages 309-333.
  13. a b c Connolly, K and Payne, M, Bay area rapid transit's comprehensive station plans: Integrating capacity, access, and land use planning at rail transit stations, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Volume 1872, Issue 1, 2004, Pages 1-9.
  14. Chloe Albanesius, When Is It OK to Block Wireless Service? FCC Wants to Know, PC Magazine, March 2012.
  15. Lackert, R, BART Cell Phone Service Shutdown: Time for a Virtual Forum, Fed. Comm. LJ, HeinOnline, Volume 64, 2011, Page 577.
  16. a b Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2012,
  17. West, R and Herhold, P, Bay Area Rapid Transit's San Francisco, California, International Airport Station: Assessment of Transit Patronage and Revenue Forecasts, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Board, Volume 1895, 2004, Pages 38-45.
  18. M. Bonsiewich, NewsBriefs: BART Ridership Not Meeting Expectations After Expansion (The San Francisco Chronicle), Civil Engineering, ASCE, Volume 75, Issue 11, 2005.

Beijing Metro

Quantitative Analysis Edit

The data of the annual ridership from 1971 to 2011 within the Beijing subway system was obtained from the official website of Beijing subway[1]and is shown in Table 1. The life cycle phases are shown in Figure 1, from which we can see, the fast growing ridership indicates that the Beijing subway system is still in its growth phase now. But the existing data is plotted along with first half of the S-curve very well. Even though, the future development may not exactly follow the S-curve’s second half, it can provide a reference for the government when planning for the future, such as designing the network, station capacity and related policies.

Figure 1 S-curve of the Beijing Subway Ridership.

Equations: Edit

The data was then used to estimate a three-parameter logistic function of the form:

S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-to)] (1)


S(t) is the predicted annual ridership; to is the inflection point at which ½ K is achieved.

The S(t) formula can be transformed to get a the following linear relationship:

Y = LN(Ridership/(K - Ridership))=c+b×t (2)


b from the S-curve

c = -b * to (3)

Determine the Value of K: Edit

Here, K, is the saturation level of ridership, which has not been achieved for Beijing subway, so different K values were tested.

The “Golden Section Search” is used to coordinate with the “Least Squares method” to find the best K in the fastest way.

Before using the “Golden Section Search”, four initial K values of 2,200, 2,500, 2,700 and 2,900 are tested. The results show that values of 2,500 and 2,700 are better than of 2,200 and 2,900, based on the strength of the R-square and t-stat numbers. So, the best value of K must lie in the interval [2,500, 2,700].

Then we use the “Golden Section Search”, and the R(x) is used to represent the R-square number when the value of K is x.

  • Set xl=2,500 and xr=2,700;
  • Set xl’= xl+ (xr-xl)×0.382 and xr’= xl+ (xr-xl)×0.618;
  • If R(xl)>R(xl’) or both R(xl)<R(xl’) and R(xr’)<R(xl), then the best K must lie in the interval [xl, xl’], so set xr= xl’;
  • If R(xr)>R(xr’) or both R(xr)<R(xr’) and R(xl’)<R(xr), then the best K must lie in the interval [xr’, xr], so set xl= xr’;
  • Otherwise, the best K must lie in the interval [xl’, xr’], so set xr= xl’, so set xl= xl’ and xr= xr’;
  • If xr- xl<5, we are done; otherwise, go to step 1.

The result of the test of different K values are shown in Table2. After the test of K, a value of 2558.367 was used for it has the biggest R-square and t-stat numbers. The results of its analysis is shown in Tables 3.

Table 2 Determine the value of K

Summary output: Edit

Table 3 Regression results when K=2558.367

It can be seen that the R square is 0.925593 which is close to 1 and t-statistics is higher than 2, which means the results were statistically significant at the 95% confidence interval. Overall, this model seems to reflect the actual data.

This analysis gives the intercept of the predicted model.

In this case, the intercept was -275.882.

b, was estimated to be 0.137371.

to = Intercept / -b=2008.299881.

With all the variables were found to solve for S (t), predicted ridership could be determined for each year. The resulting data is plotted in red in Figure 1. It forms an S-curve that fits the actual data as accurately as possible.

In this case, there are some outliers in the data that affect the R-square value. It can be seen that the actual data itself does not perfectly follow an S-curve shape.

Some Factors Affect the Trend of the Ridership: Edit

Some data did not follow the curve very well, but it does not mean the curve is incorrect. Some extension of the two existing lines were done in 1989 which attracted some ridership, and the ridership continued to grow rapidly to reach an all-time high level in 1995[1]. However, the ridership fell from 558 million in 1995 to 444 million in 1996, when fares rose from ¥0.50 to ¥2.00[1]. After fares rose again to ¥3.00 in 2000, annual ridership fell to 434 million from 481 million in 1999. In the summer of 2001, the city won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics and accelerated plans to expand the subway. 7 new lines were opened from 2002 to 2008, including the Olympic Branch Line and the Airport Express. What is more, subway fares were reduced from between ¥3 and ¥7 per trip, depending on the line and number of transfers, to a single flat fare of ¥2 with unlimited transfers in 2007[1]. The annual ridership reached 1.2 billion in 2008. After the 2008 Olympic, rapid extensions to suburban districts which attracted large number of commuters who live in the suburban but work in the central city[1].

Qualitative Analysis Edit

Birth of the Beijing Subway Edit

Figure 2 Development of Beijing Subway.

The first line began to construct in July, 1965 and trial operated in October, 1969.The system was opened to the general public in 1977 and to foreign visitors in 1980. It ran 21 km from the army barracks at Fushouling to the Beijing Railway Station and had 16 stations. This line forms parts of present day Lines 1 and 2.

Technological Edit

  • Learn technology from the Soviet and Moscow Metro : The Beijing Metro was the country’s first subway. For the lack of expertise in building subways, the Beijing subway was originally planned with the help of Soviet experts and the concept originally unveiled in 1953. Chinese planners took particular interest in the use of the Moscow Metro during the Battle of Moscow during World War II, and so the Beijing Metro was designed from the very beginning to serve both civilian and military ends. The deterioration of relations between China and Soviet Union disrupted subway planning. Soviet experts began to leave in 1960, and were completely withdrawn by 1963. The government of China decided to press ahead.
  • Cut and Cover Tunneling : At that time, it was sure the subway would be built deep underground for its military use. There was a debate on the method of constructing tunnels. Considering the geographical factors, such as soft stratum, cut and cover tunneling was used. But this method result in pavement destruction and traffic interference on the road surface in Beijing. So higher risk shield-tunneling was used when the line was extended after several years[2].
  • Rail and Rolling Stocks : The subway trains run on 1,435mm standard gauge rail and draw power from the 750 V DC third rail. The original metro stock was built by Changchun Railway Vehicle Company. It was classified with the Latin-alphabet letters DK (Diandong keche ), which stand for Electric multiple-unit (EMU). In 1967, two DK1-class cars were built, but there was no record whether they did in fact operate in Beijing. From 1967 to 1970, 80 DK2-class metro cars were built by Changchun Railway Vehicle Company and 76 went to Beijing[3]. The Beijing Subway Rolling Stock Equipment Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corp. Ltd., provides local assemblage, maintenance and repair services[3].

Early Market Edit

  • Limitation of Auto: In the 1970s, there are only 100,000 automobiles in Beijing, and nearly all of these cars are owned by the local administrative departments, enterprise and institution[4]. At that time, cars were too expensive for people to buy and it wasn’t until 1990s when the economic developed rapidly and the quality of people’s life improved in Beijing, cars were popular as private use than they had been previously. In the 1970s, the price of transit is reasonable and can be accepted. So, transit was the only traffic tool for people, especially when long distance tips were needed.
  • Limitation of Bus: The bus network was rapid growth at that time. There were 96 routes in 1975 but the number of buses for long distance trips is not very big[5]. Long distance trips may require several transfers. The low frequency and poor reliability cost a lot of waiting time. Some other limits include the slow speed and small capacity of the bus.
  • Market and Advantages of Subway: After the emphasis of subway changes from the military to civilian, the initial 21 km line from the army barracks at Fushouling to the Beijing Railway Station stimulate the development of the west part of the city. It became the most important traffic tool for the west residents to go to work at that time, for example there were nearly 80,000 commuters in the Shijingshan district rely on the subway for commute. It was seen as a bridge which is built between the west and the central city. Even in the rapid growth period, the subway is so attractive for many reasons. The designing speed of subway 60km/ hour was much faster than the highest speed of the bus 40 km/hour. The 21kilometers line satisfied many people who want to have long trip and do not want to transfer. It is more reliable, which was one of the most important factor commuter cared about.

Policies in the Beginning Edit

When the subway was started open in 1971, it was ruled that only members of the public with credential letters from their work units were permitted entry into the subway. In 1973, the policy changed that any passenger can take the subway buying a ¥0.10 ticket. The flat fare was not a burden in the early years for the Beijing people at that time. In 1978, joint commutation ticket for subway and electric car was launched to push the transit system in Beijing[1].

On November 11, 1969, an electrical fire which killed three people, injured over 100 reminded the government to attach more importance to the safety of the subway. Premier Zhou Enlai placed the subway under the control of the People’s Liberation Army in 1970. “Safe, accurate, efficient and service” was the operation tenet at that time[1].

Growth of the Beijing Subway Edit

Technical Improvement Edit

All but two of the subway's 15 lines were built in the past decade as the system has undergone rapid expansion. The Olympic is a catalyst to expand the subway. The subway set a daily ridership record of 4.92 million on August 22, 2008, the day of the Games' closing ceremony. In 2008, total ridership rose by 75% to 1.2 billion. However, the Olympic is not the only contributor to the rapid development; technical improvement and policy support which would be discussed in the following part are also important factors of the success of the Beijing subway.

  • Rolling Stocks: Considering some earlier batches having been subject to severe reliability and build quality problems, different classes of rolling stocks are introduced, including DK (“diandongkeche”-electrically operated passenger car), BD (“beijing ditie”-Beijing subway), DKZ(“diandongkeche zu”-a group of electrically-operated passenger car), SFX (updated DKZ5, train sets with full articulation and a radically redesigned front bulkhead)[6]. At the same time, train capacities have increased to more than 1,400, up 340 over previous formations. To cope with the increased demands, Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems were introduced. With the Automatic Train Control (ATC), stopping is accurate and journey times, headways and energy consumption are optimized. A signaling headway of 100 seconds was achieved. This has reduced service headway from 3 to 2 minutes and increased capacity by almost 50% per hour per direction[7].
  • Control System:In 2005, in order to better schedule trains and accurately calculate operating costs Beijing subway started to introduce Electro Industries GaugeTech (EIG). Its integrated power quality and energy management system allows the Beijing subway to monitor the operating conditions of all subway lines simultaneously, in the subway’s control center[8].
  • Operation:In the early days, the subway has only one operator, the wholly state-owned Beijing Mass Transit Railway Operation Corp., but now the Beijing MTR Corp., a public-private joint-venture with the Hong Kong MTR, manages two lines. MTR owns a 49% stake in the project, was required to provide 30% of the capital, and will receive a concession to run the line for 30 years[9].
  • Passenger Friendly: The subway became more passenger friendly with several infrastructure improvements. Early interchange stations in the Beijing subway are notorious for their long transfers. The average transfer distance in an early interchange station is 128 meters[10]. To solve this problem, some old stations were rebuilt to reduce the transfer time. The newer stations were built with more efficient transfers in mind. The stations capable of cross-platform interchanges are the first choice for the planners. Even if the alignment of the lines prevents cross-platform interchange, new interchanges will have a transfer distance no more than 100 meters[11]. The average transfer distance of new interchange stations is 63 meters, which compared with the older transfers is halved. By August 2008 it was claimed that all 123 stations had at least one access point available to wheelchair users. By the summer of 2008, the use of paper tickets, hand checked by clerks for 38 years, was discontinued and replaced by “Yikatong” (electronic tickets) that are scanned by automatic fare collection machines upon entry and exit of the subway. Stations are outfitted with touch screen vending machines that sell single-ride tickets and multiple-ride Yikatong fare cards. By 2011, Mobile phones can be used throughout the system, except for in the tunnels between stations on Lines 1 and 2.

Policy Support Edit

A policy not to the subway but helped it by attracting more passengers is the traffic restriction policy in Beijing in 2008. This traffic regulations designed to limit the number of cars in use on weekdays based on car number plates. The drivers may shift to use the subway when they are restricted to use their cars. After a period of time, they may used to taking the subway and keep taking it even when their car are not restricted.

Child with height under 120 cm doesn't need to pay to travel by Beijing subway.

Future of the Beijing Subway Edit

Near Future (2012-2015) Edit

Beijing subway is planning to have 19 lines totaling 660km of track in operation by 2015, with an expected nine million passenger journeys a day. A “3,4,5,7” network, which means 3 circle lines, 4 horizontal lines, 5 vertical lines and 7 radial lines are planned to be built before the end of 2015. It is estimated the average walk distance will be less than 1 km within the Third Ring Road in Beijing. With the significant construction of urban rail systems, the government hopes that the public transit can have a mode capture of 50% in the central city in 2015[12].

To help improve the system, some new technologies are planned to be introduced into the system: advanced SCADA software systems will be used in the second phase of the Beijing subway Line 8 extension which can interlink various automation subsystems at station level; Train guard MT automatic train control system will be used in the Olympic Line 8 and Ring Line 10 of the network; Operations control center which can interlock components will be installed for 82 trains;Communication based train control (CBTC) system will be built on the Yizhuang and Changping lines of the Beijing subway network[13].

Far Future Edit

According to the 2011-2020 plan, there will be 30 lines, totaling 450 stations and 1050km of track in operation by 2020. It will form a “Chessboard network” for the center region and “Radial network” for the suburban region. There is not a detail official plan for the subway after 2020[14], but some experts speculate that the construction of the whole subway system will be finished before 2040, and we find that this the trend seems meets our S curve very well. The curve indicates that the subway will be mature around 2040. However, it does not mean the ridership will not increase after then. As we have seen, from the beginning of the life cycle till now, the technology continue to improve, which make the system more passenger friendly, more reliable and safer. A better service level will definitely attract large numbers of passengers from other modes. Policy is another tool to increase the mode capture. Flat price policy and Motor vehicle limit policy worked well and other policies should be taken adapt to and even orient the urban development. Population growth will also contribute to the increase of ridership, which requires the planners to take it into consideration and make sure the system can meet the demand.

References Edit

  1. a b c d e f g Beijing Subway official website: <>.
  2. (Chinese) Shao genda "The newest technique in Beijing Subway system." China Academy of Railway Sciences.1992.
  3. a b <>
  4. (Chinese)"The history of the development of China's automobile".
  5. "The history of the Beijing bus".
  6. "Rolling stock of Beijing Subway".,_China
  7. "Beijing Metro: 20 years of success".
  8. "Beijing Subway Relies On EIG’s Integrated Power Quality and Energy Management". <>.
  9. "Chinese Public Transportation: A History and a Vision to the Future." July,2010. <>.
  10. (Chinese) "国贸东直门等四大换乘站拟择机改造 换乘不超5分钟" Zhengwu 2012-07-07.<>
  11. (Chinese) "公主坟地铁站新建四个换乘厅 换乘不超过100米" Zhengwu 2012-03-28. <>.
  12. (Chinese)"北京地铁. 百度百科". <>.
  13. "Beijing Subway Development, China." 2012. <>.
  14. (Chinese)Beijing Government official website: <>.

New York Subway

The New York City subway system has an illustrious history since its inception in the early 1900s. From its modest beginnings in 1904 with one line opening, the New York City subway has become the largest subway system in the world completing 1.6 Billion trips a year.[1] It is hard to imagine for all of those who have taken the subway in New York City, but the 1.6 Billion trips that we see today is only 80% of the total rides seen in the years 1929 and again in 1945, despite being a significantly smaller system. This case study will focus on the birth of the New York City subway system, including what policies were instituted to get it off the ground, then onto the growth phase seen between 1910 till 1919, and finally mark its peak in 1929 and what caused the system to level off at 2 Billion trips served in that year.

The Subway from 1904 till 1945 Edit

When analyzing the total rides made within the New York City subway system, the argument can be made that from 1904, when the first subway line became operation, till 1929 encompasses the entire life cycle of the mode of transportation: the birth, growth and mature phases are all encompassed. While a peak is seen at 1929 with roughly 2 billion rides made that year, there is a decline in the 1930's (due to the Great Depression, with a resurgence during the 1940's, eventually hitting to peak of 2 billion rides made. Below is a table of total rides made on the New York City Subway:

Year Total Rides Year Total Rides
1904 72,690,380 1925 1,743,621,048
1905 137,814,991 1926 1,823,970,234
1906 166,231,227 1927 1,912,099,030
1907 199,291,468 1928 1,964,996,184
1908 511,991,537 1929 2,046,801,002
1909 559,678,809 1930 1,993,851,195
1910 574,778,763 1931 1,865,497,342
1911 752,211,081 1932 1,762,054,023
1912 780,854,522 1933 1,799,232,393
1913 807,359,338 1934 1,813,276,430
1914 800,861,234 1935 1,871,677,719
1915 872,470,391 1936 1,887,674,273
1916 978,581,686 1937 1,858,711,735
1917 1,013,337,157 1938 1,849,354,998
1918 1,097,150,230 1939 1,842,675,316
1919 1,323,191,742 1940 1,842,506,073
1920 1,412,023,760 1941 1,908,489,285
1921 1,431,701,597 1942 1,951,201,767
1922 1,504,138,223 1943 1,911,808,637
1923 1,616,026,401 1944 1,952,928,573
1924 1,673,477,654 1945 2,067,227,010

From this data, we can use a three parameter logistic model as follows:


Where R(t) are the total rides with respect to the year, t, K is the carrying capacity of the system (in our case, the maximum number of rides), t0 is the inflection point, and b is the exponential coefficient. To find each of the three parameters, the natural log of both sides is taken and a linear regression is run to best fit for the b and t0 parameters. To estimate for K, the New York City subway reached a maximum of roughly 2 billion rides, to which the value was rounded up to 2.1 billion rides. The following was the equation to which a linear regression was run on Microsoft Excel:


Two regression were run: first on the data between 1904 and 1929, the second on the data between 1904 and 1945. After running both regressions, the data ending in 1929 had an R2 value of 0.95 compared to the data ending in 1945 had an R2 of 0.82. The logic for limiting the regression to 1929 was that for the exceptional circumstances the Great Depression appeared to have on the system; the birth and growth phases are accurately predicted by the logit model using the 1929 model and the mature phase could be seen as starting in 1929 when the peak rides were first made. While the R2 value would be higher for the 1929 model if the data between 1929 and 1945 was considered, ultimately it seems as though the Great Depression was the primary factor as to decreasing ridership (as seen by the return to 2 billion rides made in 1945) and therefore will be treated as "outlier" data points.

Figure 1: Total Rides on NYC Subways from 1904 to 1945 w/logit model

Using the 1929 data set, b is found to be 0.215, and t0 was found to be 1916, which is indicated by the purple line in figure 1. When considering the history of the subway line, as explored in this article, 1916 does historically line up as being an inflection point for the New York City subway. Considering the fit of the model for the first two phases and how the model lines up with the data in 1945, it can be said that the New York City subway system has experienced an S-shaped curve so often seen for transportation modes.

The three phases have been broken down by color code in figure 1: green representing the birth phase, yellow the growth phase, and orange the mature phase. While the dates set for each of these phases were subjective, each were decided because of historical context. The birth phase started in 1904 with the first subway line in operation and lasted until 1910 when the Dual Contracts was signed between the two major rail lines and the municipal government. The Growth Phase was from the signing of the Dual Contracts till the point when subway hit its peak in 1929. The mature phase spanned from 1929 till 1945, when it went through a decline and rebirth up to 1945. The purple line represents 1916, which was the calculated inflection point: when the rate of growth went from increasing to decreasing. This article pertains specifically for this period - for further reading, please refer to Transportation Deployment Casebook's chapter Ridership On New York City Subways.

The Beginnings of Subway Transit Edit

While the first subway rail line opened in October of 1904, above ground rail in New York City began in 1868 with the IRT Ninth Avenue Line. Operated by steam locomotives, there were several companies owning a few lines apiece both in Manhattan and Brooklyn. However, after the turn of the century, the rail lines would be consolidated into two companies: the Interborough Transit Company (IRT) and the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), with the IRT dominating the Manhattan market and the BRT dominating the Brooklyn market. The above ground lines weren't the only forms of commuter transportation. For long distance commuting, i.e. from Connecticut and Long Island, there were well established rail lines such as the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and the New York Central Railroad (NYC). Both allowed people access into New York City through Grand Central Station - at the northern extent of the CBD. Yet, both lacked the ability to move people from Grand Central further south, which left service open for the IRT, or for people to come in from southern Brooklyn, which left service open for the BRT.

Which ever gaps that were left by rail were filled in by pedestrian traffic, cars, buses, and earlier on horse-drawn rail. For the CBD of New York, described as any part of the Manhattan south of 59th Street, all the different modes of transportation were crowding the narrow streets of New York City. Even when the first above ground rail opened up in 1868, people were planning for an underground subway line to alleviate commuter congestion. For example, one engineer by the name of A. P. Robinson predicted, with consideration to population trends and the increasing density, that there would be 200 million trips made in 1880 - the actual number would eventually be 288 million.[2] It was through his predictions that he thought that subway system should be constructed in order to alleviate future congestion problems that were bound to plague the city. As you can tell, the subway system had been a point of discussion since before the Civil War, yet it wasn't able to get the green light from the City of New York until 1898. At that point, the IRT and BRT were begging to expand their operations. The next chapter discusses what changed over the 35 years when the first elevated lines were created to push the city to making the rail run under the city.

The Advent of Subway in New York city Edit

The first subway line took 6 years to complete, beginning in 1898 when the city finally approved to franchise seven new subway stations to the IRT, continuing to groundbreaking in 1900, till the first train ran the tracks in 1904.[2][3] While the project itself took 6 years, in reality the battle to construct a subway system in New York City start much earlier and took many factors. This article will highlight the three of them: the success of the elevated rail, the new technological advances, and the increasing population.

Elevated Rail Edit

For all intents and purposes, the elevated lines in both Manhattan and Brooklyn were a success. With the eventual formation of the BRT in 1896 and the IRT in 1900,both were able to standardize their lines for their particular train. Both companies would also hold relative monopolies over the other: while the IRT would control trips within Manhattan, the BRT line controlled all of the commuter elevated rail in Brooklyn and had a few access points into Manhattan. Furthermore, by being distinct lines, they did not have to offer their customers transfers from one line to another, maximizing their profits for those force to take the rail.

Ridership was expanding and the rail operation companies were able to supplement the governments in order to franchise new station construction. Throughout the late 1800's, elevated rail companies vied for access into downtown/midtown Manhattan, extending their lines to areas with relatively low population density. Through the success of these companies and with the experience in handling the City of New York, they felt confident in lobbying the government for a more ambitious project. They knew that they could leverage the municipal government into franchising new stations for them and derive profits from the growing populations moving into areas that they were building out to, including Harlem and The Bronx.

New Technologies Edit

There were major technological advances that were revolutionizing cities across the world. While J.P. Robinson drew up schematics for what a subway in New York could look like, many new advances allowed for both easier construction of the subway and operations. First and foremost, the electic locomotive was invented and began to be deployed worldwide by 1902. Unlike the London Underground, which required significant ventilation due to the steam engine usage, the electric train could be fed energy from their power station (the IRT would build its own power station to supply it energy - IRT Powerhouse( Since there wasn't the necessity to keep the tunnels well ventilated, these tunnels could be built deeper underground (when cut-and-cover couldn't be done). While the technology was available for the engineers to construct tunnels deep underground, it was only done when cut-and-cover could not be done: either when they had to tunnel through rock or go under the East River. Steel and concrete were relatively new materials that enabled engineers to not only support their structure more soundly with less space, but it enabled them to build the tunnel out to support four lanes of track. Ultimately, the four lanes of track not only increased the potential capacity, but allowed for express line services, increasing the utility of the subway lines. Lastly, tunneling became much more sophisticated allowing for the engineers to build a tunnel under the East River to The Bronx and for in circumstances when cut-and-cover couldn't work.[3]

Increasing Population Edit

Over the 35 years since the first rapid transit bill was vetoed by the New York governor,[2] the population of New York increased at an astronomical pace: from 1870 till 1900, the population grew from 1,478,000 to 3,437,000. Denser living brought about by the invention of the elevator and building skyscrapers required more rail transit for those living within the cities. With the elevated lines at full capacity and the roads clogged with traffic coming from a myriad of sources, people were demanding transportation solutions; one which subways could provide. Furthermore, places that elevated rail lines had supplied service to without significant populations were now bustling with people. The best example of this is The Bronx, which in 1870 had a population of 37,000: at this point was still considered the hinterlands to lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. By 1900, the population had grown to 200,000 and were bustling to do business within lower Manhattan. Harlem is another example of this, where in the years leading up to the elevated lines coming in were farm land. The elevated rail lines had allowed people to live further away from the city center, but new transportation strategy was needed to address these issues.

Policies in the Beginning: 1898 till 1910 Edit

By 1898, when the municipal government of New York City decided to finance a subway rail line, the government had two major things to consider: one, its prior relationship with the various rail companies, and two, how it will distribute the subway project. Up to this point, rail projects were done as follows: either the city would build the rail and lease it out to private operating companies or private operating companies would lobby the government to build a rail and allow them to operate them by paying for a portion of the capital costs. In 1898, the city had decided to finance the former and allow the elevated rail lines to bid for the contract. In 1900, the Manhattan lines had consolidated to what became the IRT and won the contract to operate the first line which was to run from City hall to 145st in The Bronx. The terms of the contract stated that IRT leased the track for 99 years, and for that time would pay a portion of the operating costs directly to the city - much like they constructed past contracts with elevated rail companies. There are two major things to consider: one, they did not include a clause on how much the rail could charge to use the subway, and two, they did not include within their contract a way for the government to funnel any profits the company made off of the subway. Funding was especially problematic because of stat law which required the debt of a city to be no higher than 10 percent of their budget, which was set by the state government. That meant that the initial subway project would have to remain under $30 million, and that funding would have to stream in on a year to year basis.[2] This caused some friction not only between the municipal government and the state, but also within the newly formed municipal government. Up until 1898, Manhattan and Brooklyn were two separate cities vying for the same economic pie. With the consolidation of the five boroughs, they now had to work together within the same municipal government to get money for their borough.

Overnight the subway became a huge success. As seen in figure 1, the total trips made by the single line increased from 73,000,000 to 138,000,000 within a full year of operation. While the line had opened up in 1904, plans to extend the original stations continued until 1906 which opened up more areas that had seen this population boom. By 1908, before which the IRT and BRT companies had been "legalizing" routes that could be constructed in the future, ridership had skyrocketed to 550,000,000 rides. The newly formed Public Service Commission (the successor of the Rapid Transit Commission, which had been dissolved due to not approving of more projects sooner) began approving numerous projects: extensions to the existing line, creating a subway line in Brooklyn, etc. By 1909, engineers had looked over all the plans the new Public Service Commission had approved, to which the new lines would add 47 miles of track and cost $147 million.[2] Clearly they were not to make the same mistakes as their predecessors! As noted earlier, the city was bound to stay under a certain debt threshold, and these new ambitious projects would be above and beyond what they could pay for themselves, so they began to negotiate with the two major lines how they were going to divide up the responsibilities towards this monumental project.

The Growth of the Line: The Dual Contracts Edit

In December of 1910, negotiations began between the major rail companies, and the city for how the system was going to expand going forward. The negotiations proved to be very difficult since all three parties (the IRT, the BRT and the City) had their own agenda. Gaining access into Manhattan was the primary goal for the BRT heads since this was more and more becoming the destination for commuters. While the IRT tried to block this, the city government was more interested in unifying the two systems and allowing for greater access between the two systems. The city government knew that this was the time they had the greatest leverage over the rail companies, which they saw as getting a great deal up to this point. There were four major points that the city looked to get during these negotiations:

  1. Set fares across the entire system
  2. Take a portion of the profits the companies were taking in
  3. Split up Queens between the two rail lines
  4. Have full control over the track within 10 years time

Each of these points were a significant change in policy up until this point. In dictating the fare price, the city government was ensuring that these companies couldn't take full advantage of the newcomers to the city who had no choice but to live on and work along the rail lines. In the final deal, the fare would be set on 5 cents (one note for some perspective, when A.P. Robinson designed his system in 1864, he set the fare prices to 7 cents) and was not to change with inflation. One caveat the companies were able to exploit was that transfers were not honored from one train to another. The second point was also crucial: this marked the beginning of the government getting into the rail business: they saw these companies getting rich seemingly overnight and wanted a piece of the action. The third point was a negotiation currency that the city used to appease one company or the other. Ultimately, the next frontier in lines would be in Queens and both companies wanted some portion of the lines that fed those areas. Finally, and most importantly, the deal was to include a provision where the city would be allowed to own the lines within 10 years time if they so chose.[2]

In 1913 the deal was signed and the most ambitious transportation project within New York City began. The total cost of the project would be $347 million, where the city would contribute $150 million, $56 million from IRT in construction, another $21 million from IRT in equipment, $34 million from BRT in construction, and another $26 million from BRT in equipment. When completed, the line would triple in capacity to supply roughly 1 billion trips to 3 billion trips, adding 334 miles of track to the already existing 303 miles of track.[4] Obviously, the ramifications of the Dual Contracts was enormous. The city had been able to unite the two lines, allowing for greater integration in the system as a whole. Ridership was steadily increasing and only started showing signs of slowing by 1916, breaking the 1 billion rides per year in 1917, 1.5 billion in 1922 and capping off at 2 billion in 1929. Furthermore, the city was able to recoup more of its losses through deriving some of the profits from the companies and began drawing up plans for its own subway line, the Independent Subway System (IND).

Unfortunately, not all parties benefited from this equally. In terms of splitting up Queens, while the city had made it so both IRT and BRT had to share the two lines built, both of the lines were built to IRT specifications. This meant that in order for a BRT customer to get to Queens, they must switch trains at Queens Borough Plaza - the new hub for Queens travel. For both companies, problems arose with the fixed fare price. Since the fare did not change with respect to inflation, both companies lost huge amounts of revenue at the end of World War I due to the extreme inflation seen post war, even with the increasing ridership both during and afterwards. This would actually push the BRT into bankruptcy in 1923, but got reincorporated as the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT). The Dual Contracts had both brought about the greatest expansion in history, which could not have been achieved by either of the major rail companies at the time, but also set the stage for eventual decline.

Market Saturation: The Unrealized 2nd Ave Line Edit

By 1929, the market for rapid transit had reached saturation within New York City. At that point all of the lines agreed upon in the Dual Contract had been completed and the city was looking for future projects to start construction on. When the city began proposed its list of future construction projects, most of the construction was to extend lines out into Queens and to interconnect the IRT and BMT lines. Most projects never came to realization, though, due to the Great Depression. While some of the smaller projects were completed over the period of a decade, the only major project to come to completion was the IND Eighth Avenue Line: the first publicly owned subway line in New York City. Up to this point, the city was still only obtaining a fraction of the profits that IRT and BRT/BMT lines had been getting for decades and decided that it would build its own, rather extravagant, line. In 1925, construction had begun and wouldn't be complete until 1933 due to its complicated design which included flying junctions and a highly integrated system. These costs would triple the amount of debt held by the government: the project cost $191 million and was entirely financed by the city.[5] Almost on cue, the Great Depression eliminates any chance the IND line had on making profits, to which by 1940 the IRT and BMT were bought out by the municipal government. Neither the IRT or the BMT could cope with both the loss in ridership and the inability to change the fare price. Within 30 years, the subway industry that began from a $30 million project, garnered over $347 million in investments

While the IND was able to come to fruition, a subway running on what was the 2nd Avenue elevated rail line never came to fruition. Yet, because of its continued stay in the limelight, 70 years after it had been proposed, the Second Avenue Subway has begun construction in 2010. In many ways, the line came to symbolize how people viewed the subway system in New York City: a project that was never finished. Even so, people are skeptical about whether it is absolutely necessary in what is already the largest subway network in the world; in a lot of ways the system won't be adding something as monumental as the IND line or the lines made during the Dual Contract phase. Yet after all the cuts the system had to make in the post War period, in the dog days of the 70's and 80's for the New York City subways were crime and graffiti were rampant, people are looking for hope that once again the New York City subway system is going through a regrowth phase, starting with the Second Avenue subway.

Additional Links Edit

Some additional maps to visualize the changes along the New York City Subway

References Edit

  1. MTA Ridership (12th October 2011)
  2. a b c d e f Walker, James Blaine (1918). Fifty Years of Rapid Transit. New York City: The Law Printing Company. {{cite book}}: |chapterurl= missing title (help); Unknown parameter |chapterurl= ignored (|chapter-url= suggested) (help)
  3. a b Interborough Rapid Transit Company (1991). The New York Subway: Its Construction and Equipment. Fordham University Press. ISBN 0823213196.
  4. "The Dual System of Rapid Transit". Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  5. Crowell, Paul (10 September 1932). "Gay Midnight Crowds Rides First Trains in New Subway". The New York Times (New York). 

Bibliography Edit

New York Subway 1901 to 2012

Introduction Edit

The New York City subway system is one of the most recognizable transit systems in the world. The size, density and diversity of New York City made urban transit all but absolutely necessary. Despite its long and storied history, the birth, growth and maturation of the subway has not been particularly smooth. After years of experimentation, and political wrangling, the subway first opened in 1904 with only one line. After major expansions in 1913, and the system being nearly completed by the 1940s, ridership boomed. After World War II wartime factories converted to automobile production, and federal housing policy encouraged suburbs to develop. As a result thousands were able to escape the congested central city in their shiny new cars; subway ridership dropped dramatically. This decline lasted until 1992. Since 1992, ridership has continued to increase. This case study examines, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the subway's development and deployment. Particular attention is paid to the technological and policy innovation that helped, and hindered, the subway.

Qualitative Analysis Edit

There are three general periods of the subway's lifecycle: (1) a period of major growth, 1901-1947; (2) a period of decline, 1948-1991; and (3) a period of rebirth, 1992-2012. This case study mainly focuses on the early years of the subway, including the technological advances, market characteristics, and the policy mechanisms which facilitated the birth, growth, decline, and rebirth of the New York City Subway. However, the decline, and eventual rebirth of the New York subway are also discussed. Table 1 below, presents yearly ridership statistics for the entire history of the subway, from 1901 to present. The asterisks note the inflection points, the year when the rate of increase in ridership switched from increasing to decreasing (or vice-versa). Figure 1 shows annual ridership statistics during the entire lifetime of the subway; each vertical line represents the end of one lifecycle period and the beginning of another.
Table 1: Annual Transit Ridership, 1901 to 2012 (in Millions)[1]

Year Annual Riders Year Annual Riders Year Annual Riders
1901 253 1939 1,853 1977 998
1902 285 1940 1,857 1978 1,042
1903 327 1941 1,838 1979 1,077
1904 384 1942 1,870 1980 1,099
1905 448 1943 1,940 1981 1,011
1906 521 1944 1,926 1982 989
1907 595 1945 1,941 1983* 1,005
1908 631 1946 2,002 1984 1,003
1909 663 1947 2,051 1985 1,010
1910 735 1948 2,031 1986 1,030
1911 746 1949 1,764 1987 1,058
1912 779 1950 1,681 1988 1,074
1913 810 1951 1,636 1989 1,073
1914 837* 1952 1,574 1990 1,028
1915 830 1953 1,552 1991 995
1916 891 1954 1,416 1992* 997
1917 990 1955 1,378 1993 1,030
1918 1,029 1956 1,363 1994 1,081
1919 1,118 1957 1,355 1995 1,093
1920 1,332 1958 1,319 1996 1,110
1921 1,419 1959 1,324 1997 1,132
1922 1,438 1960 1,345 1998 1,203
1923 1,506 1961 1,363 1999 1,283
1924 1,612 1962 1,370 2000 1,381
1925 1,681 1963 1,362 2001 1,405
1926 1,752 1964 1,375 2002 1,413
1927 1,830 1965 1,363 2003 1,384
1928 1,919 1966 1,296 2004 1,426
1929 1,972 1967 1,298 2005 1,449
1930 2,049 1968 1,303 2006 1,499
1931 1,996 1969 1,330 2007 1,563
1932 1,867 1970 1,258 2008 1,624
1933 1,756 1971 1,197 2009 1,580
1934 1,799 1972 1,145 2010 1,604
1935 1,817 1973 1,101 2011 1,640
1936 1,877 1974 1,099 2012 1,655
1937 1,891 1975 1,054 2013 1,701
1938 1,864 1976 1,010 2014 1,758
Figure 1: Annual Ridership on New York City Subway, 1901 to 2012


To more fully understand the subway's lifecycle, a three parameter logistic model can be used. This equation is used to develop an S-curve which illustrates how ridership levels change during the birth, growth, and saturation of the transit mode. This equation was used:  
S(t) is the status measure, (Annual Ridership)
t is time (years),
t0 is the inflection point (year in which 1/2 K is achieved),
K is saturation status level,
b is a coefficient.
K and b are to be estimated
Each lifecycle period was regressed using this equation:

1901-1947 Edit

From its opening in 1901 to the end of World War II, the New York Subway's birth, expansion, and maturation matches the classic S-curve used to describe technological life cycles. From 1901 until around 1914 there is massive, almost exponential growth. Then after 1914, ridership continues to rapidly increase but the rate at which ridership is increasing begins to decrease. Ridership peaks at an all time high, even compared to current rates, at 2.05 billion riders in 1947. The table below displays the regression results. Figure 2 presents the logistic curve.

Regression Results

Variable Value
K 2051
b 0.118143863
tnought 1914.642311
Intercept -226.2032385
R Square 0.742697507
Figure 2: Annual Ridership on New York City Subway, 1901 to 1947 with Logit Model

1948-1991 Edit

The years between the ridership peak in 1947 and 1991 were dim for the subway. Ridership dropped to levels not seen since the first years of the system. The subway gained a rough reputation during these years: crime and vandalism were rampant, stations were falling apart, and the quality of the subway cars was rapidly declining. Ridership dropped nearly 51%, over this period, and finally bottomed out at levels not seen since 1915. Profits were nonexistent and federal and public subsidies were almost an absolute necessity. The merger of the BMT and IRT was a failure, hastened by introduction of public management. In the early 1980s the NYCTA implemented a massive rehabilitation program which coincided with a decreasing rate of ridership loss: the subway looked ready for a major turnaround. The table below, and Figure 3 illustrate this major decline.
Regression Results

Variable Value
K 2031
b -0.034185559
tnought 1983.727938
Intercept 67.81484866
R Square 0.811190584
Figure 3: Annual Ridership on New York City Subway, 1983 to 1991 with Logit Model

1991-2012 Edit

This period in the life of the subway has been one of rebirth. Political and environmental realities have forced New Yorkers to reconsider use of the automobile and return to the subway. New York's continued importance as a hub of world commerce, banking, the arts and culture, and international governance has bolstered the importance of and deepened the integration of the subway as "part of the city itself." The subway helps foster the important social, cultural, and economic distinctions among New Yorkers, and allowed them to make major improvements on their quality of life.[2] The table below, and Figure 4 graphically depict the rebirth, and resurgence of the New York City Subway.

Regression Results

Variable Value
K 2000
b 0.081019615
tnought 1992.107757
Intercept -161.3998043
R Square 0.975066165
Figure 4: Annual Ridership on New York City Subway, 1991 to 2012 with Logit Model

Quantitative Description Edit

Mode Description Edit

New York City’s underground rapid transit system is one of the largest, most famous and most charismatic subway system in the world. It is not, however, the oldest system in the world: London opened its subway in 1863, forty-one years before New York opened its first line.[3] The 468 stations spread throughout the five boroughs[4] of New York make it the largest system by number of public transit stations in the world.[5] In terms of daily and annual ridership, it is one of the busiest subway systems in the world. Only 6 other systems are larger: Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Moscow, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.[6] In 2012, average weekday ridership was more than five million, allowing annual ridership levels to reach 1.7 billion, the highest level in nearly 50 years.[7] There are a total of 22 interconnected routes; seven numbered routes (1-7) and 15 lettered routes (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, J, L, M, N, Q, R, S, Z).[8]

Image 1: the current extent of the system, as well as the number, letter and color distinctions used by the system

The infrastructure is characterized by massive scales. The current subway is comprised of a total of 659 miles[9] of revenue earning track, the most of any system. The actual route length is significantly less, only 232 miles.[10] Roughly 60 percent of this distance is entirely underground. Some might argue that only the tracks located underground qualify as true subway. However, since the tracks are fully integrated, and one fare grants access to all stations and destinations, it is reasonable to consider it one transit system. New York’s system also has a huge inventory of rolling stock—nearly 6,500 cars.[11] These cars traveled a total of 341 million miles, with an average of 166,138 miles between repairs.[12] Trains are powered by a 625 volt direct current (DC) third-rail, which runs along the tracks.[13] Trains include multiple cars and are all controlled by a multiple unit controller first developed by Frank Sprague in 1898.[14]

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), a “public-benefit corporation” chartered by the legislature of the State of New York, operates the various transit systems in the New York City metropolitan area.[15] The board of directors is composed of 17 members recommended by the Governor, and confirmed by the New York State Senate.[16] These systems include buses, subways, commuter railways, and bridges and tunnels.[17] MTA’s bus fleet is the largest in the nation, and the subway system is larger in size, and carries more riders than all other U.S. systems combined.[18] The Authority serves over 15 million people in the metropolitan area.[19] Of the more than 3 million people of working age in New York City, 55.7% travel to work using public transit.[20] This figure is huge, and includes all classes of worker. MTA, however claims that nearly four out of five rush hour commuters to and from the central business district of New York via public mass transit.[21] MTA’s operating budget for 2013 is $13.2 billion dollars.[22] This includes the salaries of over 65,000 employees,[23] and a transit police force that is the fifth largest in the nation.[24]

Social and Economic Context of the Subway’s Birth Edit

Population Growth
Arguably, few other cities in the world were as ripe for investment in urban transit on a massive scale as New York City in the early 20th century. In 1800, New York City had a population of only 79,216 residents.[25] By the turn of the 21st century, the city was immense: nearly 3.5 million residents crammed the five-borough, fully unified city.[26] It is notable that a large majority of this growth occurred in the second half of the century. From 1840 to 1870, the population of Manhattan tripled. Population growth continued to explode, and grew another 294% by the end of the century.[27] This growth can be attributed in part to the location of a major U.S. immigration station on Ellis Island, strong commercial traffic down the Erie canal,[28] and in part to the deeply ingrained commercial ethic present in New York since its founding as a trading post.[29] A huge portion of this population was poor or working class, and was relegated to the squalid, dangerous, overcrowded tenement houses in the Lower East Side.[30] Congestion was nearly unbearable. Reformers and capitalists alike called for a solution to the problem. The subway was one solution: with enough effective transportation, the city’s population could spread more evenly.
Competing Modes
The subway was by no means New York’s first experience with urban mass transit. Horsecars or “omnibuses” were New Yorker’s first form of mass transit. These consisted of a wooden cart mounted on flanged wheels, which were wood, rimmed with a metal flange.[31] The cart was pulled along metal rails laid in the road by teams of two or more horses.[32] Investors found omnibuses to be a very lucrative investment, at times returning huge profits. Omnibuses were among the first attempts at urban mass transit, in New York and around the world. It was the first technology to run along a fixed route, during scheduled periods, using a fixed fare and operating according to common carriage principles.[33] While horsecars were affordable, reliable and a major improvement on travel by foot, they also produced large amounts of manure, were a literal death sentence to horses, and required dozens of horses (hundreds along hilly routes) to operate.[34] Moreover, as the population exploded, there was no choice but to expand the city. A faster, cheaper, more reliable form of rapid mass transit was need.

Image 2: An example of an omnibus plying its trade along Fifth Avenue in New York City

Several elevated steam engine rail lines, or els, emerged in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Rapid transit adopted standard railroad technology, including scaled-down steam engines. These trains operated on elevated platforms above grade, along several important avenues, and the length of Manhattan to the South Ferry terminal for connection across the rivers.[35] In the first year, around 60,000 passengers rode the els. Two years later the trains carried well over 700,000 passengers.[36] As impressive as their performance was, els had major negative impacts. Engines were loud, dirty, noise prone to starting fires and exploding.[37] The major players in future rail transit emerged at this point, including Manhattan Railways and Brooklyn Rapid Transit. The elevated rails provided the mother logic for constructing and operating the subway.

Image 3: A drawing of what Beach hoped his pneumatic subway would look like

The first subway was proposed by Hugh B. Wilson. Wilson was present for the opening of London’s underground in 1863, and upon his return to the U.S. obtained $5 million in financing, and lobbied the legislature for the right to build the first subway.[38] He was unsuccessful as a result of a strong lobby by omnibus owners, and the political bosses in New York City.[39] A few years later, in 1868, the aspiring inventor Alfred E. Beach was granted a state license to construct two pneumatic “dispatch tubes” under Broadway. Disguising his true intention from Boss Tweed and other powerful horsecar owners, Beach presented a proposal for a package delivery system. Beach actually hoped to use these tubes for human transit.[40] Beach designed and constructed a one-block-long underground pneumatic tube, through which a small air-compressing steam engine would blow a canister.[41] Although the design ultimately failed, Beach innovated on exiting tunneling shield and drastically improved construction speed and safety.[42]

Subway Ascendance Edit

As described above, mass transit in New York City began with horsecars, briefly flirted with cable cars, deployed an extensive system of steam powered elevated railways. But the transition from steam power to electric car was a crucial step in the efficiency and safety or underground rail transit. Thomas Edison and several Europeans inventors were experimenting the electricity as a form of propulsion in the late 1800s. The harsh emissions of steam engines made their use underground impracticable. Electric cars were the standard from the start in the New York subway. In 1879, Dr. E. Werner von Siemens exhibited a rail-based, electrified passenger hauling system. A year later, Thomas Edison created and operated a narrow-gauge electrified railway in New Jersey.[43] These early electric motors were too weak to pull several cars, and thus electrified railways were limited in length and passenger capacity.[44]
The streetcar innovator, Frank Sprague found the solution in Multiple-Unit Control (MUC). Instead of a single motor pulling or pushing an interlocked group of cars, Sprague designed a way for motormen to simultaneously control the motors of multiple cars from the lead car. Sprague first demonstrated this technology in Richmond, Virginia’s streetcar system in 1888.[45] In New York, the els were quick to adopt the technology; adoption was further accelerated by state legislation prohibiting steam engines from tunnels. After touring several underground rail system throughout the world, the principal engineer of the IRT, John B. McDonald, recommended electrification of the system; the Rapid Transit Commission agreed to this recommendation.[46]

Construction of the first subway line started on March 24, 1900. The bid to design, construct and operate the entire system was awarded to the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) company.[47] This contract was called, and is still referred to as "Contract 1." This company was operated by John. B. McDonald, and financed by August Belmont.[48] The first subway route opened in New York on October 27th, 1904.[49] It operated a single line from City Hall to in downtown Manhattan, through two 90º turns at East 42nd Street, and underneath the burgeoning Times Square, to 145th Street in Harlem.[50] After a short tour of the new system, regular passengers were allowed to use the new subway. As designed, the system could barley handle the pent up demand for urban mass transit. Only seven years after its beginning, the IRT serviced more than 800,000 people per day—it was designed to carry no more than 600,000 per day.[51] With huge ridership came huge profits: IRT’s returns reached as high as 15 percent in 1915.[52] Calls soon came for expansion. In the mean time, minor changes were made to improve operations and handle the major congestion. For instance, extra doors in the center of cars were cut out to accelerate boarding and reduce station dwell time.for expansion.[53] Other improvements included replacing wooden-bodied cars, with cars made of all steel. Although heavier by nearly 4,000lbs, improved electric motors allowed comparable performance.[54]

Image 3: Map of the Interborough Rapid Transit subways after Contracts 1 and 2

Market Development Edit


Much of the growth in the birthing phases can be attributed to the population boom in Manhattan especially, and in the other boroughs to a lesser extent. Policy makers and investors recognized that the subway was capable of being very successful because the need for mass transit was readily apparent: omnibuses, streetcars, and elevated railways almost always generated huge revenues. This experienced was transferred directly by people like August Belmont, who recruited veteran railroaders to operate and manage the subway system.[55] The New York state legislature believed (or were encouraged to believe) investors such as Belmont could manage transit systems entirely on their own. This was codified in the Rail Transit Act of 1894, and urban transit in New York became decidedly laissez-faire.[56] As a result, monopolies like Belmont’s Interborough-Metropolitan holding company formed in 1905. Although the subway system was vastly overcrowded, the Interborough refused to consider expansion because it was making huge profits on the hundreds of thousands of daily riders.[57] The IRT also refused to consider raising fares from a nickel, which was supported by residents, politicians and reform groups hoping to keep the subway affordable to all classes. In fact, the contracts under which the expanded subway was built included a provision guaranteeing five-cent fares for the life of the lease.[58]

Eventually, reformers won a few other policy victories: contracts to build and operate new subway lines were separated, and shorten leases from fifty to twenty-five years.[59] This was a major change from the Interborough Rapid Transit company’s 99 year lease agreed to in “Contract 1” under which the first subway line was constructed and operated. More importantly however, newly elected Governor Charles Evans Hughes sponsored legislation for a radical overhaul of the public utilities. The new Public Service Commission (PSC) would have broad jurisdiction and power over electric, gas, railroads, and all forms of public transit.[60] Reformers hoped that the PSC would be able to provide the solution to unprecedented overcrowding and congestion: expanded subways. Subways appeared to be a panacea: cheap, efficient, rapid transit that enabled working class families to move out of congested lower Manhattan to suburban areas, while continue to work—the population needed to be “distributed.”[61] Finally from 1910 and 1920, the City, IRT and BMT built a massive extension of the system known as the "Dual Contracts."[62] This massive expansion of the subway and elevated networks opened transit services to many areas previously without service.[63] By the end of construction, official estimates of costs reached $366 million, which adjusted to contemporary prices would equal roughly $22 billion.[64] The City of New York contributed $200 million of the costs, while the IRT and BMT contributed $105 million and $61 million respectively.

The Role of Policy in Subway Maturation Edit


After sustaining its first budget deficits in 1947, the unified subway went on to suffer several deficit years in the early 1950s. Gone was the "golden age" of nickel fares,[65] and the operating surpluses of the LaGuardia administration.[66] As the automobile caused major declines in ridership, the subway fell into major financial hardship. The state legislature created the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA, or TA for short) to operate the newly unified system in 1953.[67]. To address the huge operating deficits, the TA instituted a new ten-cent fare, and new turnstiles to collect fares.[68] Despite a new fare and new leadership under the TA, trains increasingly ran late, and the rolling stock continued to deteriorate. In fact, fares were frequently raised over the next few decades.[69] It wasn't until the late 1960s that mechanical car-washing units were introduced.[70] Fancy mechanical washing units were no match, however for the scourge of graffiti that became nearly ubiquitous in the 1970s.


Labor issues were a constant headache during this period. Legally bound to operate under a balanced budget, the TA was constantly battling with the Transit Workers Union (TWU) regarding contracts. [71] Service and rolling stock deterioration may have been the result of the hard bargains won by the TWU. Early retirement, attrition, and skilled labor shortages forced the TA to defer important maintenance and repair activities.[72] These failures were further complicated by preserving low fares.[73] The NYCTA was eventually absorbed by the larger and more comprehensive Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in 1968. The MTA's 1968 "Program for Action" included several new subway lines, new rolling stock, new stations, and expanded repair services. It also included several planned line closures.[74] These improvements, especially the new rolling stock, designed primarily by MTA staff, were based on previous pre-war models, except for one difference: length increased from 66 to 75 feet. This allowed eight new cars to have the same capacity as 10 older cars.[75] These new cars were also not permanently coupled and were capable of running in different configurations.[76] Finally, in the 1980s the New York City Transit Authority provided a glimmer of hope: it refurbished every subway car, rebuilt every main-line track and repaired more than 50 stations.[77] Eventually the subway rebounded, and after 1991 subway ridership began to grow again.

Conclusion Edit

The New York subway system is undoubtedly crucial to the development of the city, both past and present. The mode adopted the technologies, operating principles, and even the actual laborers involved precursor modes including omnibuses, elevated and regular railroads, and streetcars. The lifecycle was anything but a smooth transition from birth, to deployment, to maturation and market saturation. Instead the subway survived several periods of boom and bust. Not only was ridership affected by changing social perspective, but global events, like World War II, the petroleum shocks of the 1970s, and economic depressions and recessions caused impacts felts for years after the events occurred. Currently, the subway (and other forms of urban mass transit) allow New Yorkers to have some of the lowest carbon footprints in the nation. Moreover, the subway is an indelible artifact and inseparable feature of New York City's built environment and social psyche. Based on current trends, and the projections made possible by the qualitative analysis above, the subway should continue to grow. The final level of growth is nearly impossible to determine, however.

Bibliography Edit

  • Brian J. Cudahy, Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World, Fordham University Press (1995).
  • Clifton Hood, 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How they Transformed New York, Simon & Schuster, 13 (1993).
  • Peter Derrick, Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion that Saved New York, New York University Press (2001).
  • Metrpolitan Transit Authority, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Years Ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, 150, available at [8], last accessed Nov. 5, 2013.
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority, The MTA Network, [9], last accessed Nov. 5, 2013.
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority, Subway and Bus Ridership, [10], last accessed Nov. 5, 2013.
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority, Subways: Annual Subway Ridership, [11], last accessed Nov. 5, 2013.
  • Robert C. Post, Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of at Technology, Greenwood Press (2007).
  • Rapid Transit in New York City and in the Other Great Cities, available at [12]
  • Jacob A. Reis, How the Other Half Live: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (1890; reprint Penguin Books, 1997).
  • United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey 3-Year Estimate 2011 (2011).

References Edit

  1. 1901-1998: Peter Derrick, Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion that Saved New York, New York University Press, 44 (2001); 1990-2012: Metropolitan Transit Authority, Budget and Financial Statement Archives, available at
  2. Derrick, infra note 25, at 261-62.
  3. Clifton Hood, 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How they Transformed New York, Simon & Schuster, 13 (1993).
  4. Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island (via the Staten Island Railway (SIR)).
  5. Metropolitan Transit Authority, Subway and Bus Ridership,, last accessed Nov. 5, 2013.
  6. Metropolitan Transit Authority, Subways: Annual Subway Ridership,, last accessed Nov. 5, 2013 [hereinafter MTA, Subway Facts].
  7. Id.
  8. Id.
  9. As of 2011, Metrpolitan Transit Authority, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Years Ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, 150, available at, last accessed Nov. 5, 2013 [hereinafter MTA, Financial Report].
  10. Id.
  11. MTA Financial Report, supra note 7, at 150.
  12. MTA Subway Facts, supra note 4.
  13. Id.
  14. Brian J. Cudahy, Under the Sidewalks of New York: The Story of the Greatest Subway System in the World, Fordham University Press, 14-15 (1995).
  15. Metropolitan Transit Authority, The MTA Network,, last accessed Nov. 5, 2013 [hereinafter MTA Network].
  16. Id.
  17. Id.
  18. Id.
  19. Id.
  20. United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey 3-Year Estimate 2011 (2011).
  21. MTA Network, supra note 13.
  22. Id.
  23. Id.
  24. Cudahy, supra note 12 at XV.
  25. Hood, supra note 1 at 35.
  26. Id. The five boroughs unified in 1898.
  27. Peter Derrick, Tunneling to the Future: The Story of the Great Subway Expansion that Saved New York, New York University Press, 10 (2001).
  28. Hood supra note 1 at 31. The Erie Canal opened in 1825.
  29. Id. at 31
  30. Jacob A. Reis, How the Other Half Live: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (1890; reprint Penguin Books, 1997).
  31. Robert C. Post, Urban Mass Transit: The Life Story of at Technology, Greenwood Press (2007).
  32. Id.
  33. Hood, supra note 1, at 15.
  34. Post, supra note 29.
  35. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 12
  36. Rapid Transit in New York City and in the Other Great Cities, Chapter 6, available at [hereinafter Rapid Transit in NYC].
  37. Cudahy supra note 12, at 13-14.
  38. Derrick, supra note 25, at 24-25.
  39. Id. at 26.
  40. Id. at 27.
  41. Hood, supra note 1, at 43-44.
  42. Id.
  43. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 14.
  44. Post, supra note 29.
  45. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 15-16.
  46. Id.
  47. Rapid Transit in NYC, Chapter 13, available at
  48. Id.
  49. Id.
  50. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 4-6.
  51. Hood, supra note 1, at 114.
  52. Id. at 122.
  53. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 28.
  54. Id.
  55. Hood, supra note 12, at 122.
  56. Id.
  57. Id. at 123-24.
  58. Derrick, supra note 25, at 221.
  59. Hood, supra note 1, at 128-29.
  60. Id. at 131.
  61. Derrick, supra note 25, at 108-14.
  62. Public Service Commission, First District, New York State, "The Dual System of Rapid Transit," available at
  63. Id.
  64. Derrick, supra note 25, at 229.
  65. Hood, supra note 1, at 214.
  66. Id. at 241.
  67. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 128.
  68. Id.
  69. Id. at 254.
  70. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 138.
  71. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 141.
  72. Id. at 147.
  73. Id.
  74. Mark S. Feinman, The New York Transit Authority in the 1970s, available at
  75. Cudahy, supra note 12, at 155.
  76. Id.
  77. Hood, supra note 1, at 259.

Shanghai Metro

Introduction of Shanghai Metro Edit

Shanghai Metro refers to the urban rail transit system of Shanghai. Shanghai is the third city in Mainland China to have passenger subway lines, following Beijing and Tianjin.[1] The Shanghai Metro system started very recently, but it has become one of the fastest developing systems of the world. As of 2012, there are 11 metro lines in operation. The total mileage by the end of 2011 reached 454.1 km (282.2 miles),[2] making it the world’s longest system. The daily ridership increases rapidly too, from around 240,000 in 1995 to 2.23 million in 2007, and 5.76 million in 2011. The record high daily ridership of 7.55 million was on October 22, 2010 during the 2010 Shanghai World Exposition period. The annual ridership of 2011 exceeded 2.1 billion.[3]

The Birth of Shanghai Metro Edit

Prior to the Shanghai Metro system, the urban public transit modes included buses, airport shuttles, ferry, and taxi. Their limitations started to appear with the city’s fast urban development, population growth, and intra-city transit demand. The city of Shanghai covers and area of 6,340.5 square kilometers (2448.1 square miles).[4] The total population is more than 23 million, equaling 9,589 people per square kilometer citywide. Half of the population lives in the central districts which constitute only 10% of the total land, making the downtown highly crowded, with a population density of 16,828 people per square kilometer, which is 2.4 times of Tokyo, 3.5 times of London and 4.8 times of Paris.[5]

The large size of the city makes intra-city travel very difficult, even without congestion. For example, a trip from one district to another district can easily take one or two hours even without traffic congestion. In comparison, a trip by train to another city nearest to Shanghai may only take 30–40 minutes. The increasing population, ownership of automobiles, and high-density development of the central city have posed great challenges for urban transportation. The congestion was so bad that taking a bus to the nearest airport of the city (which is only 10 km from the central city) from downtown would easily take up 2–3 hours. The situation of crowding buses and low reliability of the public transit modes need to be solved. Besides regulations limiting the purchase of cars, an underground system of public transit was brought up as a potential solution.

The preparation for subway construction started as early as 1958.[6] Shanghai is situated on saturated soft ground, which made tunnel construction very difficult. Some experiments were made to test the feasibility of tunnel construction. For example, the experiment in 1963 tried the structure method using steel reinforced concrete inner lining.[7] In the late 1970s an experimental tunnel was constructed using underground diaphragm wall with concrete structure (which was later used for metro line 1). After that shield method was used for the following lines. In May 1989, China and German formally signed the loan agreement for 460 million marks Subway special fund of. In March 1990, the State Department of China officially approved the project.[8] The first line (Metro Line 1) opened in 1995.

The Impact of Shanghai Metro Edit

There were discusses and arguments for and against the construction of subways. However, since the system has already been built and is still expanding, now that we look at it, we do see huge changes it brought about that greatly shaped the city development and people’s travel behaviors.

The Shanghai Metro lines promoted development. The plan and development process borrowed experiences from other places such as Tokyo to maximize the potential for development. The stations are planned to integrate with existing buildings or future building plans. The interchange hubs and many subway stations attract large amount of passengers and show great potentials for commercial activities. Real estate companies invest in projects along the lines and use languages such as “right next to Line 10 station” to promote their housing to the public. Many residents also depend on the Shanghai Metro plans to make their housing decision.

The Shanghai Metro significantly improved the public transportation of the city. For the crowed central city, the current subway system provides high level of service. For at most 700 meters there will be a subway station. Once a passenger gets in a station, s/he can literally go anywhere and be confident about the time the trip is going to take. Besides the high reliability, the metro line is usually faster than ground transit. For example, a trip by bus from the central city to the railway station usually takes 40–60 minutes. The time is reduced to 20 minutes using the metro.

The metro not only makes travel faster but easier. The subway station is the best place to go when you get lost. Once you find a subway station, you can easily find your way back. There are lots of Shanghai tourism guidebooks that centered on subway lines.

The metro system is also easily connected to other transit modes. Each station usually has several or tens of connecting bus lines. Transfer is easy thanks to the transit card, which can be used for taxi, maglev train, ferry, light rail, subway, and buses.

The Shanghai Metro is having an increasing share of ridership among all public transportation modes. In 2006, the mileage of Shanghai Metro was 140.2 km (87.1 miles). There were 944 bus routes, 17,000 buses and 48,000 taxies in operation. The annual ridership for all public transit was 4.471 billion. Shanghai Metro accounted for 14.6% (0.656 billion).

Mode Share of Shanghai Metro Edit

The Shanghai Metro is having an increasing share of ridership among all public transportation modes. In 2006, the mileage of Shanghai Metro was 140.2 km (87.1 miles). There were 944 bus routes, 17,000 buses and 48,000 taxies in operation. The annual ridership for all public transit was 4.471 billion. Shanghai Metro accounted for 14.6% (0.656 billion).[9] In 2011, the mileage of metro increased to 454.1 km (282.2 miles). The annual ridership for all public transit was 6.09 billion, and Shanghai Metro accounted for 34.5% (2.101 billion).[10] In comparison, the number of buses decreased from 2006 to 2011, the absolute number of bus ridership increased only slightly, and bus share decreased from 61.3% to 46.2%.

Finance and Policy Edit

The construction costs for the whole system is 300-500 million yuan/km. The total construction costs by 2010 was 238 billion yuan ( around 38 billion dollars). 210 billion more will be need for the expansion to reach the planned 880 km in 2020.[11]

There is two sources of funding. 40% of the capital is provided by the government, and the rest 60% is from bank loans, issuing bonds, liquidizing remnant assets, etc.[12] The government’s role is changing in the process, from the major investor (investing 95% and 96% for line 1 and line 2 respectively) to a leading role in forming project company and promoting commercial financing. Shanghai Shentong Metro Co., Ltd. was formed.[13]

As a comparatively new transit mode in the city, the development and operation of subway learned from existing modes. The construction and management learned from the railroads, such as trains, track, and capital investment. It more importantly learns from the operation of buses, which is another mode of intra-city transit mode. The Shanghai Metro Operation Management Center is in charge of the overall network operation, while the 11 lines are operated by four operating companies, each of which is responsible for their lines and facilities.[14] The management mode is similar to that of the bus operation. Also the metro fare is based on the number of stations travelled, which is also similar to the bus fare in the past (now most of the bus routes charge a fixed price for a single trip).

Life Cycle of Shanghai Metro Edit

The daily ridership data for Shanghai Metro is retrieved from the Shanghai National Economy and Social Development Public Bulletin for each year from 1995-2011. An S-Curve model is developed using the existing data to examine the birth, growth and estimate the maturity of the system. The data is shown in the table below

Table 1: Shanghai Metro Mileage 1995-2011

The data is used to estimate a three-parameter logistic function:

S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)], where: S(t) is the estimated mileage, t is time (year), t0 is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 K is achieved), K is saturation status level, b is a coefficient (the slope for regression)

To do this, K and b needs to be estimated. K is set to be 500, 600, 700, etc. For each K value, calculation is conducted for each year using the equation: Y=LN(Length/(K-length))

Table 2: Estimating K Value

Then a regression between Y and year is performed to decide which K value fits the real data best. The largest R-square means that the model best explains the real data. From the table below, when K=1200 km the R-square is the largest. So the K value is estimated to be 1200.

Table 3: Deciding K Value

The regression result for K=1200 is shown in the table below. The result shows that b=0.2537, intercept is -510.57. So the t0 (year in which 1/2 K is achieved) is 2012.49507, which means half of annual ridership of saturation is reached just months ago.

Table 4: Regression Results

Since K and b value are both known now, the daily ridership for each year can be estimated using the model. The graph below shows the relationship between the estimated data and real data.

Table 5: S-Curve

The S-Curve fits the real data pretty well. Before 1995, there was no metro line in operation. During the year 1995-2011, the network mileage was growing at an increasing speed. According to the S-Curve model, the year 2012 is the year when 1/2 K is achieved, which means that the system will still grow, but the rate is probably slowing down. Around 2030 the mileage will start to level off at around 1200 km. However we need to pay attention to this S-curve too. The network growth of Shanghai Metro so far is following the metro plan pretty well. According to the plan for next phase, the mileage is going to increase to 880 km in 2020. But on the S-Curve the estimated mileage for 2020 is higher than 1000 km already.

References Edit

Twin Cities Rapid Transit

Overview of the Streetcar Edit

The streetcar is a mode of transportation which consists of cars, powered by overhead wires, running on rails. A trolley pole is used to collect electrical current from the overhead wire to send through a control device to the streetcar's electric motor. The motor of the streetcar is mounted directly above the vehicle's wheels. Used current from the system is then routed back to generators to complete the circuit of the system.[1]

Although there were many attempts at building a streetcar, the first successful streetcar was built by Frank Sprague. Sprague had previous associations with Thomas Edison and created other electrical inventions, such as the high-speed elevator. Sprague eventually developed a superior electrical engine that was for the streetcar.[1] The first streetcars that Sprague sent into operation were in Richmond, Virginia in 1888. The streetcars in Richmond were a great success and Sprague became inundated with orders from across the country. Sprague's company, The Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company, could eventually no longer keep up with demand and was taken over by Edison General Electric Company in 1889.[1] Other electric companies, such as the Thomson-Houston Company, were competing for the streetcar market as well; however, Thomas Lowry was impressed by Sprague's streetcars, and thus, they were the ones chosen to eventually operate in the Twin Cities.[1]

Modes Prior to the Streetcar in the Twin Cities Edit

The Horsecar Edit

The history of the streetcars in the Twin Cities dates back to 1866. It was at this time that Parker Paine, John Merriam, Louis Robert, and A.H. Wilder, prominent businessmen in the area, decided to form a corporation and introduce horsecars to the streets of St. Paul. The venture was initially delayed but was eventually implemented six years later.[2] Minneapolis also initiated its horsecar ventures around the same time in 1867. The mayor of Minneapolis gathered some of the city's wealthiest businessmen to start a horsecar company. The company's initial tracks were laid on Second Street South, which is now Washington Avenue South.[2]

Following the initial formation of horsecar companies in the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Street Railway Company was founded on May 9, 1872. The company initially laid two miles of track, and the first car began operation on July 15 of that year.[2] The St. Paul Street Railway Company had a rolling stock of six cars, fourteen drivers, and thirty horses. The company was very popular, especially due to the horsecar's speed of six miles per hour.[2]

The cars first used in the Twin Cities horsecars were initially very primitive. Each car was about ten feet wide and weighed about 1,000 pounds. Each horsecar could hold approximately fourteen passengers and was pulled by a single horse.[1] There were several horsecar lines, and each car was painted to represent that line that it traveled on. The track and equipment used at the time were also very primitive, which resulted in horsecars often becoming derailed. Passengers would then have to get out of the car and help the drive get the horsecar back onto the tracks.[2]

The St. Paul Street Railway Company was operated by James Cochran, Jr. October 1878. At this time, bondholders created a new company and the name was changed to St. Paul City Railway Company.[2] James R. Walsh became general manager of the new company, until a group of businessmen, led by Thomas Lowry, took it over in 1886. It was at this time at the systems in Minneapolis and St. Paul were merged and began operating under the new company title of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company.[2]

The Motor Line Edit

It was clear that horses were not an ideal power source for transportation, so businesses experimented with placing a steam locomotive on the streets of Minneapolis. The primary line that was experimented with for this mode was located near Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. The Motor Line stopped at all intersections along its route and operated until 10:15 P.M., when people were assumed to have gone home for the night. An extension of the Motor Line was eventually built to Excelsior to reach the lucrative Lake Minnetonka market. Additional Motor Line routes were constructed, however, by 1890 they ceased operation due to complaints regarding soot and noise.[2]

Cable Cars Edit

Since the topography of St. Paul possessed so many hills, it was difficult for horsecars to operate in certain areas. Cable cars were thought to be a viable option in these hilly areas. The first cable car was built in St. Paul in 1887. Several other cable car routes were constructed over time; however, the system overextended itself and was very limited in speed. Therefore, the cable car was eventually abandoned in order to focus time and resources on the streetcar.[2]

Early Streetcar Market Edit

In 1889, the Stillwater Street Railway was the first line to implement Sprague's electric streetcar in Minnesota. The entire transit system in the Twin Cities, except for two cable lines, was converted to electric streetcars by 1891.[3]

The electric streetcars were much heavier than the previous horsecars. Therefore, the roads required repavement using a material that provided a firmer base.[2] In addition to the cost of the road pavement, the Twin Cities Rapid Transit company was also required to standardize the gauges on the tracks. The horsecars previously operated on narrow gauges; thus, a large investment in new infrastructure was required.[2]

Policies Affecting Streetcars in the Twin Cities Edit

One policy that largely affected the streetcars in the Twin Cities was a decrease in wages for the streetcar drivers. In 1889, Thomas Lowry sent a notice to the streetcar driver's that he believed that the only way for the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company to increase profits was by decreasing their salaries. The men were very upset with the decrease in wages and eventually went on strike. The strike did not last long, though, and after two weeks of partial service, the drivers went back to work.[1]

A second strike occurred in 1917, when the president of the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company refused to negotiate with the streetcar employees or their union. After much violence and destruction, the Commission of Public Safety demanded an end to the strike, and the workers followed the commission's orders. The TCRT workers eventually went on strike again in November when the company threatened to dismiss any employee wearing union apparel or engaged in union activity. This strike finally broke on December 2, 1917, and the union was defeated. The end of this strike resulted in 800 workers losing their jobs, which were replaced by non-union employees.[4]

Growth of the Streetcar Edit

Passenger travel increased in the 1890s and larger cars were demanded on the streetcar lines. As larger streetcars were installed, the infrastructure needed to be replaced to support the heavier cars.[2]

Between 1880s and the 1920s, the streetcars grew with development. The first phase of development occurred in the Midway area between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the Interurban Line was created.[2] Another significant line, the Como-Harriet line, opened on July 1, 1898. This was the second interurban line and was a large upgrade from the first.[2] The Selby-Lake and the Snelling-Minnehaha were the other two interurban lines that were created. Several suburban routes were developed over time to serve new populations that emerged.[2]

Development Edit

In addition to his position with the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company, Thomas Lowry was also a developer. Lowry's development interests in Minneapolis were what initially triggered his interest in the streetcar industry. He planned to use the streetcars to spur development in areas that he owned real estate.[5] Two specific areas of interest for Lowry were St. Louis Park and Columbia Heights.[3]

Amusement Parks Edit

One aspect that aided in the growth of the streetcar were amusement parks at the end of the lines. One such amusement park was the Wildwood Amusement Park in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. This was originally a rather crude amusement park, but it was eventually bought out by the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company in 1898 so that they could improve the park and attract greater streetcar ridership.[1] Once the park was owned by the TCRT, the customers could pay one fare for both the streetcar and the park.[6]

The park had many popular amenities including amusement park rides, a beach, fishing, a picnic area, and a dance pavilion. Thousands of visitors went to Wildwood Amusement Park each week for several decades. As time passed, and with the rise of the automobile, attendance at the park diminished and the TCRT could no longer afford to keep the park open. TCRT closed Wildwood Amusement Park in 1932 and eventually sold the land to developers.[6]

The TCRT also developed an amusement park in the western suburbs, near Excelsior, on Big Island. This park contained amusement park rides, picnic facilities, and a band shelter.[1] Customers could also pay one fare for a streetcar ride to the park, admission to the park, and a steamboat ride from the dock to Big Island.[7] Beginning in 1907, Big Island Park began earning less revenue than the expense to operate the park. This trend continued, and the park was eventually closed in 1911.[7]

Maturity Edit

Twin Cities Rapid Transit built its final tracks in 1932. By this time, TCRT operated 530 miles of track, which extended from Stillwater on the east to Excelsior on the west.[3]

Decline Edit

The streetcar was the most prominent form of transportation the Twin Cities until the rise of the automobile in the 1920s. The Great Depression had both positive and negative effects on the streetcar system in the Twin Cities. Due to the financial stress, streetcar ridership severely decreased and many of the lines were discontinued. The Great Depression, as well as World War 2, positively impacted the streetcar system since they stalled suburban development and automobile usage. Automobiles were either difficult to acquire or too expensive to operate.[3]

Following the end of the war, ridership was maintained at significant levels. The Twin Cities Rapid Transit company sought to further maintain these ridership levels and invested in modernized equipment. Attempts to further the streetcar industry were eventually suppressed when outside investors took control of the company in November 1949. Since streetcars were more expensive to operate than buses, these investors drastically substituted buses for the streetcars. By 1954, the streetcars in the Twin Cities were gone.[3]

Data and Analysis Edit

Birth, growth, maturity, and decline of streetcars in the Twin Cities

Lifecycle of the Twin Cities Streetcar System Edit

The lifecycle of the streetcar system in the Twin Cities follows the S-curve similar to many modes of transportation. Ridership on the streetcars grew very gradually from 1881 to 1900. Following 1900, however, ridership on the streetcars grew steadily from about 1900 to 1920. Ridership on the Twin Cities' streetcars peaked in 1920 and never returned to those ridership levels again. From 1920 to 1933, there was a steady decline in streetcar ridership, and by 1933, there were only 95,724,190 rides on the Twin Cities' streetcars. This was during the time period that the automobile was becoming more popular and fewer people were reliant on the streetcar. Buses began to replace the streetcars in 1922, which also significantly contributed to the decline in streetcar ridership.[7] Ridership increased again from 1933 to 1936 but then decreased from 1936 to 1940. Due to the gas rationing during World War 2, ridership rose significantly again from 1940 to 1946. Following the end of the war, streetcar ridership in the Twin Cities steadily declined until the rails were eventually removed through the entire system.

Methodology Edit

A three-parameter logistic function was used to create two S-curves for the Twin Cities streetcar ridership data. Each S-curve used the following equation:

S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)]

S(t) is the ridership,
t is time (in years),
t0 is the inflection point (the year in which ridership reaches 1/2 K),
K is saturation status level (the highest ridership achieved),
b is a coefficient (the slope).
K and b had to be estimated.

The intercept, slope, R-squared and inflection point for the S-curves fit to the Twin Cities streetcar data

The first S-curve was calculated from 1881 to 1919 since the saturation status level was reached in 1920. This S-curve represented the birth, growth, and maturity of the streetcar system in the Twin Cities. The second S-curve was estimated for the remainder of the data from 1920 to 1954 and represented the decline of the streetcar system.

Statistical Outcomes Edit

The S-curve for the birth, growth, and maturity of the streetcar ridership in the Twin Cities fit the data very well. This is reflected by the r-squared value of 0.9817. The S-curve for the decline in streetcar ridership, however, did not fit the data very well. This is likely because the decline in ridership experienced several shocks to the system, such as the Great Depression and World War 2.

Ridership data for the Twin Cities streetcars from 1881 to 1954

References Edit

  1. a b c d e f g h Lowry, Goodrich. Streetcar Man. Lerner Publications Company, 1979. 1-177. Print.
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Kieffer, Stephen A. Transit and the Twins. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Twin City Rapid Transit Company, 1958. 1-59. Print.
  3. a b c d e Issacs, Aaron, Bill Graham, and Byron Olsen. The 1940s. Minnesota Transportation Museum, 1995. 1-38. Print.
  4. "1917 Twin City Rapid Transit Company Street Railway Strike." Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society. Web. 7 Nov 2012. <>.
  5. Huber, Molly. "Lowry, Thomas (1843-1909)." Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society. Web. 7 Nov 2012. <>.
  6. a b "Wildwood Amusement Park." Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota Historical Society. Web. 7 Nov 2012. <>.
  7. a b c Diers, John W., and Aaron Isaacs. Twin Cities by Trolley. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. 1-348. Print.

Go-To Card Fare Technology at Metro Transit

Qualitative Assessment Edit

Description and Advantages of Go-To Technology Edit

Go-To Card technology includes a no-contact system of on-board validators, hand-held validators, wireless communication, and smart cards. Contactless smart card systems are generally thought to be easier to use and to provide for faster fare payment allowing for reduced dwell time and more efficient transit service.[1] In addition, the use of smart cards as a method of fare payment results in vast collections of data available for use by transit agencies. Research conducted in the use and analyses of fare card data has resulted in several methodologies for determining origin destination matrices and itineraries of users of the transit system as well as other informative data used to evaluate transit systems. One such method, the boardings-alightings symmetry method, was developed in Los Angeles and based on the assumption that passengers will reenter at their most recent exit location.[2] Another method involves a detailed time analysis following the assumption that passengers will take the trip with the most utility after the time they enter the system and before they exit.[3] The appropriate analysis of Metro Transit smart card data could produce valuable insights for the systems planners and managers. For example it could be used in the justification of frequency adjustments along specific routes or the addition of new routes which provide better utility between popular origins and destinations. In addition to the advantages noted above typical Go-To cards, see Figure 1, provide more reliability in fare transactions over previous modes .

Figure 1: Typical Metro Transit Go-To Card

Previous Fare Technologies Edit

Cash Edit

Prior to the implementation of Go-To Card technology in the Metro Transit system a variety of fare payment methods were used. First, Transit operators have always been able to accept cash. Originally, cash payment would have required operators to make change and collect payments. In time, Metro Transit switched to automated fare-boxes. These fare-boxes do not provide change, but they automatically count both change and bills, allowing passengers to board more quickly than when the driver needed to act as a cashier.[4]

Pre-Paid Fares Edit

Tokens Edit

Although cash is still accounts for a large share of fare payments on many routes, early efforts were made to transition to pre-paid fares. Tokens were the original pre-payment method accepted by Metro Transit. These tokens could be bought at discount prices in advance and individually given to the operator as payment. With the introduction of the automated fare-boxes tokens changed style a number of times to provide for ease of automated collection. Originally, tokens had holes and those of different monetary value were made of different metals; however this method of differentiation did not work well in the automated fare boxes. Several intermediate designs were tried, with the most recent re-minting occurring in 2004 to make them fully compatible with TBM fare boxes. This compatibility enabled use on the newly opened Hiawatha Light Rail Line (now known as the Blue Line). Today, tokens are largely provided by the social service sector in order to help their patrons return home. Tokens are no longer actively sold to the public by Metro Transit.[5]

Figure 2: Examples of Metro Transit Early and Intermediary Tokens

Punch Cards Edit

Punch cards were a second attempt at pre-payment fare technology. These cards were purchased to cover a set number of rides. Patrons would present the card to the operator, and the operator would punch a hole in the card, reducing the number of available rides remaining by one.

Magnetic Media Edit

Eventually, magnetic media replaced the punch-card. Originally magnetic media cards were used to provide 31 day passes and stored value cards. Unfortunately, this technology had many reliability issues including the peeling and stripping of the magnetic media from the back of the card. Additionally, issues frequently occurred when the cards got wet and lost cards were not easy to replace, as owners could not prove they had originally purchased the card and had not used it. Due to these issues with long term use of magnetic media, these cards were largely phased out with the advent of the Go-To card. In fact, at this time Metro Transit still accepts these cards as payment, but they are no longer available for sale as of 2012. Interestingly, magnetic media has obtained a market niche in current transfer and rail tickets. This is largely due to the short duration of service expected from these items; with a shorter service period there is less concern that the magnetic strip will deteriorate.[6]

Market Development of Go-To Card Edit

Currently, Metro Transit is in the process of phasing out pre-paid magnetic media, with the exception of rail and transfer tickets.[7] As part of this phasing out of magnetic media the Go-To Card has been marketed to more versatile groups, including students, tourists, and commuters.[8] Those who regularly ride the same routes are advised to get 31 day Go-To Passes, generally at discounted rates. Those who regularly ride a variety of routes may prefer a combined stored value and pass Go-To card, which allows for automatic fare upgrades as necessary. Those who will only be in town for a day may purchase a Go-To Lite Card, which provides access to the system for the day and is disposable.[9] A variety of fare-cards accepted by Metro Transit may be seen in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Fare Cards Metro Transit Accepted as of 2011

Quantitative Assessment Edit

Metro Transit, the chief regional transit operator and planner for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, provided the region-wide ridership data shown in Table 1 and Table 2 below.[10] These data are manipulated to create a single yearly value representative of the total market share of Go-To fare payment technologies on Metro Transit operated vehicles. First, the rides taken on suburban transit operator vehicles, represented as ‘oBus S Suburba’ in Table 1, are removed from the yearly Grand Total in Table 1. This is performed via a simple subtraction:

Yearly Totali1=Grand Totali1 -oBus S Suburbai1

The resulting values may then be used comparably in conjunction with those values given as the yearly Grand Total in Table 2. As such, the total market share in a year may be represented as a percentage of the total rides:

GoTo Sharei=100 ×(Yearly Totali1)/(Grand Totali2)

The resulting market shares are shown in Table 3.

Table 1: Rides Utilizing Go-To Card Fare Technology by Operator and Year
Table 2: Total Rides by Operator and Year
Table 3: Market Share of Go-To Card Fare Technology on Metro Transit Bus and Rail as a Percentage

In addition to the data in Table 3, it is noted that the Go-To Card became publicly available to Metro Transit users in May 2007 and some users had been testing the technology in 2006 , although no data for either 2006 or 2007 is provided here. However, based on this knowledge, an additional data point can be added for 2006, as the market share for 2006 should have been at or near zero.[11] A regression analysis is performed on the data shown in Table 3 using Equation 2 shown below, in order to estimate the three parameters of a fitted S-Curve, see Equation 1.

Equation 1: S(t)=K/(1+e-b(t-t0 ))


S(t) is the GoTo Share as a percentage

K is the saturation level of the GoTo Share

t0 is the inflection time (year in which ½ K is achieved)

t is the time (in years)

b is a coefficient

This rearranges as follows in order to facilitate the use of linear regression in MS Excel.

K/S(t) =1+e-b(t-t0 )

K/S(t) -1=e-b(t-t0 )

ln⁡(K/S(t) -1)=ln⁡(e-b(t-t0 ) )

ln⁡(K/S(t) -1)=-b(t-t0 )

ln⁡((K-S(t))/S(t) )=-bt+bt0


Equation 2: ln⁡((S(t))/(K-S(t)))=bt+c


Equation 3: c= -bt0

In the course of this analysis it is assumed that Go-To Card fare technology will eventually have the majority of the market shares. As such the regression analysis is performed for integer values of K from 95 to 100 percent. The resulting curves from these analyses are shown in Figure 5, with a zoomed in section surrounding the actual data shown in Figure 6. From these Figures it can be seen that each of these K values fit the data from Table 3 very well; however the resulting curves differ visibly shortly after 2015. In addition, it can be seen that these curves do not approach zero in 2006, as prior knowledge dictates they should.

Figure 5: Resulting Curves from Regression Analysis
Figure 6: Zoom on Actual Data of Resulting Curves from Regression Analysis

All of these curves show in Figures 5 and 6 seem equally valid, except it is unlikely that Go-To Card technologies will ever receive 100% of the market shares. This is due to the need for the Transit system to continue to accept cash, as it is legal tender, as well as the likelihood that social services will continue to provide their patrons with fare tokens.[12] However, it is anticipated that these two technologies will continue to have decreasing use. As such, for the remaining analysis K is assumed to be 99% for the portion of the life cycle from 2008 onward. In order to model years prior to 2008, a second regression analysis was done on the resulting 2008 prediction and the lack of market share in 2006. For this portion of the model a value of 30%, just over the 2008 prediction was chosen for the K-value. This portion of the curve is justified by recognizing that unlike many transportation systems, the network for the Go-To Card was completely built out before being open to the public, and many users switched shortly after opening from the previous fare card media to Go-To. A second situation, in which the transition between curves occurs in 2009, is also analyzed. In each case after the full regression was complete, the sum of the squared errors between predicted and actual values is calculated. The model with the split occurring in 2008 has a sum of squared errors of 9.45, while the model with the split occurring in 2009 has a sum of squared errors of 47.36. Figures 7 and 8 below illustrate these models. Due to the sum of squared error results, the final choice of model is the one shown in Figure 4 where the split between the two portions of model occurs in 2008. Tables 4 below shows the regression analysis output for the first portion of the curve (before 2008) and Table 5 below shows the regression analysis output for the second portion of the curve (after 2008). In each portion the R-Square is greater than 0.9, indicating a good fit, and the T-statistic for the X-Variable (i.e. b) is greater than 2, indicating statistical significance.

Figure 7: Plot of Model with Split Occurring in 2009
Figure 8: Plot of Model with Split Occurring in 2008
Table 4: Regression Summary for Part I of the Life Cycle Model (Years before 2008)
Table 5: Regression Summary for Part II of the Life Cycle Model (Years after 2008)

Based on the model shown in Figure 4, the birthing phase appears to have occurred between 2006 and 2008, the growth-development phase began in 2008 and will likely end in approximately 2025, and the system will enter the maturity phase in 2025.

References Edit

  1. "Minneapolis / St. Paul Becomes First U.S. Transit Authority to Implement Philips' Contactless Smart Card Technology." Smart Card Alliance. Smart Card Alliance, n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2013.
  2. Navick, David S., and Furth G. Peter. "Estimating Passenger Miles, Origin-Destination Patterns, and Loads with Location-Stamped Farebox Data." Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 1799.1 (2002): 107-113. Print
  3. Kusakabe, Takahiko, Takamasa Iryo, and Yasuo Asakura. "Estimation method for railway passengers' train choice behavior with smart card transaction data." Transportation 37 (2010): 731-749. Print.
  4. Capistrant, Mary. "Fare Media Prior To Go-To Card Use at Metro Transit." Personal interview. 06 Nov. 2013.
  5. Capistrant, Mary. "Fare Media Prior To Go-To Card Use at Metro Transit." Personal interview. 06 Nov. 2013.
  6. Capistrant, Mary. "Fare Media Prior To Go-To Card Use at Metro Transit." Personal interview. 06 Nov. 2013.
  7. Capistrant, Mary. "Fare Media Prior To Go-To Card Use at Metro Transit." Personal interview. 06 Nov. 2013.
  8. Metro Transit -- Revenue Operations. FARE CARDS AND IDS Effecive Sept. 2012. Minneapolis: Metro Transit, 2012. Print.
  9. Metro Transit -- Revenue Operations. FARE CARDS AND IDS Effecive Sept. 2012. Minneapolis: Metro Transit, 2012. Print.
  10. Data was provided on November 5, 2013 at 2:20 PM CST in response to a request for both region-wide total ridership by year and region-wide total ridership paid for with a Go-To Card by year from the opening of the Go-To Card system to the current date. Data from 2013 were not included as they were incomplete at the time of the request.
  11. Capistrant, Mary. "Fare Media Prior To Go-To Card Use at Metro Transit." Personal interview. 06 Nov. 2013.
  12. Capistrant, Mary. "Fare Media Prior To Go-To Card Use at Metro Transit." Personal interview. 06 Nov. 2013.

Life cycle of Smart Cards

Introduction Edit

Octopus Card reader installed on a bus in Hong Kong. The high rate of public transportation use in the city provides an early market niche for the smart cards.

Transit systems around the world have adapted contactless smart cards as a ticket issuance media. Smart cards are widely used both in the private and public sector. The most common deployments of smart cards are found in education, healthcare, financial, telecommunication, and transportation sectors. The use of automated fare collection systems and smart cards has many advantages over previous fare collection systems. These systems are widely adapted by transit systems around the world because they deliver fast, easy access to riders and reduced operating costs and improved efficiencies [1].

Contactless smart cards that are commonly used by transit riders and providers are integrated circuit (IC) card with embedded microcontrollers and internal memories. Computer chips in smart cards allow them to store large amounts of data, carry out their own on-card functions and interact intelligently with a smart card reader [2]. Transit smart cards do not need direct contact with card readers. Riders only need to place their cards in close proximity with the card readers. The reader and the card communicate using radio frequencies (RF). The use of smart cards reduces passengers' time and effort when boarding bus or rail transit. Stored value smart cards eliminate the need for carrying cash and queuing for ticket machines in rail stations. The overall travel time on buses is also shortened as fare payment for each passengers only takes about one second.

Urban areas with sizable transit systems are the main markets for smart cards. Cities in the developed world do not appear to have higher demand for smart cards than cities in developing countries. The implementation of smart cards is found in urban centers on all inhabited continents. Population and income level of cities have minimal effects on the market potentials of smart cards. European and North American cities were not the earliest adaptors of smart card systems. Hong Kong's Octopus Card and Seoul's Upass are two of the earliest examples of smart cards introduced in the 1990s. Most smart card systems in operation are adapted during the first decade of the 21st century. Smart card payment systems are not only found in major European cities, but also smaller metropolitan areas. Residents of many urban centers in Asia, Africa and Latin America use smart cards to pay for their transit trips daily. The main markets of smart cards are urban centers with high level of transit ridership; especially cities possess multiple transit modes. The adaptation of smart cards provides a more seamless boarding process for riders and allows transit service providers to offer a wider range of fare options. Data collected by the Smart Card Automated Fare Collection system can be very useful for transit planning. Utsunomiya et. al. (2006) studied on the benefits of data collected by smart cards in demographic and travel behavior analysis in Chicago. A greater capability of data collection allows transit agencies can better predict travel demand and evaluate fare policy [3]. More accurate information also enables the Chicago Transit Authority to identify distinctive market segment and development different target market strategy.

Oyster was chosen as the name of the London smart card because of the association of London and the River Thames with oysters, and the well-known travel-related idiom "the world is your oyster".

Table 1: Years of introduction of smart card systems in urban centers

Continent City Smart Cards Year of Introduction
North America New York SmartLink 2007
North America Chicago Ventura 2013 (Chicago Card in 2002)
North America Boston CharlieCard 2006
North America Toronto Presto 2009
Europe London Oyster 2004
Europe Paris Navigo 2001
Europe Brussels Mobib 2008
Asia Hong Kong Octopus 1997
Asia Seoul Upass 1996
Asia Tokyo Suica 2001
Asia Delhi More Card 2011
Latin America Rio de Janeiro RioCard 2005
Latin America Santiago Bip! 2003
Africa Cairo Gemplus 1997
Africa Cape Town My Connect 2011

The Evolution of Transit Payment Edit

Technology of fare collection evolved from cash bag and coin dispenser to the automated systems today. Until early 1980s, bus fares were commonly collected by conductors. While tickets are still sold by conductors in some commuter rail in the United States, operators have taken the role of collecting fare in most bus systems. Cash, token, paper ticket, magnetic ticket, smart card, debit card, credit card and transit voucher are all fare payment media with different level of flexibility. Cash as a payment media is inefficient because it is only applicable in single-ride fare option. Tokens enable multi-ride option but they cannot serve as stored value tickets. Paper tickets can serve as single-ride ticket, multi-ride tickets and period pass, but they cannot be used as stored value tickets. The introduction of magnetic tickets drastically improves the flexibility of fare payment option. Tickets equipped with magnetic stripes not only have all the functions of cash, token and paper ticket, they also can be used as stored value ticket [4]. Since 1904, riders of the New York City Subway paid the fare with tokens purchased from a station attendee [5]. Fare collecting machines were designed to only recognize tokens, rather than multiple types of coins. Fare increases were more easily implemented due to the use of tokens. Riders can also prepay transit trips by purchasing tokens for multiple trips. Tokens are more cumbersome than other types of transit tickets, and hence they were not widely adapted by other transit systems. The New York City Subway eventually phrased out tokens in 2003. Due to greater portability and flexibility, magnetic tickets were widely adapted by transit systems across the United States and the world. Modern transit buses are equipped with fareboxes that offer options for cash payment and magnetic stripe tickets. Figure 1 shows a commonly found fare box in buses across the United States.

Vancouver bus farebox

The development of fare collection in heavy rail transit differs from that of bus transit. Tickets were issued by machines in the London Underground as early as the 1940s. Riders had to show their tickets to the inspector at the barrier before boarding the train at the platform [6]. Inspectors were later replaced by automated ticket gates, but ticket machines are still used today.

Ticket Machines in Singapore

The invention of magnetic stripes revolutionized the development of fare collection technology. Tickets with magnetic stripes were largely deployed in public transportation after World War II. The introduction of magnetic tickets automated the validation process. Inspectors at barriers separating the paid area in heavy rail stations were replaced by turnstiles. Information related to each trip is stored in the magnetic stripe, and ticket readers at fare gates validate passengers' ticket. The deployment of magnetic stripe tickets also enables the fare integration in different transit mode. Riders can use the same ticket when transferring between bus and rail without repurchasing tickets. The ability to store information in the magnetic strip enables transit agencies to offer different products or packages, instead of offering only single trip tickets. Travelcard in London was introduced as an intermodal ticket. Passengers can still purchase a travelcard that is printed on magnetic ticket. The use of magnetic stripes in transit tickets was largely standardized in cities around the world. Due to standardization and relative low production cost, magnetic stripes have been used for decades until the recent development of smart cards.

Limitations of the magnetic stripes led to the development of integrated circuit card, or smart card, in public transportation. The main disadvantages of magnetic stripes are limited storage capacity, low durability, and lack of security. Our experience in magnetic stripe tickets is important to the development of smart cards because it demonstrates the possibilities in the functionality of transit tickets. Magnetic tickets offer some flexibility such as stored value tickets and multi-model interchange. Smart cards are gaining popularity because they perform the same functions in better ways as magnetic tickets. Although smart cards are replacing magnetic stripes as the choice of technology in transit tickets, the pattern of fare collection will largely remain. The implementation of smart card is unlikely to change the ways we pay for our transit trips. Greater flexibilities and efficiency stirred the interests in smart card adaptations. Increasing computerization in the transit information system also stimulate the possibilities of a higher functioning transit ticket system. Magnetic stripes were used in many types of tickets, such as stored value and monthly passes. Smart cards embedded with computer chips have greater capabilities of storing values, which allows passengers to use the card for a longer period of time without recharging it. The more powerful technology in smart cards also allows transit tickets to be multifunctional. A smart card can be a stored value ticket or an unlimited ride passes for a certain transit mode. The adaptation of smart card systems offer transit agencies around the world an unprecedented opportunity to analyze network performance and transit demand of different demographic groups [7].

Smart cards evolve from the “mother logic” of the magnetic stripes tickets. Prior to the advent of the smart cards, magnetic stripes were used to store data and validate fare payments. The standardization of magnetic stripes led to little changes in transit payment methods. Smart cards offer new possibilities in transit tickets based on the building blocks of previous methods.

Invention and Early Adaptation of Smart Card in Transit Systems Edit

Smart Card Schematic

The concept of implanting microchip into a plastic card was first developed by two German inventors, Dethloff and Grotrupp, in 1968. The Japanese version of smart card was registered a patent in 1970. The use of smart card grew exponentially in the 1990s due to the advancement of computer and mobile communication technologies [8]. Although smart cards were not used in any public transportation until late 1990s, Germany has been using smart card for health care since 1992. The success of smart cards in the health care, telecommunication and financial sectors prompted transit agencies to adapt the smart card automated payment system.

Technological expertise in computer information system was brought into the existing fare collection system. Octopus card in Hong Kong was one of the first major smart card systems in the world. Prior to the introduction of Octopus card, the two rail systems (now merged) had separate fare payment systems. Both systems used magnetic tickets and required passengers to purchase tickets from station attendees or ticket machines. The two rail systems introduced the Common Store Value Ticket, which allows passengers to use one ticket and travel on the two systems interchangeably. The Common Store Value Ticket closely resembled with the Octopus card, which was the first common ticket that can be used in all transit modes in Hong Kong. The transit companies in Hong Kong encouraged riders the use Octopus Card as the medium of fare payment by offering discounted price [9]. Holders of Common Stored Value Tickets were required to replace their tickets with Octopus card or have their tickets made obsolete, which contributed to the early popularity of the smart card. Each bus route in Hong Kong has a different fare. Before the introduction of Octopus, riders had to prepare the exact fare before boarding. The installation of Octopus card readers made bus boarding more convenient and shortened passengers’ boarding time.

The shift from previous payment methods to Octopus did not require major revamp of the fare infrastructure. Smart card readers were added on the fare gates at rail stations, and besides the fare box in buses. Options of buying magnetic tickets to ride trains and paying cash to ride buses were remained. The hardware of the smart card technology remains largely unchanged since it was introduced, which mainly involve embedded microchip in plastic cards and radio frequency identification (RFID) in card readers. Contactless cards were chosen from the beginning of the “smart card era” of transit. As the system matured and was recognized by transit systems around the world, little technological change was taken place over the hardware. The software of the smart card systems can be more easily changed because the system is largely computer-based. Octopus can now be used not only in transit, but also vending machines, convenience store and parking meters. The wider range of use is a result of software advancement of the smart card system. The development of smart card automated payment system allows transit systems to offer ticket options with greater flexibility.

Life Cycle Analysis – S-curve Edit

A life cycle analysis model is used to identify the periods of birthing growth, and maturity. The status (S), or the independent variable, is the accumulated global shipment of smart card in millions. The annual global smart card shipment for transportation is provided by Smart Card Alliance. The amount of accumulated smart card shipment is likely to overstate the actual number of transit smart cards currently in use because some smart card shipments made for transportation are not used in urban transit. Replacement cards due to loss and damages are also counted in the number of total shipment. The predicted shipment is calculated by the following three-parameter logistic function:



S(t) is the status measure (millions of smart card)

t is time (years),

t0 is the inflection time (year in which 1/2 K is achieved),

K is saturation status level,

b is a coefficient.

A linear regression was needed to determine the coefficient (b) and inflection point (t0) in order to use the S-curve equation. This was done through the equation:

Table 2: Excerpt of data analysis result.

Year Actual shipment (million) % Change Predicted Shipment (millions)
1999 40 n/a 44
2000 50 25% 63
2001 77 54% 90
2002 137 78% 128
2003 187 36% 180
2004 247 32% 250
2005 320 30% 340
2006 460 44% 451
2007 620 35% 582
2008 780 26% 727
2009 940 21% 877
2010 1005 7% 1021
2011 1085 8% 1152
2012 1220 12% 1263
2013 1380 13% 1352
Actual and predicted global smart card shipments for transportation.

Market Development Edit

Early Market Development Edit

Ticket gate in Boston equipped with CharlieCard Readers

Hong Kong’s Octopus is one of the earliest smart card systems in the world [10]. Besides Hong Kong, the earliest large deployments of smart card systems are found in Seoul and Washington, D.C. The success experiences from the early adapters served as examples for other transit systems. Most smart card systems currently in use were initiated during the 2000s. Global shipment of smart cards had grown rapidly throughout the first decade of the 21st century. The fastest growth in the worldwide shipment for transportation use occurred from 2005 to 2008. Transit smart card found its initial market niche in high density urban centers with multiple modes of public transportation. Cities with high ratio of transit mode share are likely to be successful markets for smart cards. Complex transit systems are good markets for smart card to enter because riders benefit the most from the increase in efficiency. The growth of the technology is contributed by both functional enhancement and functional discovery. Functional enhancement can be achieved by serving existing markets better. The wider range of smart card payment availability increases the demand for smart cards. The subscription of smart card is also a “positive feedback loop.” As a higher share of the population pays by smart cards, the benefit of using one increase since infrastructure is likely to be modified to accommodate the growing number of users.

Birthing Phrase Edit

The adaptation of smart card does not require the major changes in fare policies. The fare structure of each transit system differs from one another. Local transit policies have relatively small effect on the growth of smart card deployments worldwide. As the microchip and radio frequency technologies matured, transit systems took advantage of standardization and reduction of infrastructural cost. The large scale of smart card adaptation in Hong Kong was a result of decisions made my several transit operators led by Mass Transit Railway (MTR). As one of the two rail systems, MTR partnered with four other transit companies to form a joint venture to operate Octopus. The government of Hong Kong later permitted Octopus to expand its market outside of transit companies. Such policy encouraged the growth of smart card as a payment media in Hong Kong.

The growth rate of transit smart cards was relatively slow during the birthing phrase of the technology. The main reason for the slow beginning is that changes in transportation system generally take time. Transportation managers are typically risk adverse, which causes many transit systems to be late adaptors of new technologies [11]. The long existing practices of fare collection, such as magnetic stripe tickets, were “locked in” at the time. While some transit systems were reluctant to changes, others were determined to be on the cutting edge in transit technologies. Even though transit systems decided to move forward in their fare collection infrastructure, it took time to gather financial resources to implement the smart card system. Modifying the existing infrastructure in a large scale cannot be done overnight. Funding is another factor for the slow growth in the beginning stage of the technology.

Growth Phrase Edit

Oyster reader on tram platform in London. (Note the different fares between cash and Oyster)

Global shipment of transit smart card started to take off in early 2000s and grew even more rapidly after 2005. Most transit systems adapted smart cards between 2000 and 2005 are located in Europe and Asia. Early adapters, such as Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei, Paris and London, contributed to the growth of the technology at the turn of the century. The organized effort of Smart Card Alliance in the promotion of the technology demonstrates the role of the private sector in the implementation growth. The use of cutting edge transportation technologies to enhance their global competitiveness and identity led to strong support from the public sector (Nichols, 2010).

The growth period of the transit smart card systems continued throughout the decade (see Table 1). The successful experiences in earlier systems attract more cities to implement smart card payment system. By late 2000s, more transit systems are released from “locked ins” and are ready for infrastructure upgrades. The reduction of capital cost also encouraged more systems to adapt smart cards. Conservative transit agencies became more receptive to the new technology because it was widely adapted around the world by late 2000s. Although transit managers have little incentives to obtain the state-of-the-art technologies, most of them do not want to lag behind other systems. North American cities started to adapt smart card systems, following the examples of Asian and European cities. Besides the introduction of SmarTrip in Washington D.C. Minneapolis-St Paul's Go-To and Boston's CharlieCard were the earliest smart card systems in the United States. Montreal has the oldest systems in Canada. The growth rate of transit smart card shipment slowed down towards the end of 2000s as most major urban transportation systems had already adapted the technology.

Mature Phrase Edit

The accumulated shipment indicates the number of smart card holders worldwide. Smart Card Alliance provides data of global annual shipment of smart card. The number of worldwide distribution adds into the number of smart cards that are already in use. The accumulated shipment figure is slightly greater than the actual number of transit smart card holders because some cards were manufactured as replacement cards.

The annual growth rate of global smart card shipment peaked in 2002 at over 77 percent. Besides a minor spike in 2005, the pace of expansion steadily declined. The technology has stepped into its mature phrase since 2010, as the total number of smart card shipment increased by about 8 percent. The total number of smart cards around the world is now increasing at a decreasing rate. Much of potential markets have adapted smart cards as a transit payment method. The rapid growth phrase occurred during the early 2000s when transit systems introduced smart cards in large scales. Since most people switched to the new payment method relatively soon after it was first introduced, the increase in total smart card shipment is bound to slow down. By 2010, most people who would obtain a smart card have already purchased one. Most recent smart card shipments are contributed by existing markets rather than new markets. As more businesses outside of transit systems start to accept smart card payments, the demand for smart cards will continue to increase. Replacements due to loss and damage also contributes to the steady growth of the existing market. Although the rate of growth has slowed down, the total number of smart cards is unlikely to maximize in the near future.

The life cycle analysis model shows that the market saturation point is at 1.6 billion cards. Approximately half of the total human population live in cities, with the total urban population today at 3.5 billion [12]. The market for transit smart cards is constrained by the total urban population. Further, a segment of the urban population will be unlikely to have a strong demand for smart cards. Among the growing number of urbanites, frequent transit users who live in large urban centers are the major markets for smart cards. Strategies to expand beyond transit to other businesses would increase the demand in existing markets. Widening the acceptability of smart card as a payment method and effective marketing can also increase the demand for smart cards. The life cycle analysis according to the current data shows the market is nearly saturated. If the market saturation point remains unchanged, the total number of smart cards will not grow further than 1.6 billion.

The Future of Transit Smart Cards Edit

The total number of smart card can possibly grow beyond 1.6 billion. The World Bank projects 5 million people in developing countries migrates to urban areas each month. The growing urban population and urbanization rate both raises the market saturation status level. The total number of smart card is unlikely to peak at 1.6 billion and start its decline as cities continue to expand. Standardization and mass production of smart cards and other related infrastructure allows more cities in the developing world to afford the technology. Transit smart card has reached its maturity stage, but the mature phrase will not end in the near future as its primary market grows.

To better serve the needs today and the future, transit smart card systems should reinvent themselves to allow passengers using a single card across transit systems. As smart cards expand its functionality from simply a stored value transit ticket to a widely acceptable media of payment, smart cards has become more similar to debit or credit card. Further development of smart card systems may allow passengers to use their debit or credit cards. Credit cards equipped with microchip has been developed and is now in use in some parts of the world. Smart card readers within transit system can directly charge passengers from their credit cards. Speedy transaction provided by the contactless smart cards is not currently available for credit card users. Unlike credit cards, transit smart cards are not universally accepted as medium of exchange. Combining the advantages of transit smart cards and credit cards provides an opportunity for the reinvention of the technology. The potential problem of such reinvention is that transaction costs may increase. Consumers may not want banks to involve in their transit payments. A viable alternative of reinventing smart cards is to create an integrated payment system among transit systems. Under an integrated system, travelers are able to use the same smart card from their home city while traveling in another city. A universal transit smart card provides more time saving and convenience for frequently intercity travelers.

Conclusion Edit

Similar to any types of transportation modes and technology, transit smart cards go through a life cycle (birth, growth, maturity and decline). The accuracy of the S-curve model in predicting the number of smart card shipments shows that transit smart card is following the path of the technology life cycle. As a relatively new technology, transit smart card only took a short period of time to develop from birth to maturity. Computer and software technology typically have a shorter life cycle than transportation technology. The intensive use of information technology in transit smart card contributes to the speed of the deployment.

References Edit

  1. Smart Card Alliance. (2008). Transit Payment System Security. A Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council White Paper
  2. Smart Card Alliance. About Smart Card: Introduction. <>
  3. Utsunomiya M., J. Attanucci & N. Wilson. (2006). Potential Uses of Transit Smart Card Registration and Transaction Data to Improve Transit Planning. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 1971, Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2006, pp. 119–126.
  4. Fleishman, D. et al. (1996). Fare Policies, Structure, and Technologies. Transportation Research Board. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.
  5. Cudahy, B. (2003). A Century of Subways: Celebrating 100 Years of New York’s Underground Railways. Fordham University Press. P.28.
  6. Cryer, Pat. “The London Underground (the tube) in the 1940s wartime.” A child at the time. Access: November 3, 2013. <>.
  7. Morency C., M. Trepanier & B. Agard (2007). Measuring transit use variability with smart-card data. Transport Policy. p.193-203
  8. Pelletier, M-P, M. Trepanier, and C. Morency (2011). Smart card data use in public transit: A literature review. Transportation Reaserach Part C. p.557-568.
  9. World Bank. (2007) Hong Kong Smart Card System. Transport Sector.
  10. Blackwell M. & B. Kahn (1999). Smart Cards: Global Perspective. Transaction Newsletter Online. Metropolitan Transportation Commission. <>
  11. Levinson, M. & W. Garrsion. (2012). The Transportation Experience: Policy, Planning and Deployment. Oxford University Press.
  12. World Bank (2013). Urban Development Overview.

California Railroads

The Rise of California's Railroads

Introduction Edit

The Early Years Edit

The eastern United States was well developed and had been operating railroads for nearly 30 years before major settlements took shape in California during the 1850's. After the discover of gold in 1848, numerous people fled to seek wealth in California during the gold rush. Approximately 200,000 came between 1849 and 1851 with over 100,000 more coming in the next five years.[1] As a direct result of the sudden population growth, California became the 31st state in 1850.

The first railroad in California was the Sacramento Valley Railroad which operated from 1852-1877.[2] The 23 mile main line connected the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. The track was seven inches wider than standard gauge which limited the compatibility with other railroads that would later be developed. Since railroad technology had already been developed in the eastern United States, California's railroads could deploy much faster than the early east coast railroads. As a result, California's railroads had a much shorter birthing phase as they could use the knowledge gained from the earlier railroads.

Theodore Judah was the chief engineer for the Sacramento Valley RR and later the Central Pacific RR.[2] Judah was the main proponent in Sacramento for the development of a transcontinental railroad, but the idea did not gain support for several years. The idea of an east to west link had gained interest after the settlement of Oregon in 1846, acquiring territories from Mexico in 1848, and the discovery of gold in California.[3] Settlers traveled to the west coast by traversing the dangerous trails by horseback and wagon trains. Adding a railroad would rapidly speed up travel time and make travel safer as well as reducing the cost of shipping goods long distances.

Asa Whitney, a supporter of the idea form New York, had proposed it to congress in 1845.[4] It took until 1862 for the project to get started when the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 was passed.[5] Discrepancies between the north and south had added controversy to the plans and delayed funding until it was passed after the civil war began in 1861 under a Republican Congress.[3] In 1869, the last "golden" spike was driven completing the first transcontinental railroad from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California. By 1893, five lines had been completed connecting the west coast to the rest of the United States. The Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads had built lines connecting Oregon and Washington to Minnesota and the Great Lakes. The Santa Fe Railroad connected Los Angeles to Atchinson, Kansas, and the Southern Pacific Railroad connected Los Angeles to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Steady Growth Edit

Once the first transcontinental railway was completed, California's Railroads shifted most of it's construction emphasis to linking the state north to south instead of east to west. This had substantial benefit, but not as much as linking to the eastern United States, so expansion of the railroad network followed a linear model for the next several decades. During this time some railroads were already being consolidated. In 1877, the Sacramento Valley Railroad and the Folsom and Placerville Railroad merged to form the Sacramento and Placerville Railroad.[2] From 1870 to 1900, larger railroads like the Southern Pacific and the Northern Railway began to take control over numerous smaller railroads.

Maturity and Steady Decline Edit

With some railroad tracks at capacity and others underutilized, it was time for restructuring and more consolidation. Over a hundred different railroads had operated in California by 1890 and almost a hundred more started operation between 1890 and 1910. There were too many railroads to efficiently operate all at once. The major railroads of Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Central Pacific and Union Pacific were consolidating with other smaller railroads. California was experiencing many of the problems that all railroads in the U.S. faced. At the start of World War I, railroads were the largest industry in the country and access to eastern ports was congested.[6] In order to avoid shortages and provide more efficiency, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was granted more powers. Later in 1917, the government to control of the largest railroads and put them under the control of the United States Railway Administration (USRA). Nationalization did not help reduce shipping costs so the Transportation Act of 1920 was passed and returned railroads back to private ownership. By this time, the miles of railroad track in California had already peaked in 1915. Track miles were maintained for almost a decade before starting a slow annual decline as a result of the Great Depression and World War II, as well as the rise in airplanes as an alternative mode to the railroads.

Methodology Edit

The analysis of the life cycle of most modes of transportation follows a traditional logistic curve also known as an S-curve. In the early years, advancements in the technology result in rapid growth that can be modeled as a period of exponential growth. A single innovation can spark several improvements and multiple benefits. As the system expands, the rate of return weakens to a linear relationship. Adding new rail lines results in some benefit, but not as much as implementing the first lines did. Eventually the network grow big enough such that the most profitable lines were are built and new line result in little benefit to the entire system. As the system matures, the extent of the network levels off and begins to decline as a result of consolidation and optimization of the system. Typically, a new technology comes along to make the old technology obsolete and it declines to extinction or to an optimal lower level of service.

The Logistic Formula:



  • S(t) is a measure of the transportation system at a given time [miles of railroad in California]
  • t is time [years]
  • t0 is the time when S(t) is at the inflection point of the S-curve [years]
  • K is the maximum capacity of the transportation system [miles]
  • b is a coefficient that affects how quickly a system reaches maturity

The S(t) formula can be transformed to get a the following linear relationship:



  • b from the S-curve
  • c = -b * t0

There are three unknown parameters (K, n, c) and only two can be fitted, so different K values are chosen and linear regression is done to get the other two using the Least Squares method. Microsoft Excel is used to perform the analysis and obtain the slope and intercept of the best fit line. Since the miles of railroad peaked in 1915 at 8451, the real K value is set at 8460. However, this does not fit the data very well, so Excel's solver is used to obtain the best K, m,& a while minimizing the sum of the square errors. The optimal parameters for the S-curves can be seen in Table 2. The S-curves only model the growth phase and only use the data until 1915 to do the linear regression to fit K, n,& c.

The plot of the data in Figure 1 indicates that the birthing and the maturity phases were very short compared to the time span of the entire system. This indicates that the data may actually follow a two stage linear model, one for the growth phase and one for the decline phase. The peak number of miles occurs in 1915, so the year 1915 serves as the breaking point for the analysis of the growth and decline phases. Again Excel is used to do the linear regression and the optimal parameters can be seen in Table 3.

Data about California's railroads was obtained from numerous annual Statistical Abstracts from the U.S. Census Bureau.[7] Each report gave data for every five or ten years and the individual year data for two or three years before the publication of the report. In order to make a complete data set, data from several reports was merged together and can be seen in Table 1 below. For some of the annual reports, the numbers contradicted each other; thus, for the purposes of this analysis, the most recent value was consider to be more accurate.

Results Edit

Table 1: Miles of Railroad Track by Year with Comparison to Predicted Values Edit

Year Miles of Track Predicted Miles (k=9152.104) Predicted Miles (k=8460) Predicted Miles (2 stage - Linear)
1860 23 169.0 133.6 -796.4
1865 214 285.9 259.5 24.4
1870 925 479.2 497.0 845.2
1875 1503 791.5 927.1 1666.0
1877 2080 961.7 1176.2 1994.3
1878 2149 1058.4 1320.5 2158.5
1879 2209 1163.5 1479.0 2322.6
1880 2195 1277.3 1652.1 2486.8
1881 2309 1400.3 1840.2 2651.0
1882 2636 1532.9 2043.2 2815.1
1883 2881 1675.3 2261.0 2979.3
1884 2911 1827.8 2492.9 3143.4
1885 3044 1990.4 2738.2 3307.6
1886 3297 2163.3 2995.4 3471.8
1887 3677 2346.2 3263.1 3635.9
1888 4126 2539.0 3539.1 3800.1
1889 4202 2741.2 3821.4 3964.2
1890 4356 2952.4 4107.4 4128.4
1891 4601 3171.8 4394.5 4292.6
1892 4624 3398.5 4680.1 4456.7
1893 4630 3631.6 4961.6 4620.9
1894 4635 3870.0 5236.5 4785.0
1895 4757 4112.3 5502.8 4949.2
1896 4996 4357.3 5758.4 5113.4
1897 5199 4603.5 6001.7 5277.5
1898 5292 4849.6 6231.7 5441.7
1899 5455 5094.2 6447.3 5605.8
1900 5751 5335.7 6648.2 5770.0
1901 5684 5573.0 6834.0 5934.2
1902 5773 5804.8 7005.0 6098.3
1903 5773 6030.0 7161.4 6262.5
1904 5820 6247.6 7303.7 6426.6
1905 6507 6456.8 7432.7 6590.8
1906 6655 6657.0 7549.1 6755.0
1907 6836 6847.6 7653.8 6919.1
1908 7222 7028.3 7747.5 7083.3
1909 7529 7198.9 7831.3 7247.4
1910 7772 7359.2 7905.9 7411.6
1911 7885 7509.4 7972.2 7575.8
1912 8105 7649.6 8031.0 7739.9
1913 8183 7780.0 8083.0 7904.1
1914 8368 7901.0 8129.0 8068.2
1915 8451 8012.8 8169.6 8409.7
1916 8441 8116.0 8205.4 8389.8
1917 8359 8210.9 8236.9 8369.9
1918 8269 8298.0 8264.5 8349.9
1920 8356 8450.9 8310.2 8310.1
1930 8240 8900.5 8421.0 8111.0
1940 7947 9064.8 8449.9 7911.8
1948 7567 9115.0 8456.6 7752.5
1950 7533 9122.2 8457.4 7712.7
1960 7630 9141.9 8459.3 7513.6
1968 7438 9147.8 8459.8 7354.2

Table 2: S-curve Model Parameters Edit

S(t) = K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)]

Parameter S-curve 1 S-curve 2
k 9152.104201 8460
b 0.107701516 0.1358
t0 1896.888412 1890.427099

Table 3: Linear Model Parameters Edit

S(t) = a + m*t

Parameter Growth Decline
a 164.16 -19.91
m -306134 46545

Figure 1:Life Cycle for the Miles of Railroad Track in California Edit


Figure 2: S-Curve Models for the Miles of Railroad Track in California Edit


Figure 3: Linear Model for the Miles of Railroad Track in California Edit


Figure 4: Linear Regression to determine b and t0 when k=8460 Edit


Figure 5: Linear Regression to Determine b and t0 when k=9152.104 Edit


Analysis Edit

In Figure 1, the life cycle phases can be seen. There is no distinct point at which the birthing ends and steady growth begins, but the transition year is found to be 1875. Similarly, the growth period ends rather abruptly with a little or no transition period. The year decided to be the beginning of maturity is 1911. A slow steady decline is deemed to begin in 1920 and continue through WWII. The timing of maturity occurs at approximately the same time the entire United States railroads mature and is contributed by the start of WWI and failed nationalization of larger railroads at the time. The continual decline in the 30's and 40's is mainly contributed to the Great Depression and WWII.

In Figure 2, the two best fitting S-curves are illustrated with the data. Since the transition between phases is rather abrupt, the curves do not fit particularly well. Even though the S-curves were fitted using only the growth data, the location of t0 and the tight transitions cause the S-curves to predict capacity is not reached until approximately 1930, 15 years later than reality. Figures 4 and 5 illustrate that the transformed data has an weak linear relationship as the r2 values are 0.84 for K=8460 and 0.91 for K=9152.104.

Since the S-curves were not very accurate at predicting the annual track miles, a two stage linear model was analyzed and can be seen in Figure 3. The fit for the growth phase had an r2 value of 0.99 and the decline phase had an r2 value of 0.91. Only the first year of the birthing phase does not get modeled accurately with a linear relationship and the r2 values are significantly better than the S-curves.

Conclusion Edit

The deployment of California's railroads was greatly influenced by the historical events of its time. The gold rush created the demand for more efficient transportation modes. The divisions between the north and south delayed the start of construction on the first transcontinental railroad. World War I, shipping congestion, and experimental nationalization of the larger railroads started the maturity phase. The rise of the airplane as an alternative to railroads, the Great Depression, and World War II caused the miles of railroad track to slowly decline in the 30's and 40's.

Since railroad technology was already being improved in the rest of the country, California's railroads experienced a short birthing phase. Railroads were able to deploy technology that was already proven to be successful elsewhere. The relatively unexpected level of track miles in 1915 due to other issue going on in the U.S. could have prematurely ended the growth phase. A short birthing phase and transition periods can explain why a linear model fits the data better. If California's railroads had developed independently from the rest of the country, perhaps an S-curve would fit the data better then and linear model. Like any technology, the success or failure of California's railroad was directly dependent on the alternative modes and the external factor the entire country was facing during the time period.

References Edit

  1. Lewis, Robert. "Photographing the California Gold Rush." History Today 52.3 (2002): 11-17. Web. [3].
  2. a b c Fickewirth, Alvin A. California Railroads: an Encyclopedia of Cable Car, Common Carrier, Horsecar, Industrial, Interurban, Logging, Monorail, Motor Road, Shortlines, Streetcar, Switching and Terminal Railroads in California. San Marino: Golden West, 1992. Print.
  3. a b "Transcontinental Railroad." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 1 Oct. 2011. Web. [4].
  4. "Asa Whitney." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 1 Oct. 2011. Web. [5].
  5. United States. Pacific Railroad Act of 1862. Washington, D.C.: Govt. Print. Off., 1862. Academic Search Premier. Web. [6].
  6. Garrison, William L., and David M. Levinson. The Transportation Experience. New York: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.
  7. United States. U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce. Statistical Abstracts. 1881 1887 1891 1896 1900 1904 1908 1911 1913 1914 1916 1917 1920 1950 1970. Web. [7].


Map of French TGV lines in use and under construction

(Note: References still being formatted)

The Train à Grande Vitesse, or TGV, which means High-Speed Train in English, is the French name for their high-speed rail (HSR) service in France. First connecting Paris to Lyon in 1981, the TGV was the first large-scale builder of HSR service in Europe, second in the world only to Japan’s Shinkansen. Today, the TGV network in France comprises nearly 2100 kilometers of track, with many more planned over the next few decades.

Introduction Edit

High-speed rail as we regard it today was first developed by Japan in the construction of their Shinkansen network. The Shinkansen utilized a separate rail infrastructure exclusively built for high-speed passenger service. This was done in part to provide the greatest safety to the trains and passengers and maximize efficiency. The 515-kilometer link from Tokyo to Osaka was designed to be flat and straight, which required many tunnels, bridges, and elevated section. This design approach led to significant cost overruns - double the original estimate - for the first Shinkansen line.[1]

The trains developed for the Shinkansen were designed to be lighter and less prone to crash than their conventional counterparts. The lightweight nature of the trains reduced energy consumption and wear of the rails, thereby reducing operating and maintenance expenses. Electric overhead power provided the ability for trains to accelerate and decelerate quickly. A similar design approach was utilized in the development of the TGV.

Many advantages exist between the TGV and other modes of travel. The TGV provides arguably the best option for medium distance travel between major European cities, beating out the car in terms of travel time, and competitive with airlines in terms of travel time and ease of accessibility. Its success has shown over time that its speed and connectivity between major urban centers has made it a significant player in business and leisure travel. Additionally, energy consumption on the TGV is considerably lower than using a car or flying, which reduces operating expenses relating to travel. Since many of the high-demand, low-investment routes have already been constructed in France, expansion of the rail network is becoming increasingly difficult to justify. However, as the European Union attempts to elicit greater connection and competition between HSR service in different countries, the growth of the French network may continue for many years ahead.

Before the TGV Edit

Existing modes Edit

Prior to the development of the TGV network, three main options existed for those wishing to travel across France: conventional rail travel, automobile, and air travel. As the first TGV line opened was the 470-km Paris to Lyon route, this document will frequently on this link to compare different travel modes.

Conventional rail and the automobile both offered similar journey times prior to 1981. The drive between Paris and Lyon takes approximately 4 hours 30 minutes, compared to 4 hours by conventional passenger rail. The advantages of the train included a modest time savings and freedom to engage in other activities. Highly-taxed petrol in Europe may deter people from driving, in addition to difficulties driving and parking in central area, but auto use provided greater flexibility and versatility in delivering travellers directly from their origin to their destination. Travelers choosing to fly could travel between the cities in only 75 minutes (excluding airport travel time and security). With these mode options, conventional rail competed more closely with the automobile, and high-speed travel was limited to air travel.

Limitations of existing modes Edit

There were growing limitations with each mode in the run-up to the TGV. Auto congestion is a typical problem of most major metropolitan areas. Furthermore, auto travel is usually limited for trips up to 200 km before other modes are considered. The conventional passenger rail service between Paris-Lyon route was at or near maximum capacity, and the service and infrastructure were not well-regarded [1]. The numerous flights between short-haul markets compounded congestion in airports for long and short-haul flights alike. Furthermore, since the two airports are not centrally located, and are not typically a destination in themselves, traveling by car or train is common among air travelers, particularly for those traveling to smaller cities and towns outside Paris and Lyon. Ultimately, greater capacity was needed to deliver passengers between the two cities, and to destinations beyond. [1]

New possibilities Edit

The development of the HSR network has been a part of the French Government’s efforts to modernize the rail network since WWII. This goal was inspired in large part by the success of Japan’s Shinkansen line. In 1976, France’s nationally owned rail company SNCF released their master plans, Objectif 2000, with a Paris-Lyon link being the first line to open. The development of the train borrowed heavily from the Shinkhansen, with improvements focused on providing a train capable of being fast, safe, and reliable. Making the train lightweight was essential to providing a high power to weight ratio, which is important in delivering high-speed service. Stability was very important as well from a safety and comfort perspective. Rails on exclusive TGV tracks are carefully joined to eliminate the rhythmic gallop typical of trains. Trains today are able to travel at speeds of 320 km/h without making a glass of wine wobble. [2]

By implementing a staggered approach to network development, France learned from Japan’s financial troubles in developing a solely exclusive railway network. The TGV between Paris and Lyon was opened incrementally along existing, but upgraded, rail infrastructure, and eventually on exclusive rail infrastructure. By avoiding the need to build a completely separate rail infrastructure, France avoided some of the initial capital investments that Japan faced in the development of their separate HSR alignment. France’s decision to initially mix their high-speed system with existing rail infrastructure differs from other countries besides Japan. In Spain, new HSR infrastructure is being built to standard gauge track, whereas older conventional track was built at a non-standard gauge. This mixed gauge track issues has been resolved, but only with the development in recent years of gauge-changing technology. In Germany, their high-speed, conventional, and freight trains are all fully mixed in the system, meaning all trains are able to use the same track [hs2] which may create greater potential for delays and congestion.

France would ultimately build rail infrastructure exclusively for the TGV trains. However, while Japan designed a flat, straight track between Tokyo and Osaka, SNCF realized that with fast, lightweight, high-powered trains, they could actually build rail at grades in excess of those typically allowed on heavy conventional rail. The construction of separate HSR infrastructure could then be built to more closely follow the topography of the land, significantly reducing earthwork costs. As a result, capital rail improvements for TGV lines are typically among the lowest in the world. [hs2]

The pricing structure that SNCF followed was based on a demand-based model. The TGV followed the yield management system adopted by airlines that varied prices based on the demand of a particular train based on its departure time and destination, and was the first rail company in Europe to do so. Implementing this profit-maximizing policy for the TGV from the beginning was essential to its success, and would have been more difficult to implement later on. [mr]

TGV Sud-Est - Connecting Paris and Lyon Edit

The TGV Sud-Est from Paris to Lyon was decided upon as the inaugural route for the TGV. The first phase of the line opened in 1981, and the second phase opened in 1983. Investment was made initially where it was most greatly needed, and would provide the greatest impact. As the rail network and trains were state-owned, this vertically integrated structure made it easier to provide the funds necessary to develop the network. The congested route between Paris and Lyon was the clear choice, as it served 40% of the French population. The initial aim of the TGV was to attract business and leisure travelers looking that might short-haul flight. It also provides time savings and improved connectivity for existing rail travelers. The modest increase in time to take the TGV was considered palatable since many travelers could connect to conventional or metro train service from the train station, instead of switching modes at the airport on the edge of town.

Furthermore, the energy savings provided by HSR were significant. Whereas travel by plane equates to the equivalent of 7.1 liters of diesel fuel for every 100 passenger-kilometers, and 3.3 liters for auto travel, the TGV only utilizes only 0.7 liters of fuel over the same distance. In addition to the energy and associated cost savings, the reduction in energy consumption (in addition to the fact that the TGV operated on electricity via overhead wires), meant that the effects of air pollution from autos and planes might be significantly reduced.

Deployment of HSR infrastructure along this corridor made rail travel more comparable with air travel than with car travel. The travel time between Paris and Lyon on the TGV Sud-Est line was initially reduced from nearly 4 hours (227 minutes) to 2.5 hours (160 minutes). Further upgrades to the system have brought the travel time down to under 2 hours (115 minutes). [hs2]. Before 1981, modal share for trips between Paris and Lyon were 31% by air, 40% by train, and 29% by car or bus. After 1984, only 7% travel by air, 72% travel by train, and 21% travel by car. TGV now has a 90% share in high-speed service between the two cities, and air travel’s mode share has declined by over 75%, and automobiles by nearly 30%. Deployment of HSR infrastructure has shifted rail travel to be more comparable with air travel than with car travel. It is clear that the TGV made significant impacts on they way people travel between these two cities, the greatest impact being in mode shift to TGV from the air travel market [hs2]

Modal Share Among All Modes - Before and After TGV Sud-Est Opening Between Paris and Lyon

Mode Before 1981 After 1984 Change
Air 31% 7% -77%
Train 40% 72% +80%
Car/Bus 29% 21% -28%

Modal Share Among High-Speed Service - Before and After TGV Sud-Est Opening Between Paris and Lyon

Mode Before 1981 After 1984
Air 100% 10%
Train 0% 90%

The TGV Network Expands Edit

The Sud-Est line was a major success for SNCF, and the TGV network continued to expand throughout France throughout the 1980s through the 2000s. The network expanded to Calais in the north, Marseilles in the south, Bordeaux in the southwest, and Strasbourg to the east. By 2010, nearly thirty years after the first TGV line, France had built or upgraded rail lines across 1600 km of France, connecting many of the major cities. The relative low cost of construction of the TGV lines has made the networks quick growth possible.

The expansion of the TGV network to the far reaches of the country provide opportunities for international connections. The connection to Calais provided an eventual connection to London via the Channel Tunnel, and connections to the northeast toward Brussels and Amsterdam. The original Sud-Est line has expanded toward Marseilles, and continues on to the Spanish border, where TGV service will soon continue uninterrupted to Barcelona. The Haut-Bugey connection, completed in 2010, provides a shortcut for TGV service between Paris and Geneva, and the TGV Est line to Strasbourg will provide service to Germany.

Chronology of TGV Network Development

Line From To Open Year Distance (km) Cumulative Distance (km)
TGV Sud Est - Phase 1 Lyon Paris 1981 275 417
TGV Sud Est - Phase 2 Lyon Paris 1983 142 142
TGV Atlantique - Phase 1 Paris LeMans 1989 170 312
TGV Atlantique - Phase 2 Paris Tours 1990 101 413
Rhone-Alpes Lyon Grenay 1992 37 450
TGV Nord Europe Paris Calais 1993 333 783
TGV Paris Interconnections Paris Paris 1994 87 870
Rhone-Alpes Grenay Valence 1994 84 954
TGV Paris Interconnections Paris Paris 1996 17 971
SNCF LGV Mediterranee Valence Marseilles/Nimes 2001 259 1230
SNCF LGV Est Paris Baudrecourt 2007 332 1562
SNCF - Haut-Bugey Paris Geneva 2010 65 1627
SNCF Perpignan Spain Border 2011 24 1651
SNCF - Rhin-Rhone Est Phase 1 Dijon Mulhouse 2011 140 1791
SNCF LGV Est Baudrecourt Vendenheim 2016 106 1897
SNCF Nimes Montpellier 2016 70 1967
SNCF Montpellier Perpignan 2021 152 2119

For cross-border travel, train operators were created by multiple state-owned train companies to provide service between international destinations. Thalys International is one company that was created to provide high-speed passenger rail services between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne. Capital ownership of the company is divided amongst SNCF (France), 28% held by the SNCB (Belgium) and 10% held by the DB (Germany). [Thalys]

Eurostar is a similar consortium that provides commercial passenger service between London, Paris, and Brussels. It is operated by a consortium of public and private companies in the UK, France, and Belgium. Eurostar became Eurostar International with its transition from a joint venture between the UK, France, and Belgium to a single corporate entity. [12] [6]

Technological improvements have continued since the TGV first began in 1981. In 1996, TGV unveiled its first double-decker train, which significantly increased capacity (and revenue) along routes that were becoming increasingly congested. Additionally, French trains are continually striving to provide faster service, and have broken rail speed records on numerous occasions. Most recently, a modified TGV train set a new record by reaching a top speed of 574.8 km/h in 2007.

Policy changes began taking place in the mid-to-late 1990s with the European Union forcing many state-owned rail companies to split their rail ownership division from their trains operations. In 1997, France broke up SNCF, which controlled both the rail infrastructure and the rolling stock, and created the Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), or the French Railway Network. The RFF was split from SNCF, now simply the train operator, and inherited its debt, in order to make SNCF operationally profitable when train services are opened to privatization. RFF remains a state-owned company, and owns, maintains, and upgrades the rail network throughout France. [13]

TGV Approaches Maturity Edit

Effects of a growing HSR network Edit

As the TGV and European HSR network expands, it has had significant effects on air service between cities served by HSR. According to SNCF, the point at which more travelers choose air over HSR is at a train trip time of 4.5 hours [mr]. Given the density of the general population and large cities throughout western Europe, this has had significant impact on short haul air travel across Europe. At distances greater than 800 km (or about 3.5 hours travel time by train), air travel begins to take on a majority of the modal share based on current maximum travel speeds by HSR today. But train travel times of 2.5 hours or less show HSR capturing over 80% of the high-speed travel market. [Werner Rothengatter] The advent of HSR in Europe has certainly been detrimental to the airline industry in terms of market share. However, while HSR has been successful in the short-haul, high-speed markets, there are geographical limitations to the extent of a viable HSR network in Europe.

In France, determining the maximum extent of a high-speed rail network length may be helpful for estimating the maximum viable size of the network. As discussed above, the TGV was first deployed between Paris and Lyon. The TGV Sud-Est line provided high-speed access for 40% of the French population between the two largest cities in the country. It was an obvious choice, and perhaps unsurprisingly, quite successful. While the French government has significant leverage to fund the expensive capital investments to infrastructure and rolling stock, as passenger service shifts from SNCF to other carriers with the privatization of the train systems, greater attention will be paid to the return on investment of future service expansion. [hs2] As the network continues to grow, and the network branches out to more distant or less populated areas, or traverses more difficult terrain, subsequent expansion of the system may become difficult to justify. Certainly, there is a limit to the length of economically viable lines that can serve the French countryside.

The TGV network in France in still growing, and has not yet reached maturity, therefore, it is only possible to estimate the maximum value of HSR lines in France. The chart below shows a number of possible scenarios for the maximum extent of cumulative track mileage in France, based on nearly 40 years of completed and planned development of TGV lines. Table 1 shows a timeline of TGV development from 1981 to future lines planned into 2021. By 2021, there will be approximately 2100 kilometers of high speed rail throughout France. Some estimates suggest that the network may reach 3500 kilometers in total.

Determining the maximum extent of HSR in France Edit

What is a reasonable assumption for the maximum extent of rail on the TGV network? Most technologies follow a similar pattern of growth and decline, characterized by an “S-Curve”. This S curve can be represented by the equation



S(t) is the estimated cumulative track length at time t (in years); to is the inflection point at which ½ K is achieved; K is the saturation level of cumulative track length, in kilometers b is a coefficient that affects the steepness of the curve across time, t.

The data gathered for track length was analyzed using data analysis software in Microsoft Excel 2011. The results of the data are shown below.

Saturation Level Of France's TGV Network
K 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500
b 0.114 0.089 0.079 0.073 0.070
to 1998.82 2003.98 2008.26 2011.92 2015.12
t-stat 37.8 30.5 25.8 23.6 22.3
R2 0.973 0.960 0.945 0.935 0.927

The results show that values ranging anywhere between 2,500 and 4,500 kilometers (and possibly higher) are possible for maximum K values, based on the strength of the R-squared and t-stat numbers. These numbers are highest for K = 2,500 km. However, plans by the French government plans for up to 4,600 km of total track in the years ahead [BBC news article]. Based on the strength of the results from the regression analysis, the future saturation limit of HSR in France is difficult to predict based in the chronology of past construction.

The future of HSR in France and Europe Edit

Analyzing the future effects of privatization and investment in future HSR service in France is difficult, particularly during the current global financial crisis, and the high volatility in oil prices around the globe. Ultimately, the success of TGV over time may provide France a competitive edge as the HSR network expands throughout Europe, and HSR services becomes privatized, meaning TGV services can enter markets outside of France.

As markets open up to competition, the playing field around HSR is bound to get more interesting. The consortium of state-owned operators like Eurostar and Thalys may soon have to operate alongside other service providers, including new entrants to the market. With the decline of short-haul air travel, airlines like Air France have considered entering the HSR market, with one ticket offering connecting service between air and rail. In this scenario, rail and air travel may become as much complementary modes as they do competitive modes. [Spiegel]

In the interest of improving the operations and management of HSR across borders, the 7 HSR providers in Europe have formed a marketing alliance called Railteam. These companies include SNCF (France), Eurostar UK, DB (Germany), OBB (Austria), SBB (Switzerland), NS Hispeed (Netherlands), and SNCB (Belgium). This alliance is similar to partnerships between airlines in terms of marketing and sales, such as KLM and Delta. High-speed rail operators sought to create a booking system that would allow travellers to purchase tickets across multiple providers, and receive a comparable level of service, regardless of which train they traveled on. These efforts were abandoned in late 2009, when it was determined that the policies of each individual service provider were too difficult and expensive to bring together.One of the main goals in this alliance was not necessarily to develop or expand upon the physical technology of HSR, but to develop a single Europe-wide booking system to improve efficiency. This service would make it possible to book travel anywhere across Europe with a single ticket, in place of separate transactions required for international travel (with exceptions for travel on Thalys or Eurostar lines). Due to increasing costs and complexities of creating this system, the project was scrapped in 2009. [BBC 2009]

Attempting to bridge differences in pricing and service policy between individual countries has made providing joint service difficult. In the near future, Deutsche-Bahn trains will soon travel on the TGV Est line linking Frankfurt and Paris. However, customers and workers in each country are accustomed to how their respective systems operate. Whereas France uses a demand-based pricing system with required reservations, Germany uses a fixed-price system, and reservations are not required. These differences have proven difficult for the two parties to resolve. Additionally, labor rules differ between the two countries further complicate matters between the separate operators. While a complete agreement has yet to take shape, SNCF and DB are working to bridge these gaps incrementally over time. [mr]

As the HSR rail system grows throughout Europe, technological advances will continue to improve the quality of service provided on the rail infrastructure itself. With the HSR market being opened up to competition through privatization, innovation will further grow the network over time.

References Edit

  1. a b c Gourvish, Terry (1 March 2010). "The High Speed Rail Revolution: History and Prospects" (PDF). Department of Transport (UK). Retrieved 7 October 2011. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. "A high-speed revolution". Economist. 384 (8536): 61–62. 7 July 2007.

"25 Years of the TGV". Modern Railways: 67–74. October 2006.

Gourvish, Terry (1 March 2010). "The High Speed Rail Revolution: History and Prospects" (PDF). Department of Transport (UK). Retrieved 7 October 2011. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

Arduin, Jean-Pierre; Ni, Jincheng (March 2005). "French TGV Network Development" (PDF). Japan Railway & Transport Review. 40: 8. Retrieved 7 October 2011.

Chen, Xueming (June 2011). "Development Impacts of High Speed Rail: French Experience and Chinese Implications". 2011 5th International Association for China Planning Conference: 8. {{cite journal}}: |access-date= requires |url= (help)

Strohl, Mitchell P. (1993). Europe’s High Speed Trains: A Study in Geo-Economics. Westport, CT.: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-94252-X.

"A high-speed revolution". Economist. 384 (8536): 61–62. 7 July 2007.

"Eurostar confirms plans for senior management changes.". Breaking Travel News. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 

"Euro Train Booking System Shelved.". BBC News. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 

"Les belles promesses du TGV Paris-Genève restent à quai (The promises of the Paris-Geneva TGV remain docked)" (in French). Le Temps (Switzerland). 16 October 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 

"Nîmes – Montpellier bids go in". Railway Gazette. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 

"Work starts on LGV Est Phase 2". Railway Gazette. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 

"Southern LGV projects make progress". Railway Gazette. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 

"Could the US crack high-speed rail?". BBC News. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 

"Air France Plans High-Speed Train Business". Spiegel International. 9 September 2008.,1518,577256,00.html. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 

Eurostar - Eurostar History, [13], accessed 7 October 2011.

Reseau Ferre de France - Our Company, [14], accessed 7 October 2011.

Thalys - Welcome to Our World - About Thalys, [15], accessed 7 October 2011.

Life Cycle of Safety Belt Legislation

This article discusses the lifecycle of safety belt legislation in the United States. It includes a brief description and history of the safety belt and of safety belt legislation which is folioed by an analytical analysis of the progress of safety belt laws. It compares the implementation of primary versus secondary enforcement laws and makes predictions on when full primary laws may be in place across the entire United States. It also compares safety belt legislation to the legal drinking age legislation from the perspective of the federal government. This study does not make any claims as to the successfulness of safety belts nor safety belt legislation in the prevention of injuries and deaths related to automobile crashes.

Paragraph Edit

Lapeer Mi is the Best

Brief History of Safety Belts Edit

The invention of the safety belt is credited to George Cayley, an English engineer who is sometimes regarded as the “father of flight”, who created a harness for his glider in the early 1800s.[1] The first United States patent for a safety belt was filed in 1885 by Edward J Claghorn, for a person who was being raised or lowered for a variety of purposes.[2] The safety belt used in transportation came about in the beginning of the 20th century in airplanes for safety and stability of pilots as they engaged in more complex arial maneuvers. The first person to install a belt in an airplane was Benjamin Foulois, a U.S. Army General that learned to fly some of the first military planes. He modified a belt from a cavalry saddle.[3]

Safety belts in cars began in the 1930's when physicians began installing them in their own cars. This was in response to seeing injuries cased by unrestrained drivers and passengers during crashes. In the 1950’s, a neurologist, Dr. C. Hunter Shelden studied the early seat belts and determined that they were contributing to injuries rather than preventing them in many cases [4]. He suggested, among many other safety features, the retractable seatbelt for cars[5]. In the 1950’s, automotive manufacturers began offering seat belts as options, and the first standard seat belt was in the Sabb GT 750 in 1958 [6]. Roger W. Griswold and Huge Dehaven patented the first three-point seatbelt (the standard in most automobiles today) in 1955[7], though Nils Bohlin, a Swedish inventor, developed the design for Volvo. Volvo introduced the belt in 1959 as standard [8].

There are several different types of safety-belts in use today. The two most common are the two-point (also called a lap belt) and three-point designs. The number-point refers to the amount of attachments to the body of the vehicle or the seat. For instance, a two-point belt attaches to the seat or vehicle at two points, one on either side of the individual, and rests along the lap of the individual, hence the moniker. These are commonly found in airplanes today. A three-point adds an attachment, typically near the shoulder of the individual, so that the belt rests along the lap and diagonally across the chest. This is the belt that is standard in every automobile manufactured ad sold in the United States today. Other types of belts include five and six-point harnesses seen in auto-racing, and also in child safety seats. A combination of a five-point harness and two-point lap belt is sometimes found in acrobatic airplanes for redundancy.

The mandated use of safety belts by law began in Victoria, Australia, in 1970.[9] The law required all cars to be fitted with three-point belts and mandated their use in both the front and the back. The various laws regarding safety belt use are widely varied in their scope and enforcement policies. In the United States, the states have jurisdiction over safety belt laws. This has resulted in each state passing legislation at different times, with different wording, enforcement procedures, and fines involved. Also, 16 states will not protect motorists who were not wearing seat belts during a crash from receiving reduced damages from insurance companies. These states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.[10]

The first piece of safety belt legislation in the United States was a federal law that took effect in 1968 requiring all cars and trucks (though not busses) to be fitted with safety belts on all seats. This law did not however make wearing the seat belt mandatory.[11] The first state to pass legislation on the topic was New York, which made not wearing a seatbelt a ticketable offense for anyone over the age of 16 and sitting in the front seat.[12] By 1995, all 50 states, save one, and the District of Columbia had passed safety belt legislation. As of the writing of this article,Template:When the only state that had not passed a safety belt law, New Hampshire, had yet to do so (although the state does have primary enforcement for minors not wearing their safety belt).

Though every state has slightly different laws with various amounts of fines, there are two main types of enforcement of these laws, primary and secondary. Primary enforcement refers to an offense that can lead a police officer to pull a driver over if they observe. Typical traffic stops; speeding, ignoring control devices, failing to yield, failure to turn on headlights at night, etc., are examples of primary enforcement. In states with primary enforcement of safety belt laws, an officer may pull a driver over if they observe someone in the car not using the safety belt (although this is complicated by the conflicting mandates on which passengers may not wear the belt, as some states have caveats for age and position in the vehicle) and they may issue a ticket for only that offense. Secondary enforcement refers to an offense that cannot cause an officer to pull a driver over, but can be added to a citation when a driver is pulled over for a different infraction. For instance, if a driver is pulled over for speeding, an officer may issue the safety belt ticket in addition to the speeding ticket. This article makes no claim as to the effectiveness of either type of enforcement, however a comparison of states with secondary vs states with primary and their corresponding usage rates is detailed in the Results section.

Quantitative Analysis Edit

Data Collection Edit

The data collected for this study primarily came from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's website, which was last updated in November, 2013[13]. The data is presented in a table with information about safety belt laws and child seat laws. It is organized by state and includes the type of enforcement (primary or secondary), the date of effect (of the first regulation, if a state changed from secondary to primary, the date of the change is given in the column on enforcement), who is covered, and the first offense fine.

The data were divided into two categories: states with enforcement in general, and states with primary enforcement.

Regression analysis Edit

In order to estimate the progression of safety belt legislation, a single variable linear regression was performed on the data. The independent variable was the year (1984-1997 for all laws, and 1984-2013 for primary enforcement), and the dependent variable was a natural log transform of the total number of states to have laws in that year.


Y=LN(Number of states with law in place/(K-Number of states with law in place))

K is the estimated level at maturity. In this case K did not need to be iterated for, because (unless a new state is admitted to the union), the system is capped at 51 (50 states plus D.C.).

The results of the regression analysis provided the inflection point ( ), and the estimated intercept, or b value.

For all laws, b=0.49843, and  =1988 with an   of .90; for primary enforcement, b=0.12448, and  =2006 with an   of.95.

Curve Fitting Edit

Once the regression analysis found the inflection point and b value, the projected curve could be determined using the equation below.


This method was used to create the three graphs presented below.

Results and Discussion Edit

Table 1
Year States
1984 1 5
1985 8 8
1986 22 12
1987 29 18
1988 32 24
1989 34 30
1990 36 36
1991 40 41
1992 41 44
1993 43 47
1994 48 48
1995 50 49
1996 50 50
1997 50 50
Table 2
Year States
1984 1 3
1985 3 3
1986 6 4
1987 6 4
1988 6 5
1989 6 S
1990 7 6
1991 7 7
1992 7 7
1993 8 8
1994 8 9
1995 9 10
1996 10 11
1997 13 12
1998 14 13
1999 15 15
2000 17 16
2001 17 17
2002 18 19
2003 20 20
2004 21 22
2005 22 23
2006 26 25
2007 27 26
2008 27 28
2009 31 30
2010 32 31
2011 33 33
2012 33 34
2013 34 35
2014 34 37
2015 34 38
2016 34 39
2017 34 40
2018 34 41
2019 34 42
2020 34 43
2021 34 44
2022 34 45
2023 34 45
2024 34 46
2025 34 46
2026 34 47
2027 34 47
2028 34 48
2029 34 48
2030 34 48
2031 34 49
2032 34 49
2033 34 49
2034 34 49
2035 34 50

Figure 3
Figure 1
Figure 2

Legislation in general is in the maturity phase. With the exception of New Hampshire, all of the states have some sort of legislation, and have since 1995. It is assumed that there will not be any rationalization of the legislation, as, at least in the current political climate, it would be very unlikely that any of these laws would be struck down. The analysis predicts that all 51 jurisdictions would have at least secondary enforcement by 1998, however that is obviously not the case.

For the primary enforcement, the results are similar, but much slower. Since New York was the first state to have any law regarding safety belt usage, and its enforcement is primary, the life cycles both begin at the same time. However, the primary enforcement legislation has seen several years, and in a few cases concurrent years, with no legislation passed. Also (and relatedly), the rate at which new states are passing legislation is much slower than for the laws in general. As a result, the model predicts that full implementation of primary enforcement will not occur until after 2040.

This model assumes, however that the Federal Government will not step in at any point. Although safety belt legislation is the jurisdiction of the states, there are measures that Washington can take to "force" the states to comply with certain regulations that have historical precedents. For instance, the Federal Government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which, under the Federal Aid Highway Act, would annually lower the amount of federal funding by 10% for highways to any state that did not mandate the legal age for the purchase and consumption of alcohol be 21. As a result, the 39 states with legal ages below 21 had all adopted 21 as the legal drinking age by 1987. There is no current talk about a similar act being passed in the near future for safety belt requirements, it is the opinion of the author that it is very likely that prior to 2040 such a bill may be forwarded to require primary enforcement in all 50 states and D.C. This is due to National Highway Safety Administration and other similar organization's stance on the increased safety of seat belt usage.

Further Study Edit

This article analyzed the life-cycle of safety belt legislation in the United States without any analysis on the effectiveness of such legislation on safety belt usage or increased safety. This subject has been studied previously, but as it is a very complicated issue with many variables, it bears further research. Additionally, a similar study on a global scale may provide different results, even if it would be complicated by the different political systems across the world.

Bibliography Edit

  1. Yorkshire Post. "Clunk, click – an invention that’s saved lives for 50 years", August 2009.
  2. Rune Andr ́easson. "The Seat Belt : Swedish Research and Development for Global Auto- motive Safety". Kulturv ̊ardskommitt ́en Vattenfall, 2000.
  3. Benjamin D. Foulois and C. V. Glines. "From the Wright Brothers to the Astronauts: The Memoirs of Benjamin D. Foulois". McGraw-Hill, 1968.
  4. "HMRI News". Retrieved 2013-11-3.
  5. C. Hunter Shelden, M.D., (November 5, 1955). "Prevention, the only cure for head injuries resulting from automobile accidents". Journal of the American Medical Association.
  6. "The man who saved a million lives: Nils Bohlin - inventor of the seat belt - Features, Gadgets & Tech". The Independent. 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2013-11-3.
  7. Andréasson, Rune; Claes-Göran Bäckström (2000.). The Seat Belt : Swedish Research and Development for Global Automotive Safety. Stockholm: Kulturvårdskommittén Vattenfall AB. pp. 15–16. ISBN 91-630-9389-8.
  8. "The man who saved a million lives: Nils Bohlin - inventor of the seat belt - Features, Gadgets & Tech". The Independent. 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2013-11-3.
  9. School Transportation News. "The history of Seat Belt Development", 2008.
  10. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Safety Belt and Child Restraint Laws". November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-01
  11. "Safety belt use laws". Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. October 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  12. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Safety Belt and Child Restraint Laws". November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-01
  13. Insurance Institute for Highway Saftey. "Saftey Belt and Child Restraint Laws".November 2013. URL Retrieved 2013-11-1

Interstate Highway System

Map of current Interstates

The Interstate Highway System (officially known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways – after the president who signed the authorizing bill) is a network of approximately 46,750 miles of grade-separated, limited-access freeways and highways[1]. It began with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which authorized construction of the system, and was intended to connect most major cities and regions in the United States. Today, the Interstate Highway System connects all 48 contiguous states.

Life-cycle Pattern: Vehicle Miles Traveled Edit

Life-cycle Edit

Like many transportation and infrastructure systems the Interstate Highway System follows a roughly S-curve shaped pattern of development. Its lifecycle can be divided into three distinct phases of birth, growth, and maturity. In the initial birth of the new transportation technology growth is slow as its role is clarified and norms are established. Once the benefits of the technology begin to be more widely understood, the technology enters a growth phase where expansion occurs rapidly. Investment, public or private, increases and the system gains many new entrants. After the system reaches its maximum extent, it enters the maturity phase of its growth. Typically consolidation occurs, and inefficient or superfluous routes are discontinued.

Methodology Edit

Vehicle-miles traveled, observed data and predicted values along S-curve


An analysis of the annual vehicle-miles traveled on the Interstate Highway System shows that it follows this pattern of development. Fitting the S-Curve requires an initial single variable linear regression to determine the b-value coefficient used in the logistic function of the S-Curve. The regression is of the form: Y=bX+c; where Y=LN(Vehicle-miles/(K-Vehicle-miles)), and X=Year K is the maximum extent of the technology, in this case estimated to be 750,000 vehicle-miles Once b is found, it can be used to determine the inflection point (t0=Intercept/-b), and the estimated extent of the technology using the S-Curve. The function is of the form: S(t)=K/[1+exp(-b(t-t0)], where t=time, t0=inflection point, and K=saturation point[4]

Birth of the Interstate Highway System (1956-1970) Edit

Existing Modes Edit

Prior to the construction of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, rail was still the most dominant form of long distance transportation for both freight and passenger travel. However the automobile had been replacing rail travel steadily since the middle of the first decade of the 1900s. Rail volume was declining for most of this period, with brief upticks during World War I and World War II due to rationing of car parts, particularly rubber, metals and fuel. However despite these brief setbacks, automobile growth continued to grow rapidly. In 1900, there were approximately 8000 passenger cars in the United States. By 1930 this number had grown to just over 23 million and by 1955 there were 52 million automobiles on the road[5].

The rapid growth of the automobile put considerable stress on the existing roadways in the United States. These roadways were largely one or two lanes, were not grade separated and maintained and funded by states and local municipalities. As such they were unequipped to deal with the growing volume of vehicle use, both in terms of personal automobiles and shipping via trucks. In 1953, the Bureau of Public Roads released a report saying that only 24% of interstate roadway was adequate to meet the demands of current traffic levels[6]. In the 1930s and 40s some regionally contained limited-access divided highways were being constructed and enjoying a large degree of success, notably the Pennsylvania Turnpike which was the first of its kind to be constructed in the United States.

Planning the Interstate Highway System Edit

1955 map: The planned status of U.S. highways in 1965, as a result of the developing Interstate Highway System

The success of the early limited-access highways increased pressure on the Federal government to begin the development of a national highway system that could support the growing automobile traffic in the United States. Both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress began exploring the idea of a network of superhighways in the late 1930s and early 40s. Roosevelt, fearing a return of the Great Depression after WWII, wanted to incorporate the construction of the superhighway network into his broader public works investment plans as a means of providing jobs for returning war veterans and other people out of work[7]. In 1938, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938, which directed the chief of the Bureau of Public Roads to conduct a feasibility study of six interstate toll road corridors[8]. The study found that in all likelihood, the amount of traffic across these routes would not be sufficient to support a toll road, and that government funding would have to support them in some capacity[9].

Although the idea of an interstate highway system garnered a great deal of support in Congress, and was popular among the public, little progress was made on the matter because the massive investment in the war effort took priority over large infrastructure investments at home. In 1944, the second Federal-Aid Highway Act designated 65,000km of interstate highway system to be selected by the various state highway departments. However no special funding was authorized for the construction of the system, resulting in resistance from states that did not want to reallocate federal aid away from