Transit Research


Health Effects of Riding Transit:

People riding transit in SE Michigan walk on average 0.8 miles per round trip. They burn calories which controls body weight and the physical activity makes them more healthy. This healthiness is reflected in paybacks to the individual in an improved quality of life. Their employers get employees that have less absenteeism. Employers pay less for health insurance. State and Federal social programs pay less than they otherwise would have for unhealthy residents.

Employer bus pass initiative: Employers gain by giving bus passes to employees. Below are links to various on-line calculators that can help an employer estimate their payback from giving bus passes.

Additional assistance provided by Pamela Nelson, Assist. Prof. Nursing (retired); and Judith Mouch, Asst. Prof. of Nursing.

For the Human Resources staff: See Advice for Implementation.

Reference: True Walking Distance to Transit, Hoback, A., Anderson, S., Dutta, U., Journal of Transportation Planning and Technology. Vol. 31, No. 6, 2008, pp 681-692.

Reference: Health Effects of Walking to Transit, Proceedings of the 53rd Transportation Research Forum, Tampa, FL, March 14-17, 2012.

Reference: Preliminary overview printed in "Worried About Your Health? Take the Bus", Hoback, A.S., Technology Century, Oct.-Nov. 07, Vol. 25, No. 5. pp 2-4.

Contact Dr. Hoback for the complete Research Report, and any research publications.

Economic Impact of Transit Investment:

Transit spending increases income in a region because it provides transportation alternatives to poorer workers, it promotes development, and white collar workers do not waste time a in car but can get work done on the transit. Without transportation, many people are unable to find good paying employment because they are stuck in their own neighborhood. They become reliant on social services to provide them with income and services. Results suggest that for every dollar that is spent on transit, income in a region goes up by $8 to $9.

Reference: Link Between Transit Spending and Personal Income, A. Hoback, S. Anderson, Proceedings of 51st Transportation Research Forum, Arlington, VA, March 11-13, 2010.

Analysis: How do governments get payback from investment in transit?

Hovercraft Feasibility on the Detroit River

Through collaboration with the MIOH-UTC at UDM, and a private company, Hoverstar LTD, the feasibility of operating hovercraft on the Detroit River is being investigated. First, operation during all weather conditions such as fog, ice and wind are being check how well service can be maintained all year round. Next, a plan for operation as public transit along the Detroit River will be investigated. The Hovercraft will be like cool buses that speedily take commuters downtown. Hovercraft are actually a very low flying aircraft.

Contact Dr. Hoback for the complete Research Report, and any research publications.

Light Rail Cost Estimator

Costs for 23 lightrail transit lines and extensions were analyzed with a sensitivity analysis to find unit costs for types of right-of-way (R.O.W.) construction. Data about light rail systems was rigorously checked from multiple sources. A sensitivity analysis was used to limit the error and arrive at the final unit costs for each ROW type. A tool for estimating costs in feasibility studies was produced. The tool was accurate to within 10% for the projects studied.

Reference: "Sensitivity Analysis of Light Rail Transit Unit Capital Costs," Hoback, A., Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, Paper 08-0024, 2008.

Detroit People Mover

Utpal Dutta has several publications related to the Detroit People Mover:

  • Detroit Downtown People Mover Ridership Update Study - sponsored by the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority.  This study involved predicting future DPM ridership.1985-1986.
  • Overview of Detroit Downtown People Mover Maintenance Data - Urban Transportation Development Corporation, Detroit, Michigan.  This study involved review and analysis DPM maintenance data. (1991-92)
  • "Prediction and Reality of Ridership for DPM In Detroit," Automated People Mover's Second International Conference, Proceedings March 13-15, 1989 
  • "Detroit Downtown People Mover Maintenance Data:  An Overview" Transportation Research Record, #1308 . 1991.
  • “Simplified  Techniques to Update Modal Share With Time”,   Proceedings  Canadian Society for Civil Engineers, Annual Conference, June, 1993.
  • "Ten Years of Detroit People Movers", Proceedings ASCE Sixth International Conference on People Movers, Las Vegas, April 1997.
  • “Detroit People Mover: Past, Present and Uncertain Future: Lessons Learned”, Conference Proceeding APM, Orlando,  2004

Transportation Energy Efficiency

Rail transit uses the least energy per passenger mile followed by bus, and automobiles when trip purpose is accounted for.  This also includes actual energy used as well as embodied energy.  Embodied energy is the energy it takes to make the vehicles and roads.  Advances in technology from hybridization will benefit transit and automobiles equally.  Efficient transportation modes include carpooling and using transit.

Reference: Revisted: Is Transit Part of the Equation?  Hoback, A., Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board 88th Annual Meeting, National Academy of Sciences, Paper 09-0272, 2009.

Commuter Rail

Commuter rail transit (CRT) lines were ranked according the relative intensity of freight rail traffic sharing the same route.  The safety of CRT systems are examined within the context of the 2008 Union Pacific collision involving the Los Angeles Metrolink train.  Patron fatalities from collisions are not predictable based on the level of freight intensity on a route.  They are much more dependent upon many other things such as falls at the station or other mishaps.  More fatalities happen from trespassing and at crossings, rather than through collisions, but Positive Train Control (PTC) will likely improve patron and employee safety by preventing collisions.  PTC will result in lower fatalities, but many other causes of fatality must also be addressed.  Need for future work: 1) Automatic security camera monitoring and shape detection of trespassers.  2) Measuring heart attacks on transit systems and making an economic case for defibrillators.

Reference: Commuter Rail Safety in the Presence of Freight Rail, Hoback, A., Williams, A. (u.g. student), Presentation at: Joint Rail Conference, Univ. of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, Sponsors: TRB, ASCE, ASME, April 27-29, 2010.

Transit Consulting

Utpal Dutta is a Panel Member of the Transit Cooperative Research program: Synthesis 54, Transportation Research Board; and a Member, Transit Maintenance Committee, Transportation Research Board (AC302).

Detroit Regional Mass Transit

Leo Hanifin, Scott Anderson, Alan Hoback and Utpal Dutta were co-authors with others at UDM and elsewhere on a feasibility study for Light Rail Transit on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.  Also related paper:

M-1 Rail Public Private Partnership: Success in the Context of the Historic Failures of Transit Initiatives in Metro Detroit,  Hoback, A., et. al., Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board 93rd  Annual Meeting, Paper: 14-1132, National Academy of Sciences,  2014.