As the lead developer for both ActivitySim and PopulationSim, we're thrilled to announce some recent updates. These updates have made the open-source platform easier to use, faster, and better at forecasting travel. The latest ActivitySim updates included several significant RSG-developed contributions:
PopulationSim updates included adding support for parallelization (i.e., multiprocessing) to significantly reduce runtimes.
ActivitySim is a state-of-the-practice activity-based modeling platform that is always improving, and RSG and ActivitySim consortium members are currently planning more updates. These include support for transit pass ownership modeling and improved methods for configuring and running the model with available machine memory—to make configuration easier and reduce runtimes.
We're thrilled to join our clients, colleagues, and collaborators at this year's 18th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference on Transportation Planning Applications (AppCon 2021)! The all-virtual event will explore practical applications of transportation planning advances.
RSGers will be leading several breakout sessions during AppCon 2021. Session topics will include commercial vehicle modeling, big data, and travel behavior changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees will learn about the application of innovative tools and techniques to address a wide range of planning contexts and challenges.
RSG is a proud silver-level Patron of AppCon 2021.
The pandemic drastically reduced transit ridership across the United States. In response, RSG worked with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Chicago on an innovative region-wide survey of current and lapsed transit riders. The findings have been used by RTA, its Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace), and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to better understand their shifting markets throughout the pandemic and to then guide future planning and policymaking as the pandemic recedes.
On Friday, June 18 at 10:00 a.m. ET, RSG Consultant Alexander Levin will present an overview of the current and lapsed rider survey methodology and explore the key findings from the study as part of a webinar hosted by Transport Chicago. Alexander's presentation will spotlight the following:
Transport Chicago is an annual conference dedicated to the mission of improving transportation in the Chicago region and beyond. This year's conference is entirely virtual. It will also feature Donald Shoup as keynote speaker.
RSG's COVID-19 Transportation Insights Survey recently marked one year of data collection since the start of the pandemic.
Since May 2020, our COVID-19 Transportation Insights Survey has collected data from more than 21,000 respondents across 7 survey waves. This nationally representative dataset is now one of the largest sources of longitudinal information on how the pandemic has changed travel in the United States.
The pandemic has raised a seemingly endless array of planning questions. Will telework replace in-office work? Does an effective and readily available vaccine prompt people to travel again? What modes will people favor after the pandemic? For the past year, our findings have helped clients answer these questions—and many more.
RSG plans to conduct at least three additional survey waves before the end of this year. These additional waves will help us chart the emerging contours of what the resumption of travel looks like once more people are vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
RSG Director Jon Slason recently supported Capstone Community Action with the logistics of expanding their successful Everyone Eats program in Vermont as part of the Orange County Parent Child Food Pilot. The project necessitated the creation of a functional and efficient distribution process to facilitate the assembly and transport of meals and food to the Orange County Parent Child Center.
“Jon's work really helped us by providing a valuable analytical perspective in understanding the various aspects involved in moving people and goods to support local families,” said Liz Scharf, Director of Community Economic Development at Capstone Community Action. “His consulting background, combined with his awareness of the challenges our target audience faces, helped us apply useful metrics and analytics to our program.”
Jon assisted with the program’s creation and solicited feedback from stakeholders and supporters, which helped inform the final design. Developing the pilot program required close cooperation between Capstone Community Action, the Community Kitchen Academy, the Vermont Food Bank, and employee volunteers from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont.
The collaboration and planning on the part of all pilot program participants resulted in a successful meals program for Vermont families. In the pilot program’s first week alone, 70 meals were distributed to families in need. Based on the pilot’s success, program participants and stakeholders are already looking for ways to expand it by working with local farmers.
Just before the pandemic, many airport operators were experiencing the effects of travelers' increased use of transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft. The popularity of TNCs meant that many airports needed to contend with both revenue changes due to decreased parking and increased congestion.
On Thursday, May 13 at 2:00 p.m. ET, RSG President Tom Adler, PhD, will share findings from RSG's research on the role of TNCs within the context of commercial ground transportation policies and programs. The webinar is sponsored by the Transportation Research Board's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) and will feature research from ACRP Report 215: Transportation Network Companies (TNCs): Impacts to Airport Revenues and Operations—Reference Guide. Tom will share practices and strategies for managing TNC on-airport operations and estimating the effects of TNC growth and pricing policies.
RSG has joined a coalition of over 1,200 small businesses that oppose discrimination and support comprehensive nondiscrimination laws that protect all Americans, including LGBTQ people. RSG also supports passage of the Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
“We are committed to creating a culture with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at its center,” said RSG CEO Stephen Lawe. “In addition to being the right thing to do, joining a group of similarly committed businesses and supporting the Equality Act is a natural extension of our dedication to weaving DEI into our values and actions as a company.”
The Equality Act would provide LGBTQ people with clear, consistent workplace protections against discrimination during the hiring, firing, and promotion process. The law would also prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, access to credit, and jury service. Importantly, it would also cover public spaces and services such as public transportation.
In February, the Equality Act passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The bill is now in the Senate. In addition to support from a diverse coalition of companies, the legislation is also supported by President Biden.
This marks the second time RSG has joined a coalition of US businesses in support of LGBTQ rights. In 2013, RSG was one of 278 employers that signed an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that successfully argued that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional and forced companies to unlawfully discriminate against married same-sex employees.
“It is important that we show up for our LGBTQ employees at pivotal moments like this,” said RSG Vice President of People & Culture Belinda Peavey. “The hard work around DEI requires a commitment to action—and speaking up when it matters.”
Our acoustics experts contributed to an office renovation project in Hanover, New Hampshire, that recently received a newly created 2021 Citation Award for Excellence in Architectural Design – Commercial Interiors.
In designing the space, the client wanted low overall sound levels and good sound insulation between offices to facilitate private phone conversations and a low-distraction working environment. As part of our work on the award-winning project, our team designed the room acoustics and sound insulation of the interior of the office.
The award was given by The New Hampshire Chapter of the American Institute for Architects (AIANH). During AIANH's 2021 Design Award virtual event, presenters noted the project's attention to architectural acoustics within the space: “The changing role of office space is expressed in transparency while allowing aural privacy.”
The project was led by MAKE Architects with general contracting support from DEW Construction.
RSG recently completed an innovative region-wide survey of current and lapsed transit riders for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Chicago. The findings will be used by RTA, its Service Boards (CTA, Metra, and Pace), and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to inform next steps.
The survey, which received 5,637 responses, collected data about travelers’ behavior, attitudes, and preferences. It defined a current rider as someone who (at the time of survey completion) used transit at least one day per week. A lapsed rider was defined as someone who (at the time of survey completion) used transit less than one day per week but had used it one day per week or more prior to March 2020. This was meant to capture riders who left transit at the start of the pandemic.
The survey report outlined eight major findings from the responses, which were collected in November 2020 (Wave 1) and January 2021 (Wave 2) to track how respondents’ sentiments changed over time:
According to Leanne Redden, RTA Executive Director, the survey results will assist with planning and policies to attract riders back and help the agency emerge from the pandemic on stronger footing. “These are important insights we can use to help bring back lapsed riders who indicated they still have concerns about riding again that are based on pre-pandemic perceptions,” said Redden. “Our challenges are substantial, but we knew they would be. This report is full of information that we and our partners will use to plan for transit’s recovery over the long term.”
The RTA survey was developed based on RSG’s COVID-19 Transportation Insights Survey and was funded by the US Department of Transportation through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“RTA survey: Most people who stopped commuting by transit during COVID plan to return” (Streetsblog, April 16, 2021)
“Survey of Chicago region transit riders indicates potential challenges as pandemic eases” (Mass Transit, April 16, 2021)
“CTA, Metra, Uber and Lyft say riders are coming back. But who needs a ride if you’re working from home?” (Chicago Tribune, April 15, 2021)
“Transit Ridership Expected to Rebound, But Telecommuting Could Drive Big Shifts: RTA Report” (WTTW, April 15, 2021)
“Ridership survey finds challenges for Chicago region after COVID” (Progressive Railroading, April 15, 2021)
“How COVID will permanently change transit ridership in Chicago” (Crain’s Chicago Business, April 15, 2021)
Dartmouth Alumni Magazine recently spotlighted RSG Senior Director Ken Kaliski, who was given The William W. Lang Award for the Distinguished Noise Control Engineer last year. The award, which is given every two years, acknowledges Ken’s meaningful service to and enthusiastic support of INCE Board Certification, notable contributions to the field of wind turbine acoustics, and use of rigorous analytics and novel approaches to advance the field of noise control engineering.
Ken has been with RSG for over 30 years since our founding in 1986. During that time, he served for 15 years on our Board of Directors. His work focuses on community noise monitoring and modeling, architectural acoustics, transportation noise, and industrial noise control projects. He also works on complex modeling projects in the fields of market and energy research.