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.
RSG is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). More than words, these principles that inform our values also require action on our part as an employer. For this reason, we have joined dozens of other businesses in opposition to New Hampshire House Bill 544, An Act Relative to the propagation of divisive concepts.
HB 544, if it became law, would restrict our ability to offer DEI training to our employee-owners, many of whom live and work in New Hampshire. This restriction would not only have a chilling effect on businesses like ours, but it would also put us at a competitive disadvantage as we seek to attract, retain, and empower diverse talent.
As an employer with a national reach and reputation built on trust, it is important we engage in the difficult conversations required as part of our DEI work. Through these conversations, we better ourselves as individuals. This, in turn, allows us to serve our clients more effectively, many of whom now are also engaged in similar DEI work.
DEI training is just one way we seek to confront systemic racism, white supremacy, and unconscious biases. By restricting our capacity to offer these types of trainings, this bill significantly limits our ability to support our employee-owners and confront the important issues facing our clients and communities.
At the end of the day, HB 544 is just one bill. We will continue to challenge ourselves and others to oppose laws, policies, and actions that run counter to the values we seek to embody as an employer. We encourage other businesses and organizations to join us in opposing HB 544 and bills like it as we seek to create and model a more inclusive workforce and society.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed transportation. The initial and dramatic shift to teleworking in the spring of 2020 occurred alongside a steep initial decline in air and rail travel. Understanding the how and why underlying these changes is more important than ever.
On Thursday, April 8 at 10:00 a.m. ET, RSG Senior Director Matthew Coogan will discuss these changes and explore what they mean for the future of transportation during a webinar sponsored by the International Air Rail Organisation. He will present findings on teleworking and vehicle miles traveled from RSG's COVID-19 Transportation Insights Survey. His presentation will also include recent behavioral data collected in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
The webinar, titled “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic Year on Transportation,” will also feature information on how the pandemic has affected air passenger numbers and cargo volumes.
RSG Director Dana Lodico, PE, INCE Bd. Cert. recently coauthored an article that was published in the latest issue of the Noise Control Engineering Journal. The article, titled “Acoustical longevity and durability of pavements,” examined findings from four long-term pavement studies to determine how quieter pavements held up over time when compared to their more rigid counterparts. The long-term studies reviewed by Dana and her coauthor looked at pavements in Arizona and California. Their paper concluded that quieter pavements, which experience some noise level increase over time due to wear, continued to offer noise reduction benefits years later when compared to some rigid pavements. This paper adds to a growing body of research that will help US regulatory agencies assess the feasibility and practicality of employing quieter pavement technologies as one method to help reduce overall vehicle noise levels from our nation's roadways.