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Article on the beauty of mathematics

I interrupt my articles on transportation to share an article about a subject that’s actually very much related to transportation. I will just leave this link here:

The Beauty of Mathematics: It Can Never Lie To You

The article is by Siobhan Roberts and appeared in Wired magazine’s online site last March 4, 2017.

Enjoy!

First call for papers for the TSSP 2017 conference

The first call for papers for the 24th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines came out last Wednesday, Feb. 15:

first-call-for-papers-13feb2017

ITS Forum 2017 at DLSU

We are holding a forum on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) today at the De La Salle University (DLSU) along Taft Avenue, Manila. Following is the banner and the program as of February 16:

its-forum-2017-bannerfinal_program_its_asof_feb16In the workshops scheduled in the afternoon, the plan is to review the DOST roadmap and the ITS Master Plan. The DOST roadmap is basically on the research and development agenda of the agency. In the past, this has been associated mainly with the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) program of which several major universities are a part of including UP Diliman, DLSU, Ateneo and Mapua Institute of Technology. Eventually, ITS became the theme for other R&D including those that were packaged as ITS but not necessarily falls under the category (i.e., projects like the AGT, hybrid bus and bike share are more sustainable transport than ITS).

The ITS Master Plan is actually something developed under a project implemented through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) more than 6 years ago and originally only for Metro Manila. This plan is being eyed as the foundation for a bigger one that hopefully would apply to the rest of the country.

Special lectures on transport – February 23, 2017

I just wanted to share the following announcement from the University of the Philippines Diliman about special lectures on transport. The lectures will be delivered at the Melchor Hall theater at the UP Diliman campus and is open to the public.

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Research topics for transportation engineering and planning for 2016-2017?

I observed from my site’s statistics that there have been a lot of interest on research topics in transportation engineering and planning. I regularly post on the undergraduate research topics our students have engaged in. At this point in the first semester of the current 2016-2017 academic year, topics have not yet been assigned and we have only learned how many students have been assigned to our research group. As such, we are still in the process of determining who takes on which topic. Following are topics we have identified in addition to those that had no takers the previous semesters:

Traffic engineering

  1. Anatomy of congestion along EDSA
  2. Anatomy of congestion along C-5
  3. Segregated lane for motorcycles
  4. Impacts of the MMDA’s truck lane policy along C-5
  5. Congestion study in the vicinity of UP Town Center
  6. Assessment of through traffic for the UP Diliman campus

Public transportation

  1. Connectivity study for UP AGT and MRT 7
  2. Feasibility of bus services beyond Masinag junction
  3. Characterization of Internal Public Transportation Operation in UP Diliman and Viability of Introduction of Electric Vehicles
  4. Modelling the Public Transport System of UP Diliman Campus Using CUBE Travel Demand Software
  5. Estimation of Passenger Demand for New Transit System for UP Diliman Using Discrete Choice Model
  6. Characteristics of motorcycle taxis in the Philippines [Habal-habal, skylab, etc.]

Road safety

  1. Severity of injuries of motorcycle riders (helmet and non-helmet users)

Pedestrian & non-motorised transport

  1. A study on walkability along Ortigas Avenue
  2. A study on the characteristics of bike share users in the UP Diliman campus

Transport & Environment

  1. Assessment of Roadside Air Quality along C.P. Garcia Avenue in the Vicinity of UP-ICE Compound

Other topics

  1. Study on the mobility of PWDs in Metro Manila
  2. Assessment of ridesharing in the context of sustainable transport

I’m sure there are other topics but I’m not aware of the specifics at present. Also, we welcome the ideas of our students should they already have topics in mind as long as these preferably fall under the research agenda of our Institute. The topics listed above may appear to be specific but these are still basically very general and can be refined after the students establish their scope and limitations. They can only do that once they have undertaken a decent enough literature review for them also to have a more firm appreciation of their chosen topics. I will post again on this later this year when students would have already put in substantial work on their research proposals (i.e., the objective for this semester).

Statement on the proposed emergency powers to solve transport and traffic problems

The National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) of UP Diliman submitted a statement to the joint Senate committees evaluating the proposal to grant emergency powers to the Philippines President in order to solve the transport and traffic problems in the country and especially in Metro Manila. Following is a copy of the one-page statement:

NCTS Statement on Emergency Powers 25Aug2016

On being constructively skeptical on transport and traffic

Social media is full of news or what is being passed off as news about various transport projects or initiatives. These include a proposed subway line for Metro Manila, road sharing initiatives, inter-island bridges, gateway airports and others major infrastructure projects that are being conceptualized, planned, studied or designed. Too often, people who support the projects/initiatives brand those who do not share their enthusiasm and interest as skeptics and even simply “nega” or negative people. These supporters and their opposites are most likely those who fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Overly optimistic
  • Unaware of the process towards a project’s realization
  • Troll
  • Naive

Hopefully, he/she is not of the third kind who basically are posting against anyone and don’t really have any valuable opinion or constructive comment to offer. There are many groups and individuals out there including those who claim to be fanatics of urban planning, railways and other things on transport. Some even get to write in mainstream media. Unfortunately, to the untrained minds their opinions passed on as expert advise appear to be legit and that can be especially true to people who are more inclined to believe them such as very fanatics and trolls I mentioned. It is very important that proper research is undertaken before any article is written. Otherwise, there will always be bias. Of course, some articles are written with bias a given and with the objective of misleading people.

When government officials (or candidates) claim something and offer nothing as concrete proof (e.g., numbers to support a claim of improving traffic), one has to think twice about believing them. One has to be critical of such claims. Promises are often just that – promises. It is important to ask how certain programs or projects will be delivered, how infrastructure will be implemented (i.e., through what mode of financing, timelines, etc.), and what would be its impacts (i.e., social, environmental, traffic). Of course, it should be expected that officials provide suitable answers to these queries.

It should also be expected for officials to understand that institutions such as the academic ones are there to provide objective criticism. Unfortunately, there are those in the academe who themselves have some agenda they are pushing and can be deliberately misleading and misinforming with their flawed assessments and statements. Then there are experts who offer nothing but negative comments. To these people, any idea not coming from them are essentially wrong and it is often difficult to deal with such people among whom are experienced engineers and planners. Being a skeptic is one thing but being a constructive skeptic. That is, one who offers solutions and also willing to tread the middle ground or some reasonable compromise based on the situation and conditions at hand.

This is why an evidence-based approach is needed and should be mainstreamed in many government agencies, particularly those that are involved in evaluations.  National agencies like the NEDA, DOTr and the DPWH have the capacity and capability to perform quantitative analysis using recent, valid data. The quality of data tells a lot about the evidence to back up analyses, evaluations and recommendations. One must not forget that with quantitative analysis it is always “garbage in, garbage out”. That is, if you have crappy data, then you will have flawed analysis, evaluations and recommendations.