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Research Recap, October 24: Wi-Fi in Transit, European Auto Emissions, America’s Broken Bridges

Nearly half of U.S. transit riders find wireless internet availability to be an important factor in their decision to use public transport, a new study indicates. Photo by Brian Pennington.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Wi-Fi On-the-Go

Nearly half of public transit customers in the Midwest and East Coast United States find wireless Internet availability to be an important factor in deciding to use public transit, new research from DePaul University in Chicago finds. Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. bus riders to find that 43.1 percent of riders in the Midwest and 52.1 percent of riders on the East Coast consider Wi-Fi availability to be an important factor in the decision to use public transport. This research coincides with Amtrak’s recently announced plans to add Wi-Fi to its regional train services. The DePaul survey also broadly assessed the use of electronic devices and found that roughly 91 percent of commuters plan to use electronic devices during their trips, with 72.4 percent anticipating making cell phone calls, 59.3 percent anticipating using music, and 48.9 percent anticipating using email or texting services.

European Auto Emissions

Volvo achieved the greatest new vehicle carbon emission reductions of any European auto manufacturer in 2010, determined new analysis by the European Federation for Transport Environment. The Swedish car company’s CO2 emission reductions totaled 9 percent across its collection of new car models. The total new car CO2 emissions of all European auto outfits dropped by 3.7 percent, decreasing Europe’s average new car emission calculation to 140 grams per kilometer. The four European car companies with the lowest CO2 emitting fleets remained the same, with Fiat at 126 grams per kilometer, followed by Toyota, PSA, and Renault. Europe’s current auto industry plan calls for a CO2 emissions reduction to an average of 130 grams per kilometer by 2015.

America’s Broken Bridges

Transportation for America released a new report on the state of structurally deficient bridges in U.S. metropolitan areas. The report found that 75 percent of traffic crossing deficient bridges in the United States are on bridges in metropolitan areas. For comparison, Director of Transportation for America James Corless said, “There are more deficient bridges in our metropolitan areas than there are McDonald’s restaurants in the entire country.” In Los Angeles, 396 drivers cross a deficient bridge every second. The report, “The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Nation’s Busiest Bridges,” ranks the percentage of deficient bridges in 102 U.S. metropolitan areas across three population categories. Pittsburgh, Pa. had the highest percentage of deficient bridges (30.4 percent) in a city with a population over 2 million; Oklahoma City, Okla. has the highest percentage (19.8) of deficient bridges for a city with a population between 1 and 2 million; and Tulsa, Okla. has the highest percentage (27.5) for a city with a population between 500,000 and 1 million. There are nearly 70,000 bridges in the United States that have the rating of “structurally deficient.”

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