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Vol. 8, No. 4 - July/August 1997

Broadcasting vs "Narrowcasting" of Traveler Information

On July 1, the Washington Metropolitan Traveler Information Service made its official debut. The $12.2 million demonstration project, funded by the federal government, is the latest in a series of initiatives that offer frequently updated route-specific traffic information by telephone, on the Internet and, eventually on car navigation systems and other wireless communication devices. The project has brought into focus a long simmering debate about the relative merits of broadcasting vs. "narrowcasting" of traveler information.

Automobile Trends in German Cities
A recent meeting of MIT's International Cooperative Mobility Research Program featured a series of presentations on transportation trends and policies in the developed and developing nations. A report by John Pucher of Rutgers University revealed dramatic increases in motorization (and a corresponding decline in the use of public transit) in East Germany following its reunification with West Germany in 1990. But Germany, Pucher reports, is also using a variety of imaginative policies to "tame" the automobile.

The Electric Car -- A Reality Check
For several years, the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State have been the setting of a Federally-sponsored field test of electric vehicles (EVs). Today, San Juan County, with a population of 12,000, has the highest ratio of electric cars to conventional cars in the country -- one electric car for every 750 gasoline-powered automobiles. The demonstration project has been the subject of several recent news reports. Their conclusions are summarized below.

The "Bridges to Work" Program
With welfare reform law forcing many recipients to find employment, reverse commuting to suburban jobs has become a key element in helping welfare recipients get and keep jobs -- and one of the biggest urban transportation challenges of the day. But linking inner city job seekers with suburban job sites may require some unconventional thinking.


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