"Are the Trains in Japan Really Better than the US: Objective Measure of Comparison for Public Transit"
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering and International Studies (Lafayette College) Advisor: Professor Aly Tawfik
Objective measures of the quality of service for transportation networks are important. They allow comparisons between similar systems, allowing agencies to intelligently decide of to allocate resources, and give agencies performance benchmarks to aim for. For freeways and most automobile oriented streets in the US Level of Service (LOS), an A-F Ranking system, is the standard quality of service measure used. For many forms of public transit there is no comparable single, standard, quality of service measure. In addition those standards that do exist are generally not used as often as non-standard measures, have many different measures with no guidelines of hierarchal importance or group many different types of transit that should be graded differently under the same system. This can be seen in the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual's (TCQSM) section on fixed rout service which is rarely used in published case studies, gives a report card of Server LOS measures with no guidelines on how to optimize and groups commuter rail, mass transit subways and other vastly different transit modes together. The purpose of this project was to examine the currently used and disparate measures used for quality of service for commuter rail systems and propose a single standard measure that would encompass the most important quality indicators. This report will detail the processes and rationalizations used in constructing an A-F LOS scale for commuter rail service and present the methodology for assigning a specific grade on the scale to a commuter rail line. In addition it will present an example case study comparing Tokyo's JR East with Philadelphia's SEPTA commuter rail service.
Avi Mersky from Wynnewood, PA, is a senior Civil engineering and International Studies major at Lafayette College. He started research with Professor Pervizpour on the dampening characteristics of oil based clays in the summer of 2011 and is currently working with him on characterizing the stress-strain and swelling characteristics of hydrogels. In addition he is also currently studying and creating methods of measuring and comparing quality of service of public transit with Professor Tawfik. He plans to continue his studies as a Masters student in Civil Systems Engineering in the fall of 2013.