Graduate Degree: Boston University
Undergraduate Degree: Wesleyan University
Area of Interest: Transportation Issues
Mentors: Kevin Sullivan, JP Morgan and Nick Carney, Harvard Kennedy School
Agency: Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston and the Central Transportation Planning Council
Supervisors: Chris Osgood, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and Scott Peterson, Central Transportation Planning Staff
Project Description: Conor's fellowship this summer involved two main projects: 1) Using a collection of unique datasets to quantify the spatial and temporal variation of traffic congestion across the Boston metropolitan area; and 2) calibrating and validating the performance of parts of the CTPS travel demand model as part of an ongoing model review process. The first project focused on systematically identifying the key corridors in the City of Boston that suffer from persistent and severe traffic congestion, in order to inform the development of traffic management policies within the Boston Transportation Department’s planning division. This was achieved through the use of high-resolution traffic data obtained from multiple sources, including private companies and state and municipal agencies. By developing a city-wide benchmark based on a consistent data-model, transportation planners and traffic engineers will be able to assess the impact of future policies and developments on traffic conditions across the City of Boston. This large data-model framework was also used on the second project, which aimed to test the performance of the traffic simulation models used by CTPS to forecast traffic demand in response to future urban development and changing patterns of travel behavior. His analysis resulted in some modest improvements to the model’s performance on heavily congested roads, while also providing an empirical confirmation that most of the model parameters are correctly tuned to reproduce the peak period traffic conditions across eastern Massachusetts.
Conor remarks: My experience during this fellowship was amazingly positive. In just a few short months I had the opportunity to meet and work with a wide array of extremely talented, dedicated, and open people. The project was challenging, but the support from both my supervisors and from my colleagues was always present, and together we managed to achieve more than I expected would be possible in a summer. I am continuing to work with the staff at both the City of Boston and CTPS, and we hope to expand this project and continue to improve the accessibility and utility of traffic management data both within local governments and for the citizens of Boston and beyond. It was an incredible experience to be able to work with the people who are on the front lines of shaping and implementing transportation policy, and to do my small part to contribute. The Rappaport Fellowship gave me a unique opportunity to develop a research project in close collaboration with the people that could potentially benefit from its results, and it was an experience that has been immensely educational and inspiring for me as a young researcher.