Light Rail Expansion: A Decision Not To Be Taken Lightly
The Metropolitan Council is planning to expand its light rail system to serve more of the Twin Cities area. Their most recent proposal is the 15.8-mile Southwest LRT Project. If approved, this would extend the METRO Green Line (Central Corridor LRT) from downtown Minneapolis through the rapidly growing southwestern communities of St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie. This area, known as the Southwest Corridor, contains a concentration of businesses including several of the state’s largest employers.
The Metropolitan Council have asked your consulting firm to provide mathematically-founded recommendations on whether this is the best path for a light rail expansion to follow or propose other corridors that you feels would better serve the Twin Cities area.
Create a model to rank possible corridors for the next light rail expansion, taking into account which Metro neighborhoods and outlying suburbs are best able to support additional light rail transit, and any other factors your firm deems important. Specifically, your model and report should address the following issues: If we build it, will they ride?; How much will it cost to build and maintain the light rail line?; Will light rail lessen congestion on local roads? If so, by how much?
Mercury in the Mississippi
While Minnesota waters are relatively healthy, levels of mercury are still a concern. Testing mercury levels in fish is an important way of monitoring lake and river health, and is certainly important to people who eat local fish!
Based on case studies and substantial human and animal data, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) set the safe monthly dose for methylmercury at 3 micrograms per kilogram (µg/kg) of body weight. This monthly dose is intended to protect the average adult person who weighs 70 kg.
Dr. Bruce Monson from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is part of an effort to collect and test fish across Minnesota. He has provided us with some data about largemouth and smallmouth bass from the Mississippi River, around the Twin Cities.
If each person adheres to the fish consumption restrictions and consumes no more than one fish per week, construct a discrete dynamical system model for the amount of methylmercury that will bioaccumulate in the average adult person. Is there a difference between largemouth and smallmouth bass? What are the primary assumptions you made to develop your model?
Nice Ride MN
The Twin Cities metro area has hundreds of miles of dedicated bike paths and on-street lanes. Because of these resources and the thriving bicycling community, Minneapolis has been named the #1 Bike-Friendly City by Bicycling Magazine. One of the most noticeable resources are the Nice Ride rental bicycles which are spread all over Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Mitch Vars, the Director of IT for Nice Ride MN, writes: The big question that people have tried to model is the redistribution of bikes in the system, what we refer to as rebalancing. Maintaining an adequate supply of bikes and available docking points is the biggest operational challenge for a system like ours. Empty stations are a problem because a rider may show up and have no available bicycle. Full stations are also bad because they inconvenience riders who want to return their bikes.
Analyze the rental data for one or more years of the Nice Ride MN systems and, taking into account variables such as weather or nearby special events, identify which stations are most likely to have a surplus or deficit of bicycles. Using the rental data and information in their annual reports, create a model to estimate the revenue from riders. Make recommendations for how Nice Ride could change their pricing model to increase revenue without decreasing ridership. Analyze the rental data and create an algorithm to determine where to expand the system.