So yes, TRB 2015 was pretty awesome I thought. The efforts to hold the gargantuan conference in one venue (technically two, if you discount the tunnel between the Marriott and the Convention Center) paid off and I am happy to say that I did not miss out on any of my planned sessions (unlike last time). The Automated Vehicle (AV) sessions were well attended – so much so that I could not get into one of the sessions and had to be standing out on guard duty. But I’d imagine it is pretty great that a lot of attention has been focussed on something that is upon us, if not tomorrow, in a few years’ time.
My main idea of hitting DC this time was to attend the AV sessions and gauge what was going on with the rest of the AV research folk. A secondary interest was to catch up with people – old and new. On the research front, abunch of interesting AV sessions. My favourites works on AVs were focussed around the consumer perception and anticipated travel behaviour aspects of AVs – a study from Germany on travel time valuation, a few of the UT Austin works on shared AVs and a few of the posters (especially this one on social media and mode choice from UC Davis), which I thought were brilliant. Apart from the sessions and meetings, it was nice to meet most of my old professors and colleagues from Portugal and a couple of very good friends from back home (NIT Calicut).
While the sessions took shape, it snowed a bit in DC as well – my first active snowfall experience. It didn’t snow this time, last year though. And since I had been to most places around town, I didn’t bother much to go sightseeing either (the cold didn’t help too, I must say). Despite the cold weather, I must confess that I quite like Washington DC. It has the airs of this big city with life moving at a comfortable pace. I have been told that the same can’t be said about New York City, where people always seem to be in a rush. DC from my experience, proved to a hybrid of Madras and Bombay. Add to that, the excellent accessibility guaranteed by the largely efficient, yet ill-maintained transit system and it does it for me. Coming from Florida, this is a welcome sight. The whole idea of not having to drive by your own volition excites me and I would totally see myself living and working there.
We found a pretty nice (some may say fancy) place to stay close to the White House. I came back to Tampa last Thursday and still haven’t kicked out of the vacation mood. 2015 is the year of opportunities and one idea of heading off to such conferences is also to come back inspired to peg on and achieve more than last time. My dream of being at peace with a book in hand while commuting (I know!!) seems to be getting closer and closer to reality.