TTP220 Transportation Policy and Planning
Spring 2014


MW  10:00-11:50

2124 Wickson


 Susan Handy

 Office:  2130 Wickson Hall

 Office hours:  MW 2-3:30



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Course objectives
Syllabus and assignments
Schedule of topics and readings

Other resources

Course Objectives

Pick up the paper or watch the local news and you're likely to find a story about transportation problems in California’s metropolitan regions, most notably the growth in traffic that has outpaced even the growth in population and the multitude of problems that come with it – economic inefficiencies, poor air quality, other environmental impacts, social inequities, safety concerns.  Although most people agree on the problems, few agree on the solutions.   Proposals include investing in light rail systems, expanding the freeway system, implementing pricing strategies, promoting transit-oriented development.  But which of these options or others is likely to be most effective?   How do regions go about deciding what set strategies to pursue?  How do these decisions and the process by which they are made fit within the current and historical context of federal transportation policy?  These are the issues we'll explore in this introduction to transportation planning and policy at the regional level.


The objective of the course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the transportation planning process at the regional level as it is shaped by federal policy.  The course is divided into three sections:  context, process, and strategies.  In the first section, we will examine the history of urban transportation, the institutions involved in transportation planning, and federal transportation policy as it relates to planning at the regional level.  In the second section, we will review the planning process as carried out by Metropolitan Planning Organizations, including long-range transportation plans, transportation improvement programs, air quality conformity, project development, travel demand modeling, financing, and public involvement.  In the final section, we will examine the evidence on a variety of demand-side strategies for addressing regional transportation problems, including pricing, transit services, bicycle and pedestrian programs, and land use policies.



Transportation planning and policy IN THE NEWS


“America’s Highways, Running on Empty” – NY Times, 6/1/14

“De Blasio Looks Toward Sweden for Road Safety” – NY Times, 5/12/14

“Citi Bike System Successful, but Wobbly From the Start” – NY Times, 3/26/14



Syllabus and Assignments

Paper 1 – Topics in Transportation History

            Helpful writing tips for every stage of the process

            Citations Guide

Paper 2 – MPO Analysis

            Directory of MPOs

Transport Policy paper with evaluation framework - “Changes in Technical Aspects in Response to Changing Goals

Idea 1:  Planning for Accessibility: In Theory and Practice

Idea 2:  Taking Steps:  An Assessment of MPO Support for Bicycling and Walking

Idea 3:  Integrating Sustainability into the Transportation Planning Process

Presentation schedule and outline

Paper 3 and Presentation – Research Brief on Strategy

            List of possible strategies

Example:  Research Syntheses, summaries, and briefs from Active Living Research – see especially the ones on Active Transportation and  Bicycling for Daily Travel, though (these are much longer than yours is going to be)

            Example:  Individual articles in the Energy Aware Planning Guide (warning: this is a big file!) – less about the evidence than yours should be

            Example:  Research Briefs prepared for the Air Resources Board – longer and more technical than yours should be, and focused on VMT reductions specifically

            Schedule of presentations TBA


Draft Schedule of Topics and Readings
Stay tuned for updates to readings...






Assigned Readings


Of Interest



Overview and Introduction   

Introduction Powerpoint

§ TRB’s Critical Issues in Transportation (2009)

§ Highway Blues – Nothing a Little Accessibility Couldn’t Cure” – Access

§ Browse “Climate Change: Curbing Transportation’s Contributions”TR News No. 268

§ For reference:  Summary of Travel Trends – 2009 NHTS

§ For reference:  US DOT Current Initiatives

§ For reference:  MAP-21 Reauthorization – The Hill



History 1

History 1 Powerpoint

§ Muller, “Transportation and Urban Form,” from The Geography of Urban Transportation

§ Wachs, “Autos, Transit, and the Sprawl of Los Angeles: The 1920s,” JAPA, 50(3).

§ Jablonski, “New York City’s Subway Century,” TR News, 242 (Jan/Feb 2006), pp. 5-15

§ Explore this website from the Smithsonian Museum:  American on the Move

§ Of interest:  “Taken for a Ride” on YouTube (Parts 1 and 2 only)

§ Of interest:  New Day Films website on “Taken for a Ride”

§ Of interest:  Housing+Transportation Affordability Index



History 2

History 2 Powerpoint

Federal Legislation handout

Memo on topic due

§ “The Interstate Achievement”, TR News, especially pp. 3-9.

§ Brown, Morris, and Taylor, “Paved with Good Intentions,” Access (see also “Planning for Cars in Cities”, JAPA)

§ Taylor review of “Taken For a Ride” in JAPA

§ For Reference:  Urban Transportation Planning In The US - A Historical Overview/Nov 1992  

§ For Reference:  More Highway History from FHWA

§ For Reference:  Altshuler & Luberoff on Four Eras of Public Investment

§ Of interest:  FHWA on Designating the Urban Interstates

§ For fun:  1937 GM short  “Conquering Roads” by Jam Handy (no relation)

§ For fun:  Disney’s 1958 “Magic Highway USA”

§ For fun:  In Pictures: Hitler’s Autobahn Dream from BBC news




Institutions Powerpoint

Explanation of agencies from Fulton

§ A Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making – stop at pg. 16   

§ Handy and Clifton Chapter –focus on the “How it Works and Who Does What” sections (p. 168-171, 176-178, ) 

§ Draft MPO chapter for GUT – read pp. 1-4 for now

§ For reference:  McDowell & Edner on Federalism, MPOs, & Surface Transport Policy

§ For reference: Transportation Governance & Finance - A 50 State Review

§ Of interest:  An Inherent Bias? Geographic and Racial-Ethnic Patterns of MPO Boards – from the Brookings Institute



Federal Policy

Federal Policy Powerpoint

§  "Metro Power" - article on impact of ISTEA on MPOs

§  FHWA’s MAP-21 Summary

§  MAP-21 Reauthorization – The Hill (browse)

§ For reference:  Chapters 4, 5, and 7 of Federal Transportation Policy and the Role of Metropolitan Planning Organizations in California

§ For reference:  Barbour, Ch. 5 (p. 69-92) - Metropolitan Growth Planning in California

§ For reference:  FHWA’s MAP-21 site

§ For reference:  T4America’s MAP-21 site

§ Of interest:  National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission Report – skim Volume I

§ Of Interest:  GROW AMERICA site – Obama Administration’s proposal for reauthorization



“Divided Highways”

Catch-up on reading

Work on your papers




Regional Planning

LRP powerpoint

Paper 1 due

§ Draft MPO chapter for GUT – read pp. 4-8

§ Transport Policy paper

§ “Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy” from the National Transportation Policy Project

§ White Paper on Public Involvement by TRB committee

§ For reference:  US Code Chapter 23 Chapter 1 Subchapter I §134 Metropolitan Planning

§ For reference:  The Metropolitan Transportation Planning Process

§ For reference:  Performance-Based Planning and Programming Guidebook

§ For reference:  Public Involvement Techniques

§ For reference:  Citizen’s Handbook on Environmental Justice

§ Of interest:  EnvisionUtah

§ Of interest:  SACOG’s Blueprint



Programming and Financing

Programming powerpoint

§ Unstable Funding Adversely Impacts Transportation Programs - Legislative Analyst's Office, 2009-10 Budget Analysis Series

§ Metropolitan Transportation Funding - Sciara & Wachs

§ For example:  SACOG’s bike/ped project criteria

§ Of interest:  Local Transportation Sales Taxes: California's Experiment in Transportation Finance - Crabbe, Hiatt, Poliwka, and Wachs

§ Of interest:  The Rise of Local Option Transportation Taxes - Goldman and Wachs

§ For reference:  FHWA's Innovative Finance webpage

§ For reference:  CA Transportation Funding Overview

§ See also Innovation Briefs for several articles on tolling and other financing options




Memo on MPO due

Modeling powerpoint

§ A Transportation Modeling Primer - an overview of transportation modeling, with a critique

§ The Four Step Model - McNally

§ Transport policy evaluation in metropolitan areas: The role of modelling in decision-making - Hatzopoulou and Miller

§ For reference:  Manual of Regional Transportation Modeling Practice for Air Quality Analysis - read the introduction

§ For more info:  "Incorporating Urban Design Variables in MPOs' Travel Demand Models"

§ For more info:   "Incorporating Pedestrian and Bicycle Factors into Regional Transportation Planning Models



Conformity, et al.

Conformity powerpoint

§ Transportation Conformity: A Basic Guide for State and Local Officials

§ Politics of Controlling Auto Air Pollution - Howitt & Altshuler

§ Barbour - Metropolitan Growth Planning in California - p. 93-99.

§ For reference:  Transportation Conformity Reference Guide

§ For reference:  Niemeier, Zheng, Kear, UC Drive

§ For reference:  Modeling Mobile Source Emissions, National Academy of Sciences

§ Of interest:  SJV air quality analysis project

§ Of interest:  Kahn & Schwartz, Urban Air Pollution Progress Despite Sprawl

§ Of interest:  Stone et. al. Is Compact Growth Good for Air Quality

§ Of interest:  SACOG Conformity Determination



Project Development

Project Devt powerpoint

§ A Citizen's Guide to Transportation Decision Making – pp. 17-23 

§ NEPA case study  

§ Of interest:  The Grand Parkway Association

§ Of interest:  Grand Parkway EIS critique

§ For reference:

§ FHWA Project Development webpage

§ FHWA Environmental Streamlining/Stewardship

§ FHWA Context-Sensitive Solutions

§ Flexibility in Highway Design

§ FHWA Design Guidance on Accommodating Bicycle and Pedestrian Travel

§ Caltrans Context-Sensitive Solutions

§ Caltrans Complete Streets Program

§ ITE’s new report on Context Sensitive Solutions



Local Government Role

Local Govt powerpoint


§ Handy and Clifton Chapter – intro to land use planning and transportation planning for public health community; focus on the “How it Works and Who Does What” sections

§ SB375 Evaluation by Barbour & Deakin

§ For fun:  City of Davis Capital Improvement Program



MPO Critique

MPO Critique powerpoint

Select strategies topics

§ Draft MPO chapter for GUT – finish

§ False Promise of Regional Planning - Gordon

§ MPOs - An Inherent Bias? - Sanchez

§ For reference:  SB375 Implementation webpage at the California Air Resources Board

§ For reference:  SB375 Resources Page at the California Planning & Development Report

§ For reference:  Lessons from CA's first SCS (San Diego)

§ For reference:  Caltrans’ Smart Mobility Framework webpage



Paper 2 due

MPO presentations



Strategies Overview

Overview powerpoint

§ National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network

§ Longer View: The Road Less Driven

§ See also:  Smart Growth and the Transportation-Land Use Connection



Work session for research briefs

In Class Work Session









Smart Growth

Pedestrian stuff

Traffic calming

Complete streets

Green streets


Social marketing











New urbanism


Bus rapid transit

Commuter rail


Bike stuff











Freeway mgmt

HOV/HOT lanes


Congestion pricing

Parking pricing












Final papers due at 5




Other Resources of various stripes

Metropolitan Planning - hosted by FHWA and FTA

Victoria Transport Policy Institute – try the TDM Encyclopedia

Innovation Briefs – essays on a variety of current transportation issues.

The Reason Foundation – more essays on a variety of current transportation issues, plus their Surface Transportation Innovations newsletter

Transportation for America – advocates for public transportation and walkable communities at the national level – see their interactive features

TransForm – advocates for public transportation and walkable communities in California


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Last updated 5/21/14