Transportation Policy and Planning (at HKS)

The course is intended to develop in students an understanding of the management, policy and planning problems that are peculiar to transportation and other types of infrastructure. The first half develops three basic analytic skills:
1. The ability to evaluate spatially and temporally detailed demand forecasts by systematically identifying and analyzing the relevant markets and by understanding the strengths and weakness of traditional mode split and four-step models.
2. The ability to estimate the costs of different services despite the presence of economies of scale and scope, peak, joint, fixed and sunk costs and other complications and an understanding of the different roles that cost and non-cost considerations play in the service and pricing decisions of for-profit firms and public enterprises.
3. A basic understanding of the importance of scheduling, network design and inventory policy in balancing customer convenience with carrier cost.

The second half builds the capability to identify and evaluate remedies for four policy and planning issues:
1. An understanding of the basic options for controlling congestion (such as building new capacity vs. managing existing capacity better) and air pollution (such as reducing vehicle miles traveled vs. reducing emissions per vehicle mile) and the ability to determine which option is most appropriate in a particular situation.
2. The ability to assess when a transportation policy or investment is likely to have a significant effect on urban land use and land values, including an understanding of the role the transportation has played in shaping metropolitan form in the past and the extent to which the parallels with the past can be misleading.
3. An understanding of when it is economically sensible and politically acceptable to have a private firm provide transportation services through public-private partnerships or other means and the ability to asses the need for government to regulate the prices or quality of service of private providers.
4. An understanding of the pros and cons of using transportation investments as a tool to stimulate the national economy or lagging regions including the different roles that benefit-cost, financial and regional income analyses play in the evaluation of those investments and how jobs created and the indirect or wider economic effects of investments should be reflected in the benefit-cost and financial analyses.

The course is taught primarily by the case method and the cases are drawn from a variety of urban and intercity modes—including mass transit, highways, railroads, airlines and ferries—and from both industrialized and developing countries.

This course has a discussion section on Fridays from 8:45-10 AM.

Jointly Offered Course: HKS SUP-651

See HKS listing for room information.