Transportation Planning and Development

This course provides a multi-faceted introduction to urban transportation: the technologies, the institutions, the politics, and the formal methods of transportation planning. The focus is primarily on the United States, with many examples from the Boston area, but comparisons will be made to other countries and much of the content is more broadly applicable.  Please note that this is a project-based class: the central assignment is to conduct a team project on behalf of a client such as a city transportation department.

A variety of intertwined topics are covered:
• How changing transportation technologies, private industry, regulation, and public investment shaped our cities.
•  A summary of the formal transportation planning process as required by laws.
•  The standard policies for highway design and the alternative perspectives that have increasingly challenged them in the past two decades.
•  How transportation projects are funded, and the effect of these arrangements on investment decisions.
•  The characteristics and costs of the various public transit modes.
•  The role of walking and bicycling in urban transportation, including a look at the risk of injuries, and policies that might increase their use.
•  How parking policies affect travel decisions—and also the built environment, housing, and public finance.
•  The effect of transportation investments on land use and the effect of land use on travel behavior.
•  The feasibility, effectiveness, and political difficulty of using pricing mechanisms to improve flow on expressways, keep traffic out of central areas, or reduce GHG emissions.
•  The role of data and technology in reshaping city transportation and creating new roles for transportation planners and new models for planning.
•   How new concepts—shared vehicles, connected vehicles, self-driving vehicles—could solve our mobility, safety, and environmental problems all in one go (or not).
•   The new focus on active transportation for public health, and the related question of reducing deaths and injuries from road traffic.

There are no course prerequisites. However, for the client projects it will be useful to have one or more of the following skills: data analysis, GIS, presentation graphics, visualization, and economic and policy analysis.

Jointly Offered Course: HKS SUP-652

The course will not meet in room 517 during the first week. Instead, it will meet in room Gund 510 on Monday, January 23rd, and in room Gund 518 on Wednesday, January 25th.