Transport Planning

August 27, 2016, 9am PDT
U.S. vehicle travel increased 3.2% (8.6 billion vehicle miles) in total and 2.0% per capita between Junes 2015 and 2016. That is a new peak in total VMT, but a 2.75% reduction in per capita VMT. Will these growth rates continue into the future?
Peak Car Revisited
July 15, 2015, 8am PDT
The Urban Accessibility Explorer is an easy-to-use mapping system that measures the number of activities that can be reached by residents of specified neighborhoods within a given amount of travel time, by a particular mode and time of day.
Metropolitan Chicago Accessibility Explorer
Blog post
September 2, 2014, 6am PDT
A significant portion of vehicle travel consists of chauffeuring: additional travel to transport a non-driver. The new Chauffeuring Burden Index calculates its direct and indirect costs. Why do these costs receive such little attention in planning?
Todd Litman
Blog post
August 16, 2013, 2pm PDT
Planners are futurists, but with less pretension and jargon. Our work requires predicting how current trends are likely to affect future conditions and activities, and how communities should prepare. For example, let's predict self-driving cars.
Todd Litman
Blog post
January 1, 2013, 6pm PST
There are various ways to define transport efficiency which can lead to very different conclusions as to what transport policies and projects are best overall. Conventional planning tends to evaluate transport system performance based on mobility, which assumes that faster travel is always better. A new planning paradigm evaluates transport system performance based on accessibility (people's ability to access services and activities) which leads to very different definitions of efficiency and very different conclusions about how to improve transport systems.
Todd Litman
Blog post
November 27, 2012, 4am PST
One of planners’ most important jobs is to help develop the indicators and frameworks use to define problems and evaluate potential solution. Often, a particular solution will seem cost effective and beneficial when evaluated one way, and wasteful and undesirable if evaluated another. It is important that we help develop comprehensive evaluation frameworks that effectively inform decisions.
Todd Litman
Blog post
October 21, 2012, 10pm PDT

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), the new U.S. federal transportation law, has the following main goals:

  1. Safety
  2. Infrastructure condition
  3. Congestion reduction
  4. System reliability
  5. Freight movement and economic vitality
  6. Environmental sustainability
  7. Reduced project delivery delays

 

Todd Litman
June 25, 2012, 9am PDT
Despite many studies confirming the effect of induced traffic, the effect is often ignored in the transport models used for project appraisal, says a team of Scandanavian researchers creating an extreme bias in the assessment of new projects.
European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research
Blog post
April 8, 2012, 6pm PDT

Planners strive to anticipate future needs, which sometimes creates self-fulfilling prophecies: by preparing for a situation we help cause it. This is particularly true of automobile dependency. Planning decisions intended to accommodate automobile travel can create a cycle of increased vehicle travel, more automobile-oriented planning, and reduced alternatives. This concept is conveyed brilliantly in the cartoon below, drawn by transportation engineer Ian Lockwood and published in the March 2012 ITE Journal.

Todd Litman
Blog post
October 2, 2011, 12pm PDT

Once again the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) published its annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR), and once again I feel obliged to warn planners that it is based on faulty assumptions and biased analysis methods. This is not to deny that traffic congestion is a significant problem, but the UMR significantly exaggerates its importance compared with other transport costs and exaggerates roadway expansion benefits.

Todd Litman
Blog post
March 9, 2011, 7am PST

A few weeks ago the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) released its latest Urban Mobility Report, and yesterday INRIX released its National Traffic Scorecard 2010 Annual Report. Both paint a grim picture of roadway conditions.

“America is back on the road to gridlock,” warns INRIX.

Todd Litman
Blog post
September 22, 2010, 9pm PDT

 

Why didn’t the chicken cross the road?

Because pedestrian Level-Of-Service was below “C”.

 

Todd Litman
Blog post
August 22, 2010, 6pm PDT

The graph below shows the most recent USDOT vehicle-travel data covering the last 25 years. Although vehicle-miles of travel (VMT) grew steadily during most of the Twentieth Century, in recent years the growth rate stopped and even declined a little. It is now about 10% below where it would have been had past trends continued.

US VMT Trends

Todd Litman
Blog post
June 14, 2010, 9am PDT

Time is a limited and valuable resource. As much as possible, people should spend the precious hours of their lives in the most satisfying and productive possible ways. This has important implications for transportation planning, since most people spend a significant amount of time in transport, and travel time savings are often the greatest projected benefits of transport projects such as roadway and transit service improvements.

Todd Litman
Blog post
October 12, 2009, 8am PDT

I spent the last week teaching a professional development course for young planners in Buenos Aries, Argentina. It’s been a wonderful experience – my students are smart and enthusiastic, and Buenos Aries is a vibrant city with old-world charm. The buildings, plazas and old statues are beautiful and dignified, although a little frayed around the edges.

Todd Litman
Blog post
September 17, 2009, 9am PDT

Should society encourage parents to drive children to school rather than walk or bicycle? Should our transportation policies favor driving over walking, cycling, ridesharing, public transit and telecommuting? Probably not. There is no logical reason to favor automobile travel over other forms of accessibility, and there are lots of good reasons to favor efficient modes, so for example, schools spend at least as much to accommodate a walking or cycling trip as an automobile trip, and transportation agencies and employers spend at least as much to improve ridesharing and public transit commuting as automobile commuting.

Todd Litman
Blog post
April 12, 2009, 3pm PDT

Politicians and planners be warned: you will now be judged according to your ability to improve walking, cycling and public transit services.  

Todd Litman