Todd Litman's blog

Who's Driving This Public Transit System?

Virtually every modern economy is mixed: governments produce some goods and services and private companies produce others. Governments generally provide those goods and services that are either considered essential and should be available to everybody regardless of ability to pay, or that require strategic coordination, including police protection, basic education, transportation infrastructure, parks, and public health services.

Transportation facilities and services are among these basic government functions.

Incorporating Health Objectives Into Transport Planning

Planning decisions often have significant indirect effects. As planners, our challenge is to clearly describe these impacts and quantify them as much as possible so they can be incorporated into decision making. An example of this is the effect that transportation planning decisions have on human health. These impacts are significant but often overlooked or undervalued in the planning process. I have worked on several research projects that explore the nexus between transport planning decisions and public health, and are developing practical tools for incorporating them into planning. Let me share some of my current thinking about this issue.

Changing Travel Demands: Implications for Planning

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

Valuing The Precious Hours Of Our Lives

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.

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