Todd Litman's blog

Smart Transportation Funding

Governments need money to finance transportation system improvements, but revenues from traditional sources are flat. This is leading to debate over how best to generate new funds. There are many possible options, some better than others, because in addition to raising revenue, they support other strategic objectives. Politicians will be tempted to choose the easiest funding options. It is up to planners to point out the best options, taking into account all impacts.

Measuring Transport System Efficiency

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.

Toward Comprehensive and Multi-Modal Performance Evaluation

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.

Share Your Ideas for Evaluating Transport System Performance

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


Land-Use Regulation, Income Inequality and Smart Growth

A recent paper by Harvard economists Daniel Shoag and Peter Ganong titled, Why Has Regional Convergence in the U.S. Stopped? indicates that land development regulations tend to increase housing costs, which contributes to inequality by excluding lower-income households from more economically productive urban regions. Does this means that planners are guilty of increasing income inequality?