Sustainable Transit Policy

Urban Planning

Fall 2012

David King, instructor

Sustainable cities require transportation systems that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. In the United States automobiles are used for the majority of personal travel. Many planners argue that auto-centric cities are unsustainable, and promote transit, bicycles and other modes as alternative ways of travel. Goods movement is dominated by trains and trucks, and these modes often compete with personal travel for road space and rail access. Making the overall transportation system more sustainable is complex, difficult and requires many trade-offs. This course explored the environmental, social and economic issues of sustainable transportation. Much of the class focused on mass transit, which reflects the importance of transit in cities and the funding priorities of federal, state and local governments. Other topics covered included high-speed rail, freight and shipping, local planning and the future of the automobile. Students explored the incentives that shape our current system, new technologies that will influence transportation in the future and unintended consequences of well-meaning policies. Special concern for the equity effects of sustainable transportation was also included in the course.