Regional transportation planning in the US: An examination of changes in technical aspects of the planning process in response to changing goals


Susan L. Handy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, ridership - forecasting, ridership - forecasting, mode - subway/metro


Transportation planning, Scenarios, Regional transportation, Public participation, Public involvement, Projections, Metropolitan planning organizations, Long range planning, Local participation, Intrastate transportation, Forecasting, Citizen participation, Case studies


This paper presents a framework for examining the ways in which technical aspects of the regional transportation planning process are changing in response to a broadening of goals and strategies, driven in part by an increased emphasis on public involvement. As an illustration of this framework, the long-range plans of four metropolitan planning organizations in the US are analyzed with respect to goals, performance measures, and use of forecasts. These examples suggest that changes in the technical aspects of the process are lagging changes in planning goals. As a result, plans may implicitly emphasize congestion relief even if they put forth a much broader range of goals. This paper provides a basis for further analysis of the current evolution of transportation planning in the US.


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