Transit Planning for the 21st Century

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - signage/information, land use - planning, ridership - commuting, place - urban, mode - mass transit, mode - subway/metro


Urban transit, Urban planning, Transportation planning, Transit authorities, Transit, Town planning, Teamwork, Regional planning, Real time information, Public transit, Planning professionals, Partnerships, Multimodal transportation, Multimodal systems, Metropolitan area planning, Mass transit, Long range planning, Local transit, Interagency relations, Cooperation, Community planning, Collaboration, City planning


Since World War II, there has been increased reliance on personal automobiles and a downward trend in transit use per capita. This article argues that today's transit planners need to think of themselves as a subset of community planning, with the ultimate goal being the development and sustainability of quality communities where people can live, work and play. This linkage also promotes an emphasis on person movement rather than vehicle movement. Seven emerging or future issues and challenges are discussed that will increasingly frame the job descriptions of transit planning professionals. These issues include: community planning; multimodal and multiagency regional collaboration; enhancing person capacity; real-time communications; linking long-range, near-term and capital improvement programs and plans; interconnecting systems of services; and managing assets through performance monitoring. To meet the needs of an increasingly complex urban situation, transit planners need a broad set of skills, including a background in financial analysis, strong communication skills, and collaboration and negotiation skills.