Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

Introduction to Transportation Systems has two major goals:

  • To teach an understanding of the world of traveler and freight transportation:
    How it works and how to think about analyzing and designing transportation systems?
  • To teach an appreciation of the multi-dimensionality of transportation issues, emphasizing:
    • Technology
    • Systems
    • Institutions

    and how transportation fits into a broader social/political/economic context involving:

    • Environmental Issues
    • Energy Issues
    • Economic Development
    • Sustainability
    • Urban Structure
    • Land Use
    • Equity
    • Etc.

The subject focuses on fundamental principles of transportation systems, introduces transportation systems components and networks, and addresses how one invests in and operates them effectively. The tie between transportation and related systems is emphasized.

We discuss operating characteristics of various modes and intermodal combinations (transportation supply) and offer a perspective on "customers" (e.g., freight shippers, travelers) of transportation services and how they make transportation decisions (transportation demand).

We introduce quantitative modeling ideas and various techniques and philosophies of modeling complex transportation enterprises. Also, conceptual "frameworks" for qualitative analysis are introduced (e.g., framework for strategic regional planning, institutional change analysis, new technology development and deployment).

1.201J/11.545J/ESD.210J strives to be an interdisciplinary systems subject in the "open" sense. We look at transportation as a CLIOS (complex, large-scale, interconnected, open sociotechnical) system, where "interconnected" suggests transportation is linked to many other related societal systems, and recognize the broad impact of transportation system design and deployment decisions.

1.201J/11.545J/ESD.210J is required for all first-year Master of Science in Transportation students. It would be of interest to, as well as accessible to, students in Urban Studies and Planning, Political Science, Technology and Policy, Management, and various engineering departments. It is a good subject for those who plan to take only one subject in transportation and serves as an entry point to other transportation subjects as well.

While conducted as a graduate subject, motivated undergraduates interested in transportation and a broad perspective on large-scale systems are welcome.


Assignments 60%
Final Exam 30%
Class Participation 10%

We have six assignments, spread out over the semester. Assignments are of unequal weight, reflecting the amount of work for each.

Academic Honesty

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering adheres to the strictest standards of academic honesty. An important aspect of achieving these standards is to be sure that students are aware of expectations of faculty as regards academic honesty. This statement clarifies the faculty's expectations in 1.201J/11.545J/ESD.210J.


Assignments performed by students for submission have a dual purpose. They are intended as educational devices, including the teaching of skills such as working in teams. They are also evaluation tools for the faculty in judging the quality of performance of individual students. Our policies are intended to balance these two purposes and, unless otherwise stated, these policies apply to all assignments.

Students currently taking this class can work together to conceptualize general approaches to assignments. However, unless otherwise specified for a particular assignment, the work you submit should be done completely on your own. This includes text, numerical calculations, mathematical derivations, diagrams, graphs, computer programs and output.

Reference any written source you use in your submission, including Web sites.

It is inappropriate to use assignments submitted in previous years as a source.

In-Class Exams

All work on in-class exams should be performed only by you. Materials you can bring into the examination will be specified by the faculty for each exam.