Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Overview

This class is an introduction to planning transportation in metropolitan areas. The approach, while rooted on the analytical tools which estimate outcomes and b/c ratios of a given alternative, follows a holistic approach. This means starting from a scan of the site, its history and its current trends, in order to frame properly the problem, including the relevant actors, institutions, roles and interests. The design and evaluation of alternatives considers this complexity, in addition to construction, operation and maintenance issues.  The decision and implementation process, including the needed feedback mechanisms, focuses as well on the need to build constituencies and alliances.

The course topics include the history of urban transportation, highway finance, environmental and planning regulations, air quality, modal characteristics, land use and transportation interaction and emerging information technologies for transportation planning. Students either with a primary or a peripheral interest in transportation are equally welcome.

The course uses examples from the Boston metropolitan area extensively, both because of its proximity and the strong influence Boston has had on US transport policy. In parallel, examples from other countries describe the challenges faced elsewhere, as well as lessons learnt. There will be walk tours of several transportation sites in Boston.

Prerequisites:  No prior experience in transportation issues is required. At least one course in introductory economics is preferred, such as the required classes for the MCP and MST programs (contact the instructors if you have questions).


No prior experience in transportation issues is required. At least one course in introductory economics is preferred, such as the required classes for the MCP and MST programs (contact the instructors if you have questions).


There will be five papers involving real-world case studies and a final project. Grading will be as follows: 50% papers, 20% final project and 30% class participation.


A course reader will be available for purchase at CopyTech. A copy will also be on reserve at Rotch Library. Additional material will be distributed on the www using PDF files or distributed in class. The book by Meyer and Miller is excellent, but considering its price, two copies have been reserved at the Library.

Key Resources

Much reading material related to this class can be found online by searching several sites such as:,,, etc.


Students are expected to complete assigned readings and writing requirements as shown on the schedule, so as to participate actively in class discussions

There are five assignments during the course, plus a final "group" project. Grades will be based 50% on the five written assignments, 20% on the final "group" project and 30% on class

The five assignments correspond to:
1. Gateway Project
2. Millenium Database
3. Central Square
4. South Boston- Transportation and the Local Economy
5. Alewife, Suburban Transit Oriented Development

Detailed instructions will be posted on the course web site

Additional Suggested Reading:

Bohl, Charles C. "Place Making"

Cervero, Robert. "The Transit Metropolis: A Global Enquiry."  In Transportation Research Part 6. Island Press, 1998, pp. 401-445.

Garreau, Joel. "Edge City: Life on the New Frontier"

Gehl, Jan. "Life Between Buildings"

Jensen, Mette. "Passion and heart in transport - a sociological analysis on transport behaviour." In Transport Policy. pp. 19-33.

Macett, Roger and Marion Edwards. "The Impact of New Urban Public Transport Systems: Will the Expectations be Met?" In Transportation Research Part A. pp231- 245

Rubin, Thomas, James Moore II and Shin Lee. "Ten myths about UAS urban rail systems." In Transport Policy 6. pp. 57-73. 

Schwartz, Peter. "The Art of the Long View"

Tufte, Edward. "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information"

IAP- Modeling And Simulation Workshop

During the last 2 weeks of January (IAP period), a two-week complementary workshop will be offered on GIS, transportation modeling and traffic simulation, for those wishing to attend on a voluntary basis. The goal is double-fold
(a) to provide hands-on experience with commercial software packages and
(b) to present and discuss types and sequence of analytical approaches, data needs and sources, pitfalls and opportunities, ranges of application, sensitivity analyses, calibration and validation exercises, etc.