Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Spring 2014 Newsletter

This carefully compiled seasonal report from Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute is a fine tool and up to date source guide for researchers and policy makers worldwide. We are pleased to present it in its entirety here, together with references you will find handy to take these entries further. Thanks for your continuing fine work Todd.

canada vicgtoria ped crossing in rainPedestrian crossing in Victoria 


Critique of ‘Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?'” ( ).

The study, ‘Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?‘ by Thomas A. Rubin and Fatma Mansour, found a positive correlation between public transit utilization (per capita transit trips and passenger-miles) and traffic congestion intensity (increased Travel Time Index) among U.S. cities. They claim this demonstrates that public transit is ineffective at reducing congestion. This report critiques their study. Their analysis:

  • Contains omissions and biases which tend to underestimate the congestion reductions provided by high quality transit.
  • Uses congestion intensity rather than congestion costs indicators, and so it ignores the congestion avoided by users of grade-separated transit.
  • Fails to account for confounding factors such as city size, density and employment rates.
  • Includes all regional transit use although only high quality, grade separated service on major urban corridors is expected to reduce congestion.

Other studies which account for these factors indicate that high quality transit can reduce congestion. As a result of their omissions and biases, Rubin and Mansour’s study provides no guidance for answering policy questions such as whether appropriate transit service improvements can help reduce congestion, and how to maximize the value of transit investments.




Testing The Housing And Transportation Affordability Index In A Developing World Context: A Sustainability Comparison Of Central And Suburban Districts In Qom, Iran” ( ). This article by Ali A. Isalou, Todd Litman and Behzad Shahmoradi, published in ‘Transport Policy‘ applies Housing and Transportation (H+T) Affordability Index analysis in Qom City, Iran. The results indicate that suburban-area households spend over 57% of their monthly income on housing and transport, significantly more than the 45% spent by households in the central district. This illustrates the feasibility of applying housing and transportation affordability analysis in developing country cities to help identify truly affordable and sustainable development.

Evaluating Public Transportation Local Funding Options” ( ). This article published in the ‘Journal of Public Transportation‘ describes and evaluates eighteen potential local funding options suitable for financing public transportation projects and services. These options are evaluated according to eight criteria, including potential revenue, predictability and sustainability, horizontal and vertical equity, travel impacts, strategic development objectives, public acceptance and ease of implementation. This is a somewhat larger set of options, and more detailed and systematic evaluation, than most previous studies. This study discovered no new options that are particularly cost effective and easy to implement; each has disadvantages and constraints. As a result, its overall conclusion is that a variety of funding options should be used to help finance the local share of public transit improvements to insure stability and distribute costs broadly.

Ready or Waiting” ( ). This article in ‘Traffic Technology International‘ discusses how autonomous, self-driving vehicles are likely to develop and be deployed during the next few decades, and how they are likely to affect transport planning decisions such as road and parking supply, as well as public transit demand.

Smarter Congestion Relief In Asian Cities: Win-Win Solutions To Urban Transport Problems” ( ). This article published in ‘Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific‘ describes new and better ways to solve urban traffic congestion problems. It emphasizes win-win strategies that help achieve multiple planning objectives and therefore maximize overall benefits. The win-win approach can be applied to many types of transportation problems, and is particularly appropriate in rapidly-developing Asian cities.

Transportation Demand Management: Win-Win Solutions to Transport Problems” ( ). These proceedings from the 2012 International Conference on Mobility and Transport include Todd Litman’s keynote presentation on win-win solutions. The papers are diverse, ranging from theoretical discussions of “How and Why Planners Make Traffic Increasing Plans” to various case studies of demand management efforts, including walking, cycling and public transport improvements.

Long-Run Trends in Car Use” ( ). This report summarises Transportation Research Forum Roundtable 152 which examined changes in car use. It found that many developed countries are experiencing motor vehicle travel peaking. The task for policy-makers is to identify transportation strategies that can respond to changing and difficult-to-predict travel demands.

Avoiding Bridge Tolls Probably Not Saving You Much” ( ). This ‘Vancouver Sun‘ newspaper article discusses whether it is rational for motorists to drive several kilometers from a new bridge to an older bridge to avoid paying $3.00 tolls, and the implications of such toll avoidance for transport policy.

Recent Planetizen Blogs ( ):

“Economically Successful Cities Favor Space-Efficient Modes” ( )

“Road Tolls Are Fair and Benefit the Poor” ( )

“Location Optimization Tools: Toward More Comprehensive and Multi-Modal Indicators” ( )

“How Should We Measure Traffic Congestion?” ( )

“More Bicycle Route Debate, Or Valuing Multi-Modalism” ( )

“Smarter Congestion Evaluation – An Example” ( )

“Smarter Congestion Solutions in 2014″ ( )

“Who Subsidizes Whom? ” ( )

“Mythbusting: Exposing Half-Truths That Support Automobile Dependency” ( )



“How Communities Can Reduce Transportation Emissions By 50%” ( ), BC Sustainable Energy Association 11 March 2014 podcast, including slideshow and UTube video links.



Preliminary Evaluation of Alternative Methods of Transportation Analysis” ( ) by the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, discusses new ways to evaluate urban transportation system performance. This is part of the state’s efforts to develop more comprehensive and multi-modal indicators for transportation project evaluation. This issue is discussed in my Planetizen column, “Change Management: Do Planners Lead or Follow?” ( ). VTPI submitted comments titled, “Beyond Roadway Level-of-Service: Improving Transport System Impact Evaluation” ( )/

SLoCaT Results Framework on Sustainable Transport”  ( ) is a major international program to provide guidance on sustainable transportation policies and targets to incorporate into the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. They welcome feedback.

“Rethinking Streets: An Evidence-Based Guide to 25 Complete Street Transformations” ( ) documents twenty-five case studies from around the country that helped transform streets to better accommodate walking, biking, and transit use while enhancing commercial activity, with minimal to no negative impact on automobile access.

Desarrollo Orientado al Transporte: Regenerar Las Ciudades Mexicanas Para Majorar La Movididad“( ) and in English “Transit Oriented Development: Regenerate Mexican Cities to Improve Mobility” ( ) by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, describes why and how to create more walkable and transit-oriented communities

The National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates ( ) is a national organization of grassroots transit rider organizations and advocates that supports public transportation improvements.

Saving Lives with Sustainable Transport” ( ). This new EMBARQ study investigates the safety impacts of sustainable transport around the world. The evidence suggests that projects that improve resource-efficient modes, such as high-quality public transport systems, and reduce traffic, such as congestion charging, significantly increase traffic safety in addition to other co-benefits.

The Road to Prosperity: Real-Time Approaches to Economic Improvement” ( ) discusses how improving local transportation options (walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit) can help increase true affordability, using Doña Ana County, a semi-rural New Mexico community, as an example.

The Economics of Transportation Systems: A Reference for Practitioners” ( ). This Online book by Professor Kara Kockelman  is designed to introduce transportation practitioners to the underlying economic realities of their profession. It illustrates economic concepts through transportation applications and case studies, covering a wide range of topics including transportation costs and benefits, pricing, location choices, project evaluation and economic impact analysis.

“The California Department of Transportation: SSTI Assessment and Recommendations” ( ). This report by the State Smart Transportation Initiative ( ) provides an assessment of the performance of the California Department of Transportation and recommendations for improvement, particularly institutional reforms that support more responsive, comprehensive and multi-modal transport planning.

Travel Demand Management: An Analysis Of The Effectiveness Of TDM Plans In Reducing Traffic And Parking In The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area” ( ). This report by Spack Consulting evaluates TDM program effectiveness and potential financial savings. It finds that the TDM plans evaluated on average reduce traffic generation 27-37% and parking generation 11-21% compared with conventional standards.

Has Motorization in the U.S. Peaked?” ( ). This series of reports by Professor Michael Sivak explore current trends in U.S. vehicle ownership and use, providing more compelling evidence of changing travel demands.

California Travel Shift” ( ). California’s decennial household travel survey sampled more than 42,000 households in 2012. The results provide more evidence of a major shift in travel demands. The survey shows that the average California household made about 25% fewer automobile trips in 2012 than in 2001, and 65% to 75% more walking, biking, and public transit trips. For more discussion see: .

“A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving On Campus And Creating New Models For Transportation Policy” ( ). This report by the Public Interest Research Group describes various campus transportation management programs.

A Practical Tool For Multi-Modal Planning: Complete Streets Checklist” ( ) is intended to help planners evaluate specific roadway projects.

Health and Smart Growth: Safety Tops Obesity” ( This blob by Robert Steuteville provides critical analysis of MIT’s Health + Urbanism study, based in part on our research on smart growth traffic safety benefits.

Suburban Sprawl: Exposing Hidden Costs, Identifying Innovations” ( ). This report evaluates the costs of dispersed, automobile-dependent development and ways to reduce those costs.

Urban Road-Building Linked to Poor Statewide Economic Performance” ( ). This blog by Shane Phillip finds that roadway expansion is NEGATIVELY associated with productivity growth. This is consistent with other research which indicates that once a region has a mature highway system and peaking vehicle travel demand, as in most economically developed countries, further investments in roadway expansion are economically harmful because of their incremental costs.

Assessing the Potential for Reducing Life-Cycle Environmental Impacts through Transit-Oriented Development Infill along Existing Light Rail in Phoenix” ( ) This study, published in the ‘Journal of Planning Education & Research’, evaluates the life-cycle energy and environmental impact assessment of the Phoenix light rail system, taking into account both direct and indirect impacts from vehicle and building production, and travel activity. The results indicate significant potential energy savings, and both local and global (greenhouse gas) emission reductions, plus economic and local livability benefits. It concluded that marginal benefits from new rail services are likely to significantly exceed marginal costs.

GIZ Fuel Price Website ( ) publishes information on fuel prices for 135 countries around the world in a standard format suitable for economic evaluation. Here are a couple of their recent articles: “Fuelling Controversy” ( ), published in ‘The Economist’ describes efforts to reduce inefficient fuel subsidies in developing countries. ‘The Economic Cost of Global Fuel Subsidies’ ( ), estimated that global gasoline and diesel subsidies totalled $110 billion in 2012, primarily in petroleum-producing countries that maintain low fuel prices. Under baseline supply and demand elasticities assumptions annual world deadweight losses are estimated to total $44 billion, or $76 to $92 billion including increased external costs.

Tools for Sustainable Urban Transport Experts” ( ). This new and comprehensive collection of urban transport tools aims to provide support to experts in designing and implementing sustainable urban transport strategies and measures. It is designed for experts involved in urban transport and will help them to easily find appropriate measures and approaches in order to make their urban transport vision come true. Thematically, it covers all areas relevant to sustainable urban transport including public and non-motorized transport, emission reduction strategies, and pedestrian and bicycle friendly street design.

Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for Transport in Urban Life” ( ). This attractive and accessible booklet written by Gehl Architects for the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) describes how cities can become more sustainable through better planning.

Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business, People for Bike and Alliance for Biking and Walking” ( ). This report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking ( ) describes ways that cycling improvements support local economic development, including supporting urban real estate development, helping businesses attract talented workers, reducing healthcare costs, and supporting local retail activity.

“Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design” ( ). This enjoyable book by Charles Montgomery discusses how better urban design can help people become happier, healthier and wealthier. It cites scientific evidence but relies primarily on stories about specific people and places to make its points.

“A New Partnership: Rail Transit and Convention Growth” ( ). This report by the American Public Transportation Association evaluates the role that high quality public transit plays in the economic success of downtown convention centers.

The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People” ( ).This book describes why and how cities and towns can support sustainable economic development by implementing policies that emphasize multi-modal accessibility and urban neighborhood quality. It shows that, as the economy becomes more global and knowledge-based, competitiveness relies on attracting talented people and the industries they support; in the old economy, people followed jobs, but in the new economy, jobs follow talented people.

Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts of Bus Rapid Transit”  ( ). Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a high-quality, efficient public transport mode. This EMBARQ report provides a synthesis of existing literature and new data, and develops a detailed analysis of BRT economic, environmental and social impacts.

From Here to There: A Creative Guide to Making Public Transport the Way to Go” ( ). This attractive guide by EMBARQ provides practical advice for making public transportation attractive and competitive.

Children’s Travel Behaviour And Its Health Implications” ( ). This article by Roger Mackett published in Transport Policy examines the nature of children’s travel behavior and implications for their physical activity and health.

Cycling, Health and Safety” ( ). This report by the International Transport Forum evaluates overall cycling safety and health impacts, and describes ways to improve cycling safety. It concludes that health benefits can outweigh negative impacts by a factor of 20, and the key to maximizing net benefits to create safer paths and roads through government policy and city action.

Capacity Building on Sustainable Urban Transport” ( ) is an international program dedicated to capacity building in sustainable urban transport, including workshops, webinars and other learning opportunities.

2,000 photos of the SUTP Photo collection are now on Flickr! ( )

Optimizing Space to Decongest the Streets” ( ) by the Quebec advocacy group Accès Transports Viables (“Access Sustainable Transportation”) illustrate the amount of road space required by different travel modes, showing why it is important to favor space-efficient modes on congested roads. They also have a clever video (in French) at .

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About the author:

Todd Litman is founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transport problems. His work helps to expand the range of impacts and options considered in transportation decision-making, improve evaluation techniques, and make specialized technical concepts accessible to a larger audience. The VTPI website ( ) has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services. He can be reached at: 1250 Rudlin Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 3R7, Canada. Email: Phone & Fax: +1 250-360-1560

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About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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