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Transportation Planning Focus Area

Movement has always been central to the economies and quality of life in cities and regions. The importance of connecting physically disparate locations spawned professions in transportation engineering and transportation planning in early 20th-century America, professions that were subsequently exported worldwide. Transportation planning has opened up previously inaccessible territory and distributed an unprecedented level of mobility throughout a broad range of society. At the same time, the transportation system’s rapid growth has had serious societal, environmental, and economic side effects. The transportation professions have frequently treated mobility as inherently desirable, neglecting the fact that access, not movement, is what people seek in a transportation and land-use system.

The transportation planning focus area builds an interdisciplinary range of skills and perspectives in transportation planning, including understandings of transportation planning’s societal roles, applied technical and evaluation skills, historical uses and misuses of transportation planning techniques, and the rich interdependencies between transportation planning and other areas of urban and regional planning.

Major themes in transportation planning include the interaction of transportation and land use planning, transportation needs of the poor, alternative approaches to public transit policy, the role of technology in improvement of transportation systems, transportation's role in environmental quality planning, and the intergovernmental and interjurisdictional dimensions of transportation problems.

The transportation planning focus area prepares students for professional work in transportation related organizations at local, regional and national levels, and in private planning/engineering firms that are engaged in transportation planning. Transportation planners develop transportation and traffic plans, forecast travel conditions, and prepare transportation demand management programs for their jurisdictions. At the broader level, transportation planners provide input into transportation policy questions, such as the relative benefits of alternative approaches to transit investment, pricing of public and private transportation, or innovative approaches to addressing needs in "welfare-to-work" transportation. New transportation technologies and institutions create opportunities that eventually change land use patterns. Conversely, new land use patterns change the burden on the transportation system and affect available transportation strategies. Transportation planners anticipate and plan for these interactions.


Focus Area Course List

Foundational Courses 

URP 560 Transportation and Land Use Planning
URP 561 Transportation and Public Policy

Techniques / Methods 

URP 520 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
URP 521 Intermediate Geographic Information Systems (prerequisite: URP 520 or EAS 531)
CEE 570 Introduction to Geostatistics (requires advanced math proficiency)
EAS 531 Principles of Geographic Information Systems (equivalent to URP 520)

Other Related Courses 

URP 522 Collaborative Planning
URP 532 Sustainability and Social Change
URP 580 Metropolitan Structure
URP 582 Neighborhood Planning
URP 585 Economic Development Planning Methods
EAS 527 Energy Markets and Energy Politics
EAS 543 Environmental Spatial Data Analysis
EAS 550 Systems Thinking for Sustainable Development
EAS 570 Environmental Economics: Quantitative Methods and Tools
EAS 571 Environmental Economics (has prerequisites)
EAS 574 Sustainable Energy Systems
EHS 687 Air Quality Seminar
POLSCI 623 Proseminar in Municipal Problems
PUBPOL 519 Sustainable Energy Systems (EAS 574)
PUBPOL 558 Microeconomics B: Economic Decision-Making
PUBPOL 559 Accelerated Microeconomics
PUBPOL 564 Government Regulation of Industry and Environment
PUBPOL 569 Applied Regression Analysis
PUBPOL 573 Benefit Cost Analysis
PUBPOL 580 Values & Ethics
PUBPOL 585 Political Environment of Policy Analysis
PUBPOL 682 Leadership and Communications in State-level Policy
PUBPOL 686 State and Local Policy Analysis: Focus on Development Policy
PUBPOL 689 Equality in Public Policy
PUBPOL 718 Real World Sustainability
PUBPOL 723 Wealth Inequality and Public Policy
PUBPOL 724 Urban Politics
PUBPOL 726 Normative Theories of Taxation
PUBPOL 753 Fossil Fuel Use in the Age of Climate Change
PUBPOL 764 Topics in Transportation Policy
PUBPOL 765 Aviation and Public Policy
PUBPOL 775 The History of the Automobile
SOC 530 Social Demography
SOC 610 Statistical Methods
STAT 501 Applied Statistics II
STRAT 646 Solving Societal Problems Through Enterprise and Innovation

Some students complement their focus area in transportation planning by earning a Certificate in Spatial Analysis from the Rackham Graduate School.

Faculty associated with the focus area

Jonathan Levine (Focus Area Coordinator)
Joe Grengs

Others associated with the focus area

Lidia Kostyniuk, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Adjunct Professor of Urban and Regional Planning.

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Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning