A Strategic Approach to the Transportation Planning Process

Journal of Public Transportation Article in Volume 2, Issue 1 (1998) by Edward A Mierzejewski, University of South Florida          

Abstract

The underlying premise of the urban transportation planning process is that we can forecast the future. The process typically develops 20-year forecasts of traffic volumes on each link of the transportation network. Planners then attempt to devise a master plan that represents an optimal solution for the forecasted conditions. The reality is that we cannot predict the future. Imponderable and unpredictable events will shape the future in ways we cannot hope to anticipate. In addition, social and political bias is a strong contributor to errors in anticipating future events and to our willingness to deal with uncertainty. This paper identifies possible remedies for dealing with uncertainty and bias, including better analytical methods, better process methods, and methods to counter bias. An evaluation of various remedies is performed and practical measures that can be applied to the urban transportation planning process are identified. Finally, specific recommended modifications to the urban transportation planning process are outlined.