Victoria Transport Policy Institute
"Efficiency - Equity - Clarity"
Fall 2021 Vol. 21, No. 4
Holiday Greetings from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute!
The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions to transportation problems. The VTPI website has many resources addressing a wide range of transport planning and policy issues. VTPI also provides consulting services.
This is one of our most important and widely-cited reports; according to Google Scholar it has been cited in at least 672 peer-reviewed publications. We have significantly updated it to include more perspectives and examples, and provide clearer guidance.
Equity refers to the fairness with which impacts (benefits and costs) are distributed. Transportation planning decisions can have large and diverse equity impacts. Evaluating these can be challenging because there are several types of equity and impacts to consider, and various ways to measure them. Horizontal equity assumes that people with similar needs and abilities should be treated equally; vertical equity assumes that disadvantaged groups should receive a greater share of resources. Social justice addresses structural inequities such as racism and sexism. This report provides guidance for transportation equity analysis. It describes various perspectives and impacts, and practical ways to incorporate transportation equity goals into planning.
Transportation Equity Analysis Summary (www.vtpi.org/equity.pdf)
This table summarizes transportation equity types, ways to measure them, and optimization strategies.
|Horizontal – Fair Share
||Each person receives a fair share of public resources
||Per capita share of public resources (money, road space, etc.).
||Multimodal transport planning. Least-cost funding. Efficient pricing.
|Horizontal – External costs
||Travellers minimize and compensate for external costs.
||Infrastructure costs, congestion, crash risk and pollution that travellers impose on other people.
||Minimize and compensate for external costs. Favor resource-efficient modes.
|Vertical – Inclusivity
||Transportation systems provide basic mobility to disadvantaged groups.
||Quality of travel for people with disabilities and other special needs. Disparities between groups.
||Favor inclusive modes and accessible community development.
|Vertical – Affordability
||Lower-income households can afford basic mobility.
||Transportation costs relative to incomes. Quality of affordable modes.
||Favor affordable modes and housing in high-access areas.
||Policies address structural inequities.
||Whether organizations address inequities such as racism and classism.
||Identify and correct structural inequities. Affirmative action.
(Credit: Ryan Martinson, “Equity and Mobility”)
NEW MOBILITIES BOOK
My book, New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies received an Honorable Mention in Planetizen’s Top Urban Planning Books of 2021.
Here is their description:
2020 was a big year for Planetizen contributors writing and publishing books, and 2021 continues the trend with Todd Litman’s new book, New Mobilities. Like we did last year with books by Planetizen bloggers and Planetizen Courses instructors, we avoided a conflict of interest by leaving New Mobilities out of consideration for the official Top Books list.
But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t recommend New Mobilities to visionary planners. When Litman talks about new mobilities, he’s not just talking about new ways of getting around on two wheels, but much bigger innovations: new planning paradigms, new goals, and new consequences. Planetizen readers who have no doubt encountered Litman’s writing frequently will find a familiar tone and approach: thoroughly cited references, tables and infographics for illustration, and a reasoned rejection of the status quo. As much as any book on this list, New Mobilities keeps the focus on what it all means for planning, and how the field of planning can and should change as a result of technological innovations.
In this book, transportation expert Todd Litman critically evaluates new technologies and services, and provides practical guidance for optimizing them. He systematically examines how each of the twelve New Mobility is likely to affect travel activity (how and how much people travel); consumer costs and affordability; roadway infrastructure design and costs; parking demand; land use development patterns; public safety and health; energy and pollution emissions; and economic opportunity and fairness.
When ordering New Mobilities from Island Press, the discount code LITMAN provides 20% savings off the $35 standard price.
The New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies, presentation at the MOVE Asia 2021 Conference. Free video.
The New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Emerging Transportation Technologies: Eno Foundation Webinar. Free Video. Todd Litman discusses how new modes and services are likely to affect travel activity, costs and affordability, infrastructure design and cost, and other elements.
New Mobilities: Planning for the Future of Transportation, at Town Hall Seattle. This video shows Todd Litman’s presentation at the City of Seattle’s Town Hall lecture series.
Which 'New Mobilities' are Good for Your Community?, Greenbiz Magazine article. Which new mobilities are good and which are bad for your community? Under what circumstances should they be mandated, encouraged, regulated, restricted, or forbidden? These are complicated questions. New transportation technologies and services can have many effects on users and communities. We need a comprehensive analysis framework that considers diverse impacts and perspectives.
Good Planners: Bad Outcomes. How Structural Biases Can
Lead to Unfair and Inefficient Results. Some planning practices are structurally inequitable. They can result in unfair and wasteful outcomes, such as destruction of vibrant, accessible, minority urban communities for the benefit of more affluent suburban motorists. We can do better!
The Roadway Expansion Paradox. Motorists want expensive roadway expansions provided that somebody else foots the bill, but when required to pay directly through tolls, the need for more capacity often disappears. What should planners do?
Smart Growth Loves Heatmaps. Smart growth can provide many important benefits that are easy to see using informative and beautiful heatmaps—our complex world as viewed by all-knowing gods.
PUBLISHED & PRESENTED ELSEWHERE
"An Unglamorous Malahat Congestion Solution: Frequent, Low-Cost Bus Service," Times Colonist.
This local newspaper column argues that the best way to improve Vancouver Island transportation is to provide frequent and affordable bus transit services between Victoria and Nanaimo, plus pedestrian and bicycle improvements to access bus stops, and commute trip reduction programs to encourage travellers to choose public transit when possible.
For more information see Rethinking Malahat Solutions and Better Bus Service is Needed to Fill the Malahat Gaps.
“To Reduce Traffic Congestion, We Need Alternatives to Driving – Not More Highways,” Globe and Mail (Toronto). This newspaper column critically analyzes plans to expand Toronto region highways. “Would the proposed Highway 413 and Bradford Bypass projects be cost effective? Probably not. They will be expensive and do little to reduce long-term congestion. Are they fair? Certainly not. They provide a large subsidy to a small number of motorists. Are they smart? No, by inducing additional vehicle travel these projects would contradict other community goals including affordability, equity, community livability and environmental protection.”
Readers’ comments range from strongly supportive to violent criticism.
Getting to Work: New Commute Duration Heatmaps. The Mineta Transportation Institute's new interactive website produces heatmaps that illustrate commute duration—the number of minutes that workers spend traveling to their jobs—plus related information, for most U.S. communities. These maps show that in must urban regions, workers in central neighborhoods spend significantly less time commuting than in sprawled, automobile-dependent areas, despite slower average traffic speeds and lower automobile mode shares—indicating once again that accessibility depends more on proximity than traffic speed.
Drivers say parking in Montreal is difficult. Experts Say it Should be. This CBC news article concerning Montreal parking problems quotes me saying “We call free parking a fertility drug for cars” and “there is a great 'unfairness' that the storage of cars is given priority over making roads better for those who walk, bike or use public transit.”
I don't actually say that parking should be “difficult.” Rather, I recommend pricing parking efficiently so motorists can always find a parking space, if they are willing to pay. This increases motorists’ convenience but filters out the cheapskates who want a parking space only if somebody else bears the costs. The current system is unfair because it forces car-free households to pay for costly parking spaces that they don't need, and favors driving over more affordable and efficient modes.
Mobility and Smart Cities with: Adam Cohen - Prachi Vakharia - Todd Litman.
This Mobility Roundtable discussed factors that can make cities smart, and how to make cities more sustainable and inclusive in the future. It critically examined the benefits and costs of new transportation technologies and services.
E-Bikes: Harnessing their Potential to Get More People Biking, Vancouver Bike Hub webinar. Panelists discussed how municipalities can benefit from creating conditions favourable to e-bikes, describe e-bike share programs, and highlight the importance of e-bikes in getting more people of all ages and abilities biking more. Slideshow.
Induced Traffic: New Road Space Fills Up Quickly, Negating Traffic Flow Benefits, by Oh The Urbanity! This free video summarizes VTPI research indicating that induce vehicle travel often offsets highway expansion benefits, and discusses whether the same phenomena could apply to affordable housing. It dives into research concerning how increasing housing supply can help increase housing affordability. For more information see my Planetizen column, The Housing Supply Debate.
Transportation Planning: Lessons from the Pandemic, presented at the Congress on Urban Transportation, Istanbul, Turkey. Based on my report, Pandemic Resilient Community Planning, this presentation describes ways that communities can become more resilient to pandemics and other disasters. Pandemic-resilient planning requires policies that minimize contagion risks, provide basic access and delivery services during periods of restricted mobility, support physical and mental health during lockdowns, and provide affordable mobility for households with reduced incomes. Walking and bicycling are generally the safest and most affordable modes, so improving active travel conditions tends to increase resilience.
Speed Versus Affordability: Social Equity Implications of Current Transportation Planning Practices, presented at the TRB Conference on Advancing Transportation Equity. Based on my report, Not So Fast: Better Speed Valuation for Transportation Planning, this presentation describes how common planning practices favor faster modes and higher traffic speeds over slower but more affordable and resource-efficient options, and the inequities that result.
A New Traffic Safety Paradigm: Better Risk Analysis Identifies New Traffic Safety Strategies, Presented at the Ontario Traffic Council’s Transportation Planning Symposium. Based on my report, A New Traffic Safety Paradigm, this presentation summarizes new research concerning factors that affect crash risks and how that information can used to increase safety. In a word, the new paradigm recognizes exposure – the amount that people drive – as a risk factor, and so recognizes the additional crashes caused by planning decisions that stimulate vehicle travel, and the safety benefits of vehicle travel reduction strategies.