Publication Detail

The Education of Transportation Planning Professionals


Research Report

Download PDF

Suggested Citation:
Handy, Susan L., Lisa Weston, Jumin Song, K. Maria D. Lane, Jennifer Terry (2002) The Education of Transportation Planning Professionals. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-02-12

The practice of transportation planning at the regional level has evolved substantially over the past several decades. Once defined as largely a technical exercise, in which the calculation of required roadway capacity was the pre-eminent activity, transportation planning now encompasses a wide range of sometimes conflicting problems and demands, from growing levels of congestion and worsening air quality to neighborhood preservation and social equity concerns. But are the curricula in the planning and engineering programs that educate and train transportation professionals adequately preparing them for these new challenges? The objective of the study summarized in this paper was to compare the kinds of knowledge and skills important to transportation professionals today to the kinds of knowledge and skills that planning and engineering programs provide their students in order to highlight areas for improvement and suggest ways to enhance the education of transportation professionals. The research involved several components: a literature review on transportation education and planning education, an analysis of ISTEA and TEA-21 planning requirements, construction and analysis of a database on planning programs and selected transportation engineering programs as to their course offerings in the area of transportation planning, a survey of transportation planning professionals, and interviews with selected transportation planning educators and professionals. This report presents the findings from those efforts and suggests several important issues for transportation educators to address to improve the quality of education for transportation planning professionals.