Mar 11, 2015

Prof. Kelly Clifton had planned for students in her “Theories And Methods Of Travel Behavior” course to give final presentations March 11. But the course had just wrapped up a unit on public policy.

Clifton, a TREC researcher, instead offered a rare opportunity: the class spent its final course meeting grilling U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Oregon’s senior representative and a major player in transportation policy.

DeFazio used the session to field questions about his work on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and to get ideas for solving problems before the committee from some of the country’s most respected transportation students.

Topics included alternatives to the gasoline tax, health, performance measures and behavior modification. Around 25 students attended, including some from outside the travel behavior course.

As the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio looks for ways to deal with deteriorating infrastructure. Faced with questions on the intersections between transportation and disciplines such as health and education, DeFazio acknowledged how much struggles in one area affect others.

“There’s a whole host of things we’re not investing in,” DeFazio said. If properly funded, he said, programs such as Safe Routes to School can improve all the disciplines they touch.

But the federal...

Read more
Dec 03, 2014

The video begins at 4:32.

Jun 04, 2012

With various governments encouraging people to drive less, economists have wondered if such goals can have the side effect of harming the economy. In most cases, the answer is no, OTREC researcher B. Starr McMullen concluded in a research report.

  • Click here to read more about the research and to download the report.

It’s more than an academic question: driving and the economy do tend to rise and fall together. McMullen, a transportation economics professor at Oregon State University, examined the relationship between the two by looking at which happens first—a change in driving or a change in economic activity.

In general, economic growth leads to more driving, not the other way around, McMullen said. That’s particularly true for metropolitan areas, the very places most likely to pursue policies that reduce driving.

“The more economic activity you have, the more VMT [vehicle miles traveled] you’re going to have,” McMullen said.

On the other hand, if there are policies to reduce VMT and driving decreases, “you’re not going to have the economy fall apart," as some have suggested.

If a state sets a goal to reduce VMT or transportation emissions, it is reasonable to expect big urban areas to...

Read more