By Arpita Sharma, MPP/MPL 2017
METRANS launched its first Research Seminar Series event at the University of Southern California on Wednesday, September 16th from 12:00 pm to 1:30pm titled, “The Future of Travel Demand” with Susan Handy, Director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation and Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis. The event was jointly sponsored by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.
Dr. Handy has expertise on the relationship between transportation and land use, particularly the impact of land development patterns on travel behavior. She is internationally renowned for her research on the connection between neighborhood design and walking behavior. She co-authored a book called “Planning for Street Connectivity: Getting from Here to There” in 2003.
The purpose of the Research Seminar Series is to act as a conduit between students and academic researchers in the field of transportation. The research presentations provide students an opportunity to engage with and learn from innovative research happening in California and across the nation.
The first seminar addressed how Metropolitan Planning Organizations can meet targets set by the State of California, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by minimizing vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT). The presentation focused on the current trends in VMT and the most effective strategies currently available to reduce VMT, including encouraging active transportation options such as bicycling.
Yurida Ramos, a first year Master of Planning student at the University of Southern California shared, “As a former bay area resident, I relied heavily on a bicycle and public transit and I'm interested in what decisions are behind others making this type of change.”
Students were interested in hearing about Dr. Handy’s research and asked several questions regarding survey methodology, the impact of driverless cars on future transportation options, and how factors like income and gender played a role into her research questions and survey results.
The complete list of METRANS Fall 2015 Research Seminars can be found here.
Arpita Sharma is a dual Master of Public Policy and Master of Planning Candidate at the USC Price School. She is interested in issues of health inequities, sustainable land use development and active transportation. She expects to complete her degrees in May 2017. She can be reached at arpitasharma.net or at email@example.com.