News | PSR Scholar and UCLA MURP Jeremy Marks Ventures from Coast to Coast - And Beyond

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by Dan Lamere, USC, Masters of Urban Planning 2021

Meet Jeremy Marks, Spring 2020 graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program with a focus on Transportation Policy and Planning.


Jeremy grew up in central San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood and moved to Claremont, a suburb on the eastern edge of LA County boundaries, where he majored in Public Policy Analysis at Pomona College. After receiving his undergraduate degree in 2014, he opted for a change of pace and moved to Washington D.C. for a brief stint with the Federal Trade Commission as an Honors Paralegal before seeking employment with the Urban Institute. Jeremy worked with the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center in D.C. for a few years as a researcher, eventually moving back to California in 2018 for UCLA’s MURP program.



Jeremy shares that his interest in transportation has been shaped by several life experiences. His upbringing in central San Francisco meant that he lived within blocks of public transportation, and he understands first-hand the importance of having access to quality transit.  “I didn’t get my driver’s license until my junior year of college (and did not really even need it then),” he said.  “I grew up taking Muni and BART around the City and Bay Area, and so came to understand the value of world-class public transportation at a young age.”


During his undergraduate years, a study-abroad experience in Freiburg, Germany, further opened Jeremy up to the value of and possibilities of living a car-free life in a sustainable city. Once he moved to D.C., he became a daily bicycle commuter and realized that it is possible to have bicycle- and transit-oriented cities in the United States – good transit and cycling access is hardly limited to western Europe.


At UCLA, Jeremy expanded on this idea more, eager to forge a path that helped people living in America see that they, too, could and should use transit. He performed research under the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) on several transportation-related topics, including examining the topic of local option sales taxes to fund local and regional transportation investments. Directly related to encouraging transit use via improving funding patterns is enabling people to live close to reliable transit in the form of transit-oriented development; Jeremy’s interest in the intersection of transportation and housing reflects this realization. He noted that, “If we can enable more density of high-quality, affordable housing that is transit-proximate and mixed use, then we can reduce vehicle miles travelled (therefore congestion and pollution) and increase quality of life.” This vision played into his work as a fellow with Lime, which specializes in micromobility – scooters and bikes galore – as a first-last mile solution.


As a testament to his promise for his grad school career academically and professionally, Jeremy was awarded a Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) University Transportation Center Fellowship to attend UCLA. He shone through and earned a UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies Capstone Fellowship award for his research. Moving forward, Jeremy hopes to apply his research interests in the real world. He has big hopes and dreams, and physical boundaries are sure to do little to slow him down. Jeremy reflected “What will come [next] remains to be seen, but I hope to be able to continue my focus on the intersection of transportation and housing, perhaps at a think-tank, consultancy, or developer focused on these issues.”


About the Author:

Dan Lamere is a second-year Master of Urban Planning student at the USC Price School of Public Policy. He works as a staff writer and project coordinator for the METRANS student team.