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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2018 TOPIC AREA: Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

Transportation Plans: Their Informational Content and Use Patterns in Southern California

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-18-14
Funding source: State of California (SB1)
Contract number: UC-ITS-2018-41; USDOT Grant 69A3551747109
Funding amount: $51,031
Performance period: 1/1/2018 to 11/30/2018

Link to final report on eScholarship 

Project description

While a large amount of effort has been devoted to making and updating local transportation plans, little is known about the informational contents of these plans and their use patterns. This project attempted to identify key informational contents of Californian cities' transportation plans and to investigate how the plan contents can be used by various stakeholders through (i) a plan content analysis of a sample of general plans (recently adopted by eight municipalities in Orange County, California) and (ii) a plan use survey and follow-up analysis of survey responses. All plans analyzed were found to convey a variety of information about their visions, goals, policies, and implementation strategies, but the plan content analysis revealed substantial variation in the way cities composed their general plans and integrated them with other plans/players. Compared to land use elements, circulation elements tended to focus more on their connections with other agencies (external consistency) than on internal consistency. The plan use survey yielded a low response rate which may indicate limited use of plans in the field. However, a majority of the survey responses were positive about the usefulness and usability of general plans. In particular, the survey participants reported that they found the plans comprehensive, visionary, and well-organized, while relatively lower scores were obtained for two evaluation criteria: ‘[the plan] clearly explains what actions will be taken and when' and ‘[the plan] is relevant to my everyday life and/or work'. Furthermore, some respondents reported that they used general plans not for their professional duties but for other (non-conventional) purposes, suggesting that plan contents could be used for a variety of decision-making processes.


Jae Hong Kim
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy
Urban Planning and Public Policy
Irvine, CA 92697
United States
[email protected]