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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Urban transportation policy and planning : |b an analysis of future directions for the metropolitan transportation decision-making process Glover, Robert Stanley


Despite the application of substantial financial and technological resources, metropolitan transportation continues to pose an exceedingly complex problem for contemporary cities, one which threatens to seriously undermine the quality of urban life. Numerous authors have attributed the often worsening problem of urban transportation to the inability of transportation planning to achieve a high level of accomplishment. Serious concern for the urban future led the author to inquire what are the requirements necessary to equip the planning and policy processes to adapt to the challenge of the metropolitan transportation problem. Moreover, recognizing that future improvement of these processes would ultimately require a responsive attitude from transportation decision-makers the study attempted to assess the extent to which politicians, planners and engineers recognized and accepted the requirements. Summarizing the views of a number of authors revealed three oft-mentioned goals towards which the transportation decision-making process should strive: comprehensiveness, coordination and participation. An essentially deductive approach was applied to fulfill the first objective of assessing the validity of these conceptual goals as necessary requirements for future planning and policy in urban transportation. The first task involved an analysis of the relationship between urban transportation planning and the transportation problem. A description of its components evinced a multi-faceted problem of formidable scope and complexity. Tracing the development of transportation planning showed that over time, planning had broadened its scope in attempting to adapt to an expanding problem but had essentially retained an economic, technological and engineering orientation. However, the literature review identified a rapidly changing context of transportation planning which demanded increased awareness of the social/environmental impacts of urban transportation, the problems of mass transit and the desire of citizens for participation in the decision-making process. The older methodologies were found to be incompatible with these recently emerging concerns. To keep pace with a substantially redefined problem, the consensus of informed opinion confirmed the need for the planning process to develop a more comprehensive view, incorporating the emerging issues in the development of multimodal transportation systems with greater public participation. These were to be combined with changes in the policy development process to ensure legislative and funding support and a substantial degree of enforced coordination between fragmented transportation agencies for the effective delivery of transportation policy and programs. The conclusions of the literature review were further supported by the results of a case study analysis of two major transportation planning efforts in the Greater Vancouver region. The fruitlessness of the freeway program was attributed to the absence of legislative and funding support combined with a narrow planning process lacking community participation. The provincial transit program, however, was founded on a firm policy base but encountered implementation problems as a result of its inability to establish coordinative mechanisms or solicit broad participation from interested agencies. A survey approach based on uniform interviews of transportation decision-makers in the Greater Vancouver produced retrospective evaluations of the two programs. The results substantively verified the case study conclusions, adding further credence to the necessity for comprehensiveness, coordination and participation in the planning and policy phases to ensure a fruitful outcome for the transportation decision-making process. The retrospective evaluations showed that decision-makers recognized the need for the conceptual goals. To assess their willingness to implement the requirements, the survey solicited their views on the desirable components of future policies and programs for Greater Vancouver. The results indicated strong support for a comprehensive and participatory planning process such as that of the GVRD as well as policies which took a comprehensive view, established an organization to coordinate the activities of implementing agencies and encouraged broad participation. On the basis of the results, the study concluded that the conceptual goals were necessary and that fundamental changes in the decision-making process were required to adapt the planning and policy processes to meet the new demands of the urban transportation problem.

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