Spontaneous Access: Reflexions on Designing Cities and Transport – Now in print

Spontaneous Access: Reflexions on Designing Cities and Transport is now available as a high-quality color trade paperbackIt is also available in hardcover.

It remains available as an eBook on Kindle Editions  and at the iBookstore. If you have the option, I encourage you to get it on Apple’s iBooks, where it has additional features, like pop-up references and image galleries, as it was designed in ePub3.

Spontaneous Cover-Front

Table of Contents

  1. The City Spontaneous
  2. The 60-Year Line
  3. Community without dendricity
  4. The pint-of-milk test
  5. The timeless way of building networks
  6. Axioms about roads
  7. Garden streets
  8. Vitality
  9. An archipelago of walkability
  10. Filling in
  11. Leapin’ frogs
  12. The reorganization of road function
  13. Beyond the plan view
  14. Interfaces of freedom
  15. Instruments of control
  16. Shared space
  17. Winter is coming
  18. Diversity as insurance
  19. Differentiate city and country
  20. Don’t confuse the place for the time
  21. Great Britain doesn’t have an Americans with Disabilities Act
  22. Designs serve varied and sometimes conflicting interests
  23. A vision of visions
  24. A faster horse
  25. The Ant and the Grasshopper
  26. Deconstructing Busytown
  27. Spontaneity in a can, spontaneity in a plan
  28. Building the city spontaneous
  29. Framing regional development
  30. First do no harm

There are several themes in the book:

Cities and their networks operate on multiple timescales simultaneously. Traffic lights change by the second, rights-of-way last millennia. Cities see massive daily flows of people in and out. The core, timeless, enduring elements contrast with the faddish ephemera that too much effort is focused on. The future is emerging, but determining what we are looking forward to will be enduring or ephemeral should be the critical focus of anyone involved with transport and city design.

This book does not shy away from the normative and prescriptive. In this it differs from much academic work, including my own, which tends to the positive and descriptive. Principles are laid out, which I believe to be true and correct, many of which are not scientific in the way they are framed. They of course may lead to testable hypotheses, but they are also value-based.

The idea of the ‘spontaneous city,’ one that serves needs and wants in real-time, is a theme running through both the title and the text. What conditions encourage people to take advantage of their city (and therefore make it stronger)? What conditions worsen life for the users of the city?

The emergence of new transport technologies gives us a chance to restore and correct, to right what is wrong with the places we live. From the railroad and electric streetcar creating separation between places where people lived and where they worked, to the elevator enabling high rise construction, to the motorcar which put suburbanization into over- drive, all significant transport innovations reshape cities. The new autonomous vehicle, the new electric vehicle, the new shared vehicle, the vehicle form, shape, and size are a transformation of similar scale and scope. These changes will create opportunities over the coming decades, which we can seize or reject.

This book is about how cities do work, how cities can work, and how cities should work. In part it is about traditional fields of planning and engineering, but takes a much broader concept of design principles than those fields usually do. This is because it is also about evolution and it is about opportunism. The world is changing fast. We can make it a more humane place than it has ever been, or we can allow it to devolve into a more brutish environment, where we remain a victim of our collectively built environments, rather than their master.

When the book speaks of ‘cities’ it really means the entire metropolitan ‘urban system,’ not just the historic core city (or the central business district). Downtown is but a part of the city, and the central city in many metropolises is not even a plurality of residents.

Much of this book includes complaint, and it may feel like shouting into the wind. But every complaint is about a design failure, either with intention or by accident, that degrades experience for everyone, or degrades the experience of some for the benefit of others. Life is comprised of tradeoffs, but not all tradeoffs are made at the appropriate rate of exchange. Both cities and their transport networks are the product of thoughtful human actions and unconscious emergent processes, where systematic behavior drives the underlying logic of designs.

The optimal design of transport networks to serve the goal of spontaneous access cannot be determined in the absence of knowledge about the actual development pattern. The optimal development pattern cannot be known without regards to the plan of the network. Discovering the right combinations of networks, land use, and other urban features is what makes cities successful. The measure of their success is their population, their wealth, their happiness.

But even more importantly, the optimal transport network for the technology of one era is not necessarily the optimal network of the future, and the same is true for development.

Much of Spontaneous Access is drawn from my blog transportist.org, or streets.mn, although it has been significantly edited and reorganized from posts that may have appeared there. In that sense, it is a younger sibling to the recent (2015) book The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport with Kevin Krizek. It is a collection of reflexions (a somewhat archaic British way of spelling “reflections”), short essays that collectively give insight into today’s design problems and some possible solutions.

How you want your books

Since I am preparing several manuscripts for release soon, I did a series of Twitter polls on the preferred format of release. The results are as follows below. While these are not ‘scientific’, unlike say, nothing, they seem right, and while results no doubt vary by field, this seems mostly right.






In short, for paper, you clearly want softcover AND color. You probably want cheaper paper, but I suspect this really depends. A slim majority prefer PDF to ePub format at the same price.

So you will get softcover AND color, and I will fret about whether the paper/image quality from the higher cost is worthwhile. If there is demand, there may be hardcover too, but I don’t think anyone but my mom and maybe a library will get it.

You will get PDF, and maybe ePub too if I’m feeling either generous or obsessive.


Review of The Transportation Experience

Frank Manheim at GMU reviews The Transportation Experience, Second Edition.  [copied below from Journal of Planning Education and Research 36(2) p.271-72 (behind a paywall)]

The Transportation Experience: Second Edition
The Transportation Experience: Second Edition

Garrison, William L., and David M. Levinson. 2014. The Transportation Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 605 pp. $92.00 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-19-986271-9

Reviewed by: Frank T. Manheim, George Mason University DOI: 10.1177/0739456X16644800 

The Transportation Experience offers unique breadth of scholarship in describing the history of US transportation. Its erudition and insightful links with other aspects of societal evolution are improbably combined with an informal, colloquial style that makes most of the book widely accessible. However, a curious omission emerges as the narrative reaches the modern era. The senior author acknowledges in his afterword that he deliberately minimizes engagement with politically controversial subjects.

The first paragraph already demonstrates the book’s flair for dramatic impact. It describes actions of Thomas Jefferson, head of the US Patent Office, on August 26, 1791. Four applicants sought patents for complete steamboat designs. “Solomonically dividing the patent spoils kept any from dominating the market and developing a large enough market to succeed” (3). The multilevel insights from this anecdote reveal that Jefferson, the brilliant inventor, naturalist, and intellectual and political leader, made a decision that impeded people and progress he wanted to encourage. The primary source of such erudition is the senior author, William L. Garrison, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His peripatetic studies over more than a half-century (Garrison was born in 1924) complement the book’s detailed account of transportation with insights from tangential fields like history, engineering, economics, and social psychology.

This second edition is completely restructured, extensively rewritten, and augmented in comparison with the first edition of 2005. In contrast to the first edition’s prefatory discussions, this book has no preface, introduction, or discrete acknowledgments. It is far more tightly organized. After a detailed table of contents, the treatment is divided into parts, thirty-five numbered sections that run through five overlapping “waves” of chronological developments, and “phases of the life cycle,” that the authors initially describe as brainstorming sessions.

Grounded as it is in deep scholarship, the colloquial style of the book probably reflects contributions by the junior author, David Levinson, a civil engineer and professor at the University of Minnesota who has special interest in transportation. But addressing readers more personally also appears congenial to Garrison. He closes by offering an invitation to readers to “have fun imagining alternative development pathways that will exchange today’s problems, both obvious and obscure, for new ones” (p. 524).

Wave 1 (1790–1851) is subdivided into three sections: “Rivers of Steam” describing the early history of the steam

engine, the steamboat, and inland waterways; “Design by Design: The Birth of the Railway”; and “Incentivizing Investment: Roads through the Turnpike Era.” Subsequent waves deal not only with new subjects like maritime transport, including trading companies, ports, cargo and passenger vessels, and biographical detail on the great marine engineers, Marc and Isambard Brunel. They update developments in earlier transportation modes like railroads (Wave 2, 1844–1896) with topics as diverse as “Trial and Error,” “Learning about Freight Rate-Making,” “Cornelius Vanderbilt,” and “Comments by Social Critics.” Waves 3, 4, and 5 encompass the periods 1890–1950, 1939–1991, and “Modern Times,” respectively.

The waves focus on but are not limited to their time period. Events are often placed in historical perspective by chronological profiles extending to the present.

Many of the book’s figures and tables qualify as what l call leveraged illustrations. Such illustrations compress important insights and in-depth research into simple and eas- ily understandable figures. For example, Wave 2 includes a plot of total US railroad route kilometers from 1830 to 2010, peaking in 1920. Subsequent declines in route kilometers have an inflection point marking accelerated losses after 1970. Most other advanced nations experienced losses but none as great as this country.

“Life cycle” discussions clarify factors affecting transportation and related fields. Phase 1 of the life cycle discusses inventing and innovations. Phase 2 introduces the concept of the “magic bullet,” which refers to innovations that make possible reductions in cost, and often make gains in convenience and accessibility. Henry Ford’s assembly line is a classic example. Impactful generalizations allow readers to independently discern nontransportation as well as transportation applications. For example, I identified the supermarket, Amazon, and Ebay as non-transportation magic bullets.

Phase 3 of the life cycle, titled “Aging in Place, Aging sans Grace,” describes a central problem for transportation. “As systems transition from innovation through growth to maturity, the administration of the systems transitions from entrepreneurs and engineers to managers. Organizations become more and more risk averse; taking chances tends to be punished.” Section 18 includes a summary of leading theories and strategies for coping with the problem.

The authors like evocative labels for their waves, such as “Lord Kelvin’s curse” (in Wave 4, 1939–1991). This “curse” is defined as work that puts emphasis on numbers rather than thinking. Among examples, the authors cite the advent of the Universal Urban Transportation Planning System (UTPS), which created a “clean break from precursor planning systems.” However, modern UTPSs “ignored the well-honed planning techniques for arterial roads and local streets lodged in urban public works offices.”

Section 24 provides a brief discussion of theoretical topics such as temporal and spatial dynamics, the network design problem (NDP), “Macro-Economics vs. Life Cycle Economics,” queuing models, metacycles, and historic path dependence. Section 26, “Meta-cycles,” which closes Wave 4, deals with capital, cyclicity, and the new role of innovation in the production function.

“Wave Five: Modern Times” faced a challenge because of difficulty in addressing the vast literature and complex controversies over environmental change and energy in limited space. A good opening of this topic is provided by reference to George Perkins Marsh’s pioneering and influential book Man and Nature (1864), which warned Americans about abuse of the natural environment (the date of its first edition is erroneously cited as 1850). The ensuing treatment provides basic data such as energy consumption and use by auto, air, and rail transportation after World War II, but this section largely ignores a huge rhinoceros in the living room: government policies and sociopolitical issues.

The great strengths of the book are already suggested in its first paragraph. Heading these is its formidable scholarship in transportation history. Next, wide-ranging technologies, evolutions, and human responses encountered in the development of transportation systems are described with an irreverently colorful and informal writing style. The authors have the rare gift of using detail to clarify and enliven rather than to complicate and obscure generic concepts like “disjoint incrementalism.” Disjoint incrementalism refers to improvements or expansion of technology in one area that ignores possible adverse effects on others. It is illustrated by truckers’ adoption of high-pressure radial tires that disproportionately damage roads. No other book offers as great a wealth of historic detail, presented in vital and candid ways. Consistent clarity in explaining terms and concepts while the narrative builds a detailed framework of knowledge makes the book highly recommendable for non- specialists and beginning students as well as a basic historical reference for professional practitioners and academic researchers.

The startlingly and inappropriately minimal space given to law, politics, and governmental policies is due in large part to the authors’ stated principle of not commenting on “today’s debates and actions” (p. 412). The senior author says about this policy in his part of the Afterwords: “I wear one hat when judging whether or not to enter ongoing affairs. I wear a second hat when debating goals, programs, opportunities, etc.”

Garrison’s honesty about avoiding politically contentious subjects is consistent with the book’s open style and contrasts with some academic studies that simply dance around sensitive issues. But what is the point of devoting such concentrated thought and space to nonpolitical transportation issues if they are overridden in importance by government policies and politics? Rietveld and Stough (2007) indicate that it is possible to address sensitive topics like regulatory reform (or deregulation) while retaining scholarly objectivity. These authors as well as Black (2003) review important insights from European nations’ experience, another area largely omitted by Garrison and Levinson. Author Levinson would apparently be readier to grapple with politics, judging from his account in the Afterwords of the failure of the I35W bridge over the Mississippi River at Minneapolis. He cites existence of 72,500 structurally deficient bridges in the United States, concluding that “Americans can seem good at short-term tactics but poor at long-term strategy. This needs to be rectified.”

The critical role of government for good or ill is hard to overestimate. Excessive regulation helped undermine the United States’ passenger rail system (Gallamore and Meyer 2014). The Clean Air Act Amendments (1970 and later) were effective in reducing air pollution but had unintended adverse effects on urban areas’ transportation planning systems (Garrett and Wachs 1996). Uncoordinated proliferation of permitting authorities in response to environmental concern in the 1970s is described by Manheim (2009) as a key factor in delays and increases in the cost of transportation and other major construction projects. The Chrysler building, a revered jewel in New York City, was completed in twenty months from 1928 to 1930. Contrast this with Boston’s scandal-ridden Big Dig. Permitting began in 1982, final approval was received nine years later, and highway I93 was fully opened only in 2005.

The book by Garrison and Levinson can be warmly recommended as a mine of information on US and early UK transportation development in a broadly based historical framework. The twenty-seven pages of references provide documentation of the book’s data. However, they do not provide balanced coverage, leaving out reference to authoritative and influential transportation authorities like William R. Black and John R. Meyer. Finally, the book does not provide adequate treatment of contemporary transportation problems or foreign experience.


Black, William R. 2003. Transportation: A Geographic Analysis. New York: Guilford Press.

Gallamore, Robert E., and John R. Meyer. 2014. American Railroads: Decline and Renaissance in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Garrett, Mark, and Martin Wachs. 1996. Transportation Planning on Trial: The Clean Air Act and Travel Forecasting (Metropolis & Region). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Manheim, Frank T. 2009. The Conflict over Environmental Regulation in the United States: Origins, Outcomes, and Comparison with the EU and Other Regions. New York: Springer.

Rietveld, Peter, and Roger Stough, eds. 2007. Institutions and Sustainable Transport: Regulatory Reform in Advanced Economies. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Improving Urban Access: New Approaches to Funding Transport Investment

A new book is out, I had the opportunity to preview and blurb it:

Improving Urban Access: New Approaches to Funding Transport Investment

Edited by Elliott D. SclarMåns LönnrothChristian Wolmar. 2016 – Routledge



“Improving Urban Access” provides a wide-ranging introduction to the issues of funding and financing urban transport, ranging from how we got into the current predicament to the prospects for a variety of solutions that might make transport more inclusive, efficiently funded, and soundly managed. The ideas discussed here should be deeply understood by everyone concerned with transport policy and planning.” – David M. Levinson, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Richard P. Braun/CTS Chair in Transportation Engineering

Improving Urban Access is a must-read for the 21st century generation of transport and urban planners. Lessons learned have called for a bold rethinking of planning and implementation of a highway-centered landscape. With an emphasis on access – where access addresses quality of life and place, old models of mobility give way to rethinking the institutions that serve our growing urban areas, the ways in which citizens can finance new transport modes and how – we can achieve a more equitable social structure.” – Robert E. Paaswell, Distinguished Professor City University, City College of New York, former CEO of the Chicago Transit Authority

“Many public servants are so desperate to “find” additional revenues for urban transportation that they may lose sight of what they are trying to accomplish and why. This book does an excellent job of reminding us that how something is funded directly impacts the societal outcomes we are wishing to achieve, pointing out that careful consideration of funding mechanisms is absolutely critical to success.” – Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer, Los Angeles County Metro, former President of the Eno Center for Transportation

“Transportation policy scholarship is changing slowly but dramatically, and this second stimulating milestone book by these editors charts that transition. Contributors forcefully address the most important unresolved questions as transportation thinking moves from forecasting demand and providing facilities to a new emphasis on access, social and economic equity, and environmental sustainability.” – Martin Wachs, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Urban Planning and Civil Engineering University of California Los Angles and University of California, Berkeley

Climbing Mount Auto | The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport

Quarterly figures reveal that vehicle travel per person dipped for most of the 2000s and the early 2010s (total vehicle travel has dipped too, but not as severely owing to population gains). Per-capita vehicle travel is roughly where it was in the late 1990s. And vehicle miles traveled, the number of miles that cars are moving is moving mostly sideways, only surpassing the 2007 peak in 2014. Context helps put the significance in perspective. These trends are following 90 years of steady, almost uniform increases in the amount of automobile traffic. Barring a few exceptions owing to economic downturns or energy shocks, vehicle miles traveled increased almost every year in the US for the entire twentieth century!  From Levinson and Krizek (2015) The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport.    Figure 1.1. Note: The graph shows both linked and unlinked transit trips, as the way transit trips are counted has changed, and there is no continuous series of both over the entire period.  Source: US Census Statistical Abstract http://www.census.gov/prod/2/gen/96statab/app4.pdf and US Federal Highway Administration: Highway Statistics http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2012/vmt422c.cfm
Quarterly figures reveal that vehicle travel per person dipped for most of the 2000s and the early 2010s (total vehicle travel has dipped too, but not as severely owing to population gains). Per-capita vehicle travel is roughly where it was in the late 1990s. And vehicle miles traveled, the number of miles that cars are moving is moving mostly sideways, only surpassing the 2007 peak in 2014. Context helps put the significance in perspective. These trends are following 90 years of steady, almost uniform increases in the amount of automobile traffic. Barring a few exceptions owing to economic downturns or energy shocks, vehicle miles traveled increased almost every year in the US for the entire twentieth century!
From Levinson and Krizek (2015) The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport.
Figure 1.1. Note: The graph shows both linked and unlinked transit trips, as the way transit trips are counted has changed, and there is no continuous series of both over the entire period. Source: US Census Statistical Abstract and US Federal Highway Administration: Highway Statistics 

New Book: The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport

We are pleased to announce the publication of our latest book The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport on Kindle Editions and at the iBookstore. The price is $4.99.

The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport, by David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek
The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport, by David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek

Table of Contents

  • Preface: The Lost Joy of Automobility
  • Climbing Mount Auto: The Rise of Cars in the 20th Century
  • Less Traffic is a Good Thing
  • What Killed America’s Traffic?
  • Pace of Change
  • Transitioning Toward Electric Vehicles
  • Autonomous Autos
  • MaaS Transport
  • Transit
  • Up and Out: The Future of Travel Demand and Where We Live
  • Adapting the Built Environment
  • Reduce, Reuse, Bicycle
  • Accelerating the End of Traffic via Pricing
  • Redeeming Transport
  • Post-script 1: What Happened to Traffic?
  • Post-script 2: Now extinct: the Traditional Transport Engineer

In this book we propose the welcome notion that traffic—as most people have come to know it—is ending and why. We depict a transport context in most communities where new opportunities are created by the collision of slow, medium, and fast moving technologies. We then unfold a framework to think more broadly about concepts of transport and accessibility. In this framework, transport systems are being augmented with a range of information technologies; it invokes fresh flows of goods and information. We discuss large scale trends that are revolutionizing the transport landscape: electrification, automation, the sharing economy, and big data. Based on all of this, the final chapters offer strategies to shape the future of infrastructure needs and priorities.

We aim for a quick read—and to encourage you and other readers to think outside your immediate realm. By the end of this book (today, if you so choose) you will appreciate the changing times in which you live. You will hopefully appreciate what is new about transport discussions and how definitions of accessibility are being reframed. You will be provided with new ways of thinking about the planning of transport infrastructure that coincide with this changing landscape. Even if transport is not your bailiwick, we like to think there is something interesting for you here. We aim to share new perspectives and reframe debates about the future of transport in cities.

Financing Transportation Networks

Financing Transportation Networks by David Levinson
Financing Transportation Networks by David Levinson

As a sign of the times, my first book Financing Transportation Networks (2002) is now available from the Edward Elgar ebook site, Elgaronline.com. They say:

Elgaronline is our ebook and journal content platform for institutional customers such as academic libraries. Researchers and lecturers at subscribing libraries can access and download book chapters and, because the number of users is not limited, you can also direct students to the materials for use in class.

For promotional purposes we have set the front matter, index and any introductory chapter of your book to be free to download.

For institutions that have purchased Elgaronline individual links at the chapter level are also available.

If your library subscribes (mine doesn’t), you can get there directly at: Financing Transportation Networks , published by Edward Elgar Publishing. Otherwise here.

A review is below: published in Annals of Regional Science 38:563 – 565

Book review Levinson, DM: Financing transportation networks (Transport Economics, Management and Policy) Cheltenham (UK) and Northampton (US): Edward Elgar, 2002 232 pp., US$ 95,00. ISBN 1-8406-4594-6

Financing Transportation Networks –- is a somewhat misleading title for this important contribution to the transportation finance literature. Rather than seeking to provide a general account of transportation network finance, the book examines the prospect of a widespread adoption of one type of transportation financing option –- tolls (boundary tolls, in particular). Currently, tolls represent less than 5% of total highway revenues. In comparison, gas taxes account for almost 80% of these revenues. Under the right circum- stances, a shift to widespread toll financing of transportation networks is not only possible, according to the author, but it would also offer a more equi- table solution to transportation finance. The author points out that ‘”just as gas taxes substitute more efficiently for general taxes, direct road pricing could substitute for gas taxes.”

The central premise of the book is that decentralization and smaller jurisdictions would serve to facilitate a move toward a more widespread use of tolls as a means of financing roads. The premise is based on the argument that smaller jurisdictions have more motivation to impose tolls than large jurisdictions. Large jurisdictions and centralized governance, it is argued, favor tax financing (i.e., gas taxes and general taxes), because a larger number of trips occur inside the jurisdictional boundaries of large jurisdictions (i.e., local trips) and thereby do not incur tolls (in the case of boundary tolls). The relatively high weight on local trips creates an environment where costs are difficult to recover and where the collection of tolls is politically unstable. Moreover, larger jurisdictions need to recover relatively higher costs at each toll station, due to the larger transport network serviced. Conversely, a more decentralized governance structure would serve to enhance the political fea- sibility for jurisdictions to adopt toll roads, by allowing jurisdictions to institute toll roads that tax non-residents, relatively more than local residents, as well as by reducing ‘”recover costs.” As pointed out by the author, ‘”under the right circumstances, boundary toll will enable a jurisdiction to achieve the locally ideal policy of ‘’taxing foreigners living abroad.’'”

The book is divided into six major parts. The first part (Chapt. 2) provides a comprehensive account of the history of toll roads, both internationally and in a US context. Most important, the section seeks to connect shifts in the level of governance in the US to the adoption of toll roads. Historical data is used to illustrate that the low level of turnpike utilization in the US may be explained by a trend toward national transportation policies. More recent trends, according to the author, indicate that tolls may again become a fea- sible option for road financing. The most important reason for this is argued to be the availability of new technologies for toll collection, and the com- pletion of the US interstate highway system, which have made road financing a local problem again.

The second part of the book (Chapts. 3 – 4) discusses costs and revenues involved in transportation financing. The cost section offers a conventional review of major cost categories and methodological challenges that need to be accounted for in determining the cost of transportation. While short, the revenue section empirically examines the dependence of state highway finance on tolls, by testing the hypothesis that jurisdictions highway finance is determined in part by the share of non-local traffic. The result indicates that the relative burden of tolls collected from non-locals is positively related to the size of that burden. The section on revenues also provides evidence to support the hypothesis that neighboring jurisdictions commonly respond with new or increased tolls in response to new or increased tolls levied by the neighboring jurisdictions (i.e., a retaliation behavior is found to exist).

The third part provides discussion and analysis of the implication of institutional and organizational structures on the prospect of widespread toll financing (Chapt. 5). Specifically, the relationship between network and governmental hierarchies is examined.

The fourth part (Chapt. 6) briefly addresses the issue of intertemporal equity, as it relates to temporal ‘”free-riders.”

The fifth part (Chapts. 7–- 9) considers the central premise of the book, described above, in three different contexts. These contexts include (1) a beltway; (2) a long road representing an intercity highway that goes across several states; and (3) along a state border. It is illustrated that tolls will be the preferred source of finance, in cases where jurisdictions are sufficiently small, demand sufficiently high and collection costs are relatively low, hence, sup- porting the premise of the book.

The final part of the book (Chapts. 10–-13) develops a framework for evaluating network finance decisions, and examines the deployment of ETC. A summary of the major points and conclusions of the book is provided, as well.

Overall, the book makes sufficient progress toward illustrating how decentralization and smaller jurisdictions may facilitate a move toward a more widespread use of tolls as a financing source for transportation net- works. It illustrates this by using an innovative approach, which put into question the effectiveness of the conventional institutional framework for providing public transportation services. It is noteworthy that the book, at several occasions, utilizes and applies game theory as a method of analysis. The book also addresses and raises a number of important questions about the prospect of a widespread adoption of toll roads in the US that ought to stimulate the emergence of extension studies. For these reasons, the book is an important addition to the existing body of literature on toll roads and road pricing, which conventionally have been focused on optimal road pricing. A drawback of the book is its frequent use of complex economic theories and equations to describe many phenomena addressed in the book. This may be a remnant of its origins. The book is based in part on a doctoral dissertation completed in 1998.

The book ought to be read by any practitioner or scholar who claims a serious interest in transportation finance. It would be an excellent secondary text for any course in transportation finance or policy, in either an economics department or a public policy program. This is a most welcomed addition to the transportation finance literature.

  • Odd J. Stalebrink West Virginia University Division of Public Administration Morgantown, WV, USA Book review 565


The Transportation Experience: Cover Art

The Transportation Experience: Second Edition by William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson
The Transportation Experience: Second Edition by William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson (2014)
Claude Monet  - Gare Saint Lazare (1877)
Claude Monet – Gare Saint Lazare (1877)


The cover art for the Second Edition of The Transportation Experience is Gare Saint-Lazare (1877) by Claude Monet. A full discussion of the art can be found at the National Gallery of Art exhibition brochure.

The steam and the perspective, and the common theme of trains and rails evoke the earlier impressionistic (though not necessarily impressionist) Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner which we used on the cover of the First Edition. Monet’s image is set in a station rather than in motion, and in urban Paris rather than the countryside of England at Brunel’s Maidenhead Railway Bridge, but if you look closely, you see structures in the background of both.

The book is available for order at Oxford University Press,  Amazon and Barnes and Noble

The Transportation Experience - First Edition by W.L. Garrison and D.M. Levinson (2005)
The Transportation Experience – First Edition by W.L. Garrison and D.M. Levinson (2005)
Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway by J.M.W Turner (1844)
Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway by J.M.W Turner (1844)


Garrison, W.L. and Levinson, D.M. (2014) The Transportation Experience: Policy, Planning, and Deployment – Second Edition. Oxford University Press

ISBN-10: 0199862710 | ISBN-13: 978-0199862719 | Edition: 2


‘The Transportation Experience’

The Transportation Experience: Second Edition by William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson
The Transportation Experience: Second Edition by William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson

We are pleased to announce that the Transportation Experience: Second Edition, is now available.

The Second Edition of The Transportation Experience differs from the First substantially. Of course all the recent data is updated (the previous edition is nearly 10 years old), the graphs extended, and the text improved. In addition, the book was reorganized chronologically into a series of Waves of Development, roughly 50-60 year periods, in which we track multiple modes in parallel.

The Transportation Experience explores the historical evolution of transportation modes and technologies. The book traces how systems are innovated, planned and adapted, deployed and expanded, and reach maturity, where they may either be maintained in a polished obsolesce often propped up by subsidies, be displaced by competitors, or be reorganized and renewed. An array of examples supports the idea that modern policies are built from past experiences.

William Garrison and David Levinson assert that the planning (and control) of nonlinear, unstable processes is today’s central transportation problem, and that this is universal and true of all modes. Modes are similar, in that they all have a triad structure of network, vehicles, and operations; but this framework counters conventional wisdom. Most think of each mode as having a unique history and status, and each is regarded as the private playground of experts and agencies holding unique knowledge, operating in isolated silos. However, this book argues that while modes have an appearance of uniqueness, the same patterns repeat: systems policies, structures, and behaviors are a generic design on varying modal cloth. In the end, the illusion of uniqueness proves to be myopic.

While it is true that knowledge has accumulated from past experiences, the heavy hand of these experiences places boundaries on current knowledge; especially on the ways professionals define problems and think about processes. The Transportation Experience provides perspective for the collections of models and techniques that are the essence of transportation science, and also expands the boundaries of current knowledge of the field.

Garrison, W.L. and Levinson, D.M. (2014) The Transportation Experience: Policy, Planning, and Deployment – Second Edition. Oxford University Press

ISBN-10: 0199862710 | ISBN-13: 978-0199862719 | Edition: 2


The book is available for order at Oxford University Press,  Amazon and Barnes and Noble