Metropolitan Transport and Land Use: Planning for Place and Plexus (2nd Edition)

I got my copies, you should too … Now available for order: Metropolitan Transport and Land Use.

MTLU-PPP2ndEdAs cities across the globe respond to rapid technological changes and political pressures, coordinated transport and land use planning is targeted as a solution and is the subject of increased interest.

Metropolitan Transport and Land Use, the second edition of Planning for Place and Plexus, provides unique and updated perspectives on metropolitan transport networks and land use planning, challenging current planning strategies, offering frameworks to understand and evaluate policy, and suggesting alternative solutions.

The book includes current and cutting edge theory, findings, and recommendations which are cleverly illustrated throughout using international examples. This revised work continues to serve as a valuable resource for students, researchers, practitioners, and policy advisors working across transport, land use, and planning.

About the Authors

David M. Levinson  is Professor of Transport at the University of Sydney School of Civil Engineering, Australia. From 1999 to 2016 he taught and served as Chair of Transportation at the University of Minnesota, USA, where this book was first crafted. He serves as the editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use and is the author or editor of a dozen books.

Kevin J. Krizek is Professor of Environmental Design and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is Director in Environmental Design and serves as a Visiting Professor of “Cycling in Changing Urban Regions” at the Institute of Management Research at Radboud University, the Netherlands.


  1. Action
  2. Access: The Fundamental Force
  3. Homebuying.
  4. Jobseeking
  5. Traveling
  6. Scheduling
  7. Exchange
  8. Siting
  9. Selling
  10. Evaluation
  11. Arranging
  12. Assembling
  13. Administering
  14. Getting Beyond “Stuckness”

Reviews of the First Edition

Levinson, David and Krizek, Kevin (2008) Planning for Place and Plexus: Metropolitan Land Use and Transport Routledge.
Levinson, David and Krizek, Kevin (2008) Planning for Place and Plexus: Metropolitan Land Use and Transport Routledge.

‘A lively, engaging book…which uses neoclassical economic principles…in a digestible format. The authors go so far as to draw from the film “Thelma and Louise” to show how game theory can be applied in predicting whether someone will drive or take public transit. This provocative, highly relevant book deserves to be on the bookshelf of everyone concerned with urban planning and transportation.’

Robert Cervero, Professor and Chair
Department of City and Regional Planning
University of California, Berkeley


The book is available from the following vendors.

You can order from any good independent bookstore as well: ISBN-13: 978-1138924260 … ISBN-10:1138924261

A model of the vicious cycle of a bus line

Recent paper:

It has been frequently noted that in a non-regulated environment the development of public transport service is self-adjusting: Faced with decreasing demand, operators will tend to reduce service to cut costs, resulting in a decrease in the level-of-service, which then triggers a further drop in demand. The opposite may also occur: high demand will induce the operator to increase supply, e.g. through an increase in frequency, which results in a higher level-of-service and a subsequent increase in passenger numbers, triggering another round of service improvements. This paper adds to the literature by presenting an analytic model for analyzing these phenomena that we call vicious and virtuous cycles. Based on field data regarding passengers’ variation in willingness-to-wait for a public transport service, we investigate the dynamics of the line service and show how the emergence of a vicious or virtuous cycle depends on the total number of potential passengers, the share of captive riders, and bus capacity. The paper ends with a discussion of the implications of the findings for the planning of public transport services.

This paper extends a pedagogical model we developed in Planning for Place and Plexus and makes it much more rigorous.

Cities sans shopping

The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.
The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.


Before the advent of civilization, there was little trade and few “stores”. We did not “store” much, we went and hunted or gathered what we needed. Once we invented agriculture, we invented storage, and surplus, and extended trade. We held inventory. Once we sold inventories from fixed locations in exchange for what become money, retailing was invented.

A while ago I wrote this:

Some nuance on language.

Shop: wiktionary: From Middle English shoppe, from Old English sceoppa (“booth”)

  1. An establishment that sells goods or services to the public; originally a physical location, but now a virtual establishment as well.
  2. A place where things are crafted; a workshop or hobbyshop.
  3. An automobile mechanic’s workplace.
  4. Workplace; office. Used mainly in expressions such as shop talk, closed shop and shop floor.

Store: wiktionary:  Etymology from Latin instaurare – (“erect, establish”). store

  1. A place where items may be accumulated or routinely kept.
  2. A supply held in storage.
  3. (mainly North American) A place where items may be purchased.

A shop is a place where things are worked on (and sold), a store is a place where things are kept (and sold). We go shopping but we don’t go storing, we come home and store the things we got from the larger store.

The idea of a store, where things that we may need are stored and distributed, is ultimately one of sharing community resources. I may need tools at some point, but rather than own all the tools I might need, there is a hardware store which sells things on a just-in-time basis to consumers. Who owns the hardware store (an individual, a firm, a cooperative) is secondary to the necessity of such a function to achieve economies of scale and ensure variety. If there were no stores, we would need to store everything we might need, and would need to truck and barter for goods with their makers, a much less efficiency system.

The idea of a shop is just the place where the trade takes place. Implicitly, a store holds lots of things, a shop is just a place for the transaction or some local repair work. This is somewhat lost in modern usage, but we still have hardware stores and grocery stores (which are relatively large), but dress shops, tailor shops, auto shops (which at least the first two are relatively small, and the latter two refer to where things are done rather than already made things are sold).

Both of these functions are necessary in urban systems. We  need both places to store items we may need in the future (and then acquire them when needed), and we need shop-places to work on things, making them, repairing them, altering them.  With the move toward a disposable society, where it costs more to fix things (which is a laborious process) than make them (which is often automated), the share of space devoted to shops rather than stores has declined. Proposition Joe is in a declining business (“Shine that up and put $7.50 on it… Shame to let a good toaster go to waste over a frayed cord” – Proposition Joe, The Wire)

Where these things are located relative to where people and live and work depends on the frequency of use. We want things we want frequently (e.g. milk), to be closer than things we want infrequently (e.g. furniture). But closer and farther are relative not absolute terms. They depend on context: location with respect to others (density or community demand), the cost of travel (technology), frequency of use (individual demand), and so on. Relative locations have changed over time as density, technology, and demand have changed.

While transactions are here to stay, if only for the raw materials needed to operate our 3D printers, “going shopping” in the physical world may have peaked.

American Time Use Survey, Purchasing Goods and Services Trends
American Time Use Survey, Purchasing Goods and Services Trends

The American Time Use Survey shows a drop in time spent “purchasing goods and services) from 2003 (0.81 hours) to 2008 (0.77 hours) to 2009 (0.72 hours) to  2010 (0.75 hours) to 2011 (0.72 hours). 0.09 hours per day may not seem like much, and this is only a few years trend, and there is some volatility, but it is consistent with what we know about the rest of the world.

To the extent I can operate in a de-materialized world, where fetching is replaced by delivery (especially by automated delivery), the amount of shopping (and naturally, the space devoted to shopping) will shrink. This is counter-balanced by the trends toward greater income (which has to be spent on something) and more time (which also has to be spent on something), for which retail may be an attractive solution. But this turns retail into a service and entertainment activity more than a transactional one.

In Chapter 9 of Planning for Place and Plexus, we write about: The rise (and fall) and rise (and fall?) of door-to-door delivery

Door-to-door delivery differs from door-to-door sales. The delivery requires only a catalog (be it paper or electronic) and some way of getting the order and finances from the consumer to the manufacturer and the goods from the manufacturer back to the consumer.

The enabler for this type of exchange was the U.S. Post Office’s Rural Free Delivery (RFD). The need for RFD lay in several factors. The remoteness of rural America meant 30 million residents had to travel to town to pick up their mail. The poor quality of roads made this difficult. Postmaster General (and department store founder) John Wanamaker pushed for RFD, which began in the 1890s, and after experimentation it was finally inaugurated in 1896 in West Virginia and ramped up to 29 states. By 1901, Congress made RFD permanent. RFD had several effects. One is that it gave added weight behind federal involvement in the good roads movement. Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution gives Congress the power “To establish Post Offices and post Roads”; though federal aid for state roads did not really begin until 1913, and did not get going until 1916.

A second effect is that retailers like Montgomery Ward, L.L. Bean, Charles Tiffany, W.A. Burpee, and of course Sears, Roebuck & Company took advantage of RFD. Especially with the addition of parcel service to traditional postal service, the mail order catalog business took off. Sears, which had been publishing specialty catalogs since 1888, issued its first general merchandise catalog, the “Big Book”, in 1896, whose Christmas edition came to be known as the “Wish Book”. The catalog truly was general merchandise, selling cars by catalog from 1909 to 1913 and bungalow houses from 1908 until the Great Depression. In fact, Sears didn’t open its first retail store until 1925, and the general Big Book catalog was discontinued in 1993 (Sears 2004), notably before the widespread adoption of the World Wide Web.

By the time Sears was scaling back its catalog business, mail order, along with toll free numbers, had become a booming industry. The emerging internet saw the rise of numerous e-commerce vendors. (founded 1994) and eBay (founded 1995) relied both on the post office, as well as express carriers such as Federal Express (founded 1971) and United Parcel Service (founded 1907). Jupiter (2004) estimates US online sales at $65 Billion, growing to $117 Billion by 2008, which will amount to about 5% of all retail sales, although the online sector is growing faster than traditional retailing.

Online research influences a great deal of offline purchases, but what is missing from online sales are things that are widely consumed without much research, like supermarket food items, as well as items like gasoline that are impractical to deliver. Many have tried to extend the reach of online purchasing to replace the supermarket, recalling the milkman of yore, but companies such as Webvan did not succeed. Webvan, which attracted more venture capital than any internet retailer except, delivered food to customers in seven cities, and established a new warehouse distribution system (Paying $1 Billion to Bechtel for this) in each of those cities. It acquired rival startup Home Grocer, but wound up spending money faster than it could earn it for long enough that it had to declare bankruptcy July 10, 2001, after the peak in the stock market bubble (but before 9/11). Even more ambitious,, which served seven cities, promised free one-hour delivery for a variety of goods from videos to coffee and ice cream ordered online. Unlike Webvan, never went public, lasting from 1998 to April 2001. Webvan like services (Peapod and Simon Delivers, among others) do remain, with lower capital costs. Whether these are profitable remains to be seen.

But we now see a second run at making delivery of even perishable items standard. Amazon, Google, and others are trying to figure out a workable model that is cheaper than the USPS, Federal Express and UPS for same-day delivery.

The more that is delivered, the less that is fetched. Shopping transitions from the real to virtual, and some, if not all, of the space that was devoted to shopping (14.2 billion square feet) will need to disappear. [For perspective, the Mall of America is 4.2 million square feet, of which 2.5 million is retail. So US retail is basically 3000 Malls of America.]

Fortunately, a lot of the retail that will disappear is, for lack of a better word, crap. We all know the dumpy strip malls that besot our landscape. First they will lower rents. Second they will be abandoned. Then they will be replaced. As with many of these processes, there will be a rich get richer phenomenon, the few remaining retail centers may continue to grow, as the experience of shopping (requiring many many choices) replaces the necessity of shopping. The commodity distributors will be replaced by commodity deliverers if the cost of distributions can be flipped so that delivery is cheap enough. But people still need to leave home, if only to get out of the house. Looking at things is a good excuse. This suggests artisans and crafts, and things that are more attractive in person than online will be the things that motivate us to leave the home-work axis for alternative destinations. The purchase of stocks like paper towels will rarely be enough to get us out of our chairs.

But with what will we replace the losers?

These are the tear-downs. To the extent they still have good transport access, they might remain commercial, or be appropriate for high density residential. On University Avenue along the Central Corridor, abandoned retail is being transitioned to new residential construction.

I don’t expect many parks or single-family homes, since these are still relatively prime locations from an accessibility perspective, and along transportation corridors. While the highest and best use may not be retail stores, there are still other activities that benefit from locations that are easily reached.

Toward transit dominance


Mode choice is not generally a marginal thing. For a given market (a market here is an origin-destination (OD) pair, by time of day. [We could further break this down by purpose of trip, or socio-economic class of the traveler, but we won’t here.]), either almost everyone chooses one mode or another. Very few markets are competitive. To be competitive, the alternatives have to be perceived as having almost exactly the same travel time, frequency, reliability, and other characteristics, or the advantage in one characteristic has to be exactly offset by another. I am going to briefly describe transit use patterns.

Consider downtown Minneapolis. The table below, from Planning for Place and Plexus (chapter 5) shows estimates of work trip transit mode shares into downtown (the destination) from all origins. As can be seen, in some cases (peak hour), mode share in 2000 was 44 percent. If for all origins, the mode share was 44 percent, then for some origins it was much higher than 44 percent, and for others it was much lower than 44 percent.


Source Transit Mode Share Scope
Census results (2000) 25% All downtown, All day, work trips only
Cordon Count- Minneapolis plan (1995) 34% All trips, Peak Period (Survey teams at 100+ entrance points counting people entering downtown)
Employer survey (SRF Consulting, 2000 Downtown Transportation Study) 40% Work trips, peak hour
TBI survey (2001) 36-41% All downtown, peak period, work trips (5% sample of regional households)
TBI survey 43-44% All downtown, peak hour, work trips
Minneapolis downtown transportation plan 24-58% Depending on location, peak period
Metropolitan Council, TBI 26.5% Entire day (avg inbound/outbound)
Metropolitan Council, TBI 39% Peak period (avg inbound/outbound periods)
Metropolitan Council, TBI 44% Peak Hour (avg)
A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, and Institutions by David M. Levinson and David A. King
A Political Economy of Access: Infrastructure, Networks, Cities, and Institutions by David M. Levinson and David A. King

Downtown is one kind of market, and larger cities than Minneapolis will even have higher transit mode shares. Non-downtown is a different kind of market, with a transit mode share much closer to zero. The regional mode share for all trips in Twin Cities is estimated at 5 percent for work trips. If the destination mode share is much higher than 5 percent for downtown Minneapolis (and downtown St. Paul, and the University), then it must be lower than 5 percent for other destinations. The US national number for mode share for all trips is under 2 percent, from the 2009 NHTS (though up from 2001). The 2000 Twin Cities TBI gives us an unweighted estimate of 1.4 percent of all trips by public bus. Soon the 2011 TBI will be out, and we can update.
Theory suggests there are two equilibria because transit is a positive feedback system (and the primary competing mode, automobiles, is a negative feedback system). The more transit riders, the more revenue, the higher the rate of buses (or trains) per hour (and the better the service, as with more riders, express and other services can be offered). At high levels of ridership (relatively high mode shares), losing a few riders because of small random exogenous shock, or even a bus-full will not be noticed in the travel times (schedule delays) of the remaining riders. At medium levels of ridership, losing just enough riders to result in service cutbacks will have a noticed effect on headways and thus schedule delays, driving transit ridership down further. This is the vicious circle that has destroyed transit in most of the US. As students of systems theory know, vicious circles are just virtuous circles in reverse. An exogenous shock increasing transit use should increase supply provided, reducing waits, and thus further increasing use. We imagine this might be a sharp sudden increase in the price of fuel. This only happens if the supply system is responsive, which typically happens with free markets, but not necessarily under government management.
So in a world where people do have the ability to have an automobile, either many travelers (in a narrowly-defined market) almost always use transit, and the frequency is high (the case for selected to origins to well-served activity centers), or almost no one does (the case almost everywhere else).
This says to me, fixed-route transit investment should be highly, highly focused in markets (OD pairs) where it is, or can cost effectively and financially sustainably become, the dominant carrier.
The transit goal should be reframed.
Transit is not competing to double its regional mode share for all trips from 1.5 to 3 percent. It is competing to increase its mode share in specific markets from 40 percent to 60 percent to 80 percent, and to add markets where it can dominate. (Regional mode share might be a byproduct of that, but it is an improper goal). Otherwise, the service is spread out like peanut butter and does nothing well.
To be clear, we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. As a society, almost all new urban form since the 1920s has been climbing up Mt. Auto and down Mt. Transit. Every change we make to the network to make it more convenient for cars makes it less convenient for transit. Every change in land use adapted to the automobile is maladapted to an environment served by transit. It would probably take another century of concerted effort to reverse this, and there is no evidence that efforts are concerted.
Yet, there remain markets, mostly those that existed before the 1920s, where transit is competitive, and even dominant. Instead of chasing butterflies, transit systems should focus on its dominant and dominatable markets, and play to its strengths. Everyone can think of local butterflies that are diffusing rather than concentrating transit’s attention.
If, where, and when the transit service is good, it will attract transit-oriented people to organize their lives around transit services, and may encourage new people to become transit riders. It might even encourage transit-oriented development to shelter those transit-oriented people, and transit-oriented stores and businesses to serve them. It cannot do this where the service remains poor.
1. Depending on how precise we want to be with our definitions of origins, we can figure this out from Census data (at the block group or tract level). But we can’t know this from data at the block level. Unfortunately for analysts, there is a wide degree of variation within very small geographies, as people typically walk to transit, and walking is sensitive to relatively small distances and micro-scale factors. The Travel Behavior Inventory is too small a sample at the block level to compute block level mode shares directly, (as is the Census or American Community Survey). Models will give us estimates, and a regional planning model with 1200 transportation analysis zones and 24 time slices will estimate this number for 34,560,000 markets. In integers, most of those would be zero trip markets. In the planning model which uses real numbers, each of those markets has some probability of using transit.
2. There are insufficient observations for the Twin Cities from NHTS (apparently 11 unweighted transit users) to estimate transit mode share for the Twin Cities from the NHTS.
3. In my view, the purpose of transit is of course transportation, since other outcomes, like land development, follow from the utility of the network in providing real services.
4. In contrast to transit, where people are mostly a benefit in terms of service time, the more people who drive, the higher the travel time for all concerned (since capacity is hard to add in the short run). Driving is self-limiting (~2000 vehicles per hour per lane), transit services are limited at much higher levels of capacity (usually not reached except in the largest cities), and are usually instead limited by demand.

Does alcohol lubricate Putnam’s social capital?

Minnesota ranks among worst in DWIs, study shows
“Minnesota has one of the nation’s worst drunken driving rates, said a government report that says 15 percent of adult drivers nationally report driving under the influence of alcohol in the previous year. Here are the states with the worst records:
1. Wisconsin, 26.4 percent
2. North Dakota, 26.4 percent
3. Minnesota, 23.5 percent
4. Nebraska, 22.9 percent
5. South Dakota, 21.6 percent”
Note, these are also almost exactly the states with the highest social capital according to Robert Putnam’s index (see the book Bowling Alone)
Table 4.1 Social capital scores by state
Rank State Score
1 North Dakota 1.712
2 South Dakota 1.693
3 Vermont 1.424
4 Minnesota 1.325
5 Montana 1.296
6 Nebraska 1.157
7 Iowa 0.988
8 New Hampshire 0.779
9 Wyoming 0.6710
10 Washington 0.6511
11 Wisconsin 0.5912
12 Oregon 0.57
(Source: Putnam 2000)
(Kevin Krizek and I discuss Putnam’s social capital idea in the book Planning for Place and Plexus
This raises the interesting question: does alcohol lubricate Putnam’s social capital?
From a social perspective, drinking alone at home may be better than drinking away from home. But what do I know, I am a teetotaler.

Planning for Place and Plexus: Metropolitan Land Use and Transport

Planning for Place and Plexus: Metropolitan Land Use and Transport by David Levinson and Kevin Krizek is now out and available for pre-order. I received my copies today and am quite pleased with how it came out.
Growing out of a course we taught on transportation and land use (PA8202/CE8202: Networks and Places), the book took many years, and I need to think my co-author Kevin Krizek, the publisher Routledge, and their staff and contractors, notably Katy Low, Ben Woolhead, Andrew Craddock, Victoria Johnson, Eleanor Rivers, Jane Wilde, Kate McDevitt, David McBride, our artist Doug Benson, and CTS’s Peter Park Nelson for making this real. My mailbox storing correspondence I have received on the book (excluding what I sent) numbers 723 messages since July 2002. I don’t even want to think about how difficult this must have been without email.
The blurb on the book brochure says:
Planning for Place and Plexus provides a fresh and unique perspective
on metropolitan land use and transport networks, challenging current
planning strategies and offering frameworks to understand and evalu-
ate policy.
The book suggests actions for the future urban growth of metropolitan
areas and includes current and cutting edge theory, findings, and rec-
ommendations which are cleverly illustrated throughout using interna-
tional examples. It is a valuable resource for students, researchers,
practitioners, and policy advisors working across transport, land use,
and planning.
‘A lively, engaging book…which uses neoclassical economic principles…in a
digestible format. The authors go so far as to draw from the film “Thelma and
Louise” to show how game theory can be applied in predicting whether some-
one will drive or take public transit. This provocative, highly relevant book de-
serves to be on the bookshelf of everyone concerned with urban planning and
— Robert Cervero, Professor and Chair, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley