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Open Access Publications from the University of California

When Finance Leads Planning: The Influence of Public Finance on Transportation Planning and Policy in California


This dissertation examines the role that finance plays in shaping transportation planning and policy making and concludes that the key to understanding the development of metropolitan transportation systems is found in the political negotiation and compromises made to secure public investment in those systems. The particular circumstances leading to or preventing a tax increase of appropriation for a program or project explains most of the success or failure of that program or project. Three cases from California are examined: (1) the planning and finance of urban freeways prior to 1960, (2) the shift from "freeway-first" to "multi-modal" urban transportation policies after 1960, and (3) the development of state subsidies of public transit after 1970. Each of these cases is a significant chapter in the transportation history of California and each will show that the goals of the rational planning model have largely gone unfulfilled; in each case, the politics of finance superseded planning at the local level and policy making at the state level.

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