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Thread: Do transportation planners use physics?

  1. #1

    Do transportation planners use physics?

    Hello,

    I am studying transportation planning at my school and have completed 2 years of graduate school. I have one more quarter left. I have not taken a physics course before, however. I have taken calculus and some basic statistics. I was wondering if Transportation Planners ever use Physics in their professional practice, and if I should take it? I would rather study it on my own if it's not something I will use professionally. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Short answer for me: no. However, I am on the policy/project management side of things, not the technical/modeling side.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    as my crazy and brilliant physics professor used to say:

    it's all physics!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Psychics maybe, physics not too much.

    Most transportation planners are either in policy or modelling. They leave the individual facility design to the engineers.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it View post
    Psychics maybe, physics not too much.

    Most transportation planners are either in policy or modelling. They leave the individual facility design to the engineers.
    I think that modeling is interesting, but there is very little physics involved with that. In fact, most modeling is done by computer programs like TransCAD, correct?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would have to agree, the gravity model, which is the basis of most transportation modeling efforts has nothing to do with actual gravity. If you know that gravity is an attractor, thats pretty much all you need to know.

  7. #7
    On a related note, how often do transportation planners use statistics? I have had only one class, which was a city planning class on data analysis. We talked about z and t tests and ANOVA. The class didn't go into as much detail as a real statistics course. Should I take a stats course instead? I wonder if I can take one after I graduate, like in the evenings after work.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by aspiringplanner View post
    On a related note, how often do transportation planners use statistics?
    Stats would be much, much more useful.

  9. #9
    No physics but some statistics.

    I would say I use statistics quite often but it will depend on the particular job that you have and the duties involved. I'm currently working on population and employment growth projections for our Travel Demand Model and am using statistics to extrapolate past patterns.

    Community Analysis and Planning Techniques by Richard Klosterman is a book that I got for a grad school statistics class and I am still using it a couple of times per year.

    My advice would be to take a stats course and if you can, find an entry Transportation Engineering course that deals with some of the analysis techniques such as Level of Service, Capacity, the 4 step demand models, traffic flow, and the like. That will also be helpful for you.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would agree the understanding of stats is much more important to doing transportation planning. It is helpful in interpretating data and forecasting. Transportation planning is more numbers-based than general planning. You are always counting people, cars, money, trucks, bikes, peds....

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