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Thread: Is it possible for a land use planner to get a position in a MPO?

  1. #1
    Member
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    Aug 2008
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    Ithaca, NY
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    Is it possible for a land use planner to get a position in a MPO?

    I was trained as a land use planner, but now I am interested in transportation planning. I prefer dealing with data rather than writing. But I never learn transportation planning at school. So, I want to know how hard to be a transportation planning. What kind of knowledge or skills I need to pick up?

    How is the job market in transportation planning?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Yes it is possible. Not everyone at an MPO is a modeler or an engineer. Granted smaller MPOs who run their own models may want someone with specific transportation experience if they only have one of two members of their staff.

    Currently, most MPOs are holding off on hiring because the transportation bill is about a year late and because local and state governments, who must match the federal money coming into the MPO are for the most part, having economic difficulties.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Member
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    Jan 2010
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    Tucson, Arizona
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    Looking for distance learning transportation courses

    I have a similar goal - I am a land use/environmental planner in Tucson, Arizona. I have always liked the infrastructure side of planning. I worked in New England for 7 years - generalist planners seemed to have more involvement with transportation issues.

    The strategy I would like to take is to enroll in some on-line classes in transportation, but haven't found much yet - does anybody have any suggestions? So far, I'm looking into an engineering program for engineers in Ontario and the University of S. Florida Center for Urban transportation research.

    I worked for the MPO in Hartford, CT for two years. It was a good experience. I did land use planning and environmental, but was really intrigued by transportation. The Hartford region was planning a bus rapid transit system, and I did a large GIS project to analyze transit supportive land uses. The MPO currently has community development staff that concentrates on transit oriented development. That seems like a good area for land use planners interested in transportation, but is a desirable assignment, and thus fairly competitive to get. Another strategy would be to identify progressive communities that value alternative transportation modes - transit, ped, bicycle - and focus your job hunt there. That might include the more obvious ones - Portland, OR, Berkeley, CA, Chicago & perhaps some suburbs, some D.C. communities

    Tucson and Phoenix both have major transit initiatives underway, but I don't see a lot of opportunity here now because the state and municipal budget scenario is so dire. There is so much new, sprawling development, and so much open land, that there is little respect for mixed use and transit oriented development. One thing about Tucson that I have really enjoyed is that it is growing so much that there are volunteer opportunities aplenty. For instance, I was appointed to the CIty-County BIcycle Advisory Committee. I've learned a great deal from that experience, and gotten to interact with lots of enthusiastic bicycle advocates.

    Good luck, and I'd appreciate any advice!

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