Don't worry, this isn't another one of the countless School X vs School Y discussions on Cyburbia....
As a prospective transportation-focused MURP student choosing between schools in Portland and Los Angeles, I am interested in learning which city would make the better laboratory in which to study mass transit. To get things started, I'll try my best to articulate my thoughts on each metro area below:
Portland: This city is an absolute mecca for transportation and sustainable development. For someone studying transportation in a MURP program, it is one of the best examples of successful mass transit systems in the United States and a great laboratory in which to study a well-planned city's infrastructure. In short, they've got their sh**t together, transportation-wise. Portland also has PSU, by all accounts a great program with an very good transportation planning focus, but as a whole, sort of a 2nd rate school. Lots of internship opportunities for PSU students as the program is very well-connected within the Portland metro area, but a much smaller city than Los Angeles with presumably less to choose from in terms of post-graduate employment.
Los Angeles: LA is a whole different story. Public transit is only now becoming a popular ballot issue, still with seemingly insurmountable budgetary shortfalls and lobbying interests standing in its way. A case study for sprawl and the social ills it creates (pollution, poverty, gridlock, etc), calling Los Angeles' public transit system a work in progress would be an understatement. Despite this, LA seems to be at a critical point in the development of its transit system. Light rail is gaining popularity over dedicated bus lines and major construction on new transit projects is always ongoing (expo light rail line, subway to the sea, etc). It also has two top tier universities in UCLA and USC, both with very good transportation planning programs.
So my questions are these: Is it better to study transportation planning in a city where a model is already in place, or where public transit is still up-and-coming? Also, will your chances of post graduate employment suffer in a smaller metro area or is it possible to study in one city, then apply what you've learned to another (thinking specifically portland to los angeles, but could be the other way around, I guess)?
Thanks for the help you guys!