In 2009, the US DOT presented livability principles as the foundation of a new vision and direction for federal transportation policy. In 2010, the hype within the transportation community was at its peak and many were grappling with defining the latest buzzword. Are sustainability and livability the same or different concepts? Is safety part of livability? Who has data on livability and how do we measure it?
A 2010 US DOT UTC TRB conference defined transportation systems that create livability as systems that work with land use to give everyone multiple travel choices for meeting their daily mobility needs affordably, safely, conveniently, and efficiently. The concepts embedded in this definition are not new for academics in many transportation-related disciplines. But the livability policy effort was intended to represent a major change in how transportation agencies have viewed and managed their transportation programs in the United States.
Livability was a particularly short-lived buzzword in the transportation community, practically disappearing early in 2011. This seminar presents numerous hypotheses for this short life. The story of livability, as a broad federal transportation policy endeavor, also dictates some important lessons for what needs to come next in a comprehensive federal approach to renewing our transportation system. To advance us beyond our current system to a new paradigm of programs that advance sustainable, reliable and equitable mobility, new federal policy (and its associated buzzword) must convincingly address both urban and rural communities.