SUS 7100B Sustainable Transportation

Fall 2017. Subject to refinement/updating.

Instructor: Matthew Daus
Schedule: Wednesday 6:50 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Location: NAC 6/115
3 credits 3 hours/week


Matthew W. Daus, Esq. (Distinguished Lecturer.) (preferred) (alternate)

Office hours:
Walk-in: Wednesday 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
University Transportation Research Center, Marshak Hall, Suite J-910 (9th Floor)


The course will review the role transportation plays in U.S. society using a demand-supply economic perspective. Both freight and passenger movements will be considered. The first half of the course will establish transportation use and its impact on land use, energy consumption, air quality and related environmental issues. Development of basic economic models used to evaluate the impacts of transportation will be established. There will be a review of legislation and regulations as well as system funding that define how transport investment choices are made. The second half of the course will address current and evolving models involving sustainability. These will include technical solutions to reduce carbon emissions, land use/transport shifts, including transit oriented design, and information technology substitutions for transportation.


  • To widen students’ vocabulary of sustainable transportation definitions, terms and concepts.
  • To learn about the history of transportation in the U.S., and the relationship to and impact it has had on current transportation modes and sustainability challenges.
  • To understand the interrelationship of various transportation modes and to develop opinions and perspectives on the priorities and/or importance of mode choice to assist in planning and policy decisions.
  • To develop a generic understanding of the various laws, rules and regulations that develop the framework within which sustainable transportation decisions and planning must adhere and operate.
  • To engage in problem solving and develop students’ own ideas for reducing emissions and sustainable transportation planning using technology and land use as policy tools and solutions.
  • To develop a pragmatic viewpoint and understanding of the “real world” – where the limitations of best practices and theory meet the reality of promoting sustainable transportation – through case studies involving actual projects, policy plans and by engaging guest lecturers who have experience and work in the field of sustainable transportation.
  • To hone, develop and improve analytical thinking and writing skills.
  • To improve oral and written expression, including concise articulation and debate skills.
  • To improve interpersonal and collaborative skills by working together on projects with other students.

Course Requirements

Oral Presentations, Class Participation & Collaboration

Students are expected to interact with one another and their instructor, and may be assigned to work together on classroom projects, exercises and to participate in debates and dialogue. All students will be graded based upon their class participation.  Students are expected to be informed, articulate, and ask thought provoking and well-reasoned questions, provide insightful commentary, and will be encouraged to formulate and propose innovative ideas and solutions. The activities described below will collectively count towards 20% of each student’s final grade:

Written Assignments

  • Term Paper & PowerPoint: Students will be asked to propose term paper topics by a date certain and to submit a final term paper on or before the dates indicated in the course description information above on this syllabus, or as otherwise set by the instructor. Term papers must be a minimum of 10 typewritten pages, with 1 inch margins, and no larger than 14 pt. type. The grading of this term paper, which is expected to be of publishable quality, as well as the preparation of a powerpoint presentation summarizing and communicating the results of said research, counts towards 40% of the student’s final grade.  


  • Mid-Term Examination: The mid-term examination will test knowledge of the concepts covered through all coursework and lectures up until the time of the mid-term exam, and will be primarily multiple choice questions. The mid-term exam will account for 15% of the student’s final grade.
  • Final Examination: The final examination will test knowledge of the concepts and topics covered through all coursework and lectures, cumulatively, throughout the entire semester. The exam may be a combination of multiple choice, short answer questions and essays. The final exam will account for 25% of the student’s final grade.

Extra Credit Assignment Options

  • Bicycle Lane and Bike Share Policy:  Students will be offered extra credit to collect and analyze field data with regard to the placement and condition of NYC’s bike lane system and the bike share program, with emphasis being placed on safety concerns, resulting in the population and use of a class blog to report and tabulate conditions, observations and to make specific recommendations.
  • Popular Music & Car Culture: Find popular music songs from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that portrayed cars or car culture in a negative light. Recite in class and provide them to the instructor with a brief analysis.
  • Shared Mobility Apps: Review the following websites and download smartphone apps, and any other relevant apps, and discuss briefly what they add to promoting sustainable transportation: Car2Go, ZipCar, Via, Lyft (Lyftline), Uber (Uberpool) and others you can find.

Required Reading

Reading Assignments

Students are expected to complete all assigned readings prior to the class session when they are covered. Reading assignments for each class are set forth below, and will be comprised of a combination of the assigned textbook, handouts and/or web pages/links that will be distributed or identified in advance. The course reader is:


Grades will be calculated and weighted as follows:

Mid-Term Examination15%
Final Examination   25%
Class Participation & Collaboration     20%
Term Paper   40%
Total                     100%

Course Outline

Syllabus Part I - Context-Setting: Transportation and the environment, energy consumption and land use.

The first half of the course will focus on defining and understanding sustainable transportation, and will place into context the definitions and terminology of this study area. All modes of transportation and the various types of energy consumed to transport passengers and freight will be identified, and the effect of each upon the environment, including air, water and soil, global warming and solid waste will be explored. The relationship between transportation and land use, including suburban sprawl, equity issues and U.S. car culture will be debated, analyzed and digested. Finally, an overview of various laws and government regulations that govern and affect transportation sustainability, emissions reductions and other areas will be covered.

Class 1 – August 30th Course Overview & What is “Sustainable Transportation”?

  • Reading and homework assignment: 
  • Read textbook Introduction & Overview
  • Read textbook Chapter 1 – A Highly Mobile Planet and Its Challenges
  • Complete student questionnaire (via email)

Class 2 - September 6th  Automobiles – The Past, Present & Future

Class 3 -September 13th Transportation History & Modes

  • Discussion of land modes, water, aviation, telecommunications, infrastructure development; the practicality of walking and bicycling
  • Discussion of transportation modes – short and long distance – including walking, bicycling, motorized two- and three-wheelers, personal motor vehicles (PMVs), buses, urban rail transit, intercity rail, airplanes and ships.
  • The relationship of these various modes to urban space and required infrastructure.
  • Comparison of the energy efficiency of various transportation modes.
  • Reading assignments:
  • Textbook Chapter 3 – History of Sustainable and Unsustainable Transportation: from Walking to Wheels and back to Walking
  • Textbook Chapter 4 – Modes, Roads and Routes: Technologies, Infrastructure, Functions and Interrelatedness

NO CLASS – September 20th

Class 4 – September 27th For-Hire Ground Transportation Regulatory Paradigm Shifts - Equity, Accessibility & Paratransit Reform

Class 5 – October 4th  Shared Mobility - Ride Sharing, Ride Sourcing, Bike Sharing & Car Sharing Technology

Class 6 – October 11th -  Shared Mobility (continued) 

  • Additional Reading Materials:
    • CUNY /UTRC Report on “Leveling the Playing Field” Between TNCs and Taxicabs/For-Hire Vehicles.   I recently completed a comprehensive report entitled: “Post-TNC Transportation Policy & Planning: Who and What Should be Regulated & How to “Level the Playing Field” with Taxicabs and For-Hire Services?” (“Leveling the Playing Field Article”), (September 2016), through the University Transportation Research Center (Region 2) at The City College of NY, of the City University of NY, which is available on the University Transportation Research Center website at:  A condensed version was recently published by the American Planning Association as a sidebar in Planning for Shared Mobility, at:  An edited version of this white paper is also scheduled for re-publication in the November-December 2016 edition of the Municipal Lawyer of the International Municipal Lawyers Association

Class 7 - October 18th - Environmental Laws and Regulations; Climate Change & Alternative Fueled Vehicles

Class 8 - October 25th   MID-TERM EXAMINATION

Syllabus Part II – Sustainability Solutions: Utilizing mode technology, demand, land use and information technology to promote and enhance sustainability.

The second half of the course will put the theory and knowledge acquired to pragmatic use by attempting to address transportation sustainability challenges and solve real problems and issues. The sustainability solution tools will be identified, analyzed, discussed and applied – including: technological innovations to automobiles and other freight and passenger carriers (clean energy applications and alternative fuel vehicles such as electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells and compressed natural gas); reducing passenger demand (by mechanisms such as congestion pricing, tolls, etc..); land use planning; and information technology (Global Position Systems and other advances). Real examples of sustainable initiatives will be reviewed and discussed – including lessons learned as to why certain initiatives were successful and why others failed. Guest speakers who worked on sustainability initiatives will answer questions and provide their insight, and address the most pressing obstacles of funding and economics. Also, innovative economic and entrepreneurial approaches to promoting sustainable transportation as a supplement or solution to government funding issues and subsidies will be explored with guest speaker(s) who advance both business and environmental agendas simultaneously.  Then, hypothetical situations, exercises and case studies will be assigned to apply what was learned from New York City sustainability initiatives to solving problems in other contexts and cities.   

Class 9 – November 1ST Sustainable Transportation Planning, Policy-Making and Leadership

Class 10 - November 8th  -  Sustainable Transportation Planning, Policy-Making and Leadership (continued) -

  • Reading Assignments:

Class 11 - November 15th   -  NYC’s Bike Share & Lane Program vs. Personal Motor Vehicles (Peaceful Co-Existence)?


Class 12 -November 22ND - Transportation Freight & Logistics

  • The topic of government subsidies vs. de-subsidization will be debated.
  • Overview of freight movement, its various modes, supply chains, logistical systems, and necessary infrastructure (including trains, trucks, airplanes and ships). 
  • Sustainability challenges caused by globalized trade and freight transport, and the underlying economics creating these challenges.
  • Reading & Reading Assignments:
  • Textbook Chapter 5  - Moving Freight, Logistics and Supply Chains in a More Sustainable Direction

Class 13 – November 29th  - Student Term Presentations (Term Paper Powerpoints)

Class 14 – December 6th   Student Term Presentations (Term Paper Powerpoints) - continued

December 13th – Final Examination (Term Papers Due)