Strategic Planning? We don’t need no stinkin’ planning.

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Our friend and Pioneer Board Member, Professor Joe Giglio has a new book on transportation — Driving Questions: Developing A National Transportation Vision, following up on his December 2005 release, Mobility.

Professor Giglio’s new book seeks to rise above the hurly-burly of the transportation debate (which he, quite correctly we might add, views as overly focused on tactical matters) and restart the conversation on a strategic level. He begins by asking the following four questions:

· What should the nation’s transportation system look like in the future?
· What options do we have for transforming the existing system to match this vision?
· What resources are available to implement these options?
· How do we measure our success in making transportation systems better?

The current state of the transportation system in Massachusetts has been punctuated over the last six months by:

1) the release, or more accurately, the non-release of the Long-Term Transportation Plan in the waning days of the Romney administration. (I’m guessing not many people have seen it, since this page does not appear to be linked to from any other page),

2) the recent announcement of the $1.4 billion South Coast rail link, and

3) the findings of the Transportation Finance Commission that we face a $15 billion to $19 billion funding gap just to maintain our current system, without any system expansion.

Given this environment, Professor Giglio is correct in calling for transportation planning to begin with a strategic discussion and, only after that his been decided, to begin thinking about tactics (financing methods, project planning criteria, performance measurement, use of technology, etc.).

Lastly, for those lacking the cultural literacy to get the reference in the title, here’s the primer.