aerial view of cars at large intersection

Transportation Planning: Travel Behavior Principles and Modelling Approaches

This course provides an overview and critique of the four-step model used in transportation planning. By the end of this course, viewers will be able to conceptualize how transportation models can address contemporary problems in transportation planning, such as transit-oriented development.

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Course Info

  • Duration 8 video lessons (55 Mins)
  • Published Published
  • 4.40
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Browse Course Chapters

  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 4 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Travel Demand: Overcoming Spatial Distance
    Chapter Duration 4 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Basic Facts About Urban Travel Behavior
    Chapter Duration 2 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Introduction to Four-Step Transportation Models
    Chapter Duration 19 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Critique of Four-Step Models
    Chapter Duration 8 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Innovations in Modeling: Disaggregated Activity Models
    Chapter Duration 5 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Contemporary Transportation Challenges
    Chapter Duration 6 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 4 mins

What You Will Learn


  • Understand the basis for travel demand and the utility-maximizing assumptions in models.
  • Learn about basic facts in urban travel behavior – trip purposes, travel modes, trip distance, trip origins and destinations.
  • Introduce trip generation, trip distribution, mode split, and trip assignment used in zone-based transportation models.
  • Critique the four-step modelling process for the types of questions addressed in contemporary transportation planning. 
  • Understand innovations in modeling, such as disaggregated activity and trip tour-based models.
  • Be able to conceptualize how transportation models can address contemporary problems in transportation planning such as transit-oriented development.

Course Description

Transportation planning has traditionally relied on economic theories in which travelers maximize their utility by choosing among travel opportunities according to travel time, cost, and convenience. A class of models, called four-step models, was developed based on these theories and found wide practice in transportation agencies. The course explains and critiques the four-step model as a way of introducing this way of thinking and then addresses other approaches, such as cognitive theories, ecological models of behavior, or prospect theory, as alternative models.

Learn these skills

  • Economics
  • Environmental Planning
  • Land Use
  • Law and Policy
  • Modeling & Simulation
  • Parking
  • Pedestrian Planning
  • Transportation
  • Urban Design
  • Walkability


This course is approved for 1 AICP CM credit.


This is 1 LU.


This course is approved for 1 CNU-A credit.


This course is approved for 1 SACPLAN CPD point.

Meet Your Instructor

Richard Willson

Richard Willson

Richard Willson is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Dr. Willson's research addresses parking policy, climate change planning, land/use transportation relationships, travel demand management, and transit-oriented development.

Meet Instructor

Join thousands of urban planners on Planetizen Courses

Course was interesting and provided a good foundation to understand transportation planning and modeling.
- Diane L.
5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review
Great overview of how transportation models are developed, used, and adjusted!
- Kathline K.
5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review

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