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Wilson, Nigel, 1.259J Transit Management, Fall 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Transit Management

Fall 2006

Light rail tracks in San Jose, CA.

Light rail is one mode of transit in the United States. The tracks pictured here are in San Jose, CA. (Image courtesy of lazytom on Flickr.)

Course Highlights

This course features a full set of lecture notes and the assignments from the class.

Course Description

This course discusses management methods of relevance to public transportation systems. Topics include strategic planning management, labor relations, maintenance planning and administration, financing, marketing and fare policy, and management information and decision support systems. The course shows how these general management tasks are dealt with in the transit industry and presents alternative strategies. It also identifies alternative arrangements for service provision, including different ways of involving the private sector in public transportation.



This course explores management issues and methods relevant to urban public transportation systems. The focus will be on the organizations providing public transport service and will include alternative arrangements for service provision. Topics to be discussed will include privatization and deregulation, strategic planning and management, performance assessment, financing, budgeting, marketing, pricing, labor relations, workforce planning and management, maintenance planning, and management information and decision support systems. Coverage will be of both current transit industry practice and alternative strategies.

Course Requirements

  1. Readings will be assigned for each topic
  2. A term paper will be required of each student with the following submission dates:
    • Week #4: Proposal (approximately 1 page)
    • Week #5: Presentation and Discussion
    • Week #10: Progress Report (approximately 5 pages)
    • Week #14: Final Paper and Oral Presentation (15 - 20 minutes)
  3. Two written assignments, due in Weeks #5 and 12


Final grades will be based 50% on the term project and 50% on the assignments and contributions to class discussions.


1 Introduction: Transit Industry Status  
2-3 Organizational Models  


Guest Lecturer: Fred Salvucci, MIT

Guest Lecturer: John Attanucci, MIT

Term paper proposal due
5 Term Paper Presentations and Discussions Assignment 1 out

Performance Measurement

Guest Lecturer: John Attanucci, MIT


Strategic Management and Planning

Guest Lecturer: Fred Salvucci, MIT


Finance and Budget

Guest Lecturer: Richard H. Doyle, Federal Transit Authority

Assignment 1 due

Fare Policy and Technology

Guest Lecturer: Dan Fleishman, TranSystems

Assignment 2 out


Guest Lecturer: Karla Karash, TranSystems

Term paper progress report due

Labor Relations

Guest Lecturer: Fred Salvucci, MIT

12 Workforce Planning Assignment 2 due

Safety / Security, Transit Maintenance, and Information Systems

Guest Lecturer: Susan Altshuler, MBTA

Guest Lecturer: John Attanucci, MIT

14 Term Paper Presentations Final paper due   Tell A Friend