Liisa Ecola

Photo of Liisa Ecola
Senior Project Associate
Washington Office


M.C.P. in city planning, University of California, Berkeley; M.A. in political science, B.A. in international relations, Emory University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Liisa Ecola is a senior project associate at the RAND Corporation. A transportation planner with interests in transit, transportation demand management (TDM), finance, and environmental and land use impacts, her current work is in several major areas: the intersection of transportation with climate policy, road pricing, traffic safety, and long-term mobility trends. She was recently the lead author of a report that looked at the future of driving in developing countries, and she is currently leading a project on future mobility in China. For the CDC, Ecola has provided research and management support on a tool to determine the costs and benefits of various policies to reduce vehicle crash deaths and injuries. She has also conducted extensive work in smart growth, managing the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement for EPA for five years. In the TDM field, she conducted several research projects on the effectiveness and best marketing techniques for commuter benefits, and taught courses for the National Transit Institute. Prior to joining RAND, Ecola worked in transportation, land use, and policy consulting; she also served as a Foreign Service officer for six years, stationed in Warsaw and Taipei. Ecola received her Master of City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Recent Projects

  • Mileage-Based User Fees for Transportation Funding: A Primer for State and Local Decisionmakers
  • Reducing Traffic Congestion in Los Angeles
  • The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
  • Making Congestion Pricing Equitable
  • Exploring the Relationship Between Travel Demand and Economic Growth

Selected Publications

Ecola, Liisa, Charlene Rohr, Johanna Zmud, Tobias Kuhnimhof, and Peter Phleps, The Future of Driving in Developing Countries, RAND (RR-636), 2014

Sorensen, Paul, Liisa Ecola, and Martin Wachs, "Emerging Strategies in Mileage-Based User Fees: Reducing Costs and Increasing Public Acceptance," Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2345, 2013

Zmud, Johanna, Liisa Ecola, Peter Phleps, and Irene Feige, The Future of Mobility: Scenarios for the United States in 2030, RAND (RR-246), 2013

Ecola, Liisa, and Thomas Light, "Making Congestion Pricing Equitable," Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2187, 2011

Ecola, Liisa and Thomas Light, Equity and Congestion Pricing: A Review of the Evidence, RAND (TR-680-EDF), 2009

Sorensen, Paul, Liisa Ecola, Martin Wachs, Max Donath, Lee Munnich, and Betty Serian, Implementable Strategies for Shifting to Direct Usage-Based Charges for Transportation Funding, NCHRP Web-Only Document 143 (RP-1395), 2009

Sorensen, Paul, Martin Wachs, Endy Y. Min, Aaron Kofner, Liisa Ecola, Mark Hanson, Allison Yoh, Thomas Light, James Griffin, Moving Los Angeles: Short-Term Policy Options for Improving Transportation, RAND (MG-748-JAT/METRO/MCLA), 2008


  • Los Angeles freeway

    Pay as You Go

    Using vehicle miles traveled as a means of distributing the cost of maintaining America's roads and bridges may not be the only answer, but it represents the kind of innovative thinking that is necessary at a time when this sector of the American transportation infrastructure is desperately in need of a fix.

    Jul 22, 2015 Politico

  • Vehicles driving toward Mt. Hood in Oregon

    How to Improve Oregon's Mileage-Fee Experiment

    Oregon is rolling out the nation's first large-scale pilot to examine switching to a mileage fee instead of the gas tax. The trial is a welcome next step toward understanding how mileage fees can be deployed.

    Jul 7, 2015 The Oregonian

  • Traffic Jam Stopped Cars Pennsylvania Turnpike Exit 358 Bristol Levittown

    Paying for Infrastructure, a Taxing Issue

    If the user pays idea is worth saving, the United States needs a different calculation, writes Liisa Ecola. Some states are looking at mileage fees. With mileage fees, you pay based on the number of miles you drive, rather than the number of gallons of gas used.

    May 16, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • man filling car gas tank

    Does U.S. Gas Tax Still Make Sense?

    It's time to consider changing the country's transportation funding scheme from one based on gallons purchased to one based on vehicle miles actually traveled, writes Liisa Ecola.

    Mar 8, 2013 The Orange County Register

  • View of a person driving from the back seat of a car

    Getting Over the Privacy Hurdle to Mileage-Based Road Fees

    There is no need for privacy concerns to halt all discussion of new technologies to help address America's mounting transportation funding crisis, writes Liisa Ecola.

    Jun 6, 2012