Martin Wachs

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Senior Principal Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
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Ph.D. and M.S. in urban and regional planning, Northwestern University; B.S. in civil engineering, City University of New York

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Martin Wachs is a senior principal researcher at RAND and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He formerly served as director of the RAND Transportation, Space, and Technology Program. Prior to joining RAND in 2005, he was professor of civil and environmental engineering and professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where was also director of the Institute of Transportation Studies. Prior to this, he spent 25 years at UCLA, where he served three terms as chairman of the Department of Urban Planning.

Wachs is the author of 160 articles and four books on subjects related to relationships between transportation, land use, and air quality; transportation needs of the elderly; techniques for the evaluation of transportation systems; and the use of performance measurement in transportation planning. His research also addresses issues of equity in transportation policy, problems of crime in public transit systems, and the response of transportation systems to natural disasters, including earthquakes. His most recent work focuses on transportation finance in relation to planning and policy.

Wachs served on the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board for nine years and was the TRB Chairman in 2000. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowships, a UCLA Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award, the Pyke Johnson Award for the best paper presented at an annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, and the Carey Award for service to the TRB. In 2006 he was named "Member of the Year" by the San Francisco Chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar.

Previous Positions

Professor, City and Regional Planning, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Berkeley; Professor and Chairman, Department of Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles; Chairman, Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board

Recent Projects

  • Economic returns from investment in transportation infrastructure

Selected Publications

Liisa Ecola et al., Integrating U.S. Climate, Energy, and Transportation Policies: Proceedings of Three Workshops, RAND Corporation (CF-256), 2009

Paul Sorensen et al., Moving Los Angeles: Short-Term Policy Options for Improving Transportation, RAND Corporation (MG-748), 2008

Ann M. Brach and Martin Wachs, "Earmarking in the U.S. Department of Transportation Research Programs," Transportation Research Part A, 39(6), 2005

Martin Wachs "Improving Efficiency and Equity in Transportation Finance," in Bruce Katz and Robert Puentes, eds., Taking the High Road: A Metropolitan Agenda for Transportation Reform, The Brookings Institution Press, 2005

Amber Crabbe et al., Local Transportation Sales Taxes: California's Experiment in Transportation Finance, University of California, 2002

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: CNN; KCRW; KFI; KQED; Las Vegas Sun; Los Angeles Times; San Diego Union-Tribune; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner, Southern Political Report

Commentary:, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune


  • Automobile traffic backs-up as it travels north from San Diego to Los Angeles along Interstate Highway 5 in California

    Make HOT Lanes Permanent

    The first HOT lanes in L.A. have improved traffic flow and travel time reliability, are fair to users of the facilities, have improved transit service and have generated revenue needed to fund those improvements from voluntary toll payments.

    Apr 23, 2014 Los Angeles Register

  • Lessons of 1st Carmageddon in L.A. by the Numbers

    Rather than threatening that the closure will be a mess, messages appealing to citizens' public spirit that Los Angeles can pull together again to make the closure go smoothly are more likely to resonate because they are consistent with past experience, write Martin Wachs and Brian D. Taylor.

    Aug 3, 2012 LA Daily News

  • Among Potential Deficit Remedies, Don't Rule Out Raising Gas Tax

    A proposed 15-cents-a-gallon gas tax is worth a second look. Among various painful options put forward in the Deficit Reduction Commission's draft report, this tax hike may be well justified, write Martin Wachs.

    Dec 25, 2010 Detroit Free Press

  • The Future of Transportation Finance: A New Generation of User Fees

    The principle of paying for roads and transit by charging those who use the system has served our nation well, but in its current form it will soon outlive its usefulness, writes Martin Wachs.

    May 14, 2010 Resources for the Future

  • A Smarter Economic Stimulus Package

    President Obama's infrastructure plan doesn’t yet carry a price tag. We only know that it will be big.... The trick is how it will be done. It will not be enough to simply rebuild and repair critical infrastructure systems. We need to reinvent the systems themselves, writes Martin Wachs.

    Jan 21, 2009

  • Vary MTA Fares

    Vary MTA Fares

    May 7, 2007 Los Angeles Times

  • Paying for Our Transportation Needs

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Paying for Our Transportation Needs, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Oct 25, 2006 San Diego Union-Tribune