Martin Wachs

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Adjunct Principal Researcher
Santa Monica Office


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 an adjunct principal researcher at the RAND Corporation and distinguished professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering and of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he directed the Institute of Transportation Studies and the University of California Transportation Center. Previously, he spent 25 years at UCLA, where he was chairman of the Department of Urban Planning for 11 years. At RAND, Wachs was director of the Transportation, Space, and Technology Program.

Wachs is the author of 180 articles and wrote or edited five books on subjects related to transportation finance and economics, planning, and policy.

He is the recipient of a UCLA Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award and the Carey Award for service to the Transportation Research Board. He is a lifetime associate of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2006 he was awarded the lifetime achievement award as "Distinguished Planning Educator" by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and in 2011 he received the Distinguished Transportation Researcher award from the Transportation Research Forum.

Wachs was transportation policy advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, and was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson to a Blue Ribbon Commission on California Infrastructure. He currently serves on a statewide committee created by the legislature to design a new system of road user charges for California to succeed the motor fuels tax and recently was appointed by the Controller of the State of California to the Peer Review Group of the California High Speed Rail program.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering and of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley

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

Honors & Awards

  • Distinguished Teaching Award, UCLA Alumni Association
  • Carey Award, Transportation Research Board
  • Lifetime Associate, National Academy of Sciences

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: CNN; Detroit Free Press; LA Daily News; Los Angeles Register; Los Angeles Times; Resources for the Future; 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 CNN

  • 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