Liisa Ecola

Photo of Liisa Ecola
Senior Policy Analyst
Washington Office


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

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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Liisa Ecola is a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. She is a transportation planner with 20+ years of experience and broad interests in transportation funding, traffic safety, environmental and land use impacts, and long-term mobility trends. She recently led RAND's work on the “Road to Zero,” a long-term vision of eliminating deaths from traffic crashes by 2050. For the CDC, she provided research and management support to develop and later update a tool to determine the costs and benefits of various policies to reduce vehicle crash deaths and injuries. She is the lead author of two reports about long-term mobility—one on the future of driving in developing countries, and the other on future mobility in China—and coauthor of a third on the potential impacts of technology on transportation demand in the United Kingdom. She also led RAND's transportation work on the long-term recovery plan for post–Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico. Other work at RAND has included developing a potential trial of mileage fees, analyzing funding and finance issues for airports, and identifying quality-of-life indicators for land use/transportation for Guangdong Province. She has conducted extensive work in smart growth, managing the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement for EPA for five years. Before 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 degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

Recent Projects

  • The Road to Zero: A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050
  • Mileage-Based User Fees for Transportation Funding: A Primer for State and Local Decisionmakers
  • Rebuilding Surface, Maritime, and Air Transportation in Puerto Rico After Hurricanes Irma and Maria: Supporting Documentation for the Puerto Rico Recovery Plan
  • U.S. Airport Infrastructure Funding and Financing
  • How Is COVID-19 Changing Americans' Online Shopping Habits? Five Months into the Pandemic

Selected Publications

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

Ecola, Liisa, Steven W. Popper, Richard Silberglitt, and Laura Fraade-Blanar, The Road to Zero: A Vision for Achieving Zero Roadway Deaths by 2050, RAND (RR-2333), 2018

Rohr, Charlene, Liisa Ecola, Johanna Zmud, Fay Dunkerley, James Black, and Eleanor Baker, Travel in Britain in 2035: Future scenarios and their implications for technology innovation, RAND (RR-1377), 2016

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

Knopman, Debra, Johanna Zmud, Liisa Ecola, Zhimin Mao, Keith Crane, Quality of Life Indicators and Policy Strategies to Advance Sustainability in the Pearl River Delta, RAND (RR-871), 2015

Ecola, Liisa, Johanna Zmud, Kun Gu, Peter Phleps, and Irene Feige, The Future of Mobility: Scenarios for China in 2030, RAND (RR-991), 2015

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

Ecola, Liisa, Benjamin Batorsky, Jeanne Ringel, Using Cost-effectiveness Analysis to Prioritize Spending on Traffic Safety, RAND (RR-1224), 2015

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Auto Channel; CNN, Headline News; KCBS-AM; KPCC


  • Two men ride electric scooters on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., March 20, 2020, photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters

    Micromobility: How Will We Know When It's Working?

    Micromobility was positioned as a solution for every urban problem from traffic congestion to air pollution to transit deserts and inequality. Is there a way to know if micromobility can fulfill these ambitious goals?

    May 18, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • A traffic jam on the 5 freeway heading south in Orange County, California, photo by MCCAIG/Getty Images

    Navigating Speed Bumps to a Possible Federal Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee

    It's been clear for years that the gas tax has been losing its ability to pay for America's existing roads and bridges, let alone improvements and new construction. A vehicle miles traveled fee could provide a potential option for a 21st-century transportation funding system.

    Mar 26, 2021 The Hill

  • A man wears a mask while walking past the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, March 17, 2020, photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    The Social Distancing Economy: Q&A with RAND Experts

    Congress and the White House are weighing economic policies to help people acutely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Here are insights from RAND experts on what might be effective in terms of fiscal policy, stimulus spending, and emergency relief to affected workers.

    Mar 18, 2020

  • Flags and signs warn drivers about lane closures along Pacific Coast Highway near San Francisco, California

    The Road Ahead: Rebuilding the Country's Infrastructure in the Trump Administration Era

    Policymakers generally agree on the need to rebuild America's infrastructure. But the country is far behind in this area. Why? Transportation projects take time and money. And it's hard to predict how a project will affect its surroundings.

    Nov 14, 2016 The RAND Blog

  • Emergency responders helping at a traffic accident

    A New Tool to Assess the Costs and Effectiveness of Traffic Crash Interventions

    Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the U.S. An online tool can help policymakers understand the available evidence-based interventions that can help prevent crash injuries and deaths, what they will cost, and how effective they will be in their state.

    Apr 4, 2016 ITE Journal

  • 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