System dynamics for strategic planning under technological uncertainty

April 21, 2021

11:00AM-12:30PM PT / 2:00PM-3:30PM ET

Session Recording

Organized by Hannah Rakoff and Scott Smith, U.S. DOT Volpe Center

This is a follow up to the popular May 2020 Learning Session Introduction to System Dynamics

Session Presentation

In this interactive webinar, we will present takeaways from work with the Boston Region MPO, Oregon DOT and several MPOs in Oregon to explore how system dynamics (SD) techniques might be applied to further inform solutions to transportation planning problems. Participants will then join us in a facilitated discussion about how systems thinking can improve stakeholder engagement, internal coordination, and modeling practices.

Over the past 8 months, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center and these organizations have focused on factors that influence transit and mode shift, as well has how systems thinking can be useful for stakeholder engagement. Outputs of these efforts included causal loop diagrams (CLDs), which demonstrate key relationships. The MPO partners found the CLDs useful as a discussion tool, to bring planners and modelers together speaking the same language. The SD models may also address decisions and behaviors that traditional travel models consider as exogenous, but which may have important effects on possible future outcomes. SD and CLDs can allow agencies to explore emerging data and assumptions that are difficult to capture with current modeling tools and planning practices.


  • Hannah Rakoff – U.S. DOT Volpe Center
  • Scott Smith – U.S. DOT Volpe Center


  • Alex Bettinardi – Oregon Department of Transportation
  • Andrew Martin – Lane Transit District (Lane County, Oregon)
  • Martin Milkovits – Central Transportation Planning Staff (Boston MPO)
  • Jeremy Raw – Federal Highway Administration
  • Kate White – Central Transportation Planning Staff (Boston MPO)
  • Tim Reardon – Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Boston)