As part of the Galvin Project to End Congestion, Reason Foundation is engaged in a multiyear study of the impacts of traffic congestion on urban mobility and economic competitiveness and developing practical market-oriented solutions for policymakers.

A crucial component of this program is the investigation of private sector participation and involvement in providing, financing, managing, and operating transportation infrastructure. As part of our examination, Reason is actively researching transportation initiatives abroad through its China Mobility Project.

The China Mobility Project research team includes Reason Foundation Vice President Dr. Adrian Moore, Reason urban policy expert Dr. Samuel Staley, and transportation engineer Dr. Zongzhi Li.

About the Galvin Project to End Congestion

Most cities in the United States began as hubs for commerce, where motion was constant. Now, chronic traffic congestion is choking cities, strangling their economies and reducing our quality of life. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that congestion drains $168 billion annually from the economy in time and fuel, productivity losses, cargo delays, accidents and environmental impacts. Current policies do little more than slow the decline of the transportation system.

The Galvin Project to End Congestion is funded largely by Mr. Robert W. Galvin, former president and CEO of the Motorola Corporation, through the Galvin Project Inc. based in Schaumberg, Illinois and led by the Reason Foundation. The project’s goals are develop practical, cost-effective solutions to keep urban economies competitive by increasing mobility through innovations in regional transportation planning, innovative finance, and optimal investment decision-making.

The Galvin Project has produced a number signature projects, including two books published by Rowman & Littlefield, Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century (2008) and The Road More Traveled: Why the Congestion Crisis Matters More Than You Think, and What We Can Do About It (2006).

In addition, the Galvin Project is underwriting the development of alternative long-range transportation plans for cities in the U.S. and abroad. The first plan was developed for Atlanta, Georgia (released in 2006) and gave momentum to several new capacity-building projects, including a north-south tunnel redirecting traffic away from downtown and a high-occupancy toll (HOT) network that could guarantee free-flow speeds throughout the region and be financed through road pricing. The second plan (released in 2009) focused on arterial road capacity improvements and management in Lee County, Florida and highlighted the ability of HOT networks and queue jumpers to greatly reduce congestion in smaller urban areas.

Reason is studying transportation plans for Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Chongqing, China.

The China Mobility Project

Reason’s investigation into the causes of traffic congestion, the role of mobility in promoting economic development, and cures for the negative effects of congestion on urban economies, led its analysts to look internationally for examples of creative solutions to traffic congestion and falling mobility. China was identified as an innovative “early adopter” of key reforms, including the use of private capital to finance key infrastructure and the use of tolling to create dedicated revenue streams for new facilities and has been highlighted in research and analysis produced by Reason Foundation including commentary and significant references in the book Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century. Ongoing research, combined with fact-finding trips to China to learn what was happening “on the ground,” led Reason Foundation to consider ways the U.S. could learn from China to improve its transportation investment decision-making and investigate what lessons U.S. transportation policy had for growing nations in other parts of the world.

Thus, Reason Foundation established the China Mobility Project in 2008 to foster a greater dialogue between transportation and land use experts in China and the U.S., anticipating joint research and analysis could better inform policymaking on both sides of the Pacific Rim. Specifically, we could begin with analysis of urban congestion problems in China, develop innovative solutions for congestion mitigation, and promote the adoption of the solutions by some Chinese cities.

In 2009, Reason Foundation formalized projects on long-range transportation planning with the Municipality of Chongqing and joint research with transportation faculty at Chang’an University in Xi’an.

Achievements of the China Mobility Project

Under the leadership of Adrian Moore, Ph.D., Reason Foundation’s vice president of research, the China Mobility Project team visited Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Xi’an in May 2007 and November 2008, respectively. The team consulted with the Ministry of Transportation’s China Academy of Transportation Sciences and Beijing Municipal Transport Commission in Beijing; Tongji University in Shanghai; Chengdu Municipal Transport Commission and Southwest Jiaotong University; and Chang’an University in Xi’an.

During these visits, the research team had extensive interactions with transportation decision-makers and researchers on a variety of topics with emphases on urban congestion problems, new thinking about regional transportation planning, and innovative financing, as well as optimal investment decision-making to support sustainable transportation in the 21st century.

These trips led to formal relationships with the Yuzhong Construction Commission in Chongqing and Chang’an University. Our analysts and researchers are open to additional projects and are currently discussing more formal relationships with the Beijing Municipal Transport Commission and faculty at Tongji University in Shanghai.


“Highway Infrastructure Investment Public Private Partnerships: China and U.S.A. Perspectives and Recommendations” (Shanghai Tongji University, November 2008)

“Transportation Planning in U.S. Mega Cities” (Tongji University, Shanghai, November 2008)

“Transportation, Mobility, and Air Quality in the 21st Century City” (Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, May 2007)

“Growth, Mobility, and the Implications for Urban Transportation Infrastructure and Finance” (Shanghai Tongji University, May 2007)

“Transportation, Mobility and the Global Economy: Lessons from the U.S. Experience” (China Academy of Transportation Sciences, Beijing, May 2007)