The Thoreau Institute
Urban Growth and Transportation Studies

Portland's light rail

The joke is on the taxpayers as one of Portland, Oregon's light-rail vehicles chuckles its way into downtown.


The Vanishing Automobile

This 60-page report written in 1996 formed the nucleus of the new book of the same name.

Vanishing Automobile Web Tools

Web links and tools that are mentioned in the book, The Vanishing Automobile, including a tour of Oak Grove, Oregon, and some of Portland's transit-oriented developments.

ISTEA: A Poisonous Brew for American Cities

A review of federal transportation funding prepared by Randal O'Toole for the Cato Institute. This link takes you to the Cato website. The paper is 287K.

Urban Transit Myths

An analysis of the myths and realities of mass transit prepared by Randal O'Toole for the Reason Public Policy Institute. This link takes you to Reason's web site.

Rails to Nowhere: An Analysis of Utah Transit

A review of the Utah Transit Authority's rail transit plans prepared by Randal O'Toole for the Sutherland Institute. This link downloads a PDF file from the Sutherland Institute's web site.

Transitions: New Incentives for Rural Communities

A proposal by Karyn Moskowitz and Randal O'Toole for dealing with rural growth.


The Coming War on the Automobile

Why some people want to turn cars into the next social evil, written for Liberty magazine.


A critique of Neotraditional or New Urban planning, written for Liberty magazine.

Beware Metro

Problems with metropolitan planning, written for Liberty magazine.

Fact Sheets

The Thoreau Institute and the Cascade Policy Institute prepared this series of fact sheets for ORTEM, an ad hoc group of people in the Portland area opposed to light rail and high-density zoning.

  1. Turning Portland into Los Angeles
  2. Congestion and Patterns of Growth
  3. Light Rail Myths and Realities
  4. Saving Oregon's Open Space
  5. The Low-Cost Solution to Traffic Congestion
  6. Understanding Plannerspeak


Generic Op Ed

Various verions of this warning about smart-growth planning have been printed in a number of different newspapers.

The Oregonian, 11-15-96

Critique of Metro planning in Portland

The Oregonian, 12-22-96

Responses to the above op-ed written by University of Puget Sound economist Hart Hodges and the Coalition for a Livable Future, with replies by O'Toole.

Las Vegas Sun, 9-21-97

Warning other cities of the perils of Portland's New Urban planning process. This was also printed in several other papers.

Houston Chronicle, 9-21-97

A critique of ISTEA and light rail.

The Solution to Congestion

How to fix congestion without spending a fortune.

Subsidies Anonymous

No. 16-Why Metropolitan Planning Doesn't Work

Small is beautiful. 10-15-96

No. 15-Light Rail: Yesterday's Technology Tomorrow

Some people have been bamboozled into thinking that nineteenth-century technology makes sense for twenty-first century cities. 9-12-96

No. 14-Problems with Regional Planning

Regional government doesn't work. 8-26-96

Other Information

Metro Area Data Base

Population, land area, transportation facilities, and other important data for nearly 400 U.S. urban areas.

Petition to Abolish Metro

Complete text of a petition being circulated by Oregon Taxpayers United to abolish Metro, Portland's regional planning agency.
The Electronic Drummer