So this an unabashed fangirl post about one of my favorite people, Gen Giuliano, who is a dear friend and the Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government here at USC. The summary statistics on Dr. Giulano make the case: she has over 100 peer- reviewed articles on various aspects of transportation research. Her total citation count is over 1,000. She has been the principal investigator on over $21 million in external research and funding on transportation, particularly on the analysis of the freight policy and planning. She was selected to give the Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lectureship by the Transportation Research Board in 2007. In 2006, she was awarded the W.N. Car Distinguished Service Award, coming off her term as the head of the Transportation Research Board.
As accomplished as she is, it is a bit strange to begin the discussion with her dissertation, but I am going to. With her dissertation, Giuliano set out to establish the important features of public transit as an industry by answering a key question: are there measurable economies of scale in transit provision by mode? The answer from the dissertation suggests that bus service, in particular, does not exhibit economies of scale or scope for the organization running services. While at the route level, larger vehicles can provide cost savings to organizations, additional routes, additional vehicles, and additional service types can serve to raise the cost per passenger served. This dissertation, written over two decades ago, presaged some of the most pressing issues in the transit industry today as operators grapple with their operating costs vis-à-vis service demand. She began her research career addressing the most important questions in her field, and she has continued to do so.
In addition to questions of finance and industrial organization in transit, Professor Giuliano’s other significant contributions illuminated the fields of mode choice and travel demand. Her most oft-cited contribution, which appeared in Regional Science and Urban Economics in 1991, demonstrated the role that employment subcenters have on shaping travel demand in US regions. Perhaps more importantly, the same research shows that, while rigorously defining employment clusters in the urban geography can explain employment destination for commute travel, nearly a third of all employment occurred in places outside of the major job centers their analysis. She wrote this piece with the wonderful Ken Small at UC Irvine.
Variously called “job sprawl” research or “polycentricity” research, Professor Giuliano’s contribution here disproved the jobs-housing assumptions that transportation researchers made—and it significantly challenged monocentric city models in urban economics at the same time. No wonder this manuscript, and its follow up in Urban Studies, have been cited in total over 700 times. Her most recent work is focused on using cutting-edge methods such as electronic data collection to begin getting real-time information on origins, destinations, and modes.