Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy and Leadership

First Committee Member

Christopher Stream

Second Committee Member

Karen Danielsen-Lang

Third Committee Member

Jaewon Lim

Fourth Committee Member

David Damore

Number of Pages



This research explores the policy factors influencing the intraregional development of rail transit. For the purpose of this research, policy factors include: institutional arrangements, factors associated with governance, and factors in the policymaking process. The research questions are studied in five case study MSAs within the Pacific West and Mountain West regions of the United States: Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ; Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA; and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR. The foundational problems that frame this research are the challenges of urban planning at a regional scale, specifically for transportation. The more specific challenge of transportation planning is situated within the challenge of regional planning. The primary research question is: what policy factors influence the development of regional rail? Several sub-questions stem from the primary question. How do these policy factors differ among the case study regions? How do institutional arrangements, governance and policymaking differ among the cases? What policy recommendations can be drawn from the five case study regions and the specific perspectives of their regional leaders in rail development? Six policy recommendations are provided based upon the interview responses and the case study data. These emphasize policy for operations and maintenance (O&M) funding, budgeting for dire economic times, flexing environment and health funds for transit, the symbiosis of bus and rail transit, considerations for replicating aspects of the Portland model of governance, and equitable transit policy related to the housing crisis. The study also offers considerations of these data in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and continued U.S. economic recovery plans and investment.


Light Rail; Regional Planning; Transit; Transportation; Urban Planning; Urban Studies


Human Geography | International and Area Studies | Transportation | Urban, Community and Regional Planning | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

File Format


File Size

4800 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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