Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor


The past two years in the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program have been a time of learning and life changing experiences. I found the confidence to make a career change and gained the knowledge and tools necessary to study the complex problem of traffic congestion and attempt to solve it by utilizing public transportation. My plan to move to Phoenix, Arizona in 2009 motivated me not only to learn about the area and its attempts to fight urban sprawl and traffic congestion, but also to attempt to find solutions to these problems. I utilized creative thinking and critical thinking skills to understand the complexity of the problem, analyze the problem, and make suggestions that could help solve the problem. This synthesis project explores the rise of urban sprawl due to federal, state, and local policies regarding urban planning, and how urban sprawl led to a decline of public transportation usage and an increase in automobile dependence which in turn spawned traffic congestion. Traffic congestion problems have led to a loss of economic productivity, increased pollution, increased dependence on foreign oil, and the rise of health issues across America. By studying the current solutions being attempted across the United States and in Phoenix, I was able to understand what is working, what isn't, and why. Utilizing my critical thinking skills and creativity, I make suggestions on how Metropolitan Phoenix can reduce traffic congestion by promoting public transportation and making it a success. These suggestions attempt to make public transportation a success in the area by using smart growth in urban planning, improving the existing transit system and ensuring future success, as well as instituting fee structures that will discourage citizens from utilizing the automobile as often as they do. The solutions I propose would involve the cooperation of federal, state, local officials as well as private business, and ultimately, the individual citizen. Undertaking this synthesis project not only educated me on the issues at hand, but I hope the product will educate the reader on the complexity of the problem and motivate them to become involved in trying to solve it.


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