Transportation Planning Expose

Writers are always told to “write what you know.” I worked for 30 years as a transportation planner, so I thought I should write a story set in that milieu. So far I have found that very hard to do.

About six years ago I started on a script idea set in a transportation planning office. Initially I called it The Thompson Proposal, but changed it to Traffic Collision. I got bogged down because I tried to come up with a good McGuffin before I came up with a good story.

I started a satirical story that I called Tom Swift and his Incredible Traffic Model. I have a draft done, but it just doesn’t work. I need to massively rewrite it. I can’t use the name Tom Swift in the title either.

This week I started to write a review of the book Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – And Why We Believe Them Anyway. Most of my career was spent in forecasting and I found the book resonated with how I felt about the topic. It has been very hard to write. Maybe it is just that it is that I have to go back and think about the work I used to do before I retired. I want to check and double check everything I say, which takes time. Once I get on the Internet it is so easy to get distracted. Besides that, I can’t seem to find a way to say what I want to say. I’ve tried several different approaches, but none has worked so far. I think I’ll leave it for a time.

After I did The Abattoir Project: A Ken Walker Adventure, I decided I could use that as a template to write a transportation planning story. I made good progress on the outline this week. I need to fill in more details about the plot and the characters before I can start to write. This time I focussed on the story before I developed the background. I think I have enough plot ideas for several more stories. We’ll see how it goes.

I want the story to be a realistic portrayal of transportation planning, but part of me would like to throw in a murder mystery and gun fights. It is easier to catch reader’s attention if your protagonist is likely to be shot, than if he might get a stern talking to from his boss.

I want to get back to work on My Most Difficult Case now, so I’m not sure when I’ll get this story done.

Note 2015 May 20: I fixed a broken link.


  1. Dear Mr.Morrison
    Very interesting concept.
    I support your effort as I am still living through the horror and making my living.
    For example the difference between a transportation planner and a modeler. The modeler is the so called black magician with the black pot and A broom. The planner is the audience, clap for the output brought by the modeler to save his job.

    My first scene would be to show a modeler in his lab cooking the numbers and adding to the pot people, cars,buses,lanes,rail cars, etc. The Planner supplying all that the modeler asks without a question. The next scene will show a roadway to nowhere with few passengers on buses or a high speed rail to nowhere with 4 passengers. Also add spice by showing a Moran looking elected official defending why we need this?

    I have been through both good and bad times with my work. Let me get your input on my idea.
    Dr.N.Murthy, T.E.

    • Hi Dr. Murthy,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Your suggestion is in a different direction than I want to go with this idea, but since so many others have similar suggestions, I think I should try something along those lines.

      I would like to do a story that is set in a world where things are the way I’d like them to be, and not how they actually are. It might be better to do the story as a comedy. Most people I’ve talked to assume it would a comedy.


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