News | Meet METRANS Fast Facts Lead Chris Keating

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by Tim Labounko, USC, B.S. Urban Studies and Planning


USC Price Master of Urban Planning, Mobility and Transportation Planning student Christopher (Chris) Keating has been tapped to lead the METRANS Fast Facts Team, which produces short, digestible summaries of cutting-edge transportation research for a broad audience.  Keating graduated with high honors from UCLA in Spring of 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs with a minor in Urban Planning and joined METRANS the summer prior to his first semester at USC. METRANS Colleague Tim Labounko sat down with Chris to get to know him a bit better.


Welcome to USC and to the METRANS Student Team! What are you studying?
Thank you! I am a first-year Master of Urban Planning Student with a concentration in mobility and transportation planning.

Christopher Keating, USC Master of Urban Planning Student 


What made you interested in USC, and what in particular made you want to join the METRANS student team?
I applied to UCLA, UC Berkeley, UVA, and USC graduate urban planning programs after finishing my degree in Public Affairs at UCLA. I was thrilled to be accepted into all of my top schools, and decided to go to USC since it is a fantastic program and honestly I appreciated the full merit scholarship they offered! USC has great professors who align with my specific interest - how transportation affects the built environments - something which continually fascinates me.


Regarding joining the team, as an undergraduate, I did not get too involved with my academic community; I had unique interests and there were not too many like-minded people who were similarly focused on transportation. After accepting my offer to USC, I reached out to my advisor asking if there were any opportunities to get involved with transportation-related academia. He connected me with Vicki (Dr. Victoria Deguzman) and the rest is history. I am thrilled to be leading the METRANS Fast Facts research team and, more than that, to work with a great group of student colleagues all sharing my passion for transportation. I have really missed that sense of community and am so looking forward to it with METRANS!

How did you get into urban planning and transportation?
I didn’t have much transit growing up in Camarillo, CA and became fascinated with it when I moved into Los Angeles for school at UCLA. While there, I began learning more about LA’s transit system as well as learning about the systems in Europe and Asia, becoming increasingly impressed with them and frankly envious of how much more advanced their systems were than ours.


I was also heavily involved in politics at UCLA which actually was quite compatible with my love of urban planning and transportation. I took a lot of transportation-related classes at the school and loved every second of them.

If you were to take a subway system right now for fun, which one would it be?
Definitely Tokyo’s. They have a very interesting approach to transit, and it is one of the first things you think of when you think of Japan.

What classes are you looking forward to at USC and what were your favorite classes at UCLA?
I’m extremely excited to take Professor Geoff Boeing's class on Urban Informatics. I follow him on Twitter, and in my opinion, he has great takes on the majority of transit issues. Everything he does at SLAB (the Price Spatial Analysis Lab) is intriguing. I’m really excited to learn how to program from him.


My favorite class at UCLA was from my mentor, Donald Shoup. He wrote the book, “The High Cost of Free Parking,” and I took a class from him on parking policy as a nice way to end my years at UCLA. He also helped me with my senior capstone project about LA Metro parking. I highly recommend the book he wrote, and his subsequent book, “Parking and the City.” They sound supermundane on the surface but are really interesting and he's a super good writer.

Outside of academics, what have you done in terms of extracurriculars?
My main hobby/extracurricular is photography. While I was in high school I took photography classes at my local community college and fell in love with it. I do it whenever I have the chance, and it's my creative outlet. I definitely want to continue this at USC.

Have you ever done transit photography?
I personally have not done too much transit photography, but I am starting. I recently visited Denver and loved their light rail system so I took a lot of photos there. I took all the commuter rails and a lot of their light rail lines.

Where do you see yourself in the future, and what are your short and long-term goals?
I hope to work in a private consulting firm. I also have had a lifelong goal of living and working internationally and would love to find a job in Spain or Australia in particular. Spain because I love Madrid's Metro System, and Spain has an outstanding high-speed rail system. Fortunately, I can speak Spanish. Australia because I just love their country, and they speak my other language, English. My wanting to work internationally is in no small part because I think it is really important for cities to look to other countries for solutions, and more often than not cities tend to look at problems within national or city borders. If cities did that, I contend that we could fix quite a few of our problems.

About the Author:

Tim Labounko is a second-year student majoring in Urban Studies and Planning at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and minoring in Spatial Studies and Computer Programming. He works as a researcher, writer, and website designer for the METRANS student team.