In his new book “Conversations on Equity and Inclusion in Public Transportation” Paul speaks with over 20 top public transportation executives about efforts they are making right now to improve equity and inclusion in their agencies and in the services they provide to their communities.
Covid provided transit agencies an opportunity to reflect on our core mission. Would our agencies and city governments continue to be ridership obsessed or would they now focus on a more fundamental mission – to provide mobility and access to opportunities for all with a focus on improved customer service and experience. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) industry survey in late 2020 showed that transit agencies have largely begun making this switch – they removed ridership as their #1 Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and replaced it with Customer Service and then they also added in access to mobility options as KPI #3 behind ridership at #2.
The pandemic showed ridership remained higher on core bus services providing access to essential jobs while commuters from the suburbs worked from home. These commuter bus and rail services ridership dropped to under 10% of pre-pandemic levels. The essential workers riding core bus service make up the backbone of our society and economy. The federal government realized this and now is making increased transit operating funding a national priority. Local leaders have demanded that transit agencies now make service to these essential workers and those often left behind in transit planning a local priority.
These may include people of color, lower income or elderly passengers.
This book explores this new reality where transit agencies are putting the focus back on the rider and improving equity and inclusion for all. We examine the new move toward utilizing microtransit as a safety net and how the fare free movement is sweeping the nation.
The book is a series of conversations with top American public transit leaders including Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) President and Chief Executive Officer Robbie Makinen, the only blind CEO of a major transit system in North America and the “Father of the Fare Free Movement” as well as one of the first in America to start a large scale microtransit service, Ride KC Freedom.
We also spotlight the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) and its Chief Executive Officer, Alex Wiggins, the self-described “Equity Evangelist” who is turning NORTA into an engine of equity and inclusion for his city.
We turn to Richmond, Virginia and its GRTC Transit System, headed by glass ceiling breaker, Julie Timm (who recently was named CEO of the Sound Transit system in Seattle). Richmond as the capital city of the old confederacy has shed its roots to become a new leader in focusing on providing services to the traditionally underserved. Julie explains the details of how and why their system is moving toward staying fare free and focusing their new capital investments on ensuring equity and inclusion in their service modes.
Other chapters include conversations with
Veronica Vanterpool, Deputy Administrator, Federal Transit Administration
Terry White, CEO King County Metro
India Birdsong, CEO Greater Cleveland RTA
Adelee LeGrand, CEO Tampa HRT
Noah Berger, CEO Merrimack Valley RTA
Inez Evans, CEO IndyGo
Brad Miller, CEO Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
Paul Toliver, CEO Whisperer and APTA Hall of Fame Member
David Kim, Past Secretary of Transportation for the State of California
Natalie (Tilly) Loughborough, GM Metro Trains Melbourne
Paul Comfort, Best Selling Author and Transit Evangelist
Linda Ford and Team from American Public Transportation Association
We also speak with commercial entities who are serving the transit industry and are now also taking equity and inclusion seriously both in terms of their employment practices and how they operate.
Norah Kamal – Proterra Bus
Bridgette Beato – Lumenor Consulting
Freddie Fuller and Team from Jacobs
While equity and inclusion have almost become buzz words as part of the current 2022 zeitgeist of our industry, this book would be one of if not the first to comprehensively demonstrate to transit agencies and the cities that fund them “the why and how” they should and can add equity and inclusion to their transit services. These conversations also provide detailed analyses of new trends like microtransit and better designed streets and city centers provide an interesting and informative narrative for the reader.
All of the book is original content with my ideas on microtransit and reviews of agency efforts toward equity and inclusion based on original 1:1 interviews and analysis.