Mass Transit - 15

Reshaping Mobility
have modeled best practices such
as physical distancing, the wearing of face masks and conducting
meetings remotely.
Transit agencies have taken
on a new role. They have become public utilities supported
by dedicated revenue from taxation rather than subsidy-chasing
quasi-government entities. In
their new role, they have accelerated " give backs " to communities within their service areas.
For example, they lent planners to
help communities replace street
traffic with pedestrian-friendly
and transit-friendly street design that enhanced light, air and
open green space, outdoor retail and eating, stormwater and
climate-change mitigation and
higher real estate values.
Recognizing that members
of their communities who previously worked as ride-hail drivers were out of work, agencies
created accelerated certification
programs to help these people
convert their contract driving experience to commercial
drivers licenses so they could
become full-time bus, microtransit or paratransit drivers
with benefits.
By strengthening bus and train
service, agencies helped reduce
regional greenhouse gas emissions. By accelerating the transition to all-electric fleets, they
are contributing to the broader
economic recovery and better
protecting employees traditionally impacted by health issues resulting from prolonged exposure
to fossil-fuel powered internal
combustion engines. They also
contribute to climate-resilience
by creatively adapting real estate
assets to new climate-mitigation
and climate-adaptation uses.
Public transit providers adapted to the new realities of the
pandemic-altered ecosystem in
which they operate. They did so
by seeking and using their " seat
at the table " at decision-making
meetings of government officials,

social-welfare entities, industry
leaders, education providers and
cultural institutions. In those discussions, they both understood
and helped shape the environment in which they optimized
transit service.
Reality or myth? Aspiration or
achievement? It depends.

Three Steps Forward

As transit professionals right now,
we can start to create a new 2021
world of, by and for public transit.
Here are three steps forward.
Legislate for change. Advocate and advance legislation that
positions transit as a well-managed, state-of-the-art public utility. Help transit advance beyond
the vestigial standard of its private sector predecessor railroads
and bus companies. Be attentive
to decisions about service that favors the economically and socially stratified segment of customers
who only use it to commute to
nine-to-five jobs. Recognize that
those decisions may unintentionally limit transit's ability to support equity. Seize the opportunity
to reimagine transit based on its
ability to benefit the largest number of people.
Build cohesive policy. Initiate new collaboration with key
players-retail, logistics, real
estate, architecture, education,
health care and other fields-to
jointly reshape the realm that
transit supports. Consider that
all of these sectors have a role
to play in shaping clear policy
goals. For instance, employers
can structure work arrangements to avoid peaks that cause
crowding on transit. To aid
working parents and caregivers,
government can fund day care,
as it already supports schools.
Communities can support abundant, all-day transit that more
fully benefits a greater diversity
of people.
Architects, planners and
transit agencies can coordinate
land-use and network design

decisions that best support transit availability and reliability.
Transit agencies can also ensure
more seamless mobility in the
areas they serve by streamlining
fare payment and integrating
bike share, micromobility and
microtransit into their networks.
Enabling customers to plan, pay
for and pick up their ride, whether by bus, bike or train, can give
customers greater confidence that
they can get where they need to
go safely and conveniently.
Plan beyond the pandemic.
The pandemic that has begun in
2020 foreshadows the effects climate change likely will impose
on society. Both the pandemic
and climate change are existential issues. Both give us many
interrelated opportunities to
address them with intelligence,
inclusiveness and investment.
For example, less vehicle use
of our roads has contributed to
the cleanest air many of us have
seen in our lifetimes. Fully understanding that cleaner air has
come at the cost of lost employment and decimated industries,
our challenge now is to rethink
all sectors of our lives to increase
health and well-being in an equitable way. Those of us in public
transit, for example, can provide
mobility geared to serve as many
people as possible, at all times of
day and night. We can simultaneously increase convenience,
strengthen safety and mitigate
the pace of climate change.
As we plan how to welcome
customers back to transit, our
reflex action, typically, is to
ask, " Where and how do we take
our customers? " As policy leaders, we will do better by asking,
" Where are our customers taking us? How can we meet their
evolving needs and maximize
their connectivity, accessibility
and mobility? "
Cecilia, Enrique, Maria, Rosa
and Miguel have shown us how
they live and want to ride. Now
it's our job to provide.

Author's Note:
Thanks to my
colleagues
throughout the
industry, including
Jessica Alba,
Jim Aloisi, Sara
Holoubek, Allen
Kratz, Jarrett
Walker and Jenny
Wong, for providing
invaluable feedback
that strengthened
the perspective of
this policy paper.
Stewart Mader has
worked with New
Jersey Transit and
the Port Authority
of New York & New
Jersey. He has held
senior customer
experience,
communications
and policy positions
in education,
finance, technology
and transportation
for more than two
decades.

DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021 | MassTransitmag.com | Mass Transit |

15


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Mass Transit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Mass Transit

Editor's Notebook: Recap of the Year in Two Parts
Q&A with FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams
People & Places
Imagine How COVID-19 Could Shape Mobility for People who Rely on Transit
A Gateway to a Quality Life
Rail Contractors: Skills Honed to Help
Transit Supplier Directory - Company Listings A-Z
Transit Supplier Directory - Product Category Listings
Products
Mass Transit - 1
Mass Transit - 2
Mass Transit - 3
Mass Transit - 4
Mass Transit - 5
Mass Transit - Editor's Notebook: Recap of the Year in Two Parts
Mass Transit - 7
Mass Transit - Q&A with FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams
Mass Transit - 9
Mass Transit - People & Places
Mass Transit - 11
Mass Transit - Imagine How COVID-19 Could Shape Mobility for People who Rely on Transit
Mass Transit - 13
Mass Transit - 14
Mass Transit - 15
Mass Transit - A Gateway to a Quality Life
Mass Transit - 17
Mass Transit - 18
Mass Transit - 19
Mass Transit - Rail Contractors: Skills Honed to Help
Mass Transit - 21
Mass Transit - 22
Mass Transit - 23
Mass Transit - Transit Supplier Directory - Company Listings A-Z
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