Transit Unplugged

Paul Comfort, SVP Modaxo

We share the stories, challenges, and successes of the top transit professionals from around the world. Learn how top transit leaders got to where they are with stories and insights from their careers. Get the inside story about public transit and transit trends from the people who run it. Transit Unplugged is hosted and produced by Paul Comfort and brought to you by Modaxo read less
BusinessBusiness

Episodes

Special Episode: Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardener with Art Guzzetti from The Transit Authority
Yesterday
Special Episode: Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardener with Art Guzzetti from The Transit Authority
This is a special episode of Transit Unplugged shared with us from our friends at the Transit Authority by APTA. Recorded live at APTA EXPO 2023 in Orlando, Florida, Art Gazzetti, VP of Policy and Mobility at APTA, interviews Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardener.Make sure you follow the Transit Authority wherever you listen to podcasts. Here are the show notes for this episode originally released October, 12, 2023."Recorded on the trade show floor at APTA’s EXPO 2023 in Orlando, Florida, our special guest Stephen Gardener, CEO of Amtrak, discusses a wide range of topics including Amtrak’s role in linking cities, regions and rural America, how intercity passenger rail travel options can be made more attractive, recent and upcoming Amtrak system improvements, career advice for students, and more."If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social mediaFollow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Instagram - FacebookSign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter00:03 Introduction and Overview from Paul Comfort01:10 The Role of Amtrak in Public Transportation02:22 Stephen Gardner's Journey in Railroading06:23 Amtrak's Future Plans and Investments11:46 The Importance of High-Speed Rail29:13 Amtrak's Impact on Rural America36:31 Conclusion and Final Thoughts39:55 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Holly Arnold her path to the top job and managing the largest P3 in the U.S.
14-02-2024
Holly Arnold her path to the top job and managing the largest P3 in the U.S.
Holly Arnold has spent her entire career at the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). Starting as a contractor in grants administration then leading capital planning and then Deputy Administrator responsible for engineering before she became Administrator and CEO two years ago. The head of the MTA is a massive job. Not only is she responsible for massive capital projects--like the largest public-private partnership (P3) in the U.S., the Purple Line--she is responsible for transit in the City of Baltimore, supporting all the other transit agencies in the state, commuter bus, commuter rail, subways, and paratransit. Running the MTA is like running five agencies at once!Two years into the role, Holly talks with host Paul Comfort about the agency, her career, and the massive projects she is delivering. She talks about what she learned from each step on the way and how seizing opportunities as they presented themselves got her to the top job.Delivering one large scale project is hard enough, but Holly is wrangling several expansions, including supporting Amtrak with a new tunnel to support higher speed passenger rail traffic. Holly talks candidly about her work and how her approach of getting her hands dirty learning about projects has helped her rise through the ranks to lead one of the largest transit agencies in North America.Coming up next week, we have a special episode from APTA's Transit Authority podcast. APTA Vice President for Mobility Initiatives and Public Policy, Art Guzzetti talks with Amtrak CEO Stephcen Gardener live from the APTA EXPO in Orlando. This episode was originally released October 12, 2023. Learn more about The Transit Authority and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts (https://podcast.apta.com/)We're excited to announce a special Transit Unplugged live CEO round table. Hosted by Dr. Kaan Yildizgöz at UITP MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition (https://www.menatransport.org/website/3387/home/) on February the 29th at the Trapeze booth. We'll have guests, including UITP President Renee Amilcar and the Director General of the Integrated Transport Center in Abu Dhabi, Abdulla Al Marzooqi.The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition 2024 is the premier event focusing on sustainable urban mobility solutions in the MENA region. It takes place in Dubai from February 28th to March 1st, the event is co-organized by UITP and Dubai's RTA.The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition has been a leading platform for showcasing advancements in public transport since 2007.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social mediaFollow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Instagram - FacebookSign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter00:00 Holly Arnold: Building a career at the Maryland MTA01:38 Overview of the Maryland Transit Administration02:55 Discussion on the Purple...
What’s the secret sauce to increasing ridership 27% in one year?
07-02-2024
What’s the secret sauce to increasing ridership 27% in one year?
When you think of big city transit agencies you think about Boston, New York, Toronto, LA, San Francisco...maybe not Mississauga, Ontario. It might surprise you that this city of one million people supports a transit system with over 500 buses and serves as the essential connector between cities East, West, and North (South is Lake Ontario). Mississauga Transit (or MiWay) helps people in Brampton, Oakville, and Toronto get to jobs and school.But they seem to be doing something right because they've increased ridership 27% over the last year and are at 109% of their 2019 ridership levels (let's stop saying the "p" word). Eve Wiggins recently took the helm of MiWay after almost a decade at the TTC and Metrolinx and before that a decade at the Toronto Airport Authority. Eve certainly knows how to get people where they want to go, in the air or on the ground.While she's only been at MiWay a short time, she has a big vision and big plans for the agency to grow and expand over the next five years.But you can't execute your vision on your own. You need to lead people and clear the roadblocks in their way. Eve subscribes to the CASTLE (Courage, Authenticity, Truthfulness, Love, and Effectiveness) leadership philosophy and you will want to listen to how she describes her leadership style. It's pretty inspiring just listening to how she approaches getting things done and relying on others when she knows she doesn't have all the answers.Coming up next week we have Holly Arnold, CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration about her career at the MTA and the massive projects she has on the go there.We're excited to announce a special Transit Unplugged live CEO round table. Hosted by Dr. Khan you'll Legos at UITP MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition on February the 29th at the Trapeze booth. We'll have guests, including UITP President, Renee Amilcar and the Director General of the Integrated Transport Center in Abu Dhabi, Abdulla Al Marzooqi.The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition 2024 is the premier event focusing on sustainable urban mobility solutions in the MENA region. It takes place in Dubai from February 28th to March 1st, the event is co-organized by UITP and Dubai's RTA.The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition has been a leading platform for showcasing advancements in public transport since 2007.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social mediaFollow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Instagram - FacebookSign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter0:00 What's the secret sauce to increasing ridership 27% in one year?00:03 Introduction and Overview01:44 The Success of Mississauga's Transit System04:27 The Secret Sauce: How Mississauga Grew Ridership12:01 Eve's Leadership Philosophy and Approach19:00 The Future of Transit in...
Hidden Transit Heroes Revealed: How Rural Transit Serves Unseen Communities
31-01-2024
Hidden Transit Heroes Revealed: How Rural Transit Serves Unseen Communities
When we think about public transit we often think about subways or buses travelling through bustling cities, we don't often think of small towns in the midst of woods and fields. But the reality is there are thousands of rural transit agencies in North America serving people and places miles and miles away from each other. In this episode, host Paul Comfort talks with with Wendy Weedon, Deputy CEO of the Brazos Transit District in Texas, and Eddie VanStein, the Steuben County Mobility Manager in Upstate New York, to discuss the often overlooked topic of rural transportation. Wendy and Eddie talk about the unique transportation issues faced by rural communities, including the necessity for collaboration, breaking down silos, and getting funding for their programs.They highlight how essential transportation services are to rural communities, serving a diverse range of needs like medical appointments, groceries and social connections. Wendy talks about the ongoing challenges they face with funding, fleet maintenance, and staff retention. Issues that resonate with transit agencies large and small. Eddie's job is to help the six different agencies in a county nearly the size of Rhode Island, coordinate and collaborate.But Eddie shares his real motivator to become involved in the sector--a tearful call from his grandmother who was out of food and no way to get to the store 20 miles away. He knew he had to do something and started a rideshare program during the pandemic to just get people to where they needed to go.The most crucial part of their message is raising awareness of the challenges rural agencies face. And how, unlike big city agencies, people in rural communities don't have the option to walk, take a taxi, or call a neighbor to drive them. Often public transit is the only way people can get around.Next week we go from small towns to the biggest North American transit operation you may not have heard of with Eve Wiggins, Director of Mississauga Transit (MiWay), for a look at an agency with over 500 buses that grew ridership 27% last year and is at 109% of 2019 ridership numbers. Learn the secret sauce that powers MiWay's success.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media0:00 Transit is an essential lifeblood in rural communities00:25 Guest Introductions and backgrounds03:36 The Importance of Transit in Rural Areas10:26 Challenges in Rural Transportation14:21 Looking Ahead: The Future of Rural Transit22:58 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
If we can’t get new buses, how can we move more people?
24-01-2024
If we can’t get new buses, how can we move more people?
There is more than a little bit of irony that when we have unprecedented levels of funding to buy and replace buses, there is a manufacturing crunch so there are few buses to be had--and with longer delivery times. From manufacturing delays and fewer manufacturers to massive price increases, agencies are pushing buses well beyond their useful life. How can we solve this crisis to not only meet the needs of today's riders, but make the transition to zero emissions? To talk about the topic, this week's show features:- Ed Redfern and Joel Rubin from the Bus Coalition- Julia Castillo and Brooke Ramsey from the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency- Patrick Scully from Complete Coach WorksIn two separate interviews we hear about the challenges agencies are facing getting and paying for buses and some recommendations from industry on some alternatives to new buses that might help bridge the gap while manufacturing and supply chain issues work themselves out.Next week on the show we have Eddie VanStine and Wendy Weedon talking about rural transit. There are thousands of rural transit agencies across North America--and the world--who serve some of our most vulnerable people. But rural transit is often forgotten, with big city transit agencies getting the lion's share of attention and funding.Questions or comments? Contact us at info@transitunplugged.comSubscribe to our newsletter at https://www.transitunplugged.comTransit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.comTransit Unplugged team:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media00:00 Interview with Ed Redfern, Joel Rubin, Brooke Ramsey, and Julia Castillo01:13 Introduction and Panel Discussion on Bus Shortage02:28 Understanding the Role and Challenges of the Bus Coalition06:39 Discussion on the Rising Costs and Supply Chain Issues12:32 Exploring Potential Solutions: Buy America Waiver and More22:22 Interview with Patrick Scully22:28 Insights from Complete Coachworks: Overhauls, Used Equipment, and Conversions30:11 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Just Don’t Make Expensive Mistakes and Other Lessons from Adam Barth, CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority
17-01-2024
Just Don’t Make Expensive Mistakes and Other Lessons from Adam Barth, CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority
Sometimes we're so afraid of making mistakes, that we don't push ourselves to take a chance on a new innovative idea. We've all been there, but in this conversation Adam Barth, CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority--https://stanrta.org/--, reveals advice he got from a mentor at a critical time in his career.Paul Comfort sat down with Adam Barth, CEO of Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority to talk about his career journey from starting our as a tour bus driver in Fairbanks, Alaska, to leading the newly merged transit Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority in Modesto, California. Adam talks about the challenges he faced while merging the county and city transit systems, and the lessons learned from the experience. Adam also discusses the agency's plans for implementing bus rapid transit and their move towards zero-emission buses. Finally, Barth emphasizes the importance of transit leaders riding their systems to better understand their customers and their needs with a story about simply just taking the bus to work.Transit Unplugged team:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media00:04 Introduction and Background of Adam Barth02:42 Adam Barth's Career Journey in Transit Industry05:06 Learning from Mistakes: A Key to Success08:01 The Merger of City and County Transit Systems11:09 Challenges and Future Plans for Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority20:56 The Importance of Riding the System as a Transit Leader24:30 Don't miss the Executive Summit at ThinkTransit March 25th!26:04 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
How SEPTA is Making a Difference in the Lives of Vulnerable People
10-01-2024
How SEPTA is Making a Difference in the Lives of Vulnerable People
Host Paul Comfort interviews Ken Divers, Director of Outreach Programs at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), and Flora Castillo, President of Pivot Strategies and former APTA chair, about SEPTA's innovative SCOPE (Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnership, and Engagement) program. Ken and Flora talk with Paul about how they created the program over a weekend and its goals for helping vulnerable people.One of the main goals is connecting people with resources to help them with housing, food, healthcare, and other services, but SCOPE is also about playing an active role in the homelessness crisis. SEPTA--and transit agencies--can't solve the crisis of the growing number of unhoused people on their own, but they often bear the brunt of the effects. People just looking for a warm and dry place need to be helped and supported, not treated as unwanted guests. The SCOPE program makes sure everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve while also keeping SEPTA safe for everyone.The SCOPE program won APTA's 2022 Innovation Award for its groundbreaking work helping people access resources and get a fresh start with a whole new approach to the problem.Flora and Ken's excitement and pride in their work should inspire all of us to look at how to help vulnerable people in new ways. Enforcement isn't always the best option, and SCOPE has shown their approach can make a real difference in people's lives.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo.Transit Unplugged team:Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media00:03 Introduction and Background01:17 Interview with Ken Divers and Flora Castillo02:03 The Birth of the SCOPE Program05:49 The Journey and Impact of Kenneth Divers09:24 The Approach and Success of the SCOPE Program13:16 Partnerships and Future Directions20:46 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Creating the first modern streetcar network and the storied career of Congressman Earl Blumenauer
03-01-2024
Creating the first modern streetcar network and the storied career of Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Over his five-decade long career in politics Congressman Earl Blumenauer has been a staunch support of transit and livable cities. Paul sat down with Rep. Blumenauer after a chance meeting at the Impact Conference in Phoenix last fall to talk about his life, career, passions, and what's next after he leaves Congress at the end of his term.In their wide-ranging discussion, Paul and Rep. Blumenauer talk about what got him into politics, and more importantly, his lifelong passion for streetcars, transit, livable communities, and bikes. It's not often you get to hear from someone who has had his hand on the wheel of transit policy for so long. From his early work in Portland to create the first modern streetcar line in the U.S. to his continued passion for livable communities that will keep him busy when he retires from Congress at the end of his term this year, you get a true sense of passion and insight into what really moves people.As we come into an election year in the U.S. strong advocacy for transit, sustainability, and more livable cities will be more important than ever.Coming up next week on the show we have Ken Divers and Flora Castillo talking about the SEPTA SCOPE program that's aimed at helping vulnerable populations get the help they need while also making transit safer for everyone.If you have a question, comment, or want to be a guest on Transit Unplugged, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.00:00 Introduction and Welcome01:25 Interview with Congressman Earl Blumenauer05:47 Discussion on Streetcars and Public Transit09:52 Congressman's Career and Achievements24:13 Future Plans and Final Thoughts26:31 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Special Episode: Jeff Wood and Dr. Karel Martens on planning our cities for accessibility
29-12-2023
Special Episode: Jeff Wood and Dr. Karel Martens on planning our cities for accessibility
We have a special holiday gift for you with a special bonus episode to close out the year. We worked with Jeff Wood from Talking Headways and The Overhead Wire -- https://theoverheadwire.com/ -- to trade episodes with each other. Jeff will be playing our interview with Randy Clarke that kicked off Season 7 and we have his interview with Dr. Karel Martens from March 2021 talking about the philosophy behind city planning.This is something very different from our usual topics, and we hope you enjoy it.Make sure you check out The Overhead Wire and Talking Headways wherever you get your podcasts.Questions, comments? Email us at info@transitunplugged.com.00:02 Introduction with Paul Comfort and Jeff Wood01:01 About the Talking Headways Podcast02:05 Introducing the Guest and Topic03:19 How to Access the Talking Headways Podcast03:41 Interview with Karel Martens with Jeff Wood of the Overhead Wire03:47 Interview with Karel Martens13:10 Exploring Theories of Justice in Transport27:59 Understanding the Concept of Fair Distribution28:33 Exploring the Idea of Insurance Schemes in Resource Distribution29:46 Applying the Veil of Ignorance to Transport System Design31:03 The Importance of Accessibility in Transport Systems37:21 The Role of Government in Providing Sufficient Accessibility49:46 Re-evaluating the Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis in Transport Planning56:16 Thank you for listening and what's coming in January
Taylor Swift and the rebirth of transit in 2023
27-12-2023
Taylor Swift and the rebirth of transit in 2023
In our final regular episode of Transit Unplugged for 2023 we have Paul Skoutelas, President & CEO of APTA, and Petra Mollet, VP of Strategic International Programs at APTA talking with Paul about the year that was in 2023 and what we should be looking forward to in 2024.The boost in infrastructure funding was, of course, the big news of the year, but it's somewhat overshadowed by ongoing funding issues at many agencies across North America.But it's not all bad, because Taylor Swift's Eras Tour introduced a whole new audience to transit this year. In city after city, the Eras Tour triggered massive transit use to get to the concerts.Heading into 2024, everyone is optimistic that we're finally shaking off the focus on ridership numbers and moving towards what is the service we're offering, and are we serving everyone we should?Before we completely close out the year, we have a very special episode. We've traded episodes with the Talking Headways podcast and bringing you a special episode on the philosophy of planning our cities to be more accessible and inclusive. Learn more at https://theoverheadwire.com/.We kick off the New Year with Rep. Earl Blumeneaur talking about his over fifty years of public service and his life-long advocacy for better transit.If you have a question or comment email us at info@transitunplugged.com.0:00 Year end wrap up with Paul Skoutelas and Petra Mollet00:02 Introduction and Guest Overview00:50 Reflecting on the Success of Transit Unplugged in 202303:00 Discussion with APTA Leaders: Reflecting on 2023 and Looking Ahead to 202403:52 Insights from Paul Skoutelas on APTA and Public Transit05:47 Discussion on Public and Private Sector Collaboration07:26 Challenges and Successes in Public Transit in 202315:06 International Perspectives on Public Transit15:17 Insights from International Study Missions19:50 Looking Ahead: Trends and Predictions for 202426:53 Closing Remarks27:51 Coming up next on Transit Unplugged
Can Public-Private Partnerships Complete Transit Projects Faster?
20-12-2023
Can Public-Private Partnerships Complete Transit Projects Faster?
Welcome to the penultimate episode of Transit Unplugged for 2023! This week we wrap our series recorded at the CUTA conference in Edmonton with an interview with Arthur Nicolet, CEO of Transdev Canada (https://www.transdev.ca/en/).Paul and Arthur not only talk about contracting in Canada, but pairing with the episode featuring Transdev US CEO Laura Hendricks, talk about the role of contracting around the world. Contracting seems to naturally pair with public-private partnerships (P3s) and Arthur talks about the benefits for all sides when agencies and private contractors are free to find the best solution to solve the problem at hand, not the solution people initially thought would be the right one.Paul and Arthur wrap the conversation with a look at ahead to 2024 and the role of AI in transit--one of our favorite topics here on Transit Unplugged.Next week in the final episode of 2023, we have Paul Skoutelas and Petra Mollet of APTA looking back at the year and ahead to what's to come.And we're going to have a special bonus episode coming out December 29th, so stay tuned for that.If you have a question or comment, you can reach us at info@transitunplugged.com.00:00 Introduction to this episode by Paul Comfort01:48 Introduction and Background of Transdev Canada04:37 Understanding Public-Private Partnerships09:58 The Role of Contractors in Public Transit15:50 Future Trends in Public Transit23:19 The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Public Transit26:01 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Is the great hydrogen pivot coming to transit in 2024?
13-12-2023
Is the great hydrogen pivot coming to transit in 2024?
Will battery electric buses work in the northern-most large city in North America? This week on Transit Unplugged, we continue our series from the CUTA conference in Edmonton, AB. Edmonton has been leading the way in transit for 20 years. The first city in Canada to have LRT and now the first city to have a hydrogen fuel cell bus in active service. So what's next?Deputy City Manager--and former head of the Edmonton Transit System--Eddie Robar talks about plans to make oil-rich Alberta the hydrogen capital of Canada. Then we get a tour of Canada's largest electric bus garage with current head of Edmonton Transit (https://www.edmonton.ca/edmonton-transit-system-ets), Carrie Hotton-MacDonald. Carrie takes Paul for a tour of the Kathleen Andrews bus garage with modern amenities for drivers and advanced charging for their battery electric fleet.And if you liked this audio tour, you'll love Transit Unplugged TV this month featuring Edmonton! The episode premiers December 14.Coming up next week, we have a special chat with Arthur Nicolet CEO of Transdev Canada to talk about contracting in Canada and what the biggest trends in transit are.Speaking of transit trends, our final episode of the year airs December 27th featuring Paul Skoutelas, CEO of APTA and Petra Mollet VP of Strategy and International Programs at APTA looking back at transit in 2023 and ahead to what will shape transit in 2024.We'll have a special bonus holiday episode we think you'll really enjoy from another transit podcast. Stay tuned for that!Questions? Email: info@transitunplugged.com0:00 Is the great hydrogen pivot coming to transit in 2024?00:00 Introduction to Edmonton's Transit Innovations01:39 Edmonton's Transition to Alternate Fuels02:38 Edmonton's Electrification Journey05:24 Inside Edmonton's Hydrogen Powered Buses09:11 Career Pathways in Public Transportation11:33 ThinkTransit Registration is open!13:05 Interview with Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, Head of Edmonton Transit13:16 In the Kathleen Andrews Bus Garage14:32 Dispatch area14:56 Operator Lounge15:24 In the garage--charging infrastructure16:13 How buses are charged17:28 Inside an electric bus19:12 Dealing with the cold and scale of the garage23:15 Edmonton's New LRT Line and Future Plans25:18 Outside the bus garage
What if public transit agencies drove housing policy?
06-12-2023
What if public transit agencies drove housing policy?
This week we have the first of three episodes recorded during the CUTA (Canadian Urban Transit Association) Annual Fall Conference. In this first episode, Paul first sits down with the President and CEO of CUTA, Marco D’Angelo talking about housing policy, and later with regular contributor Mike Bismeyer, talking about how Mike started his life-long kindness advocacy.Paul and Marco talk about CUTA’s recent report on the housing affordability crisis in Canada https://cutaactu.ca/cuta-report-highlight-how-public-transit-can-help-tackle-canadas-housing-crisis/. Marco talks about some of the recommendations in the report, but more importantly, he advocates for evolving the role of transit in planning and housing to be more active and collaborative at all levels of government.In the second half of the show, Mike Bismeyer and Paul talk about how Mike’s experience being bullied as a kid turned into his life-long advocacy for kindness and mentorship.Next week on the show, we learn about Edmonton Transit’s new hydrogen-powered bus with Eddie Robar and Carrie Hotten MacDonald.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.00:00 Introduction01:28 Discussion on the CUTA Conference and Housing in Canada04:07 Insights on the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA)04:32 Exploring the Housing Affordability Crisis in Canada08:29 Recommendations from the Housing Study15:51 Interview with Mike Bismeyer on Kindness and Mentorship21:21 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Meeting The Transit Needs and Keeping Cool in America’s Fastest Growing County
29-11-2023
Meeting The Transit Needs and Keeping Cool in America’s Fastest Growing County
This week we’re staying in Phoenix and picking up where we left off last week. Paul talks with current Valley Metro (https://www.valleymetro.org/) CEO Jessica Mefford-Miller about the light rail expansion, but more than that, Jessica talks about how Valley Metro keeps its cool in the scorching summer heat.You would not believe the amount of air conditioning needed for each light rail train. Small hint, it’s more than a house or two.While riding the LRT and streetcars Paul and Jessica talk about how Valley Metro is helping businesses deal with construction and how Artsline brings art to the community while taking transit.As a special feature, Paul talks with Ryan Johnson, CEO of Culdesac, about this car-free planned community outside of Tempe—with its own light rail stop!Valley Metro and Phoenix will be the stars of the show on Transit Unplugged TV in January. Make sure you subscribe on YouTube you so don’t miss this smokin’ hot episode. https://www.youtube.com/@transitunpluggedNext week on the show we have Marco D’Angelo President and CEO of CUTA (Canadian Urban Transit Association) and regular contributor Mike Bismeyer with interviews recorded at the recent CUTA conference held in Edmonton, AB.Question or comment? Email us at info@transitunplugged.com.0:00 Beating the heat at Valley Metro01:26 Introduction to Valley Metro Light Rail02:01 Addressing Construction Impact on Local Businesses03:00 Exploring the Valley Metro System and its Expansion04:15 Adapting to Post-Pandemic Ridership Patterns and Heat Challenges11:57 Exploring Culdesac: A Car-Free Neighborhood18:03 New LRT trains at Valley Metro and the growth of LRT18:51 Artsline: community art across Valley Metro stops and stations20:29 The Future of Valley Metro and Transit in Phoenix22:22 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
That Time When Defeating a Ballot Measure Was Good for Transit with Scott Smith
22-11-2023
That Time When Defeating a Ballot Measure Was Good for Transit with Scott Smith
Usually when people vote on ballot measures about transit, the transit agency and supporters want the measure to pass.Not in Phoenix in 2019.That ballot measure would have literally derailed bringing light rail--any rail--to Phoenix forever. Then Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith rallied support throughout Maricopa County and discovered there was overwhelming support for transit and light rail. So much support that the ballot measure was defeated by a landslide.But we start this episode with a somber anniversary, 60 years ago today John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In a special segment, Paul and our guest Scott Smith reflect on JFK's legacy and call to service.In our feature interview, Paul Comfort talks with the former CEO of Valley Metro (https://www.valleymetro.org/) Scott Smith about that ballot measure, as well as his time as Mayor of Mesa, AZ, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and his run for Governor of Arizona.Paul and Scott talk about the massive investment in light rail in Phoenix and how it ties into the rest of the transit system run by Valley Metro. Scott gives his vision for what LRT means to communities and how rising costs hamper transit projects across North America.Next week we stay in Phoenix with an interview with the current CEO of Valley Metro, Jessica Mefford-Miller to bring us up to speed on the LRT project and a unique car-free community outside Tempe, AZ.We wrap this episode with Elea Carey and our editor Tris Hussey talking about practical tips for agencies facing tough ballot measures in the future.If you have a question or comment you can email us at info@transitunplugged.com00:00 Introduction from host and producer Paul Comfort00:54 Remembering JFK and the Call to Public Service01:24 Reflecting on the legacy of John F. Kennedy and the call to public service05:19 Interview with Scott Smith, former CEO of Valley Metro in Phoenix, AZ05:19 Scott Smith's Journey into Public Service08:37 The Challenges and Triumphs of Building Light Rail in Phoenix13:34 The Referendum Battle and the Future of Light Rail22:05 Reflections on the Transit Industry and Future Perspectives26:02 Marketing minute with Elea Carey and Transit Unplugged Editor, Tris Hussey30:42 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Why would a transit CEO pick up 500 tons of trash as his first priority on the job?
08-11-2023
Why would a transit CEO pick up 500 tons of trash as his first priority on the job?
This week, we give you Part 2 of our special CEO roundtable recorded live at APTA TRANSform Conference and EXPO. The conversation picks up with host and producer Paul Comfort asking the panel what are the big projects they have going on. From Dave Dech's trash clearing to Coree Cuff Lonergan's just culture, each CEO highlights an essential aspect of public transit today.The discussion continues with each CEO talking about the biggest trends facing the industry, including payments, apps, transit-oriented development, and providing a better experience for customers.Make sure you listen to the whole episode with Dave Dech from TriRail, Coree Cuff Lonergan from Broward County Transit, Dottie Watkins from CapMetro in Austin, Tiffany Homler Hawkins from LYNX in Orlando, and Frank White from KCATA in Kansas City.After the CEO Roundtable, Elea Carey has some concrete tips for connecting with employees to help towards what Coree would call a "just culture".We're not done with Orlando yet! This week on Transit Unplugged TV we're featuring Orlando, LYNX, and Brightline Trains! Make sure you check us out on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/@transitunpluggedHere is a direct link to the Orlando episode now out https://youtu.be/0E0rtccMjCw?si=wEN85Gn3L9g892QwNext week on the show we have Adam Hill, Editor-in-Chief of ITS International Magazine https://www.itsinternational.com/, talking with Paul about high speed rail and the complexities of lowering emissions from passenger vehicles.If you have a question or comment email info@transitunplugged.comTransit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo, Passionate About Moving the World's People.00:00 Introduction and Transition to Projects01:06 Dave's Project: Cleaning Up the Tracks02:48 Dottie's Project: New Station Construction06:24 Tiffany's Project: Contactless Fare Payment08:50 Frank's Project: Transit-Oriented Developments11:18 Coree's Project: Creating a Just Culture14:15 Future Technology in Transit22:27 Best Things Happening at Agencies28:40 Marketing Minute with Elea Carey28:40 What's coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
Randy Clarke Has Boosted WMATA, But a Budget Crisis Looms Large Over His Success
01-11-2023
Randy Clarke Has Boosted WMATA, But a Budget Crisis Looms Large Over His Success
Welcome to our 6th anniversary and the start of season 7 of Transit Unplugged. Host Paul Comfort has a special opening reflecting on the past 270+ episodes so far and what lies ahead down the road. In our interview this week, we have Randy Clarke, GM and CEO of WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) https://www.wmata.com/, chatting with Paul from his new LEED Platinum office building.In his first year as CEO, Randy has:fixed safety issues with his trainsimproved frequencyincreased ridershipreduced fare evasionworked to reduce crime on the systemand begun an ambitious project to update the Metro bus routesBy any accounts, a successful first year on the job, but...But WMATA faces a looming budget shortfall larger than many agencies' entire budget. Learn how he's approaching the crisis and what he's doing to protect service levels and his people.After the interview, regular contributor Mike Bismeyer reflects on Randy's leadership and everything else he does across the transit industry.Coming up next week we have part 2 of our special new CEO roundtable recorded live at APTA TRANSform Conference and EXPO. In part two you'll hear about the projects they have on the go, what new technologies they have their eyes on, and what they want to celebrate at their agency.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo, Passionate About Moving the World's People.Randy Clarke Has Boosted WMATA, But a Budget Crisis Looms00:00 Introduction and Reflection on the Sixth Anniversary of the Transit Unplugged Podcast01:09 Interview with Randy Clarke, GM of WMATA: Leading a Major Transit Agency and Facing Looming Challenges02:07 Randy Clarke's Journey as CEO of WMATA03:04 Challenges and Achievements at WMATA05:58 Addressing the Fiscal Crisis in WMATA10:09 Dealing with the Fiscal Cliff, Funding, and Budgets17:09 Fighting Fare Evasion and Supporting Low Income Riders19:21 Delivering a Bus Route Optimization Project in Only a Year21:35 Efforts to Curb Crime in the Transit System25:48 What Randy Enjoys Most About His Job30:16 Mike's Minute with Mike Bismeyer: Reflection on Leadership and Mentorship32:12 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged
The surprising things about being a public transit CEO in 2023
25-10-2023
The surprising things about being a public transit CEO in 2023
What's it like being the CEO of a transit agency? Paul Comfort asked a panel of five CEOs who've been on the job for about a year what it's been like, what's surprised them the most, and why they love working in transit.Listen to this lively and engaging panel featuring Coree Cuff Lonergan, GM of Broward County Transit, Dave Dech, Executive Dir of Tri-Rail, Dottie Watkins, CEO of CapMetro, Frank White III, CEO of KCATA, and Tiffany Homler Hawkins, CEO of LYNX where they candidly share their experiences, surprises, and insights about leading a transit agency.They discuss how their work impacts the lives of their customers and what it means to them personally. They touch on all the things CEOs have to think about, plus some things you might not have thought about. It's a fascinating roundtable that showcases the passion and dedication of these transit leaders.Also on the show in Elea Carey's Marketing Minute, Elea gives you practical tips for improving internal communications at your agency.Next week is our sixth anniversary and the start of season seven! We kick off season 7 episode 1 (and our 278th episode) with Randy Clarke, CEO of WMATA. Randy talks about his first year on the job, what's gone well, what hasn't, and what a looming fiscal cliff means for his agency, his people, and riders.If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.00:00 APTA CEO Roundtable Stories from New CEOs00:00 Making an impact on people's lives00:45 About this episode from your host Paul Comfort01:33 Discussion with five new Transit CEOs recorded live at APTA TRANSform Conference and EXPO32:41 Marketing Minute with Elea Carey35:05 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged--Season 6 : Episode 52Links for this show:American Public Transportation AssociationTri Rail | South Florida Regional Transportation AuthorityLYNX Public Transportation in Orange, Seminole & OsceolaCapMetro – Austin Public TransitBroward County TransitKansas City Regional Transit RideKCCopyright: Modaxo 2023
Carl Sedoryk Putting His Community, Riders, and the Planet First
18-10-2023
Carl Sedoryk Putting His Community, Riders, and the Planet First
This week Paul Chats with Carl Sedoryk, CEO of Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) https://mst.org/ , about his jazz-themed BRT line, applying their new vision statement to serve the people who need transit the most better, and how his practice of martial arts makes him a better leader.Monterey-Salinas Transit is in an interesting place, geographically and within the larger transit industry. Nestled on the Pacific coast and the Salinas Valley, Carl serves a unique community from tourists to farm workers. Carl and MST approach serving the community with their new vision statement as a guidepost: Connecting communities, creating opportunities, and being kind to the planet. Everything they do must check one of those three boxes (and hopefully more). From planning for zero emissions to adjusting routes to serve areas with high unemployment/low car ownership, Carl are changing how their system works.Throughout this is an internal guide for Carl: his decades-long practice of martial arts. Hear what values he brings from his practice and how it helps him lead his agency.Mike Bismeyer connects with kindness in MST's vision and then reflects on the recent APTA Transform Conference and EXPO. How he saw examples everywhere of people and leaders sharing and mentoring others.Next week on the show we have an episode recorded live at APTA. It's a new CEO panel with Coree Cuff Lonergan, Dave Dech, Dottie Watkins, Frank White, and Tiffany Homler Hawkins reflecting on their first year as CEO at a major transit agency.Questions/comments: info@transitunplugged.com.Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo. Passionate about moving the world's people.Enriched by Vizzy(00:00) Carl Sedoryk Putting Riders and the Planet First(00:02) Does the project match our mission and vision(20:33) Mike's Minute with Mike Bismeyer(22:12) What's coming up next week on Transit UnpluggedChapters, images & show notes powered by vizzy.fm.6 :51Monterey-Salinas Transit - Learn more about this unique transit district and its jazz-themed BRT line.Modaxo 2023