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Transit Unplugged: The Unfiltered Discussions from Today’s Top Transit Leaders

Nov 15, 2017
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I am a thirty year veteran of the public transportation and government industry. I have served in senior management, business development positions, and consulting capacities. In all these roles, it was clear that learning from other transit agencies and their leaders was the best way to improve my own operations. While transit conferences offer a glimpse of this type of guidance on a specific topic, it is rare to have the opportunity to hear directly from the top transit leaders in North America unfiltered, in their own voice, and discussing topics they feel are important.

Enter Transit Unplugged, a new podcast where you can hear directly from the chief executives of North America’s top transit systems and companies.

Lately, I’ve been using the following mantra: Transit equals mobility. And mobility equals life. As we continue to find best practices and attempt to envision the future, these discussions will lead to new learnings or techniques that can work for your agency, and better the mobility and life of our passengers. 

So what can you expect from Transit Unplugged? I’ll be asking guests about their career paths and how they got to the top. We also discuss, in depth, their current major projects and challenges, along with solutions they are bringing to solve them. This often includes their personal insights into what works and doesn’t work or how they turned a past failure into a current success. They will bring you up to date on modern technologies applied to transit operations in their own systems. Then, we look to the future and ask them about transit trends they see affecting our industry such as autonomous shuttles, mobility as a service (MaaS), the changing role of transit and mobility in smart cities, just to name a few.

I’m excited to launch this podcast today – here’s the first episode:

Episode One: Bill Carpenter – Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority

Photo of RTS's transit hub courtesy of Bill Carpenter, CEO of RTS. 

During our first episode, I talk with Bill Carpenter, CEO of Regional Transit Service (RTS) in upstate New York. RTS is one of the best-run transit systems in the nation. RTS has more than 900 employees who serve more than 18,000,000 customers and business partners a year in the city of Rochester, N.Y. and eight surrounding counties. In Transit Unplugged, Bill Carpenter explains how his agency has a 35% cost recovery model - one of the highest in the nation. We go in-depth on how they developed a major transit center in downtown Rochester. Every month, nearly one million RTS customers utilize this technology-rich facility, with the added bonus of keeping them sheltered from the weather outside. The Transit Center’s 30 bus bays can accommodate 100 buses per hour – keeping everyone moving and on time.

Learning how he develops service contracts to cover the cost of service expansions could help your agency do the same. Also, understanding the pitfalls and promises of developing a well running transit hub in an urban environment might be the extra info you need to move forward and develop your own.

What Can You Expect?

By listening to each episode of Transit Unplugged, you can learn what others are doing and be inspired to improve your own piece of transit. Our industry transports tens of millions of passengers every day throughout North America. We are a key part of the economy because we help businesses bring their employees and customers to work and shop. We need to innovate and operate safely, efficiently, reliably, and with world class customer service. This podcast will help you do just that.

In the first group of episodes, you’ll not only hear from Bill Carpenter, but also from international transit leaders like Andy Byford, CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission, winners of this year’s APTA Transit System of the Year (large). He talks about creating a culture of excellence in his agency and the five mega projects he is working to deliver.

Phil Washington, CEO of Los Angeles Metro, talks about his career path from the military to Denver RTD to heading one of the world’s largest multi-modal transit systems and how he is going to complete 18 mega projects in the next 15 years.

Roger Morton, CEO of Oahu Transit Services, talks about providing bus transit to all one million residents of his island and the upcoming first autonomous, elevated, heavy-rail service in the nation.

As a bonus for launch, we have episode two ready for your transit knowledge and pleasure.

Where Can You Find Transit Unplugged?

You won’t want to miss an episode of Transit Unplugged. It will be coming at you with two episodes every month. You can subscribe on iTunes and Google Play. You can also follow along at www.transitunplugged.com.

I look forward to hearing how you like this new show and what you are learning and able to apply in your own job anywhere in the public transportation business and beyond. Thanks for listening. 


 
Paul Comfort is the VP, Business Development at Trapeze Group. Prior, he most recently served as CEO and GM of MTA Maryland (Baltimore’s transit agency), the 11th largest transit system in the U.S.
 
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