With nearly 20% of our workforce currently at retirement age, the transportation industry faces the potential loss of significant institutional knowledge as baby boomers consider trading in the brief case for a golf bag.
For many of us, a greater emphasis has been placed on succession planning and ensuring we prepare those who will take over to successfully lead our agencies into the future. And not only do we need to focus on those right behind us, we also have a responsibility to inspire and educate the youngest generation entering the workforce.
A program started by the Orange County Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar is an ideal example of this kind of effort. Known as the Transportation Academy, the program exposes students to aspects of the transportation field they would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Women’s Transportation Seminar is a national professional organization that has promoted the advancement of women in the transportation industry since 1977. The Orange County Chapter, where I am a member of the advisory board and chaired in 2010, took the idea of advancing transportation careers to the next level by launching the first Transportation Academy two years ago.
The program provides an in-depth look at various aspects of the transportation industry for 25 students who range in age from high school seniors to graduate students. The participants are selected from a pool of applicants and given the opportunity to visit various transit agencies in Southern California and hear from top executives in the field.
The program has grown over the past three years to involve10 participating agencies, including major metropolitan planning organizations, port authorities, consulting firms, a toll agency, an airport authority and rail agencies.
Each organization dedicates a half day to the students, providing insight about challenges and opportunities, emergency response and business continuity plans, as well as case studies highlighting unique features of large and small projects. Many of the visits are capped off with a tour of the agency or a site visit to an active construction project.
The lessons give students a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into completing large-scale construction projects and operating and managing port complexes and airports.
The Orange County Transportation Authority has been a participating agency in the Transportation Academy since its inception and is proud to be a partner in a program that is educating and training the next generation of transportation leaders.
Generation Y will bring with them high expectations — of themselves and the organizations they represent. These young people will challenge the status quo, which in turn will bring innovation to our industry. I encourage agencies around the country to consider similar programs and would be happy to provide any information that can help.
In the end, it will be to the benefit of transportation providers and private-sector employers to teach students what to expect and how to use their skills and knowledge to be successful in the transportation industry.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Amid heat wave, L.A. transit center to combat global warming" here.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.
In times of disaster or tragedy, public transit agencies are frequently called upon to assist their communities and other transportation organizations. In case of fire, evacuation or accident, buses may be used to shelter or transport the displaced or injured, or serve as a respite site for first responders.
As a city, Leipzig is an excellent example of the German principals of transport planning and service as well as eastern Germany’s long history. The city has benefitted from large amounts of investment in infrastructure over the years since German reunification and most transport systems seem to be new or rebuilt, expanded and in a very good current state of repair. The most notable element in the transport mix is inevitably the enormous and historic main railway station, which is one of the largest, but certainly not busiest, in Europe.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.