Transit was making some real gains in ridership pre-pandemic. How do you think transit can get back some of that ridership both in the short- and long-term?
While decreased ridership during the pandemic presented incredible challenges for transit operators, it also presented an opportunity to take a fresh look at routes, schedules, and customer service policies to see if there were changes that could better meet their customer’s needs and make service and schedule adjustments accordingly. Certain operators also are reviewing their fare policies to see if there are further opportunities to entice riders back into the system. Overall, I think that agencies with effective and proactive customer communication practices will continue to promote the safety and benefits of their transit systems.
Outside of the pandemic, the idea of inclusion and social equity have also come to the forefront during this time, what are some ways transit has effectively dealt with these issues and what can they continue to do to address them?
The availability of public transportation is a great social equalizer. Transit agencies are taking fresh looks at their service maps and are reaching out into their ridership communities to provide access to these vital systems. One of the benefits may be the development of new partnerships with bike or scooter share programs and for hire vehicle companies that can contribute to first and last mile challenges to facilitate access to larger transit system hubs.
Is there a solution consultants can share with transit agencies to help bridge the funding gap?
At HNTB we are helping our clients through the federal grant application process. These are incredibly important funding sources that can help agencies advance their needs and priorities.
What is your outlook for the future of public transportation?
Public transportation is an essential part of our economy and social fabric. It is how a vast number of people will be returning to work, schools, medical appointments, and other activities, so my overall outlook for the future is positive.
On a personal level, what are the top three things that helped you get through the pandemic? Pick up any new hobbies?
Spending time with family, learning new virtual platforms, and ultimately relief at being able to look forward to coming back into the office.