Sally Librera, Americas Transit Market Leader/Sr. VP at AECOM, spoke with METRO about several topics, including mobility and high-speed rail.
Multimodal Systems, Global Trends & High-Speed Rail
Dig into this Q&A to learn more about how the idea of mobility is changing, global trends we might see in the near future, and the potential impact of high-speed rail in California.
Metro: As the idea of mobility is changing to a more multimodal model, how can consultants help transit agencies move forward with programs that will boost ridership?
Librera: We can all help transit agencies deliver high-quality multimodal systems by riding transit, thinking like riders, and designing and delivering infrastructure through the user lens. Multimodal solutions unlock travel and connectivity options for riders, which is a tremendous benefit, but they can also interject complexity in a journey — and we need to keep a strong focus on how to make these trips seamless, easy, and enjoyable for riders.
How we design the connectivity between systems, including strong digital systems for multimodal trip planning, fare payment, and real-time travel information; clear signage; accessible announcements; a welcoming physical environment; and coordinated schedules — all matter in huge ways for customers who have options for travel. The more integrated and pleasant we make these journeys, the more users will choose transit.
METRO: What global trends could eventually make their way over here?
Librera: Many transit agencies in the U.S. are looking globally for best practices in project delivery and decarbonization — as they should.
Agencies are looking for ways to deliver good projects faster, reduce costs, decrease emissions, manage risk more effectively, and incentivize private partners to innovate and efficiently deliver projects with huge benefits for customers and communities. In particular, agencies in Europe, Australia, and Canada have been delivering infrastructure through collaborative owner-designer-contractor teams with shared program ownership, profit/loss sharing, and wide-ranging KPIs that go beyond scope and schedule to incorporate ESG elements like carbon footprint and equitable social outcomes.
Elements of collaborative models like Alliancing are increasingly being adopted by transit agencies as they move toward progressive design-build and delivery partner models for large transit projects with significant complexity and potential for delivering massive decarbonization benefits.
METRO: On the topic of high-speed rail, do you feel it is something that can still make an impact here in the States, specifically in California?
Librera: Yes! High-speed rail (HSR) has tremendous potential to connect communities, address affordable housing challenges, spur economic growth, and achieve huge gains in reducing congestion and enhancing sustainability. This potential exists in many places across the U.S., and California is a prime case.
California is home to some of the least affordable housing markets in the country, and transportation is a major source of emissions in the state. The California HSR system will be fully electrified through renewable sources and will shift travelers from air and car travel, significantly reducing emissions and road congestion. California HSR will unlock more housing supply by connecting cities with a high-speed, efficient rail network, and will support the growth of communities along the corridor by making them even more attractive places to live, work, visit, and invest.
We are thrilled to be CaHSR’s program management partner and support moving the first phase of this historic and transformative program into operation.