The Silver Lining of Gathering Virtually By Josh Cantor, CAPP I recently had the opportunity to participate in an active transportation summit hosted by my office and coordinated with 11 other regional organizations. While the all-day Zoom meeting may have been more complicated to coordinate than the in-person conference we initially had planned, I came away thinking how this virtual environment brought us an opportunity we could not have replicated in person. For starters, we had speakers from around the state and the country who may not have been able to come to Fairfax, Va., all at the same time. We had a great mix of speakers, panelists, and moderators, including state elected officials, mayors, county supervisors, local and state transportation officials, and even a local television reporter. One of the highlights was a presentation by Charles T. Brown with Equitable Cities, who addressed the attendees about “Arrested Mobility,” and the effects of social, political,
economic, and health outcomes on BIPOC as it relates to equity in transportation. Out of the disappointment of not being able to host an in-person conference came this creation of a virtual summit that was larger and more diverse, both in content and participants, which drew together so many dedicated and passionate experts in active transportation. We connected people who might not otherwise have a chance to be together to advocate for topics such as bicycling and walking, safety, and more livable communities. This effort re-energized me and hopefully hundreds of others for what we can do in the transportation community and the responsibility we have to serve the needs of our communities.
JOSH CANTOR, CAPP, is director, parking and transportation, at George Mason University and a member of IPMI’s Board of
Time to Re-think the Goals of Transit By Lesli Stone, CAPP I was recently listening to an NPR Podcast, All Things Considered, where the topic was “What is the Future of Public Transit in the U.S.?” There were a lot of great points made in reference to system budget deficits and what relief could be expected. The discussion continued with the expected, well-thought-out arguments regarding service cuts being a result of lower ridership–the resulting reduced service being a catalyst for even lower ridership, and the death spiral continues. Then I heard the following: “One of the problems we have is that we’re very focused on maintaining the status quo. Everything about the investments we make in our transportation system are ensuring that people can continue to get around in the same ways that they did, you know, 10 years ago. And so for the most part, the transit options we’ve been giving people have been very similar year in, year out. And many of the support programs that have been announced during
the COVID crisis have been about maintaining that status quo.” Yonah Freemark, Urban Institute. What if we are doing it wrong? What if our “new normal” requires a new way of thinking about an old problem? The morning commute now looks very different for many people. Our choice travel destinations are no longer the same. Maybe now is the time to think about transit in a very basic way. Who is going places and where, exactly, are they going? How can we help them get their safely and conveniently? How can we help them plan their trip? Before we can decide what the future of transit in the U.S. actually is, we probably need to decide if the status quo is actually what we are aiming for. If so, then we should feel free to carry on. If not? We should redefine the actual problem that we are trying to solve.
LESLI STONE, CAPP, is general manager at National Express Transit Corporation.
42 PARKING & MOBILITY / MAY 2021 / PARKING-MOBILITY.ORG