YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN TRANSPORTATION http://yptransportation.org
Volume 4, Issue 3
In this issue: Infrastructure Mega-Projects: Chicago Shows How to Deliver.... 1 Why You Should Pay for a National Transportation System................ 2 Winter 2011 Chair’s Column....................................... 3 My First TRB Annual Meeting – I Dive Right In!............................ 4 Global Career – How to Get There from Here.................................... 9 Metropolitan Atlanta Closer to Funding Major Transportation Projects..................................11 Upcoming Events ..................... 13 Photo Album............................. 14 Sponsors................................... 15
Infrastructure Mega-Projects: Chicago Shows How to Deliver Paul Lewis, Policy and Strategic Finance Analyst, Eno Center for Transportation We in the transportation industry are faced with a frustrating reality: today’s infrastructure projects are often synonymous with delays and cost overruns. Whether the project is a highway bridge, transit line, or a Paul Lewis simple bench at a bus stop, the project seems to take longer than expected and cost many times more than the original estimate. However, not all transportation projects share this fate. In fact, one of the largest construction programs in the country has managed to stay ahead of schedule and within its budget, all while dealing with the complexities of expanding one of the world’s busiest airports.
Partnering with the Chicago Department of Aviation on October 27, 2011, Eno was joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino, Former Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago Lester Crown and other important OMP leaders. The conference panelists revealed that the OMP was no easy task, especially with the complex political, environmental, and operational issues that surrounded the project. O’Hare straddles the line between Chicago’s Cook County and Illinois Republican stronghold DuPage County. Mayor Daley and other elected officials orchestrated the delicate task of bringing the opposing sides together and tackling sensitive issues such as the acquisition of hundreds of homes and businesses. Environmental concerns, including air and noise pollution, were addressed and mitigated as the project was planned and passed the regulatory and permitting process in a timely four years. The construction of this multi-billion dollar project has coincided with the operation of one of the world’s busiest airports without increasing delays or danger to passengers.
Meet the Chicago O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), a $6.6 billion series of projects intended to increase the capacity of O’Hare International Airport. Conceived in 2001, construction began in 2005 and it has outperformed similar large infrastructure projects by adhering to the schedule, costing less than the budget, and enjoying broad public support. The Eno Center for Transportation gathered elected officials and transportation leaders involved in the OMP to learn more about this success and gain insights on the applicable lessons of this complex program.
Chicago's O'Hare Airport
We can take comfort in knowing that there are real, applicable lessons from this project that can be applied to other major projects across the
M obility Matters country. Important lessons learned include ways to build support in a politically hostile climate; ways to maintain trust and support during the life of the project; the importance of strong and consistent leadership; and the usefulness of innovative planning and construction methods. Many of the lessons from the O’Hare Modernization Program can be applied to future infrastructure projects.
portation community learn from this experience. I encourage transportation professionals to learn about successful projects like the OMP and use the lessons to help improve project delivery. To download the entire paper, visit the Eno Center for Transportation at www.enotrans.org.
Paul Lewis is Policy and Strategic Finance Analyst at the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, DC. He handles Eno’s policy research and strategic finance decisions. Prior to joining Eno, he conducted transportation research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Eno recently released the OMP paper based on the results of the October 2011 conference in order to help the trans-
Why You Should Pay for a National Transportation System
mobility is received only at the gas pump. Because the gas tax is collected at the wholesale level, there is no itemized breakdown of federal, state, and sometimes local fuel taxes— everything is added up into one number. The price of gas fluctuates due to external events, but there is no indication of this, adding to general misperception that gas taxes are at fault. Drivers end up believing that the gas tax goes up every year and that each year they pay thousands of dollars in gas tax. In reality, the flat federal excise tax on gas has not been increased since 1993 and the average driver pays around $110 per year in federal gas tax. Similarly, most members of the traveling public do not know that fares cover only 35 percent of the actual operating cost of transit on average in the United States. To add to the misperceptions, fuel prices also fail to communicate external costs of driving, such as greenhouse gas and other emissions and loss of time and money from congestion, just to name a few.
Joung Lee Associate Director for Finance and Business Development, AASHTO and Shin-pei Tsay, Director of Cities and Transportation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace A persistent paradox plagues progress of a transformative transportation bill. Though the transportation industry and general public both Joung Lee Shin-pei Tsay agree that maintaining and upgrading infrastructure are national priorities, political and public reluctance to pay for transportation investments stall discussion. Two Congressional commissions (here and here) have called for increasing surface transportation capital investment to the tune of at least $200 billion per year compared to the $90 billion spent right now. Sixty-six percent of respondents in a recent public poll rated “improving infrastructure” as extremely or very important national priorities, with a mere six percent saying that it is not an important issue.
The other--and more important--half of the paradox can be explained by the reality that there is little connection between federal gas tax and the benefits gained by paying into a federal trust fund. Fairly or unfairly, headlines decrying pork barrel projects like the “Bridge to Nowhere” and cost-overruns for megaprojects like the Big Dig in Boston have been seared into public consciousness in recent years. The transportation industry tends to focus on mobility and overlook the many other social, environmental, and economic benefits that wellscoped and well-managed projects can bring to a community. Projects delivered on time and on budget receive relatively little or no attention, skewing the public’s perception of government’s efficacy. Low approval ratings of Congress undermine the public’s trust in federal stewardship of the surface transportation program. It does not help that the complexity of the federal transportation program coupled with its price tag in the tens of billions of dollars seem out of step with the current economic climate.
One half of the problem is that the public does not understand how they contribute to the federal transportation program. The other half is inadequate demonstration of benefit for that contribution. Both sides of the equation lead to a lack of urgency in passing a new transportation bill that can help the nation address its significant mobility needs.
So how do we fix the severe information asymmetry between the public (e.g., the consumers) and the providers of transportation (e.g., the government)? We can start by simply looking at the various transportation funding successes that have been achieved beneath the federal level. As seen in local bal-
The amount paid by users to cover actual costs of delivering transportation and the conveyance of such information are simply too weak. The average driver’s price signal for
M obility Matters lot measures that succeeded 79 percent of the time in 2011, increasing transportation fees matter less when people know what they receive in return through a list of projects or tangible benefits.
Locally, examples of public support for infrastructure projects and their funding abound. In November 2008, 68 percent of voters in Los Angeles County passed Measure R, which levied an additional countywide half-cent sales tax devoted for transportation purposes. Levels and distribution of funding for highway and transit programs in the measure are guaranteed for the 30-year life of the tax. The measure succeeded in part because it was able to pass the “what’s in it for me?” test and demonstrated greater community benefit.
To help communicate the importance of paying for transportation investments, here are two places to start: •
Break down the gas station receipt to show the actual cost of fuel, taxes levied, and any additional fees charged.
Show how much discount each public transit fare receives relative to the actual operating cost. For example, a $1.50 bus fare can be shown as a 60% discount on the actual trip cost of $3.75.1
In 2010, Kansas passed the Transportation Works for Kansas Program, a 10-year, $8.2-billion investment effort supported by an increase in the state sales tax, supplemented by an expansion of the state transportation department’s ability to issue transportation bonds. Kansas’ success depended on strong public confidence in the state’s leadership based on its track record of meeting and exceeding expectations.
Every project in a transportation program funded by public dollars needs to demonstrate clarity of purpose and value. The construction of the Interstate Highway system in the 20th century is an excellent example of a collaborative state and federal effort framed around a “cost-to-complete” basis with quantifiable end goals. This program tied a clear national need of improving interstate commerce and national defense to project-level benefits realized at every region and locality throughout the country.2 Now that the Interstate Highways are complete, other transportation projects can be guided by similar principles. 1
The current federal surface transportation program has been limping through a series of short-term extensions of an underlying legislation that expired in 2009, while facing continuous solvency threats to the federal highway trust fund. A long-term, reformed transportation bill stalls in a Congress that currently doesn’t perceive any sense of urgency from the public. No such public demand will materialize unless a strong correlation between tax dollars and wider benefits are demonstrated and public trust in government leadership is restored. It is therefore incumbent on transportation industry leaders to start extolling more clearly the benefits - and costs - of having a robust 21st century national transportation system.
Assuming illustrative system farebox recovery ratio of 0.4.
Great examples of successful communication of transportation benefits include the following examples from a recent National Cooperative Highway Research Program study entitled Strategies and Messages: Three Case Studies of Successful Campaigns to Raise Revenue for Transportation.
transportation authorization, including our initial call for member action more than three years ago.
Nick Perfili, National Chair, Young Professionals in Transportation
Members from across the country have contacted YPT asking ‘what can we do?’ This messages serves as a call to action for all members to contact their representatives and talk about the importance of passing a comprehensive bill that moves our country forward with a solid investment in transportation. A comprehensive, safe, and efficient transportation system is key to the economic well being of the United States.
While this is an exciting time for YPT with news of additional regional chapter development and continued support of the organization from sponsors, I want to use this opportunity to first highlight the importance of ensuring young professionals are heard, and become and Nick Perfili remain active stakeholders as Congress drafts and debates transportation funding. It is critical that member voices are heard and remain part of the debate. Having served on the founding YPT Executive Committee, I can say that YPT has been active in covering
YPT’s Board of Directors and Regional Chapters continue to press forward with institutionalization and organization growth. It is with great pleasure that I announce the formation of the newest YPT chapter, YPT – San Francisco. Join me in welcoming our fellow transportation professionals in the San Francisco Bay area to the YPT family. In addition to welcoming our San Francisco chapter, we
M obility Matters are working closely with members in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh who are interested in forming their own chapters. San Francisco joins our existing regional chapters in Austin, Boston, and New York City in growing YPT. I want to also welcome our new Deputy Vice Chairs who will serve with the National Board of Directors in Washington, DC.
Tasks under development include:
YPT continues to invest in the national organization with the launch of a new self-administered website, obtaining a trademark designation for our logo, and opening a Post Office box. In the past, our web presence and address of record was in care of the American Association of Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO). YPT is grateful for the past and continued support of AASHTO, but we are excited to announce our own structure.
Approval from the Internal Revenue Service of YPTs 501(c)6 group exemption. The 2010-2011 Board of Directors submitted this application to the IRS in July 2011; we still await official approval.
Continuing to grow and support YPT regional chapters and membership. The majority of our current membership growth comes from outside of the DC region in our chapter cities.
Developing the framework for a capital campaign bringing resources into YPT.
Upgrading our communications system and implementing an integrated communications, membership, and dues payment system serving the National organization along with our regional chapters.
I want to close by acknowledging the hard work of the National Board of Directors and board members from our regional chapters who continue to keep YPT a success. It is critical that YPT has members willing to serve and take their personal time to keep us moving.
Take a moment to visit the new website, yptransportation. org, where you can explore YPT and visit our chapter websites. YPT’s new address is P.O. Box 77783, Washington, DC 20037.
Yours in Transportation, Nick Perfili
My First TRB Annual Meeting – I Dive Right In!
Many of these folks have challenged me to grow professionally. By helping me to learn how to expand the social media dialogue into the development of a research question, I could take my day-to-day networking to a whole new level that could benefit the entire transportation community.
Meghan Makoid I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. So when I attended my first Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting (#TRBAM) this past January, I decided to dive right in the deep end - head first, without any lessons or even a life preserver!
Stephanie Camay and Lloyd Brown encouraged me to join them in co-authoring a paper for TRB. By evaluating the use of social media in the NEPA process, we turned a simple twitter conversation we had one morning over coffee, into a research conversation for the transportation community (little did we know, we were also channeling the research desires of the folks at National Cooperative Highway Research Program).
I started using a social media platform known as twitter about two years ago. Twitter is a micro-blog, where one is limited to 140 charMeghan Makoid acter conversations. On Twitter, I connect with other transportation professionals and enthusiasts. I converse with complete strangers; networking, sharing articles, transportation best practices, eliciting and sharing feedback about transportation project challenges. Over time, I have forged very strong professional and personal relationships with individuals that I know I can call on any time or place.
Not long after we submitted our paper for TRB, I thought to myself, “Well, that was fun! What a great experience! I’m really glad that I co-authored a paper. We’ll see where this goes, but I feel pretty certain that this will be end of my involvement with TRB. I mean, I’m a busy transportation professional. I’m knee deep in writing an Environmental Impact Statement, a New Starts Report, and reviewing Preliminary Engineering plans for a light rail extension project. How could I possibly find the time to be any
M obility Matters more involved with TRB? After all, this would be my very first TRB Annual Meeting; I should really work on getting my feet wet before I dive in - head first!”
our evaluation of social media in the NEPA environmental review process. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest in our research.
Little did I know that this paper would only be the beginning!
All-in-all, our poster session was a hit!
Stephanie tweeted to me one morning, “what do you think about submitting our paper for a poster session.” Having no idea what this entailed, I told her that I trusted her professional judgment and advice; if she thought we would have time to develop a poster, I was more than happy to help out any way that I could. Our paper was accepted for a poster session! This was for real! We were going to present at TRB! A few weeks passed by and then Stephanie tweeted me, Lloyd and several other transportation professionals that I corresponded with daily on twitter. “So, what do you all think about participating on a roundtable panel about social media and professional networking?” She followed her tweet with an email to everyone who showed interest in her tweet, “Now, it wouldn’t be a huge time commitment, I was just thinking each of you could develop 1 or 2 slides; here’s a template. I’ll moderate the panel along with Andy Palanisamy; we’ll develop a few questions for the audience to stimulate a conversation; it’ll be pretty informal.”
Aimee Custis, Ashley Robbins, Marc Tomik, Adam Froelig, Matt Johnson & Meghan Makoid playing TransAmerica Photo by: Meghan Makoid
At TRBAM, I reconnected with past colleagues and consultants, met many of my twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook colleagues, many of whom I had never met IRL (in real life). I also attended several informative conference sessions, networked at the joint Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) / Young Members Council (YMC) Young Professionals Reception, and even managed to find time to fit in a few games of TransAmerica with friends that I met through Twitter.
The Audience Arriving for Undoubtedly though, the highlight TRB Session 564 of my entire TRB experience was my Photo by: Meghan Makoid opportunity to speak on the roundtable panel session sponsored YMC Task Force entitled Building Your Professional Network in 140 Characters or Less: How Social Media Tools Can Enhance Professional Networking. Our diverse panel consisted of young transportation professionals from all over the country, of varying experience and career backgrounds, including an ITS/civil engineer, public and private sector transportation planners, transportation advocates, non-profit professionals, a transportation librarian, federal transportation specialists, and even a ‘recovering’ journalist.
At this point, I thought “hey, why not?!” Let’s do this! What do I have to lose? It was shaping up to be a great panel. A huge opportunity to put myself out there; to continue networking with other transportation professionals, and to finally meet some of the folks that I had been corresponding with for over a year. TRBAM rolled up on us like a freight train. We were editing and assembling slides to the bitter end.
What did we have in common? We all met on Twitter! Moderated by Stephanie Camay and Andy Palanisamy, our epic panel of ten young transportation professionals, discussed the benefits of using social media as a medium for information sharing, networking, and career advancement. We each offered a different perspective, our own pro-tips,
Ashley Robbins & Aimee Custis Baked Train Cakes for the YPT / YMC Social Photos by: Meghan Makoid
During the week of TRBAM, Stephanie, Lloyd and I presented our paper at the TRB poster session, “Current Environmental Issues in Transportation.” Just like a science fair, we hung our large, colorful poster on a board, and shared our findings with other professionals interested in learning more about
Stephanie Camay Introducing TRB Session 564 (also pictured: Andy Palanisamy, Eric Weber, Kendra Levine & Andy Krzmarzick) Photo by: Meghan Makoid
M obility Matters lessons learned, insights and we even answered a few questions from the audience.
about the opportunities associated with social media in professional networking; gleaning tips from not only my fellow panelists, but also from the audience. Overall, our panel delivered a fantastic message about social media that reflects well on both YPT and YMC: Just as YPT provides professional development, fellowship and networking opportunities for young professionals in the transportation field across the country and around the world; So must we, as young transportation professionals, strive to provide and use networking connections on social media. And, just as YMC encourages the expansion of young professional participation in all aspects of the TRB community, aiming to serve every transportation professional aged 35 or under in advancing the national transportation research agenda;
The “Rock Star” Panel Photo by: Stephanie Camay
In true social media geek form, we took turns taking pictures of each other and of the audience. We even livetweeted session key messages (to the extent possible, as wifi resources were limited).
So may social media help to serve as a platform in advancing national research, by continuing our professional dialogue outside of TRBAM.
Over the course of our two-hour session, I learned more
highlights from TRB’s Networking in 140 characters or lesS How do we learn and grow? • From each other! • Use social media as a platform to foster learning • @GovLoop is a resource for Andrew Krzmarzick government professionals to @krazykriz share and learn from each other.
Social Media is a fabulous tool to build your Personal Brand. • Building a professional network has been a process of creating, sharing and strengthening a personal brand Aimee Custis @AimeeCustis • A brand doesn’t do any good without someone to appreciate it Finding and connecting with your community... Pro-tips: • Keep the platforms manageable so you don’t get overwhelmed • Let your natural voice and personality shine through online • Engage your “idols”: • Don’t be adraid to engage your “idols” and people who you might think are “way out of your league” - we live in the information age. • You have just as many resources as your idols!
Why Social Media? • Learn • Teach • Connect There are different audiences for Shana Johnson different types of social media @shana_johnson outlets. • Commit to your chosen social media outlet. Remember it is important to moderate yourself! • You never know, those people you are engaging with could be your clients one day!
M obility Matters Certain Social Media platforms are better for conveying certain types of information • LinkedIn is like my resume & business card in one Meghan Makoid • Twitter & Tumblr are where I @mamakoid learn & share with other transpo professionals & with the public • Facebook is for my friends & fam • Career advancement • Foursquare is just plain fun. It is OK to separate your personal message from your professional message.. Pro-tips: • Be a cheerleader! Popular - Positive - Personable Flexible - Lead • In the words of Ice Cube: “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”: • Be professional • Don’t be afraid to start using Social Media! It can benefit your career. • But, be mindful: Electronic = Forever • Know your company policies: know what information is public & what is confidential. You never know who may be following you (media, bosses, future clients, etc.) Remember: It might be your personal right to freedom of speech to tweet, but your job is a privilege; don’t make a rookie mistake! • #SMFAIL • We all make mistakes. Own it & move on! There’s a big world of social media out there. Ignore it, and you’ll be lost at sea! There is a basic question, “What will a new technology do?” that is no more important than the question, “What will a new technology undo?” (Neil Postman, noted media critic and educator, in a 1998 speech)
Identify yourself with “your brand”: • Andy is known as the “transportgooru.” • He strives to maintain a social media brand that is synonymous Andy Palanisamy with transportation @transportgooru expertise. Why should you use Social Media? • Networking • Information sharing • Knowledge and perspective • Career advancement Stephanie Camay • Job placement @scamay • Industry Research / Best Practices Like a peanut butter cup, Kendra is “two great tastes that taste great together”: half transportation/half librarian. • Think about where to draw the line between your personal and Kendra Levine professional messages @tranlib • Kendra splits her personal/ @kendrak professional tweets by using two different handles Why use Social Media? Twitter is easier than a stack of business cards! Kendra’s pro-tips: • Keep current • Find your tribes • Remember, it’s meant to be fun • It’s OK to be absurd. What you see is what you get. • Be yourself (within reason)
Social media is Ashley’s job. She works on a social media campaign for transportation. • Not too many people get to say that. Being recognizable on social Ashley Robbins media is how she got her job, @CCTgirl Pro-tips: • Personality - be nice & gracious • Fun! • Know when to hold ‘em & know when to fold ‘em • Grow connections
Lloyd Brown @LloydBrown
Why Use Social Media? • Learning tool • Networking • Sharing expertise • Disseminating informatin Eric Weber • Building capacity @vebah How do you balance professional, community, & personal social media presence?
M obility Matters We are the future of transportation! Regardless of the type of social media that prevails over time, one thing we must recognize now is that social media is ‘our’ future. Social media provides us with a platform to network, learn and grow - not only each other but from our community at large.
engage in full conversation.
If you did not have the fortune to attend this awesome session, below are some of the key messages. A full Storify archive of the tweets captured from the panel session will also be available on my blog, http://www.tumblr.com/blog/ meghanplanstransit.
@CCTgirl: Yes! I’ve had to block people. I’ve also had to learn how to disengage when a conversation is turning into an attack. That’s part of that know when to hold em’ and when to fold em’
Have any of you ever had issues with stalkers; how do you deal with this? @AimeeCustis: Know your privacy settings!
What do you think about KLOUT? Is it a good metric? Audience Questions & Other Great Quotes Now, when I write mail, I address it to someone. Who do I address my tweets to? How do I get started? Do I tweet myself?
@CCTgirl: UGH! I’ve had to recover since KLOUT changed their metric system. It was pretty jarring to see my score drop so far in one day.
@LloydBrown: The 1st thing about these different types of media is the culture: get a feel of dialogue/rhythm.
@LloydBrown jokes, “KLOUT is like my mirror; I like to look in the mirror.”
Just like addressing a letter, or like in the old HAM radio days, on social media you have “handles”
The general consensus around the dais, it’s not a perfect metric, but it’s one of the few metrics that we have right now.
You can tweet to the twitterverse (the ether, the general universe), or you can tweet to another individual @mamakoid: Start small, baby steps. You have a resume, right? Try uploading it to LinkedIn. If that’s as far as you go with social media, that’s ok, but try it out. A question about Google+ and how to use it. What is the benefit?
Long after TRB is over, our conversation continues… using Social Media, of course!
@AimeeCustis uses as a hub for social media. But says its still evolving.
Join our discussion on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/ transportationsocialmedia
@transportgooru adds that Google+ is most integrated social media platform out there.
Follow us on Twitter:
Do any of you believe that social media will one day replace face-to-face interaction?
Stephanie Camay, @scamay Andy Palanisamy, @transportgooru
@AimeeCustis: No, social media will never replace personal contact. Even with video, etc. that’s my opinion.
Lloyd Brown, @LloydBrown Shana Johnson, @shana_johnson
No’s all around the dais.
Aimee Custis, @AimeeCustis
@mamakoid: No, it’s our in our human nature to want to interact in person. If anything social media is bringing us closer together. It’s encouraging face-to-face interaction. And while it provides to the opportunity for people to interact online, outside the confines of a building or a traditional public meeting, more and more people are using social media to find connections in person. Tweet-ups or social media meet-ups are very popular and encourage people to gather in person to continue the 140 character dialogue and
Andrew Krzmarzick, @krazykriz Kendra Levine, @tranlib & @kendrak Meghan Makoid, @mamakoid Ashley Robbins, @CCTgirl Erik Weber, @vebah
M obility Matters The Global Career – How to Get There from Here
Use your social and business networks to meet people connected to that particular country or region, preferably people who have lived and worked there. Talking to people about their experiences cannot be overvalued. Though there is the caveat that you are only gaining one individual’s perspective, talking with people often provides subtle nuances that an Internet search may not yield. In addition, you can ask more specific, pointed questions and get tailored feedback. Also, in talking to people—especially if they are native to your destination—you may obtain actual references to contact upon your arrival.
Matt Hallissey, AECOM Writer James Michener said, “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” But for those who accept those realities and wish to venture abroad— Matt Hallissey especially those who wish to work abroad—rewards for so venturing abound. And while an open mind may be a virtual requirement, correct preparation for the journey should not be neglected either. While I can’t necessarily open anyone’s mind, I can help you prepare.
A View to the Skill Transit, highways, airports, ports—these infrastructure elements are needed in virtually every part of the world. Naturally, developing an equally pertinent skill set that’s in demand where you want to go is critical. In general, for engineers this is not terribly difficult. But it is also not a given. So, make sure your skills translate overseas. How can they not? Consider this.
People travel for many reasons. Some seek new horizons. Some seek adventure. And some desire unique experiences to help define and redefine themselves. But there is a significant difference between traveling for work and traveling for leisure. For leisure travel, many say the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first ATM visit. Traveling for work, however, entails a greater commitment on several levels. Having made that commitment for the past six years, I believe I have learned a thing or two about developing an international career. Achieved through some foresight, some planning, and some hard knocks, here are some of the helpful lessons I’ve learned.
If you work in a position that deals largely with the regulatory environment specific to a particular state in the United States, for example, that can put you in a very weak position for transferring overseas. Performing environmental assessments for EIS approvals on a transit project has few direct equivalents in many other parts of the world. If you lack a direct or even indirect correlation to your prospective assignment, people may choose someone else for their company or project. So, the smart money seeks to discover what skills are needed in your target destination. Then, incorporate that skill set into your present assignment, if possible. If not, find some other way to gain those skills.
There’s No Place Like Homework Do your homework. This is a phrase we’ve often heard growing up—and in this instance, that parental voice inside your head is right. Preparation before you leave pays great dividends. So, prepare. Scour the Internet for information about places you want to visit. Gather as much data as you can about countries and regions you most want to explore, and then get more information. Investigate local customs, mores, holidays, and cuisine. What are the work rules like? How long is the workday? Workweek? Work year? Culture differences can be fun or they can feel oppressive. Is this someplace where you’d like to spend a small amount of time, or a lifetime? Learn as much as you can about prospective lifestyles in your target destination before you set out.
I started out in Bristol, England, specializing in public-private partnerships (P3s). P3s are a form of infrastructure financing that brings private investment to public infrastructure assets. Though they currently represent only a small part of U.S. transportation projects, P3s are quite popular throughout much of the rest of the world. That put me in good stead for traveling to many different places. However, P3s are gaining ground in the United States too. So today, I find myself in Virginia. For me, P3 knowledge and experience proved a very valuable, highly transferrable skill set. People seeking to increase their international appeal must develop skills that apply in other places. Professional associations can also prove very helpful in this regard. Whether aligned by overall profession (e.g., ASCE) or by discipline (say, Young Professionals in Transportation) these organizations are a great place to expand your professional network, gain necessary skills, and make contacts with
Friending Is Not Just for Facebook One of the best ways to learn about the reality of a place is to talk to people who have been there or are from there.
M obility Matters watching football (soccer). Football is a global sport and it gave me a wonderful point of reference with people in many different parts of the world. From sports to sewing, many things translate well to different cultures. Seemingly trivial pursuits can be powerful building blocks to create a more profound rapport. Seek them out, but also be aware that there may even be subtle differences in their application locally.
people that have worked overseas. Nonprofit organizations like Engineers Without Borders are also great places to start. In addition, LinkedIn.com has proved invaluable to me in my working journey. Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse Many travelers have hilarious anecdotes about screaming border guards, lost visas, and inappropriate documentation. Those are the stories you hear. There are also many untold stories that involve much more serious outcomes when dealing with foreign governments. To avoid those kinds of stories, it is absolutely critical to make sure you choose an employing organization that is savvy enough to handle international issues for visas, compliance, legal, immigration, import/export controls, etc. It can be difficult to master the specific work and visa laws in a given country. You may not even know you’re doing something wrong, yet the consequences can be severe. Ignorance is rarely, if ever, an accepted excuse. Make sure the company that hires you is well versed in handling these things.
There Is No Risk-Free Opportunity Before moving to Virginia in 2009, my experience of North America had been limited to a few days in Colorado and Toronto—and an onslaught of Hollywood media images. In truth, I had no real knowledge of what to expect; I did not know whether the move was a good or bad decision. But I took it anyway. And I’m glad I did. There is no perfect experience. No matter how much you plan, there will always be bumps in the road, changes, and unexpected events. Part of the wonder of working abroad is learning to deal with these situations. Placing yourself in a new environment that is outside of your comfort zone is part of the learning experience. It’s the only way to determine whether or not you can succeed internationally. So if things go wrong—and they will—roll with it. Things are not guaranteed to always go well, or as you expected. However, if you accept those associated risks while committing to work hard and succeed, you will live with few regrets.
Naturally, global firms of significant size and with international experience handle these issues regularly and adroitly. By and large, they are a good place to start your international working journey. They usually provide great assistance in handling the mountain of documentation that can accompany international work. They can also provide introductions to native residents and other current expatriates. Again, larger firms can make for the easiest transition. No matter what firm you choose, though, you definitely want an organization that will support you and that knows what it’s doing.
And finally, take a reconnoitering trip before you commit. Use vacation time and holiday in a country or region you think you might want to work in. A little exposure to an environment can go a long way toward making a bigger decision.
Little Things Can Mean a Yacht English speakers have a decided advantage. For better or worse, it is the lingua franca of business—including engineering. Having said that, though, learning the language of a country or region you intend to explore demonstrates (at the very least) a degree of respect for the place. Even learning a few key phrases can make a big difference. And what is true for language is equally true for customs, history, and attitudes. In some cultures, shaking hands is rude. In others, not offering a business card in return is an offense against good manners. In another culture, standing taller than the boss is considered rude. While no foreigner is necessarily expected to know each and every custom, demonstrated knowledge of local ways can be very ingratiating and lead to greater amity and understanding. But it’s not always about differences.
People travel for many reasons. But working overseas involves a different level of commitment. While still performing work at an advanced level, you are also placing yourself in a different culture; you are putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. It is not for everyone. As James Michener said, “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” But for those who do venture forth, there are great rewards to be gleaned from the proper preparation and perspective. An Englishman by birth, Matt Hallissey is a Virginia-based project manager for AECOM’s P3 advisory group.
Being from the United Kingdom, I grew up playing and
M obility Matters Metropolitan Atlanta Closer to Funding Major Transportation Projects
list. Many local jurisdictions have already either identified local transportation projects to fund with the 15 percent local share of the proposed tax, or have begun to host community town halls to hear from residents about the types of transportation projects they would like to see funded. Metropolitan Atlanta residents will vote on the Transportation Referendum on July 31st of this year.
Ashley Robbins, Livable Communities Coalition (Atlanta, Georgia) Last summer’s issue of Mobility Matters included an article on the Atlanta Transportation Investment Act (TIA) that allows Georgia regions to charge a one cent sales tax to Ashley Robbins fund a regionally-agreed upon project list. Eight months later the Atlanta Metro region has a project list in hand and a number of campaigns are gearing up in a race to a July Transportation Referendum on Atlanta’s TIA project list.
The List The Atlanta Regional Roundtable, a group of 21 elected officials comprised of one county commissioner and one mayor from each county in the Metropolitan Atlanta region, produced the list of regional transportation projects that would be funded with the proposed one cent sales tax. After months of public hearings, debate, and vetting of regional priorities, and with participation from over 200,000 residents, the Regional Roundtable passed a list that distributes $3.22 billion of the tax revenue to transit projects, a total of 52.4%, along with $24.07 million in bike and pedestrian improvement projects, including raised medians and pedestrian scale street lighting on Buford Highway and multi-use paths in Douglas, Fayette, and Gwinnett Counties. The remainder of the funding generated would be dedicated to other types of transportation projects, including two aviation improvement projects, together totalling $3.19 million, and 125 roadway projects.
Georgia’s Transportation Investment Act and Atlanta’s Transportation Referendum
Graphic Source: http://www.beltline.org/
The Transportation Investment Act, Georgia House Bill 277, divided the state into twelve regions and charged each region with drafting a transportation project list to be funded by a one cent sales tax. Including the City of Atlanta and ten surrounding counties, the Metropolitan Atlanta region would generate $7.5 billion in tax revenue for ten years if the referendum is passed. Fifteen percent of the funds generated by this sales tax would go to the local jurisdictions directly, and the remaining revenue generated ($6.14 billion for the first ten years) would go to fund a regional project
M obility Matters
METROPOLITIAN ATLANTA TRANSIT INVESTMENTS ON THE TIA PROJECT LIST Clifton Corridor: The Clifton Corridor Rail Project is a MARTA rail extension that will branch out from Lindbergh Station to Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Totalling $700 million, this rail extension would include 5 or 6 new station stops and serve 10,200 weekday passengers.
Clayton County: Local bus service in suburban Clayton County was terminated in 2010. The TIA project list includes $100 million in funding to restore local bus service to the Clayton County. The scope of the project includes the acquisition of new vehicles and newly designed expanded service routes, and is expected to serve 13,100 daily riders.
Northwest Corridor: Another project included in the Transportation Referendum is the Northwest Corridor Fixed Guideway Project, which would be funded with $689 million in TIA funds and $6 million in local funds, for a $695 million total project cost. $100 million of project cost will fund a premium bus service that would mirror the entire route as designed from the MARTA Arts Center Station to the City of Acworth in Cobb County. The scope of the fixed guideway (likely light rail) project is the first phase of a line from the MARTA Arts Center station to Cumberland Galleria. This project, which is receiving 60 percent of the needed funding for the rail component from the TIA, will require an additional source of funding. It is expected to serve 16,500 daily riders when the first phase is complete.
Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA): GRTA’s express bus service (Xpress), a service designed for commuters to downtown Atlanta, would receive $95 million in operating assistance and capital funds if the referendum passes. An additional $33 million in committed federal funds would provide a total of $128 million and fully fund the service for ten years.
Beltline Corridor: A $602 million segment of the Atlanta Beltline, an innovative project that is a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown Atlanta and connecting 45 neighborhoods, would be funded with the proposed sales tax. This segment will connect Atlanta’s downtown tourism and employment centers (including Coca-Cola’s headquarters) to Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. The light rail portion of this project is expected to produce 11,300 daily boardings.
Gwinnett County Transit: $40 million in operating assistance for Gwinnett County’s local bus service, which currently generates 8,000 daily boardings, is part of the TIA project list.
Gwinnett Rail I-85 North Corridor: Gwinnett County would receive $95 million for existing and committed express bus services, and for the study, of premium transit improvements (light rail or bus rapid transit) on the I-85 North Corridor. A Gwinnett County light rail or bus rapid transit service is expected to serve 13,800 daily riders.
Georgia State Route (SR) 400 North MARTA (Heavy Rail) Extension: The project list includes $37 million in seed money for a MARTA heavy rail extension along GA SR 400 from the current end of the line at North Springs Station to Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell, Georgia. Included in the scope of this project is the planning, engineering, environmental review and assessment of the line which is necessary for the project to qualify for federal funding, as well as some possible right-of-way acquisition. The line, when built, is projected to produce 11,800 daily boardings.
MARTA: The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, which provides heavy rail and bus service in the region, would receive $600 million in TIA funding and an additional $129.4 million from local and federal funds for state of good repair (SGR) projects. These SGR projects include upgrades for the train control system, station rehabilitation for the Five Points and Airport stations, and track and electrical rehabilitation. MARTA has nearly 500,000 unlinked passenger trips on an average weekday.
Griffin Commuter Rail: $20 million in TIA generates funds would be combined with $103 million in funding from two other regions and a federal grant to support the implementation and operations for a new commuter rail service. Mobility Call Center: A $17 million Regional Mobility Management Call Center to serve elderly, disabled, and economically disadvantaged Metropolitan Atlanta residents would be funded if the Transportation Referendum passes. This project would implement a one-stop call center to match these clients with the most efficient and least expensive available travel option. When fully operational, the center is expected to plan 400,000 trips a year and distribute 12,000 trip vouchers a year, helping to substantially reduce the cost of paratransit services in the region.
I-20 Transit Corridor: Transit improvements along the I-20 West corridor, including $225 million for a premium bus service as well as the planning, engineering, and environmental review and assessment for a heavy rail extension, would be funded if the referendum is passed. This bus service is projected to serve 11,700 daily weekday boardings, and would include four bus rapid transit lines going into downtown, the Hartsfield International Airport, and the Perimeter areas.
M obility Matters campaign, a broad-based group of civic coalitions, business organizations, and concerned citizens working to provide the public with information on the transportation issues the region faces. A coalition of businesses and other organizations have launched the Citizens for Transportation Mobility campaign, a 501(c)4 effort focused on a ‘vote yes’ message.
These three campaigns have been opposed by a number of disparate groups; most notably from a variety of Tea Party groups. The opposition groups believe that the TIA is unconstitutional, due to the fact that even individual counties that voted ‘no’ for the tax would be forced to accept it if the majority of counties in the region voted ‘yes.’ Many of these groups are also opposed to the fact that the majority of funding generated would be dedicated to transit projects.
Several campaigns have emerged in support and opposition of the July Transportation Referendum. Two 501(c)3 educational campaigns have kicked off efforts to inform voters of the referendum and the project list. The Fast Track Forward campaign, led by the Livable Communities Coalition, is a collaborative effort funded through grants focused on the business case for transit and its impact on the quality of life in Metropolitan Atlanta. The Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network (MAVEN) has launched its Transform Metro Atlanta
As the next few months bring to the Atlanta region a heated debate on the merits of the Transportation Referendum and the project list, you can follow the discussion with FastTrack Forward at www.FastTrackForward.com and by following me on Twitter at @cctgirl. You can follow the Transform Metro Altanta campaign at www.TransformMetroAtlanta.com and on Twitter at @TransformATL. An interactive project map can be found at: http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/ map/tia.html.
Young Professionals in Transportation Upcoming Events
Leadership Seminar: Transportation Security with Irvin Varkonyi YPT National April 2012 Location TBA Details coming soon at yptransportation.org
Atlanta Skyline as seen from the Atlanta Beltline Photo courtesy of Ashley Robbins
April Roundtable with Jason Dusterhoft, Austin Police Department Commander YPT Austin Monday, April 9, 2012, 6:45pm-8:00pm Ronald McDonald House (1315 Barbara Jordan Boulevard, Austin, TX 78723) RSVP: http://yptaustinapril2012roundtable.eventbrite.com/
Leadership Series with Martin Robins YPT NYC May 9, 2012, 9-10am Parsons Brinckerhoff (One Penn Plaza, 2nd floor, CR2E, 250 West 34th Street, NY NY, 10119) RSVP: http://bit.ly/GGx3gk
Ride CicLAvia with YPT Los Angeles YPT Los Angeles Sunday, April 15, 11am CicLAvia City Hall Hub, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles RSVP and more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Distinguished Speaker Series presents MA Lt. Governor Tim Murray YPT Boston May 2012 Details coming soon at www.yptboston.org
Networking Happy Hour YPT Boston Tuesday, April 17, 6 pm Location TBA Visit www.yptboston.org for event information
NYC Summer Vacation Series YPT NYC This Summer! More details and information coming soon! Please email site tour suggestions and contacts to: email@example.com
YPT Atlanta Kickoff with Dr. Bev Scott and Doug Hooker YPT Atlanta Thursday, April 26, 7pm Location TBA RSVP and more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
M obility Matters
YPT Photo Album! YPT @ TRB 2012
M obility Matters YPT National Chapter Board of Directors, 2011-2012 Nick Perfili, YPT Chair Transit Planner Fairfax County DOT
Michael Rodriguez, Vice Chair for Membership Associate Consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff
Chanel Winston, Deputy Chair Strategic Planning, Procurement & Public Finance US DOT – FTA
Sophie Guiny, Vice Chair for Programs Senior Consultant Booz Allen Hamilton
Aaron Zimmerman, Vice Chair for Administration – Secretary Senior Transportation Planner Loudoun County Office of Transportation Services
Brittney Kohler, Director at Large (Chapter Development) Manager, Infrastructure Initiatives ASCE
Aimee Custis, Vice Chair for Communication Program Manager – OutreachTransportation Learning Center
Alek Pochowski, Director at Large (Sponsorships) Engineering Associate / Planner Kittelson & Associates
Bud McDonald, Vice Chair for Finance – Treasurer Federal Programs Financial Analyst, AASHTO
Board of Advisors YPT’s Board of Advisors is made up of preeminent public and private sector leaders in transportation with a wide range of exemplarily experience in the field. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to assist the development of a new generation of transportation professionals. Janet Friedl Kavinoky, Director of Transportation Infrastructure, US Chamber of Commerce Donna McLean, Vice Chairman of the Board, National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) Art Guzzetti, Vice President for Policy, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Emeka Moneme, Executive Director, Carmen Group Gloria Shepherd, Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment, and Realty, Federal Highway Administration Stephen Van Beek, Chief of Policy and Strategy at LeighFisher Bob Skinner, Executive Director, Transportation Research Board (TRB)
Mary Peters, Former Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation Jack Basso, Chief Operating Officer, AASHTO Mortimer Downey, Chairman, Parsons Brinckerhoff Emil Frankel, Bipartisan Policy Center Jane Garvey, North American Chairman, Meridiam Infrastructure Jonathan Gifford, Professor and Associate Dean for George Mason University’s Transportation Policy, Operations, & Logistics Masters Program John Horsley, Executive Director, AASHTO Tony Kane, Director of Engineering and Technical Services, AASHTO
YPT Sponsors, 2011-2012 YPT’s diversity of programming, events, publications and other opportunities is made possible through support from our annual sponsors – firms and organizations within the transportation industry making a financial commitment to the development of the next generation of transportation professionals through their support.
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials YPT National Chapter Sponsor
Parsons Brinckerhoff - YPT National Chapter Sponsor
Mobiility Matters Team Mobility Matters is a quarterly publication of Young Professionals in Transportation. The views expressed in the articles published in Mobility Matters represent only the views of their authors, and not those of YPT. YPT strives to incorporate articles in Mobility Matters that represent a diverse range of perspectives on transportation and cover all transportation modes. If you are interested in contributing to Mobility Matters please email Shana Johnson, Editor, Mobility Matters, at email@example.com for more information. Mobility Matters Editor: Shana Johnson Transportation Planner, Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning
Mobility Matters Design and Layout: Alpha Wingfield Visual Information Specialist, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, United States Department of Transportation
Late winter edition of Mobility Matters, YPT's quarterly magazine.