Houston Transportation Series: The future of Transit Mobility

Talking the future of transit mobility with YPT friend Suzie Edrington:

In our first Houston Transportation Series, YPT Houston got into the mind of YPT friend and Associate Research Scientist Suzie Edrington on the future of transit mobility, ongoing projects related to mobility and her best advice for young professionals in the transportation field.

What kind of projects are you working on now or have worked on in the past that you would like to highlight?

One of the most interesting projects I am working on right now is a Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) sponsored by National Academies of Science (NAS).  This project aims to examine the impacts of Medicaid transportation on transportation coordination and ultimately the Medicaid recipient. 

I am also proud of the research for Houston METROLift paratransit service in which a public feedback tool was developed to gain feedback on nine policies and practices in a series of 12 public workshops. The second phase of the project analyzed the financial and quality impact of the policies and practices. 

We also just finished up the data and performance review of all 69 rural and small urban transit districts in Texas in which one of your own YPTers, Todd Hansen took the lead role.   We conduct the review annually as a quality control for Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) prior to reporting data to the State legislature and the allocation of funds based on performance formula.

 Last  year we completed a project for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) developing “livability performance measures.”  Another of your YPTers, Jonathan Brooks was a lead in the project developing creative performance metrics using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) knowledge.

How do you see these projects impacting mobility within the immediate future?

The Medicaid transportation project will provide stakeholders and policy makers with options and impact information that will influence how States decide to structure Medicaid transportation.  We hope that  the outcome will be a more coordinated system that is cost efficient while also providing the healthiest outcomes for Medicaid recipients.

 The METROLift project is exciting as the effort is truly meant to include the community in the planning process and to consider not only the financial impact but the quality of service impacts.  I see the project as influencing the access to all modes of transportation for people with disabilities including access to rail and bus routes through better sidewalk infrastructure, to feeder service to quality METROLift service. 

The FTA livability project I see as an on-going effort for transit agencies and the community to continue to think about in planning for transit—measuring the outcomes on livability.

 Where do you see transit mobility in 10 years?

I just came back from the national Transportation Research Board conference that had over 12,000 attendees.  The big talk seems to be technology and innovation.  I think transit mobility, especially with the millennials coming into the program, that we will work on technology innovation research and how that innovation can positively impact society. 

What advice would you give any young professionals looking to establish a successful career in the field?

My advice would be that a career in transportation is multifaceted and pulls from a large variety of skill sets so folks can really pursue their passion and make a difference on the community around them.  If you think about it, transportation impacts us every day by impacting access and connection to those around us and opportunities.  Transportation impacts the ability to have access to healthy food, jobs, healthcare, recreation, education and social activities. 

I would say develop technical skill sets but also develop communication and leadership skill sets.  Don’t be afraid to lean into the conversation and make your opinions known.  I am surprised everyday by the younger professionals around me in their creative solutions to problems and fresh perspectives.  Love what I am seeing and makes me excited and hopeful for the future.

Suzie’s background includes over 16 years of experience at the Houston METRO where her work included optimization of operation labor saving over $1 million annually, METROLift, and bringing Taxicabs to Houston.  Since joining the TTI in 2006 she has been able to complete her Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning and continued her work on transit mobility in Texas.  To see more on Suzie Edrington’s experience please click here.

For the full interview please click Houston Transportation Series – Suzie Edrington Feature.

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