In our fifth Houston Transportation Series YPT Houston gets to know one of our very own board members, Lauren Cochran, who has contributed immensely to the overall success of YPT while serving as Vice Chair of Programs.
What are your current projects?
Though our work takes us all over the country, as a native Houstonian, I love being involved in projects right here in Houston. One of my favorite projects is working with Houston METRO as the agency implements its first fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) powered buses. For the past 15 months, I have served as the technical expert to METRO’s management team to help the agency procure the infrastructure necessary to refuel the CNG buses. I am excited to see these clean buses on the streets of Houston next year!
How do you feel your projects are affecting mobility/transportation?
I am very interested in public transit’s role in environmental sustainability and believe that transit, in and of itself, has an incredibly positive impact on the environment by reducing our nation’s energy use and emissions. Before moving back to Texas, I had the opportunity to work for a transit authority that operated CNG and electric buses, and I learned a lot about how alternative fuels can further public transit’s contribution to the environment. In addition to the Houston METRO CNG project, I’ve recently worked with Dallas Area Rapid Transit to secure funding for electric buses and just finished teaching a class around Texas about alternative fuel options for small urban and rural transit fleets.
What do you love most about what you do?
Where to begin?! I knew from the age of 17 that I wanted to work in government, and the transit industry has been an incredibly rewarding space to live out my desire to serve the public. I absolutely love my job because as a transit mobility researcher, I am paid to learn and grow. What’s cooler than that?! I also love my job because I am challenged daily by the incredibly intelligent people I work with and for, and by the complexity of the ever-changing world of public transit. Finally, I love my job because I am truly fascinated with public transportation (read: bus geek) and all of the positive ways the mode contributes to people’s lives every day—from providing mobility – to jobs —to cleaning up the air we breathe.
What role does YPT play in your professional life?
YPT Houston has been an awesome venue for me to expand my professional network in Houston, as I recently moved back here from Los Angeles. Also, through YPT’s monthly events, and by following YPT on Facebook, I’m able to keep up with all of the hot topics in transportation in Houston and in the nation.