295 episodes

We share the stories, challenges, and successes of the top transit professionals from around the world. Learn how top transit leaders got to where they are with stories and insights from their careers. Get the inside story about public transit and transit trends from the people who run it. Transit Unplugged is hosted and produced by Paul Comfort and brought to you by Modaxo

Transit Unplugged Transit Unplugged Network

    • Business
    • 4.4 • 8 Ratings

We share the stories, challenges, and successes of the top transit professionals from around the world. Learn how top transit leaders got to where they are with stories and insights from their careers. Get the inside story about public transit and transit trends from the people who run it. Transit Unplugged is hosted and produced by Paul Comfort and brought to you by Modaxo

    Special Episode: Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardener with Art Guzzetti from The Transit Authority

    Special Episode: Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardener with Art Guzzetti from The Transit Authority

    This is a special episode of Transit Unplugged shared with us from our friends at the Transit Authority by APTA. Recorded live at APTA EXPO 2023 in Orlando, Florida, Art Guzzetti, VP of Policy and Mobility at APTA, interviews Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardener.
    Make sure you follow the Transit Authority wherever you listen to podcasts. Here are the show notes for this episode originally released October, 12, 2023.
    "Recorded on the trade show floor at APTA’s EXPO 2023 in Orlando, Florida, our special guest Stephen Gardener, CEO of Amtrak, discusses a wide range of topics including Amtrak’s role in linking cities, regions and rural America, how intercity passenger rail travel options can be made more attractive, recent and upcoming Amtrak system improvements, career advice for students, and more."
    If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.
    Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:
    Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media
    Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Instagram - Facebook
    Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter
    00:03 Introduction and Overview from Paul Comfort
    01:10 The Role of Amtrak in Public Transportation
    02:22 Stephen Gardner's Journey in Railroading
    06:23 Amtrak's Future Plans and Investments
    11:46 The Importance of High-Speed Rail
    29:13 Amtrak's Impact on Rural America
    36:31 Conclusion and Final Thoughts
    39:55 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

    • 41 min
    Holly Arnold her path to the top job and managing the largest P3 in the U.S.

    Holly Arnold her path to the top job and managing the largest P3 in the U.S.

    Holly Arnold has spent her entire career at the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). Starting as a contractor in grants administration then leading capital planning and then Deputy Administrator responsible for engineering before she became Administrator and CEO two years ago. The head of the MTA is a massive job. Not only is she responsible for massive capital projects--like the largest public-private partnership (P3) in the U.S., the Purple Line--she is responsible for transit in the City of Baltimore, supporting all the other transit agencies in the state, commuter bus, commuter rail, subways, and paratransit. Running the MTA is like running five agencies at once!
    Two years into the role, Holly talks with host Paul Comfort about the agency, her career, and the massive projects she is delivering. She talks about what she learned from each step on the way and how seizing opportunities as they presented themselves got her to the top job.
    Delivering one large scale project is hard enough, but Holly is wrangling several expansions, including supporting Amtrak with a new tunnel to support higher speed passenger rail traffic. Holly talks candidly about her work and how her approach of getting her hands dirty learning about projects has helped her rise through the ranks to lead one of the largest transit agencies in North America.
    Coming up next week, we have a special episode from APTA's Transit Authority podcast. APTA Vice President for Mobility Initiatives and Public Policy, Art Guzzetti talks with Amtrak CEO Stephcen Gardener live from the APTA EXPO in Orlando. This episode was originally released October 12, 2023. Learn more about The Transit Authority and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts (https://podcast.apta.com/)
    We're excited to announce a special Transit Unplugged live CEO round table. Hosted by Dr. Kaan Yildizgöz at UITP MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition (https://www.menatransport.org/website/3387/home/) on February the 29th at the Trapeze booth. We'll have guests, including UITP President Renee Amilcar and the Director General of the Integrated Transport Center in Abu Dhabi, Abdulla Al Marzooqi.
    The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition 2024 is the premier event focusing on sustainable urban mobility solutions in the MENA region. It takes place in Dubai from February 28th to March 1st, the event is co-organized by UITP and Dubai's RTA.
    The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition has been a leading platform for showcasing advancements in public transport since 2007.
    If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.
    Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:
    Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media
    Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Instagram - Facebook
    Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter
    00:00 Holly Arnold: Building a career at the Maryland MTA
    01:38 Overview of the Maryland Transit Administration
    02:55 Discussion on the Purple...

    • 25 min
    What's the secret sauce to increasing ridership 27% in one year?

    What's the secret sauce to increasing ridership 27% in one year?

    When you think of big city transit agencies you think about Boston, New York, Toronto, LA, San Francisco...maybe not Mississauga, Ontario. It might surprise you that this city of one million people supports a transit system with over 500 buses and serves as the essential connector between cities East, West, and North (South is Lake Ontario). Mississauga Transit (or MiWay) helps people in Brampton, Oakville, and Toronto get to jobs and school.
    But they seem to be doing something right because they've increased ridership 27% over the last year and are at 109% of their 2019 ridership levels (let's stop saying the "p" word). Eve Wiggins recently took the helm of MiWay after almost a decade at the TTC and Metrolinx and before that a decade at the Toronto Airport Authority. Eve certainly knows how to get people where they want to go, in the air or on the ground.
    While she's only been at MiWay a short time, she has a big vision and big plans for the agency to grow and expand over the next five years.
    But you can't execute your vision on your own. You need to lead people and clear the roadblocks in their way. Eve subscribes to the CASTLE (Courage, Authenticity, Truthfulness, Love, and Effectiveness) leadership philosophy and you will want to listen to how she describes her leadership style. It's pretty inspiring just listening to how she approaches getting things done and relying on others when she knows she doesn't have all the answers.
    Coming up next week we have Holly Arnold, CEO of the Maryland Transit Administration about her career at the MTA and the massive projects she has on the go there.
    We're excited to announce a special Transit Unplugged live CEO round table. Hosted by Dr. Khan you'll Legos at UITP MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition on February the 29th at the Trapeze booth. We'll have guests, including UITP President, Renee Amilcar and the Director General of the Integrated Transport Center in Abu Dhabi, Abdulla Al Marzooqi.
    The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition 2024 is the premier event focusing on sustainable urban mobility solutions in the MENA region. It takes place in Dubai from February 28th to March 1st, the event is co-organized by UITP and Dubai's RTA.
    The MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition has been a leading platform for showcasing advancements in public transport since 2007.
    If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.
    Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:
    Paul Comfort, host and producerJulie Gates, executive producerTris Hussey, editor and writerTatyana Mechkarova, social media
    Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Instagram - Facebook
    Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter
    0:00 What's the secret sauce to increasing ridership 27% in one year?
    00:03 Introduction and Overview
    01:44 The Success of Mississauga's Transit System
    04:27 The Secret Sauce: How Mississauga Grew Ridership
    12:01 Eve's Leadership Philosophy and Approach
    19:00 The Future of Transit in...

    • 26 min
    Hidden Transit Heroes Revealed: How Rural Transit Serves Unseen Communities

    Hidden Transit Heroes Revealed: How Rural Transit Serves Unseen Communities

    When we think about public transit we often think about subways or buses travelling through bustling cities, we don't often think of small towns in the midst of woods and fields. But the reality is there are thousands of rural transit agencies in North America serving people and places miles and miles away from each other. In this episode, host Paul Comfort talks with with Wendy Weedon, Deputy CEO of the Brazos Transit District in Texas, and Eddie VanStein, the Steuben County Mobility Manager in Upstate New York, to discuss the often overlooked topic of rural transportation. Wendy and Eddie talk about the unique transportation issues faced by rural communities, including the necessity for collaboration, breaking down silos, and getting funding for their programs.
    They highlight how essential transportation services are to rural communities, serving a diverse range of needs like medical appointments, groceries and social connections. Wendy talks about the ongoing challenges they face with funding, fleet maintenance, and staff retention. Issues that resonate with transit agencies large and small. Eddie's job is to help the six different agencies in a county nearly the size of Rhode Island, coordinate and collaborate.
    But Eddie shares his real motivator to become involved in the sector--a tearful call from his grandmother who was out of food and no way to get to the store 20 miles away. He knew he had to do something and started a rideshare program during the pandemic to just get people to where they needed to go.
    The most crucial part of their message is raising awareness of the challenges rural agencies face. And how, unlike big city agencies, people in rural communities don't have the option to walk, take a taxi, or call a neighbor to drive them. Often public transit is the only way people can get around.
    Next week we go from small towns to the biggest North American transit operation you may not have heard of with Eve Wiggins, Director of Mississauga Transit (MiWay), for a look at an agency with over 500 buses that grew ridership 27% last year and is at 109% of 2019 ridership numbers. Learn the secret sauce that powers MiWay's success.
    If you have a question or comment, email us at info@transitunplugged.com.
    Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo and these fine folks:
    Paul Comfort, host and producer
    Julie Gates, executive producer
    Tris Hussey, editor and writer
    Tatyana Mechkarova, social media
    0:00 Transit is an essential lifeblood in rural communities
    00:25 Guest Introductions and backgrounds
    03:36 The Importance of Transit in Rural Areas
    10:26 Challenges in Rural Transportation
    14:21 Looking Ahead: The Future of Rural Transit
    22:58 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

    • 24 min
    If we can't get new buses, how can we move more people?

    If we can't get new buses, how can we move more people?

    There is more than a little bit of irony that when we have unprecedented levels of funding to buy and replace buses, there is a manufacturing crunch so there are few buses to be had--and with longer delivery times. From manufacturing delays and fewer manufacturers to massive price increases, agencies are pushing buses well beyond their useful life. How can we solve this crisis to not only meet the needs of today's riders, but make the transition to zero emissions? To talk about the topic, this week's show features:
    - Ed Redfern and Joel Rubin from the Bus Coalition
    - Julia Castillo and Brooke Ramsey from the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency
    - Patrick Scully from Complete Coach Works
    In two separate interviews we hear about the challenges agencies are facing getting and paying for buses and some recommendations from industry on some alternatives to new buses that might help bridge the gap while manufacturing and supply chain issues work themselves out.
    Next week on the show we have Eddie VanStine and Wendy Weedon talking about rural transit. There are thousands of rural transit agencies across North America--and the world--who serve some of our most vulnerable people. But rural transit is often forgotten, with big city transit agencies getting the lion's share of attention and funding.
    Questions or comments? Contact us at info@transitunplugged.com
    Subscribe to our newsletter at https://www.transitunplugged.com
    Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.com
    Transit Unplugged team:
    Paul Comfort, host and producer
    Julie Gates, executive producer
    Tris Hussey, editor and writer
    Tatyana Mechkarova, social media
    00:00 Interview with Ed Redfern, Joel Rubin, Brooke Ramsey, and Julia Castillo
    01:13 Introduction and Panel Discussion on Bus Shortage
    02:28 Understanding the Role and Challenges of the Bus Coalition
    06:39 Discussion on the Rising Costs and Supply Chain Issues
    12:32 Exploring Potential Solutions: Buy America Waiver and More
    22:22 Interview with Patrick Scully
    22:28 Insights from Complete Coachworks: Overhauls, Used Equipment, and Conversions
    30:11 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

    • 31 min
    Just Don't Make Expensive Mistakes and Other Lessons from Adam Barth, CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority

    Just Don't Make Expensive Mistakes and Other Lessons from Adam Barth, CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority

    Sometimes we're so afraid of making mistakes, that we don't push ourselves to take a chance on a new innovative idea. We've all been there, but in this conversation Adam Barth, CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority--https://stanrta.org/--, reveals advice he got from a mentor at a critical time in his career.
    Paul Comfort sat down with Adam Barth, CEO of Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority to talk about his career journey from starting our as a tour bus driver in Fairbanks, Alaska, to leading the newly merged transit Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority in Modesto, California. Adam talks about the challenges he faced while merging the county and city transit systems, and the lessons learned from the experience. Adam also discusses the agency's plans for implementing bus rapid transit and their move towards zero-emission buses. Finally, Barth emphasizes the importance of transit leaders riding their systems to better understand their customers and their needs with a story about simply just taking the bus to work.
    Transit Unplugged team:
    Paul Comfort, host and producer
    Julie Gates, executive producer
    Tris Hussey, editor and writer
    Tatyana Mechkarova, social media
    00:04 Introduction and Background of Adam Barth
    02:42 Adam Barth's Career Journey in Transit Industry
    05:06 Learning from Mistakes: A Key to Success
    08:01 The Merger of City and County Transit Systems
    11:09 Challenges and Future Plans for Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority
    20:56 The Importance of Riding the System as a Transit Leader
    24:30 Don't miss the Executive Summit at ThinkTransit March 25th!
    26:04 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

    • 27 min

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