Sustainable Mobility, Muted/Mutilated? – A Short History of Traffic Engineering

January 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm

An awesome visual, courtesy of Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize.com, that tells how our mobility models have changed over the years..  In a way it serves a testament to show how much the highway lobby has influenced our society’s transportation preferences, diminishing walking and bicycling over the generations.

A Short History of Traffic Engineering

A Short History of Traffic Engineering – Image Courtesy: Copenhagenize.com

Job alert: General Manager – @altabikeshare system, San Francisco Bay Area, California

January 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Job Title:  General Manager
Job Location: San Francisco, with regular travel to the South Bay

Job Summary
Bicycle sharing is a sustainable, healthy, and community-based transport option that enhances urban livability and mobility. Alta Bicycle Share, contractor to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and operator of the Bay Area bike share program (BABS), is seeking a General Manager to oversee staff of over 50 people and all aspects of launch and ongoing operations. Core program functions include: program marketing; bicycle and station assembly and installation, programming and deployment; bicycle and station maintenance, repair and cleaning; bicycle redistribution; shipping/receiving and inventory control; client and customer service; and budget management.

Reporting to the Operations Director, the General Manager is accImage Courtesy: Portland Mercuryountable for overall success of Alta’s Bay Area bike share program as measured by program P & L, performance in core program functions, and client and customer satisfaction. Primary responsibilities include business strategy development and implementation; staff recruitment, training oversight, leadership and coaching; client and customer service; and contract negotiation and compliance. Ideal candidates will be diplomatic delegators with a track record of safety and success managing multifaceted operations with a diverse and committed workforce.

 

Primary Responsibilities
Manage all aspects of Alta Bicycle Share Bay Area pre-launch activities, including but not limited to:

  • Recruitment and selection of key leadership team.
  • Branding and marketing plan development.
  • Identification of key marketing partners and sub-contractors.
  • Property identification and acquisition.
  • Acquisition of vehicles, equipment and tools.
  • Site selection and planning.
  • Contract and client management. Establish strong vendor and client relationships.
  • Receive, inventory, and oversee assembly of all bike share equipment.
  • Establish or improve policies and policy documents as required.

Manage all aspects of Alta Bicycle Share Bay Area program deployment and launch, marketing, customer service, administration and oversee all aspects of ongoing operations, including but not limited to:

  • Hire, train, schedule, and manage a diverse workforce to necessarily and continually accomplish core program functions. Delegate tasks as needed.
  • Working with the management and street team to develop strategies to accomplish operational functions including bike and station deployment, maintenance, repair, and cleaning, and bicycle redistribution.
  • Working with the local client, management and street team to develop strategies for membership and corporate sales, public relations, and customer service leveraging social media.
  • Manage multiple subcontracts.
  • Lead collaboration with multiple clients and multiple sponsors.
  • Continuous operation with adherence to policies, contracts, and budgets.
  • Implement, improve, and share operational best practices.
  • Ensure strict adherence to safety policies and procedures.
  • Forecast revenues and expenses, and manage a budget.
  • Ensure reports, invoices and purchase orders are complete and timely delivered to project officers and managers.
  • Maintain strong client and vendor relations.
  • Ensure overall success and future growth of Alta Bicycle Share the Bay Area.

Core Competencies

  • Communication Skills: Collaborate and communicate effectively; requires listening, strategic context, win-win negotiating, situational leadership; great written, verbal and presentation skills.
  • Leadership Skills: Inspire and motivate employees to successfully achieve operational goals; provide a stable, positive environment that challenges and develops employee potential; remove obstacles that interfere with team goals; earns respect of team and clients alike.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Maintain confidentiality; remain open to others’ ideas; demonstrate willingness to try new things.
  • Resource Management: Find creative ways to accomplish goals in the face of resource constraints; develop and manage realistic operating budgets that accomplish program objectives.
  • Continuous Improvement: Proficient in company best practices in each function; looks for ways to improve efficiency and performance; analyzes data to make fact based decisions; incorporates feedback from various stakeholders to improve processes.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Self-aware, easily establishes trust and integrity with clients and staff.
  • Adaptability: Enthusiastically adapt to changes in the work environment; manage competing demands; maintain team focus and optimism when dealing with frequent change, delays or unexpected events.
  • Dependability: Follow instructions; respond to management direction and client requests; communicate frequently; solicit feedback to improve performance.

Requirements

  • College degree in business administration, engineering, transportation or related field required. Advanced degree a plus.
  • 7+ years of demonstrated success in the areas of general management, sales/marketing, general operations and finance in a fast growth environment. Experience in logistics or transportation industries a plus.
  • Prior P & L responsibility in a multi-site/multi-unit operation.
  • Ability to identify priorities and focus on critical tasks.
  • Must have demonstrated leaderships experience and history of hiring and developing key employees.
  • Experience working with government, businesses, and non-profits.
  • Strong analytical, organizational, communication and problem solving skills.
  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Passion for bikes, efficiency, or sustainability a plus.
  • Sense of humor required.

Note: The above description is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all duties, responsibilities, or qualifications associated with the job. All personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities due to the nature of work performed to accomplish Alta Bicycle Share’s Mission. Alta Bicycle Share is proud to be an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer.
To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter and resume to: resumes+SFGM@altabicycleshare.com
Please, no phone calls

Click here for the original announcement.

Standing Tall…New York’s Iconic Grand Central Terminal Celebrates Century of Service

January 31, 2013 at 1:21 pm

A quick Storify to celebrate a milestone for one of the storied civil engineering marvels in continental United States..

#WMATA Caught With Its Pants Down.. Pissed Off Customers Blow Steam on Twitter

January 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Just a couple of hours ago, the premier transit agency in the nation’s capitol (WMATA) suffered a serious service outage on one of the heavily traveled train lines (Green Line). The abrupt disruptions have left many commuters stranded without a way out of the Navy Yard (and Anacostia) area, a major hub for riders employed at many of the facilities, including the US Department of Transportation, situated in the vicinity.   Though it was an unexpected situation, #WMATA was a bit slow to respond and got customers ticked (to put it lightly). And the customers have already taken to using social media sharing pics. and tweets from the scene.  To WMATA’s credit, the communications team at the agency was trying its best to deal with the situation, which is a bit more heartening than how they did in similar situations in the past.  Here is a sample of what’s happening on Twitter as we speak :

WMATA GL Jan 30 Issue - Tweet Capture2

Heated Exchanges

A sample of  what’s happening at Twitter hashtag #WMATA

Looks like it is going to be a long night for all involved, esp. for the communications team at WMATA.  Hope they learn sooner than later to deal with/cool down their customers before they all start flocking to their personal automobiles to get around the town.

ITS America 2013 Student Essay Competition

January 30, 2013 at 5:24 pm

ITS America Annual Meeting 2013Sponsored by ITS America and the Southwest Research institute, the Student Essay Competition is designed each year to encourage student interest and future participation in the development of Intelligent Transportation Systems and solutions. The objective of the essay competition is to provide an opportunity for today’s transportation and engineering students to apply their knowledge in a thought-provoking and enjoyable competition and to build awareness of ITS as a career path with unlimited potential.

Students are asked to submit a 2,000-word essay on any one of the following topics:

  • “Next Generation Cooperative Systems, how will they evolve?,” “How is ITS evolving?,” and
  • “What are the technological barriers to near term realization of fully autonomous systems on U.S. highways?”

The first, second and third place winners will receive $1,500, $1,000 or $500 respectively. Additional recognition includes:

  • The 1st place winner will be invited to attend the Awards ceremony at the ITS America Annual Meeting on Tuesday, April 23rd and be assisted financially to cover trip expenses.
  • Receive a complimentary full registration to attend the conference.
  • Have the opportunity to present their winning essay at the dedicated Interactive Session area in the exhibit hall.
  • Have their winning essays displayed on the Student Essay Competition Web page of ITS America’s website.
  • All three winners will be featured in nationally-distributed press releases.

Click here for the official for guidelines and application information.

Surprise! Car Unexpectedly Drives Out of Sea Foam, Nearly Hits Cops

January 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Mick Bell on YouTube via Laughing Squid

Police in Sunshine Coast (Australia) got a surprise during the recent storm & flooding of the coastal area. The churning seas whipped out a heavy dose of foam that completely enveloped the road near the coast . As the cops stood watch, out comes a stealthy surprise – a car, completely covered in the foam! Scary to say the least!

Coolest Gas Station, EVER (with Crazy Roof Structure)?

January 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Shape the FUTURE of Federal ITS Research! Share your input for the next ITS Strategic Plan by March 15, 2013

January 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Review the 2015 - 2019 ITS Strategic Plan Discussion Document

The USDOT ITS Joint Program Office recently published “An Open Dialogue On The Draft Focus And Themes For The Next ITS Strategic Research Plan,” available at http://www.its.dot.gov/strategicplan/.  The purpose of this document is to establish a starting point for creating the next ITS Strategic Plan. The goal of presenting themes is to enable continuity of the current research programs while establishing new or redefined goals and objectives to meet emerging research needs. The themes fall into three broad categories:

  • Maturing Connected Vehicle Systems – Focuses on what is needed to accelerate the maturity of vehicle-based communications with surrounding systems
  • Piloting and Deployment Readiness – Focuses on the security, policy, business opportunities, capabilities, pilots, and incentives needed to support vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) implementation
  • Integrating with the Broader Environment – Focuses on the integration and decision support capabilities to enable V2V and V2I (collectively termed V2X) interaction with other governmental services and public utilities.

We invite the community to consider providing input to the draft themes by visiting http://itsstrategicplan.ideascale.com/.  The USDOT is seeking your input on the following key questions, although other input is highly welcome:

·         What technological changes will occur in the near future that will impact transportation?

·         Are the themes outlined here addressing the technological and societal changes that affect transportation?

·         Are there other themes we should be considering? If so, why?

·         Are there themes that should not be considered, or moved to a different timeframe?

·         What is the appropriate federal role in technology and transportation that best assists the private sector and travelers at large?

Your input is requested no later than Friday, March 15, 2013.  Your attention and consideration of this request is greatly appreciated.

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Why I love @DDOTDC… and what other transportation agencies/organizations can learn from them

January 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm
English: District of Columbia Department of Tr...

English: District of Columbia Department of Transportation (d-dot) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a big fan of transportation agencies using social media to reach their customers & stakeholders.  But often you will find many of these agencies send out tweets and Facebook posts that are plain boring and borderline irritating.  Fortunately, some agencies do understand the importance of adding humor and fun to keep their messages appealing yet entertaining without looking too mundane.  Among a handful of agencies that do this so well is @DDOTDC (aka DC Department of Transportation). They always know how to mix up the seriousness of a bland transportation message with a little bit of humor to make it easy for the end-user to consume, esp. at the end of a long day.  The communications team at @DDOTDC has done a commendable job on many occasions and today is not an exception.

Like every time it happens, today DC metropolitan area got into panic-mode when snow flurries started hitting the ground. As folks left offices/workplaces early, the vehicle traffic started building up on the streets. So, to lighten up the mood and poke a bit of fun of the traditional behavior of DC metro residents, the @DDOTDC team pushed out a series of fun tweets titled Top 5 signs it’s snowing in DC”:

And you see my point? How refreshing is it to see a public agency do something like this instead of just sending out plain boring traffic congestion updates during an already crazy time on the streets?  If you happen to serve as a communications in-charge at any transportation agency, you will be thrilled to see such great levels of audience engagement from the community for each one of these messages (i.e., retweets, Favs, etc). So, if you get a chance, say “Thank You” to the @DDOTDC team for their fun yet sincere community service and all the hard work they put in to keeps us safe on the roads.

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Few observations from 2013 TRB Annual Meeting Week

January 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Now that I’ve returned to my office after a week long transportation nerdery (is that a word??) in Washington, DC, I thought of quickly registering a few observations I made during the week.  What I call the TRB Week has three back-to-back transportation events that happen in a week:  it all began with the 3rd Transportation Camp (Jan 12) then followed by the 2013 TRB Annual Meeting (Jan 13-17) and concluded with the Transforming Transportation (Jan 17-18).  As I stated earlier, these are mere observations and shared with the hope that it benefits the attendees heading to DC for future Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting and events planned around that conference.

  1. Transportation Camp: My TRB Week began at Transportation Camp here in DC (awesome facility support provided by co-host George Mason University’s Transportation Policy Program) and offered a glimpse of things to come.  This annual unconference is one of my favorite events in the Transportation Calendar for many reasons and continues to remain on the “MUST Attend” category.  As usual, I learned a lot about how much interest there is for biking among the Transportation planning community. Yes! A lot of bike-related sessions.  And the organizers, esp. OpenPlans, did a fantastic job keeping the event pace along.  For some odd reason, there are fewer sessions involving technology, technologists and hacks and more attendance from Transportation planners. My favorite session at this event featured a discussion on safety and security for women riders on Delhi’s Metro rail.
  2. 2013 TRB Annual Meeting:  Like in the years before, this conference continues to be at the center stage  for many of us in the Transportation Community and its importance has only continued to grow with more and more participants and innovative programming ideas tested by the organizer (Transportation Research Board).  This event offers a great chance to meet, learn and network with fellow researchers from around the world.  It is also an opportunity for me to catch up with many of my friends and colleagues whom I’ve known for years when they arrive in town.   Coffee breaks, lunch hour and dinner are always booked for me during this conference.  A few notable nuggets from TRB this year:
    • TRB smartphone app –  This was an awesome addition to the slate of conference planning tools, despite having some glitches/difficulties syncing the sesssion information across the platforms (phone/tablet/PC).  I’m hoping this app will be better and much more user-friendly as TRB continues to fine-tune the product in the months ahead.
    • Wifi access –  Internet connectivity during the conference continues to be a big pain but TRB staff noted that relief is on the way when the conference moves from the hotels (Marriott, Omni and Hilton) to the Convention Center in 2015.  This also would render more opportunities to attend sessions that are currently not accessible to many of us due to the logistics involved (riding shuttle buses between hotels is a big deterrent when it comes to planning my sessions at the different hotels though it doesn’t take much time to travel between them).  Thanks to my employer (Citizant, Inc) I was lucky to have had a Verizon MiFi hotspot that allowed me to stay connected to the web at 4G speeds and allowed for a seamless support for my clients throughout the conference.
    • Food – Continues to remain a major sore point as all the eateries around the conference hotels, esp. Marriott, get jammed up quickly with conference goers during lunch times.   The Lobby bar at Marriott continues to be a major attraction for coffee breaks and post-dinner drinks as it can be a great venue to schedule meetings.
    • My first audio podcast interview – Got interviewed for an Audio Podcast by Andy Boenau, a Transportation planner who also does very interesting podcasts with experts engaged in transportation. We discussed various issues randing from social media  in transportation to the evolution of driver-less cars (vehicle automation).   Yet to see the final product and I’m hoping to see it available on Andy Boenau’s website soon (urbanismspeakeasy.com)
    • Social Media – I cannot stress enough the role of Social Media in bringing people together during such large gatherings of people.  The presence of twitter is undeniable as the volume of tweets continue to swell year after year during the conference (and also in the weeks leading up to the conference). Don’t believe me? I recommend you check the hashtag #TRBAM and you will know what I am talking about.   And this shows you how popular Twitter is:  tweet from @TRBofNA today says “3,968 tweets using #TRBAMSun. Jan. 13-Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. In 2012, we had 2,830 during the same#TRBAM timeframe”. One of the major highlights of the TRB Annual Meeting is the impromptu tweetup I planned with a few fellow Twitterti. This tweetup held at Open City Cafe on Jan 16th  was conceived, planned and executed via Twitter.  We had a great turnout (about 85 people) and full sponsorship from @Uber_DC, the best hi-tech Taxi service at your fingertip.
    • Innovative Programming: TRB staff are testing different formats to keep the audience engaged.  One such effort was the Pecha Kucha style presentation, a 1st for TRB, that I happened to be a part of.  Though the event was slated at the tail end of the conference (Yeah. Wednesday evening 7:30PM start), we had a great turn out.  The moderator (and friend Shin Pei-Tsay) did an awesome job mixing up the line up, alternating between U.S. and European presenters to keep up the tempo.  Each presenter had 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide to tell their story, mostly with visuals (and a sprinkling of text).  I couldn’t have imagined a better format for a tired audience who have endured death by powerpoint all through the week.
    • Networking: I cannot stress enough the importance of networking during the TRBAM Week.  Here are a few words of wisdom for the new and young attendees:
      • Stuff a ton of business cards in your coat/jacket when you arrive at TRB.
      •  Always be willing and ready to tell your story. If it is not too much work, I recommend that you prepare a two minute “elevato r pitch” that tells your story. You never know who will be in that hypothetical elevator with you.
      • Looking for a job? Prepare and print a few copies of your resume and keep it ready for sharing with people interested in your story.
      • Attend as many networking events as possible.  Often you will see many Happy Hours, Receptions, Sponsored Events, etc held along the sidelines of the Annual Meeting. These are great venues for meeting and interacting with cool people.
      • Get a lot of sleep if you can can. That’s one of the toughest things to do when you are in town for just a few days catching up with people and attending sessions.
      • And stay connected on Social Media:  Are you the shy one?  No worries. If you are not so social in person, you may want to start by chatting with your target audience on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This virtual interaction should definitely give you the confidence to interact with them in person when you are at the event.  Also, from a civic sense, the conversations in the community will only get better when more people start talking. So, don’t hesitate to send out a tweet or post a note on LinkedIn.
      • Do not hesitate to signup for volunteer opportunities, especially at the TRB Committees. If you are under 25yrs old, the committees would be glad to have you added as a Young Member.  Also, a few notable forums that you should consider checking out during the Annual Meeting – Young Professionals in Transportation (they host an awesome reception every year. MUST ATTEND for us transportation professionals), Young Members Council, Womens Transportation Seminar, etc
  3. Transforming Transportation – Right on the heels of TRB Annual Meeting, the World Bank and World Resource Institute’s EMBARQ hold this annual event, Transforming Transportation, at the World Bank building, bringing together experts from around the world to discuss sustainable transportation issues.  This year was a bit more special than previous years with the addition of a Keynote by New York City Mayor Mr. Michael Bloomberg, who has a great interest in supporting sustainable transportation initiatives not just in his city but also across the globe. The amount of knowledge sharing that happens in this event is unparalleled and I always walk away with a ton of new ideas that I could easily implement in my world of transportation and communications.  This event also serves as a reminder for me as a professionals practicing the craft in the Developed world, that there are so many challenges that remain unsolved in transportation domain in the developing world.

There are so many more things I’d like to write about but in the essence of time, I’m going to stop here.  Should I find the time and energy in the next couple of days, I’ll do a follow-up post.  If you think I have missed something or should have addressed a few more points, do not hesitate to drop me a note in the comments sections.  I’ll be happy to respond to your comments/suggestions/etc.  Also, do not hesitate to share this article with your fellow Transportation professionals if it will help prepare them for the next year’s event.

 

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