Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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80 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 metro-magazine.com years have afrmed that providing efec- tive transportation is inherently multi- disciplinary — tangled, messy, very grey and enormously challenging. Whether you are embracing a transportation pro- fession as a planner, engineer or business person, transportation is never an end to itself, but a critical piece of moving peo- ple, or the goods and services that people need. As such, providing efective trans- portation has a fundamental role in shap- ing things that we can't absolutely control — cities, economies, landscapes. HOW IS WORKING FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER JOBS YOU'VE HAD? Making good national policy is hard. Think about it : We have to develop and implement policies that are going to work equally well in Lexington, Massachusetts, and Lexington, Kentucky; in Portland, Or- egon, and Portland, Maine; and all points in between. And yet, different commu- nities need different solutions. We have a saying at FTA: 'If you've seen one tran- sit system, you've seen one transit sys- tem.' We have an important role in part- nering with local and state governments to help realize community visions. So on the one hand, we need to work with Con- gress to frame policies and programs broad enough to serve the nation — yet flexible enough to meet the needs of lo- cal communities, which are all somewhat diferent. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING THE TRANSIT INDUSTRY, AND WHAT IS FTA DOING TO ADDRESS THEM? We are at a crossroads in terms of how we build 21st century transportation in- frastructure that meets the needs of rid- ers today and for future generations. Transit ridership is at record levels, with more than 10 billion trips taken last year — while at the same time our transit sys- tems face an $86 billion backlog in much- needed repairs and replacements. In ad- dition, the U.S. population is expected to grow by one-third between now and 2050. We are facing a serious infrastruc- ture defcit in this country, and we must fnd ways to address it. President Obama and Secretary [Anthony] Foxx have put forward a plan to do just that. Te GROW AMERICA Act is a bold legislative initia- tive that would provide $302 billion for transportation over the next four years, including $72 billion for transit. For FTA, that's a 70 percent increase over current spending —enough to allow us to in- crease our core formula grant programs to both expand services and invest in state of good repair. bly delivering results with the resourc- es you do have is at the core of my job. WHAT ASPECTS OF YOUR JOB BRING YOU THE GREATEST SATISFACTION? WHY? Working with a tremendous team at the FTA has been amazing — these are public servants in the best sense of the term, dedicated to the mission of provid- ing transit to all who need it and protect- ing taxpayer dollars along the way. Work- ing with such a talented team reinforces the external rewards of this position — traveling across the country to talk to de- voted industry folks who provide transit every day — and meeting the riders that need and use those services. Whether they take the commuter train to work be- cause they choose not to sit in trafc, or take a late night bus because they have no other option — those riders have a voice that deserves to be heard. HOW HAS YOUR EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE PRIOR TO JOINING FTA HELPED PREPARE YOU FOR THE NATIONAL STAGE? Prior to joining the FTA, I worked for 25 years with the Metropolitan Transpor- tation Commission in the San Francis- co Bay Area. Working in that rich and di- verse region —and in California, the most populous and complex state in the coun- try — prepared me well for tackling trans- portation and transit issues on the na- tional stage. My education in urban and transportation planning was and contin- ues to be particularly valuable. Tese 30 Q&A: THERESE MCMILLAN Speaking at a Central Ohio Transit Authority luncheon this summer. In California to announce a $670 million construction grant agreement to help build the Regional Connector light rail line in the heart of Los Angeles.

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