With more than 20 years at CUTA, Roschlau has had wide-range experience with what CUTA does. “I have been exposed to many aspects of what we do — education and training, human resources, conference and event planning, and more recently, the public affairs and government roles.”
With ridership growing and the industry facing pressure to expand, Roschlau says the biggest challenge is unquestionably funding. “The concept of federal investment in transit is a relatively recent experience in Canada, and while federal transit investment in this country has grown enormously in the last five years, we still do not have a long-term federal policy on transit investment.”
He explains the concept of a “National Transit Strategy,” developed in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. “The strategy includes five components — investment, tax incentives, land-use planning, research and accountability. The investment part seeks to create a commitment to predictable long-term funding that will allow transit to build for the future and provide frequent, reliable, attractive mobility for urban Canadians.
“The tax incentives seek to put demand measures in place that will encourage more people to use transit, especially for the journey to work. The land-use piece requires local government to commit to urban growth and development that is linked to the transit investments.
“Another important component of the strategy provides research to support greater transit use. And finally, given the proposed scope of the strategy, it is important that all governments work together to ensure that there are appropriate accountability measures in place, thereby maintaining the integrity of the concept.”
Another success of CUTA that Roschlau talks about is regarding the education and training initiative. Two programs are the Transit Ambassador and SmartDriver. “Transit Ambassador has, over the years, evolved to become one of the most popular transit-specific customer service training initiatives, assisting transit systems in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean and the Middle East, with transforming their corporate culture to one that is truly customer-focused and equipping staff with the right skills to accomplish this,” he says.
When talking about the future, Vision 2040 is what Roschlau is most excited about — a new vision for transit in Canada. “A 30-year timeframe represents a generation in human terms,” he says. “It is a long enough time horizon to contemplate significant shifts in land-use development, but short enough that it can be envisaged within the lifetime of the majority of Canadians.
“The first phase of this exercise involves outreach elements to include the entire CUTA membership, as well as key outside stakeholders,” he explains. “It will be situated in the context of increasing concern about future community sustainability, changing demographics and new settlement patterns, and will involve the development of statements about preferred future scenarios that take into account these issues.” He adds, “The second phase will follow, and will work from the industry vision to develop a plan for how CUTA should best define itself to realize this vision.”
Educating Future Generations
There are several key things that each of the leaders mention as important to the industry. One of those is looking to the next generation. As Roschlau says, “I see the next generation as one that can offer tremendous new horizons for public transit.”
Cavelieri says UITP is working to include and educate the youth to enter the world of public transportation as clients and workers. “The biggest challenge is to promote, convince decision makers to act, which is especially urgent considering the big challenge we are facing for a sustainable world.” He adds, “My challenge is to put their voice in front of decision makers in order to let politicians understand that the world is changing and new generations are fighting for a better, or at least different world. Not all youngsters are passive or superficial, but they need clear reference points. We would like to become one of these reference points for them.”