Kevin Desmond, general manager of King County Metro Transit and chair of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Sustainability committee led a roundtable discussion Tuesday at the closing of APTA's Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop. Several panelists shared some closing thoughts on what value sustainability has and how we should be viewing the value of sustainability.
Using Technology to be Sustainable
How can the pillars of sustainability be succeeded by a city using technology? Cisco Systems Inc.'s Director - Urban Innovation Gordon Feller shared some insight on designing systems that are more sustainable and what we might expect for the future.
Cisco Systems Inc. has projects at Bay Area Rapid Transit and the MTA in New York and he said the way technology can be better utilized, often with existing systems, can lead to an improved passenger experience, new revenue sources, enhanced safety and security possibilities and more operational efficiencies.
"The architecture is not rocket science," Feller said. "It's kind of obvious." And the network that runs all this doesn't have to be owned by the transit properties he said. Those networks, which have been expensive to build, are not being fully utilized. "We want to make sure you're using it in full to get the sustainable benefit."
For the passenger experience, it's well above offering Internet to passengers. They can know the schedule of the next part of their trip and with so many having cell phones with sensors already built in to them, we can know where that person is, or how many people are on that bus at a given time or where that passenger will be three minutes from now.
Regarding security, watching what's going on in that vehicle by video surveillance is just the beginning. Sending information directly from a vehicle to a police car or in-train passenger notification delivered remotely from a single staff person in a control center or having access to a door system remotely are some of the possibilities. He stressed that agencies can use the investment the network already represents.
The current Internet is about to expire because we have used up all of that capacity Feller said. He added that the next Internet is being built and it will have the ability to deliver 10 times the value. "Some places around the world are leap-frogging into the new technology."
Building that Sustainable Community
Helping to build that sustainable community, how you engage the public in a meaningful way in the planning process was discussed by Cynthia Jarrold, Rosa Parks federal policy coordinator, with the Transportation Equity Network. "Organizing at its best is about helping folks become clear about the world they live in, their role and the vision of the future."
Building really strong relationships with decision makers in the community is of primary importance. She says they train folks so they learn how to speak to people and to create strategies to engage other folks in the conversation.
Jarrold shared an example from Missouri that illustrated equity is about access and showed how getting out there to develop those relationships to really make a difference. Through SAFETEA-LU, ½ of 1 percent for highway or bridge projects could be used for on-the-job training for under-represented groups in transportation careers, and they decided "to try this out."
The I-64 project near St. Louis was the largest project in Missouri Department of Transportation's (MoDOT) history and it was their first design-build project.
"Our folks in St. Louis, about 70 congregations, said let's go to MoDOT, let's see if they'll allow us to invoke this act of Congress," she said.
She explained that while her folks began to build relationships with the community, including the decision makers and those that would be impacted by this project, MoDOT brought on a consultant, Julie Cunningham, president/CEO of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO).