Public Transit: A Small World

Each year we do a reader survey to see what people want to see less of and what they want to see more of. One of the things we have seen is that our readers want to see more international coverage, so it’s something we will be periodically adding.

At the UIC Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia this summer and InnoTrans in Berlin last month, the world seems a lot smaller. Many of the consultants, engineers, OEMs and suppliers are global companies. Sitting with a few at a dinner table one night, it didn’t surprise me their companies were working on some of the same projects around the globe. What surprised me was they knew the same people on the projects, the specific details; it was like all the projects were in their backyard.

So while there may be some vast differences, there are many universal topics, such as coping with aging infrastructure or funding shortfalls, and how the latest technology is making transit — or transport — more convenient for riders.

It’s posed some interesting challenges with language obstacles, time differences for correspondence and the ongoing conversions of Euros, kilometers and the like. It’s also given our back-end system a workout with the “,” “€,” “” and other letters and symbols it doesn’t want to recognize.

InnoTrans, is held in Berlin every other year. While there this year, I had the opportunity to meet with Messe Berlin Director Matthias Steckmann and Project Manager Kerstin Schulz, both responsible for putting on InnoTrans. Since it was in Berlin, it was also a great opportunity to meet with the city of Berlin’s public transportation provider — Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe’s (BVG) Chairwoman of the Management Board and Director of Operations Dr. Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta.

We hope you find their information interesting and useful, and while North American agencies are our focus, we look forward to your suggestions on other systems around the globe that you would like to see highlighted.