2019 40 Under 40: Kate Morley

Sept. 13, 2019
Kate Morley, AICP, Development Director, Mountain Line
  • Alma Mater: University of Arizona
  • Favorite book: “The River Why” by David James Duncan
  • Favorite TV show: “Schitt’s Creek” 
  • Favorite movie: “Pulp Fiction” 
  • Favorite hobby(s): hiking, running, mountain biking, rafting 
  • Fun fact about yourself: I’ve rafted the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon more than 20 times. 
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): Mountain Line’s Route 2, stops 7 or 24 – they are both on McMillan Mesa and offer stunning views of the San Francisco Peaks. 
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): Mountain Line Route 2 because it runs every 20 minutes, is a 10 minute walk from my house and takes me to the front door of my office. 

Kate Morely started her career in the industry in 2015 as a mobility planner for Mountain Line. She quickly worked her way up to development director, and under her leadership, the Mountain Line’s Planning Department has undertaken several projects of regional significance.

Recently, Morely led the agency’s Highway 180 Implementation Plan, a grant-funded study recommending solutions for winter congestion. While there have been previous studies of this corridor, this was the first one to put pen-to-paper solutions that had been discussed for years, such as alternative access, paid parking and tolling.

She established a robust network of public and private partners with ties to the corridor to assist with the plans, and used cutting-edge techniques, like cell phone data, to make informed recommendations about potential solutions. The final plan was unanimously approved by the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Association Board of Directors, and several of the recommended strategies were implemented for the 2018-2019 winter season, with congestion on Highway 180 corridor significantly reduced. The Highway 180 Implementation Plan also won the Arizona Transit Association’s Excellence Award for Partnerships. 

Morely also spearheaded a transit plan for the city of Winslow, Ariz., to study the need for intercity transit. From inception to adoption, she built a consensus and gathered community input, taking a systematic approach to building a transit plan the city can use. 

She has also spoken at the Community Transportation Association of America’s annual conference on Mountain Line’s mobility management programs and recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with congressional representatives and industry leaders about the FAST Act reauthorization. 

Last year, she completed a year-long fellowship with the Flinn Brown Civic Leadership Academy, a highly competitive program that helps experienced civic leaders expand their knowledge, skills and networks. 

“Google Maps was brand new and I recall viewing aerial photos...and constantly discovering physical barriers that prevented safe travel between locations. I decided to go back to school and get my masters in planning to address these problems systemically.”

“I like working on challenging projects with stakeholders who have different priorities to develop strategies to enhance our community through transit. Transit impacts our community in so many ways, from improving infrastructure and the character of the City, to creating resilience, to connecting people to the places and people most important to them; it’s an easy job to love.”

“You need to know your local politics. Get to know your elected officials, what they care about and how transit supports their values. It is also often about timing and recognizing those moments when everything is aligned towards getting your project moving. You always need to be prepared to take advantage of the right timing when it happens, so having plans you can act on in place is critical.”