2019 40 Under 40: Nicholas Davidson

Sept. 13, 2019
Nicholas Davidson, Transportation Planning Manager, Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA)
  • Alma Mater: Malone University (undergraduate and graduate)
  • Favorite book: “Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy Seal Team SIX Operator Adam Brown” by Eric Blehm 
  • Favorite TV show: “Elementary”
  • Favorite hobby(s): teaching myself to play the drums, largely by watching YouTube videos
  • Fun fact about yourself: I have circumnavigated the globe in one direction.

Nicholas Davidson began his transit career in April 2012 as the customer service supervisor at Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) in Stark County, Ohio. During his tenure in this position, SARTA integrated mobile data terminals into the paratransit system which moved drivers to paperless manifests. He also oversaw the implementation of dynamic scheduling techniques through the software scheduling suite known as Trapeze Pass.

He organized a Kaizen event for staff to improve the administration of paratransit and demand response service. This event, along with his Trapeze adjustments, led SARTA to a nine-percent on-time performance increase and achieved an operating efficiency of 2.4 passengers per hour. Davidson and his paratransit team provided technical assistance to a number of agencies from New York, Ohio, Washington and Alberta, Canada as they all began moving toward dynamic scheduling. Subsequently, SARTA was named as a finalist in 2018 for Trapeze’s Strategic Alliance Award of Excellence.    

He used his paratransit experience to serve as a panelist for a Transportation Cooperative Research Project. He provided guidance and subject matter expertise to the Synthesis Project J-07/Topic SB-31 Implementing the U.S. Department of Transportation Reasonable Modification Rule.     

In August 2016, he was promoted to transportation planning manager. Since taking on this role, he has worked on several projects to positively impact the community. He realigned routes in southeast Canton to reduce the food desert in impoverished neighborhoods. He also helped to provide better access to employment by adjusting routes and schedules to several communities. He increased the number of stop amenities and bus shelters to improve riders’ experiences. 

Additionally, he’s working on a micro-transit pilot project, which will be launched in late 2019, to improve mobility options for three under-served communities.

He also pitched an innovation for Trapeze’s Pass system which will enable users to strategically adjust parameter settings through an automated process. This innovation was adopted by Trapeze and will be implemented in an upcoming version. For the creative thinking of his suggested innovation, he was named as a finalist for the 2019 Trapeze Innovation Award of Excellence.   

He’s been a featured speaker at the Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) and ThinkTransit (Trapeze) Conferences. He has served on the planning committee for the OPTA Annual Conference for the past three years. His efforts were critical to securing OPTA’s partnership with the National Transit Institute (NTI) for the 2019 conference which saw a record number of education sessions, attendees, vendors and vehicles. 

He’s a 2018 graduate of APTA’s Emerging Leaders Program and a 2017 graduate of Leadership Stark County. He’s been an important part of SARTA’s community partnership efforts and is a member of SARTA’s Executive Leadership Team and Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiation Team. 

“When I started at SARTA, I thought my career would be in public service. Over time, I developed a passion for public transit through my work in paratransit service.”

“SARTA has given me the opportunity to grow and be creative with solutions to operational challenges. They have also supported me in my professional development and to be an advocate for public transit by becoming involved in both the Ohio and American Public Transit Associations. I enjoy that I can use my passion for the industry to find ways to make it better.”

“...With the advancements in technology, alternative fuels and vehicle automation, this is an exciting time to be in this industry.”