2020 40 Under 40: Jerome A. Horne

Aug. 18, 2020
Jerome Horne, Ridership Experience Specialist, Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo)
  • One word to describe yourself: Ambitious
  • Alma Mater: Valdosta State University
  • Favorite hobby(s): Long walks through cities, biking, dancing, working out, collecting transit signs and model vehicles
  • Fun fact about yourself: I have a personal collection of over 120 real transit signs and 150 model trains and buses, which are collectively called the International Micro Museum of Transit.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): CTA Ashland Station on the Pink and Green lines in Chicago. This station still retains some of the original architectural elements from when it was originally built in 1893. It also has a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline from the cross bridge that allows access from one platform to another.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): The Baltimore Metro! It’s only one line but this is where I grew up and was the first train I ever rode. The trains have the coveted “railfan” window at the front where you can sit in the front most passenger seat and see out the front of the train. I always wanted to sit there as a kid and fell in love with transit because of it.

Jerome Horne is described as having an infectious positive attitude and passion for transit that stands out tremendously in the industry. As ridership experience specialist at IndyGo, he has been involved in the high-profile Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, where he has done extensive outreach, including working with the public, elected officials and the media. He also created the Transit Ambassador Program with volunteers that go out into the public rather than having the public come to the agency.

This proactive outreach method has proven effective to engage the public, not just in terms of the Red Line project, but also in principles of transit planning and governance to help the public better understand how decisions are made in a transit system. In addition to his work on the Red Line BRT, Horne is spearheading the brand and wayfinding program at IndyGo, with an emphasis on providing a customer-centric experience to wayfinding.

Horne has also represented IndyGo at multiple conferences and has provided an outstanding representation of IndyGo to public, private and academic stakeholders. He is also a member of the APTA Emerging Leaders Program Class of 2022 and is involved in the Transit Cooperative Research Program.

Additionally, Horne has volunteered his own time to serve many causes to benefit transit. He serves on the board for Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) International, a networking and professional development group focused on developing the next generation of leaders in transportation and founded the Indianapolis Chapter of YPT.

His nomination said his most notable attribute is his wonderful attitude and every attempt he makes to promote transit. Horne is considered a true "transit evangelist" whose passion and interest in transit is unmatched.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

I have always been fascinated by cities and public transportation since I was a little boy. A combination of being exposed to transit at a very young age as well playing the game Sim City solidified my interest in the field. However, the defining moment may have been the first email I ever sent when I was 10 years old. I wrote to the CEO of the transit agency in Baltimore asking him how I could get his job when I grow up. Yes, at 10, I was interested in being a transit agency CEO! To my amazement he responded with a personalized heartfelt reply and I think that is why I’m in the field today.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is the ability to impact positive change on the lives of everyday citizens. Transit is essential to opening access to opportunity for people. Whether is getting to work, school, healthcare appointments or just recreational activities, we owe it to those who we serve to provide the best service possible. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging thing about my job is that my title, ridership experience specialist, can sometimes get me pulled in several different directions as one can make an argument that ridership experience touches all aspects of what we do as a transit agency. It’s both something I enjoy but also must carefully balance to ensure I can deliver my best to our riders and IndyGo.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

The accomplishment I’m most proud of, currently, is making the APTA Emerging Leaders Program Class of 2022. It’s been a dream of mine to be involved in transit since I was a little kid so to be honored with participation in that prestigious program means a lot to me. I’m very excited to learn and grow as a professional so I can best serve people and meet the ever-changing mobility needs of the present and future.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

The best advice I can share is the importance of transit professionals riding transit and doing so on a regular basis. Not just during commuting hours either but at different times of day across multiple modes. Our riders should be the central focus of everything we do. In order to make better informed decisions that have a direct impact on those we serve, I find it valuable to have firsthand knowledge from in the field experience.

Why do you like being a part of the public transit industry?

Trains and buses are cool! But on a deeper level I enjoy being involved with transit because it’s the connective tissue of our communities. The industry is full of people willing to help one another and who enjoy making people’s lives better.