2020 40 Under 40: Jaime McKay

Aug. 18, 2020
Jaime McKay, Transportation Planner, WSP and Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA)
  • One word to describe yourself: Exuberant
  • Alma Mater: SUNY Geneseo (Bachelors), University at Albany (Masters), CCBC Catonsville (Certificate)
  • Favorite hobbies: Exploring beautiful western Maryland by bicycle and making bad puns
  • Fun fact about yourself: I wrote my thesis for my graduate program on the social geography of the rural cemetery. People are dying to read it. Seriously, though, I’m fascinated by cemeteries and enjoy visiting them.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent: The downtown Frederick MARC station holds a special place in my heart. For a long time, it was the open and close of my workday. Walking (okay, running, I’m always late!) the three blocks to the MARC station once I heard the whistle sound the train’s arrival was as much a routine as anything.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent: The Mon Incline in Pittsburgh. It’s so unique and yet, so functional, and the views from the ride are spectacular!

Jaime McKay is a transportation planner at WSP and the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration. She is a great advocate for transit, but especially so for transit in rural areas and transit for people with disabilities—two important areas in transit that can be critical for accessibility but often times get overlooked as urban and commuter focused transit monopolizes attention.

McKay ensures these other voices are not forgotten and that they receive the help and resources that are so important for the communities that rely on these services. On behalf of rural providers and providers for people with disabilities, she has helped develop GTFS information from the ground up; put together grant and funding applications; and has dedicated much of her career to outreach to these communities.

She’s also a holistic transit professional. McKay not only works full-time in a transit-oriented role but is also heavily involved in transit outside of her day job. This includes her many years on the board of Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT) International and YPT Baltimore. She has been a mentor in WTS Baltimore’s Transportation YOU program. She’s also someone who uses a lot of her spare time riding her bike to visit train stations and rail throughout Maryland.

McKay is passionate about transit. She shows this through her commitment to her job, her involvement in a broad range of transportation organizations and her dedication to some of the most vulnerable transit communities.

“I love that in my role, I am learning from the best and the brightest. The people I work with exemplify service, demonstrate through action and word how to be an effective leader, and develop others to become future transportation professionals. I am in a job where I’ve been so encouraged to think outside the box; to find ways to improve peoples’ lives at such a scale.”

“I don’t come from a traditional transportation planning background, which has allowed me to view the industry and its many quirks from a different perspective. Our industry is bursting with incredibly talented, dedicated professionals who sometimes seem to know everything about every process, and it can be a humbling experience to admit that you are uncertain or unsure.”

“Show up, slow down, and be willing to listen. Early in my career, I had the habit of trying to rush in and make sure everything was perfect. That was exhausting and put a lot of pressure on me - and everyone else involved. Our industry operates at incredible speed and it’s easy to get burned out if you don’t slow down and give yourself an opportunity to listen to what people need.”