One word to describe yourself: Solutionist
Alma Mater: University of Florida
Fast fact about yourself: I attended a performing arts high school. While I didn’t end up choosing a career in music, spending so much time around people that were incredibly passionate about one thing and laser-focused on getting better each day is something that taught me what you can accomplish if you love what you do.
What’s your best experience on transit and what made it memorable?: I’ve had a few opportunities to ride systems with the people who helped to build them. The stories you hear about what went in to making that trip possible are exciting, enlightening and sometimes a bit terrifying all at once.
As chief of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Bureau of Public Transportation’s Transit Planning and Project Delivery Division since 2019, Andy Batson, AICP, is responsible for planning, financing and delivering public transportation projects across Pennsylvania, with more than $600 million in annual state/federal funding. He works with staff, consultants, planning partners and state and federal agency officials to ensure projects are designed and constructed and meet all state/federal requirements.
For the past three years, Batson has kept major, complex projects on schedule despite the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic, significant environmental issues, procurement challenges and other issues that occurred during the project development process. Currently, he manages more than 80 consultant work orders for planning, design and construction management.
Batson served as acting deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation from September 2022 through February 2023, where he worked closely with the PennDOT executive team on rail and aviation issues.
Batson has actively controlled costs on significant investments in transit infrastructure. He consistently monitors transit projects to assure projects are scaled appropriately and designed to meet current and future needs and assures that contractors and consultants are delivering projects that maintain operational sustainability. Specific PennDOT achievements include:
- Led agency coordination between Area Transportation Authority, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Pennsylvania’s SHPO to maintain a $2 million earmark, which was in jeopardy of lapsing due to time constraints.
- Initiated value engineering on the Luzerne County Transportation Authority Facility Project to save more than $5 million in capital budget funding and led efforts to resolve significant environmental issues, including soil remediation and archeological significance for the Native American Delaware Nation.
- Initiated a program approach to implement 28 shared ride facility improvement projects using “pre-fabricated” buildings to reduce costs by $10 million.
- Led the development of “Design Guidelines” for public transportation projects published in 2022. The document was created for consultants to streamline the design process, accelerate project delivery and reduce consultant fees by 10 percent.
- Implemented Asset / Facility Management to optimize the life cycle maintenance costs for new buildings funded by PennDOT and the FTA.
Batson worked for 10 years as a consultant in the transit industry, where he worked on public transportation projects throughout the U.S. requiring a diverse set of technical skills. Project experience ranged from place-based feasibility studies for rail stations, bus facilities and transfer centers, to people-focused coordinated mobility plans and transit needs studies. Batson spent a considerable amount of time working with state DOTs and transit agency leaders, conducting performance reviews, fare and financial analyses and agency consolidation studies.
Batson’s high-level attention to detail and his ability to manage multiple complex projects has allowed PennDOT to advance long-standing transit facility projects to completion. These projects are modern facilities that benefit public transit riders as transit agencies can protect and maintain their assets to run reliable transportation service.
Batson has spoken at many transit industry events and is apart of several national research panels.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I get an opportunity each day to work on public transportation projects across the cCommonwealth of Pennsylvania. That means I get to work with dozens of different communities, from small rural towns to large cities. The variety is what keeps it all interesting – what works in Philadelphia isn’t going to work in Punxsutawney – but public transportation is just as important in both places for the people who need it.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the natural duality of managing a large program. You have to keep looking for the bigger picture while focusing on the details that get you to the finish line. The exciting part is I get to learn something new each day, whether that’s responding to an archeological find, resolving construction quality issues, or figuring out how to implement a pilot transit program that gets people to work.
Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?
Getting asked to serve as acting deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation. It was a fantastic opportunity to get a better view on how all modes of transportation relate to one another and share many of the same challenges. I got to work with smart and accomplished people throughout the industry that I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to partner with and the incredible experience that comes with transitioning to a new administration.
Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?
Embrace new challenges, especially those that are outside your comfort zone. Say yes, even if you haven’t quite figured out how to get it done. The only way to grow is by pushing beyond what you think is possible.