2023 40 Under 40: Peter Calcaterra

Aug. 22, 2023
Peter Calcaterra, Transportation Supervising Planner, Connecticut Department of Transportation

One word to describe yourself: Ambitious

Alma Mater: Fordham University

Fast fact about yourself: I'm an avid New Orleans Saints fan.

What’s your best experience on transit and what made it memorable?

Going to school in New York City after growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut, I realized how important public transportation is every day for so many people. This opened my eyes to the importance of public transit and the access and opportunities it provides the community.

Peter Calcaterra has worked during the 15-plus years of his career to establish himself as a strategic leader in multi-modal transportation planning, demonstrating expertise in various areas such as transportation technologies, policy development, public outreach, and funding strategies.

As a transportation supervising planner for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), Mr. Calcaterra is responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing innovative transit system projects and programs. These initiatives encompass planning for and executing a wide range of cutting-edge technologies in the areas of automated buses, battery electric buses (BEB), transit facility enhancements, transit-connected vehicle systems, bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

As a lead for transportation technologies within the agency, Mr. Calcaterra is instrumental in preparing CTDOT to integrate new transit ITS and smart infrastructure to improve bus service planning, operations, and capital investments that result in increased transit ridership, reduced travel times, lower emissions, improved customer service, and more efficient, reliable, and equitable movement of people.

Calcaterra’s leadership at CTDOT extends to various committees and initiatives. He is a co-chairperson of CTDOT's Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Standing Committee and was the lead author for Connecticut's inaugural Statewide CAV Strategic Plan. This comprehensive plan outlines strategies for deploying and sustaining CAV technologies, including those related to public transit.

Furthermore, Calcaterra’s influence is evident in his contribution to Connecticut's ambitious statewide transportation planning initiatives. He played a pivotal role in helping to shape a 30-year, $100 billion multi-modal strategic transportation vision plan for Connecticut that successfully led to a 40 percent increase in new capital program funding for transportation in the state over five years. He also managed the development and launch of an interactive online dashboard to track new project progress and spending, enhancing government transparency and accountability.

Calcaterra’s dedication to public engagement is notable, as he helped to facilitate extensive stakeholder discussions and coordinate a robust public outreach campaign. This effort resulted in the collection of diverse ideas aimed at improving Connecticut's multi-modal transportation system.

In the realm of innovation, Calcaterra is recognized as a national leader in automated bus technologies and connected vehicle systems. He is currently the technical lead managing the development of two groundbreaking FTA grant funded research pilot projects. One of those pilot projects integrates an automated driving system with a connected vehicle system on a full-size BEB for operations on a BRT. The other pilot project integrates an advanced driver assistance system on a full-size BEB for operations on city streets. Both are North American firsts.

Additionally, Calcaterra is playing an active role towards the early planning, development, systems engineering and design of Connecticut’s first on-street BRT system, which will be an 11-mile, limited stop, overlay on top of four of the busiest transit routes in Greater New Haven with the goals of expanding, enhancing, and modernizing transit service and efficiency.

Calcaterra’s involvement extends beyond his agency, as he actively engages with various organizations to shape transportation policies on a broader scale. He participates in legislative task forces, chairs multi-state technical advisory committees and contributes to national panels and pooled fund studies focused on emerging transportation technologies and solutions.

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

My initial major in college was focused on international politics and economics, but after living and working in New York City during college (and then in New Orleans after college) I switched my major to Urban Studies and was attracted to pursue a profession that focuses on the needs of urban communities here in America.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I enjoy the most about my job is the fast-paced nature of the job and working with a variety of people and stakeholders to develop and complete projects and programs both big and small that make a difference in the quality of peoples lives, the community, the environment, the transportation system and the economy.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is the practical challenge of piloting and implementing emerging and evolving transportation technologies in a statewide transit system.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

Raising two happy children with my amazing wife.

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

Get involved, ask questions, work hard, listen and be nice.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.