2023 40 Under 40: Elenna Salcido, AICP

Aug. 22, 2023
Elenna Salcido, AICP, Planning Manager, STV

One word to describe yourself: Assertive

Alma Mater: University of Southern California

Fast fact about yourself: I foster cats and have transported multiple cats and kittens by transit.

What’s your best experience on transit and what made it memorable? While it’s not transit in the most traditional sense, my husband and I rode sleeper car on a few long-distance Amtrak lines (Empire Builder and Southwest Chief) on our honeymoon.

Elenna Salcido is a dedicated transportation planning manager at STV in Los Angeles, whose go-to tool for excellence has been her empathy, which she brings to every project with a genuine desire to enhance transit systems for the benefit of all users. Having grown up in Southern California, she understands the unique needs of transit systems in the vast Los Angeles County and its surrounding areas and firmly believes that planners can make a positive impact in their local communities.

As deputy project manager for the Gender Action Plan at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro), Salcido oversaw a team that participated in a groundbreaking study aimed at improving the transit experience for women, who constitute more than half of L.A. Metro's ridership. The plan provided actionable recommendations covering station design, fare policies and safety based on inputs from L.A. Metro staff, community-based organizations and transit agencies worldwide. Salcido’s own experiences as a frequent L.A. Metro rider and her past struggles while working night shifts at a food service job brought a unique perspective to the project.

Another notable project she was involved with was the Hollywood Burbank Airport connectivity study, commissioned by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority. With the relocation of the airport's terminal, Salcido led a technical analysis that proposed short-, medium- and long-term solutions to enhance accessibility for travelers and airport employees through improved rail connections.

Currently, Salcido is a key member of the consultant planning team for the L.A. Metro's C Line Extension. Her role involves extensive community outreach to identify and mitigate potential project impacts, as the agency seeks to extend light rail transit service into the underserved South Bay region.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Salcido will serve as the director of APA Los Angeles Section starting in 2024, supporting planning professionals through continuing education, advocacy, networking events and knowledge exchanges between transportation planners and other disciplines. She is also committed to encouraging young women to pursue careers in transit planning and engineering through her involvement with Spark LA, a program focused on empowering girls and her engagements at Schurr High School and USC.

Additionally, Elenna has been an active member of the Los Angeles chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS), previously serving as the WTS-LA webmaster.

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

The day after I got my driver’s license, when I was 18 years old, I got into a car accident that totaled both cars. To make matters worse, the accident was with a sheriff’s deputy. Though neither of us had long-term physical injuries, the overall experience led me with a visceral hate for driving. While I still have a license and drive occasionally, I never feel relaxed about it the way some people do, even as a passenger. I think that contributed to me not only to using transit often but trying to improve and increase transit options.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Getting to learn unique details about places that I would otherwise never know. While most of my projects are in Southern California, some are in places I do not go to regularly or at all. It allows some unique insights to places that only residents or regular visitors would know and makes me feel more comfortable traveling across the region.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

As with any job, different people bring different perspectives and there are sometimes competing interests within the decision-making structure of a project that don’t agree (and sometimes they don’t realize they don’t agree!). Navigating this and finding a solution that meets everyone’s needs can feel very daunting.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

The opportunities I have had to teach kids and young people what transit planning is and how there is an opportunity for them to shape their built environment. I did not realize this was a career path until I was nearly finished with my undergraduate education and I might have taken better advantage of my education if I knew earlier.

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.