Women in TransitTech: Assumpta Cerda.• 2 min read
In honor of International Women’s Day and throughout the month of March, Via is proud to profile a number of changemakers driving real innovation in their communities. Enjoy the story below, and then check out the rest of the series.
Challenging the status quo takes diligence, determination, and vision — especially when it comes to an industry that hasn’t seen a seismic shift since the automobile was invented. And, as it turns out, it’s often women who choose to challenge these norms. In honor of International Women’s Day and throughout the month of March, Via is proud to profile a number of changemakers driving real innovation in their communities and inspiring their peers. Enjoy the story below, and then check out the rest of the series here.
Assumpta Cerda is Project Lead, New Mobility at Exo Montréal in Canada. She studied Design and Urban Planning and has now been working in transit for more than a decade. Assumpta has contributed to a variety of projects that include collecting and analyzing mobility data, writing business cases for major transit projects, strategic planning, and service planning.
What did 10-year-old Assumpta want to be when she grew up? How did you evolve from there to your current position in transportation?
I wanted to be Nancy Drew! I dreamed of being a detective and solving puzzling and mysterious events. Part of my job now is finding the data to understand peoples’ travel patterns and telling the story of how we could help them get around better.
What do you think are the most important qualities in a leader? Are there any leaders in particular you look up to?
Coalition building and being able to hold multiple perspectives are very important for navigating complex systems and tackling global challenges such as climate change. Angela Merkel and Jacinda Ardern are leaders I admire because of their authenticity and strong values. Both are problem-solvers that can put others’ interests first.
What are the big transit challenges in your community that your team is solving with innovative mobility projects?
The cities we serve currently lack convenient and affordable shared mobility options. We are developing on-demand transit and electric bike share projects with the aim of increasing coverage and providing citizens with more choices to get where they need to go.
In your view, what’s the biggest challenge the transportation industry as a whole will have to tackle in the next 2-5 years?
Transitioning to a zero-emission future will definitely be a challenge. However, addressing structural inequities in how transportation services are currently planned and delivered may prove to be a bigger challenge. Women, low-income households, and people with disabilities all generally face longer travel times and have access to fewer mobility options. Innovations in mobility and ambitious climate plans are opportunities to create a transportation system that allows people to take advantage of economic and social opportunities and advance equity and social justice.
Tell us about a defining moment in your professional life that has helped guide you on your path.
I was studying Urban Design and I took a transportation class. I was so taken with transportation’s role in placemaking and building thriving communities, I switched programs.
And finally, what drives you? (Pun intended!)
I care about making cities great! Transit is at the heart of city-building.