Transportation serves as a bridge to opportunity for millions of Americans — a fact that gains a particular poignance due to the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. But in many communities across the country, reliable transportation is limited to those who have access to private cars. And for communities with solid fixed route transit options, the first-and-last mile challenge means those without a way of getting from their home to stations or vice versa are still stuck.
To combat this inequity, many cities and transit agencies have turned to microtransit. This conversation, moderated by the Director of Transportation for America, Beth Osborne, explores how microtransit has been a vital public resource for communities during this time.
Barkha Patel, Director of Transportation Planning, City of Jersey City, NJ
Barkha R Patel is the Director of Transportation Planning for the City of Jersey City, NJ. In this role, she manages all transportation planning activities for the City, serves as Co-Chair of the Jersey City Vision Zero Task Force, and represents the City at the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization level. Barkha’s work focuses on active and sustainable transportation, placemaking, and urban design. She oversees the City’s on-demand microtransit system, the advancement of pedestrian, bike, and transit infrastructure, and all long-range transportation initiatives with a commitment to equity and smart growth. Since 2016, Barkha has led the effort to develop citywide plans dedicated to Vision Zero, Parking Management, Pedestrian Safety, Bicycling, and Safe Routes to School, all of which are a first for Jersey City. She also leads the City’s tactical urbanism initiatives to create more livable streets and public spaces for all. Barkha earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Rutgers University’s School of Arts and Sciences and a Master’s of City and Regional Planning from the Bloustein School.
Casey Gifford, Senior Planner, King County Metro
Casey Gifford is a senior planner for King County Metro’s Innovative Mobility program. She is a leader in implementing public-private partnerships that leverage emerging mobility services and new technologies to improve regional mobility, advance equity, improve the environment, and support thriving communities. Casey led the development, implementation, and evaluation of Metro’s Via to Transit first/last mile pilot, one of the top-performing services of its kind. She has worked closely with riders and community groups to ensure innovative services not only are available to all riders, but also prioritize those with the greatest unmet needs, including people of color, low-income riders, people with disabilities, and English language learners. Casey is a former Fulbright Fellow with a Masters in Urban Planning and Management from Aalborg University.
Veronica Vanterpool from Delaware Transit Corporation
As Chief Innovation Officer at Delaware Transit Corporation, Veronica introduces and supports changes that reduce barriers to transit use. Embracing technology as a tool of innovation, Veronica is spearheading two key tech projects: on-demand, microtransit and autonomous transit shuttles. Equity is a key focus of her work to ensure those most reliant on transit receive quality service. A native New Yorker who just moved to Delaware, Veronica is a recognized transit/transportation leader given her expertise in the legislative, political, advocacy, media and community development sectors in the NY metro region. She’s on the board of the national organization, Smart Growth America; co-founder, WTS Delaware Chapter; board advisor for APTA’s Innovation Officer Peer Exchange Group; and a former board member of NY’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the nation’s largest transportation network.