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ModeShift Episode 4: A paradigm shift in tech adoption

Transportation has seen more changes in the last 100 months than in the last 100 years. See how technology is contributing to the rapid growth of public transit, from urban city centers to sprawling rural communities.

Rapid deployment of new technologies have given consumers more mobility options – but have also caused conflicts with regulators and local planners. 

But that paradigm is shifting. Conflict is turning into collaboration. TransitTech companies are now working more closely with cities and transit agencies in order to make better use of new mobility models.

Collaboration is at the core of TransitTech. The TransitTech sector alone could represent $450 billion in investment opportunities to improve or overhaul public transportation systems. Under this emerging framework, what are the technology areas that offer the most promise?

In this episode, Andrei and Tiffany unpack how TransitTech is reshaping the way transportation agencies plan and adapt – and what it means for riders and the future of mobility in America.

Guests:

Listen to ModeShift on Apple, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. 

Transcript.

Angela Wynes:
Some of the riders, they know me, they know my job, and I think their perspective is that I’m the lady in charge and that if they have a problem, they need to talk to me.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Tiffany, I recently had the chance to speak with someone who I believe you know, Angela Wynes, the transit manager in High Point, North Carolina, which is a city just outside of Greensboro.

Tiffany Chu:
Yes, love Angela. She is a small, sassy, spirited woman who’s been leading transit in High Point for, gosh, maybe 25 plus years. I met her a number of years ago. She’s one of my favorite transit leaders.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Yeah. It was so clear talking to her that she is someone who’s riding the dramatic technology shifts that are shaping mobility today and that she’s also someone who so clearly lives and breathes public transit.

Angela Wynes:
My day can start any time, as early as 5:00 in the morning if we’re having a situation where we’re short-staffed, and oftentimes it doesn’t end until 9:30, 10 o’clock at night. I’m doing a little bit of everything in between. I am overseeing operations and making sure that supervisors and drivers and everyone are where they’re supposed to be, that we have enough staff coverage.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Angela and her team, they also design the actual bus system, like where the bus stops go and the street by street routes that each of the buses takes, how frequently the buses come, that sort of thing.

Tiffany Chu:
So yeah, this is the back end of public transit that most people never see. For every bus or train you hop on, a team of people like Angela decides where the route should go, which communities it should service, and how often. And those decisions have direct consequences for the quality of life of riders.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Yeah, it’s a big reason why it’s such a high stakes job, and for Angela that impact on the people in her community, that’s what keeps her going.

You were describing what sounded like a stressful, somewhat hectic job with very early mornings, unexpected things happening each day, crises that need to be solved, but you’ve also been working in this world now for a couple of decades. What has kept you in it?

Angela Wynes:
I love transit. I love the people. I love helping. We’re not going to always be able to have enough cars and build enough roadways, and not everyone’s going to be able to afford a car, so transit is going to be an integral part of our society.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Angela’s been working in transportation for decades, and back in the 1990s, when she was a transit planner in Lynchburg, Virginia, her job looked really different.

Angela Wynes:
It looked like maps laid out on tables with markers and pens and notes and stars and stickers. That was my first task when I was in Lynchburg, was to help with a route redesign. So it was learning the existing system and then figuring out how to make the changes to improve productivity, to provide more service. So literally it was all paper based, very little technology.

Andrei Greenawalt:
It was a very analog process for most of her career. But in the last few years, something shifted.

Tiffany Chu:
Yes. And now that same planning process, which would have taken days or weeks, can be mapped out on a screen almost like a video game. She can just drag and drop a route to see what kind of impact it might have on riders.

Angela Wynes:
I can make sure I’m having positive impact, but also not creating any negative impacts. I can look at walking distances from bus stops. Are bus stops spaced too close together? Are they too far apart? Before, if we made a change, you’d be making the change, cross your fingers and hope that it didn’t create a nightmare, and then you’d have to start over again.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And these new digital tools that Angela is using, they were put to the test in a big way when the pandemic completely upended transit systems all over the world.

Angela Wynes:
COVID just rocked our world.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Just a few years ago, a massive disruption like a global pandemic would’ve left transit agencies struggling to adapt, and for many it did. But there’s a whole new wave of technologies, making it possible for cities like High Point to adjust quickly to changing ridership levels, changing commute times, changing modes of transportation, and yes, even pandemics. It’s really a whole new category of technology.

Tiffany Chu:
TransitTech.

Andrei Greenawalt:
TransitTech. In this episode, we’re talking about what TransitTech is, how it works, and how it’s making public transit more resilient, accessible, and useful.

Tiffany Chu:
I’m Tiffany Chu.

Andrei Greenawalt:
I’m Andrei Greenawalt, and this is ModeShift.

Tiffany Chu:
A show about the past, present, and future of how we move.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Maybe you’ve heard some of the catchy phrases for industries being shaped by digital technology and data science like FinTech or EdTech or HealthTech.

Tiffany Chu:
Or GovTech, FoodTech, ClimateTech.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Right. TransitTech is a newer category. Tiffany, how would you define it?

Tiffany Chu:
So as a former TransitTech entrepreneur, I would say that TransitTech is basically taking an older industry that’s been around for forever and introducing newer, innovative tech-enabled solutions to address challenges that the industry has faced for a long time. It’s honestly been exploding. Even though public transit might be less top of mind industry in this country, it’s quite large in that the folks who use transit, the riders, the operators, the local governments and the industry at large is becoming so expansive that it’s close to, I think around $450 billion.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Yeah, it’s really incredible when you think about how little changed in transit fundamentally for more than a hundred years, and suddenly technology is changing it in a rapid way. It’s this huge market. I think there was a Boston Consulting Group study that said that it was going to grow to more than $1 trillion in the next couple of years here as a market. And for those of us in the private sector, obviously the size of this market and its potential is hugely exciting, but I know both you and I got involved in this space also because of the impact that improving public transit can have on people’s lives in communities across America.

Tiffany Chu:
Yeah, it’s about deploying tech for the greater good.

Andrei Greenawalt:
So let’s get more specific. What use cases come to mind?

Tiffany Chu:
Okay. So I would say there’s a lot that come to mind, and I’ll just name three.

The first one that’s honestly changed my life as a transit rider is the fact that you can now get real time updates on when your bus or train is coming on your phone. So I can look on my phone before I run out to the orange line station.

Another one is multimodal trip planning, where you can plan multiple modes using Google Maps or Transit app or your app of choice to let you not only decide when you want to take transit, but what that trip might look like, if you want to combine transit plus biking plus walking, and any other number of modes.

Another one, which Andrei you and I are intimately familiar with, is the experience of summoning a shared shuttle to take you from the train station to the office, maybe a first or last mile trip.

And then one that I’m excited to see more and more, which is just digital payment methods for public transportation. So, you probably no longer need paper tickets all the time.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And should we add software that helps planners like Angela Wynes plan better routes?

Tiffany Chu:
Exactly.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Well, to help frame this category out a bit further, I chatted with a couple of experts who are following its rise. One is Aaron Bielenberg. He’s a partner at McKinsey who focuses on infrastructure technology, and he describes TransitTech like this:

Aaron Bielenberg:
TransitTech, I think we would just see it as really about the full set of technologies that apply to public transportation, rail and bus systems, and then the road systems.

Andrei Greenawalt:
We’re deep in the smartphone era now, so we’re all accustomed to getting easy, nearly instant access to almost everything, whether that’s ordering stuff for the house or tracking our sleep and exercise, identifying plants, the name of some actor, or just playing your favorite song instantaneously. And these expectations, they have finally come for transit.

Shyam Kannan:
Transportation has changed more in the last 100 months than it has in the last 100 years.

Andrei Greenawalt:
That’s Shyam Kannan. He’s the former VP of Planning at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It’s a bit of a mouthful. We in DC just call that WMATA, and today he works for a global design firm called HDR, where he leads their transit planning in the mid-Atlantic region. He also describes the tech related shifts happening in this sector.

Aaron Bielenberg:
On the software side, transportation for decades and decades was something that you had to go to or get to. If you were riding a transit vehicle, you had to go to the transit vehicle. You had to manage the information flow to find the transit vehicle to understand its schedule, to have it take you to where you needed to go. If you were using a personal vehicle, you were fortunate enough to either have one or a lease one, but those were sort of your options, right? Getting to the hardware or buying the hardware and then navigating the system was a function of how smart are — can you figure out schedules? Can you figure your life around the mobility? Transit agencies are able to push out realtime trip planning information to customers so they no longer need to pre-schedule their days. They can have that information pushed to their mobile devices or pushed to some other in-place resource, like a transit screen.

On the hardware side, in the last a hundred months, we’ve added so many more tools to that toolkit. So we witnessed the rise of personal mobility options, the scooters, the bike shares, the dockless scooters, the dockless bike shares, which are now giving us tools to fill those short distance gaps. So the transportation landscape, which again for the last hundred years was a fairly static regime of fixed guideway fixed elements for mobility that was “public “transit. The hardware and software has now brought all that transit and almost all that transportation and almost unleashed it made it ever present. So you can take any kind of trip at any kind of day from anywhere to anywhere. That’s a big deal.

Andrei Greenawalt:
All right, Tiffany. I think we’ve established what TransitTech is, but in order to define its edges a bit further, it might be good for us to talk about what it’s not. And I think to do that we need to revisit some recent history.

Tiffany Chu:
I’m here for it.

Reporter:
Just days after the ride sharing service, Lyft launched in Austin, a similar service called Uber is now open for business here.

Andrei Greenawalt:
So at the turn of the decade, we saw the rise of a bunch of car sharing services. Of course there was Zipcar which had started even before that where you used to work. And then we had Uber and Lyft come to cities with a model that was a big challenge to taxi cabs, and those services were hugely popular. I was definitely an early adopter when they came to DC and I think there were really significant benefits, especially for folks who didn’t have great transportation options before that. But they also started to raise some pretty serious concerns.

Tiffany Chu:
The business model was simple, get as many cars connected to the service and on the road as possible so that wait times for riders could be as short as possible, but this also put many more cars on the road adding to congestion. And Uber was known as being particularly combative with local officials.

Reporter:
While the company has already fought regulators from California to Massachusetts, it is the newest service, also reserved on a smartphone, that’s facing the most scrutiny.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And then a few years later came electric scooters. And it was a somewhat analogous dynamic. You had some very significant benefits, but it also let to concerns and tension with local regulators.

Reporter:
Electric scooters have descended upon cities across the country with some calling it “Scootergeddon.” They’ve rolled into places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Washington. But critics complain they’re cluttering sidewalks in other spaces. In San Francisco, the city has impounded more than 500 scooters, plus many are riding on sidewalks and without helmets, violating California law.

Tiffany Chu:
So these two models brought a lot of new mobility choices to consumers, likely reducing car ownership. A good thing, actually a great thing, but they also led to bitter disputes with local governments over competition, traffic, impact on public transit. Some cities reached a breaking point and even banned these services for short periods of time.

Reporter: 
Today, the billion pounds company matching passengers with private drivers found its days numbered when Transport for London revoked its license to operate in the city.

Reporter 2:
Uber, along with other ride sharing companies like Grab was ordered to halt operations in an effort to combat congestion there and order it to side pending an appeal.

Reporter 3:
Starting today, the scooters are banned in San Francisco until the city can hand out permits to the companies for a one year pilot program. The goal now getting more riders to follow the rules, the learning curve in the road.

Shyam Kannan:
I think we’ve seen that these ride hailing services are extremely convenient. However, especially in our cities, we don’t necessarily have the roadway capacity that we would need to take what may have been several hundred trips on a high capacity transit vehicle and put them into ride hailing vehicles. Coming from a city like Washington, DC which has historic character, has historic street widths, it’s not a lot of arithmetic to realize that there’s a geometry problem at some point. That you can’t take a thousand customers off of a subway train and put them all on a ride hailing vehicle for a two mile trip. We’re going to get there at some point in time when the sheen falls off the shiny objects. And we’ll probably have to confront this again once we get through the next three years of coming out of COVID and those travel lanes are really choked up again. But that gives us time now to be thoughtful about what that might look like.

Andrei Greenawalt:
I think the point here is not at all to criticize these personal mobility options. They all have a really important role to play in getting us around, and together they definitely can make it easier for families to live without a car or perhaps that second car that they were thinking about, but they all need to work together within the system. And I think these new forms of mobility have pushed cities to see how they can be using tech to improve service for their residents.

Tiffany Chu:
Right. Shyam talked about using this opportunity to be more thoughtful about the transition, and this is what defines TransitTech. Companies in this space are using the same technological forces from mapping to data aggregation, payment options, but explicitly deploying them for the greater good of the transit system.

Andrei Greenawalt:
That’s exactly what Angela Wynes from the top of the show is doing in High Point, North Carolina. She’s utilizing data to deliver better services to riders.

Angela Wynes:
I can also see a lot of the demographics in the background that I can’t see if I’m looking at a paper map. I can see where the stores are, I can see where the churches are, I can see where work environment is. I can look and see what percentage is lower income or limited English speaking. And you can generally make the adjustments on the fly when you find those issues. And so it does make for planning a better service and it makes it easier to do.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And if it wasn’t clear before, we should give some disclosures. The tool that Angela is using is from Remix, the company that Tiffany co-founded and led, which Via then acquired.

Tiffany Chu:
Right. So before my job as chief of staff to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, I was CEO of Remix, and we worked really closely with people like Angela to make it easy for them to adapt to changing ridership and also meet equity and environmental goals.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And as Angela hinted at the beginning, she witnessed some very extreme changes when COVID hit.

Reporter:
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been knocked down before. The Great Depression, 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, but its current leader says nothing matches the current pandemic by orders of magnitude.

Andrei Greenawalt:
When COVID shut down everything in 2020, it didn’t just hit the biggest cities. High Point’s ridership plummeted, too.

Tiffany Chu:
After the initial shock of lockdowns, people still needed to get places, especially essential workers, but demand shifted overall. So Angela was forced to design new routes, new frequencies, new assignment for her drivers and keep service running.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And now we have the tools to pull a ton of data together on how the system is performing and then visualize and execute changes really quickly.

Angela Wynes:
When COVID first hit and having to reduce service literally overnight, there was no way I could have done that manually and still kept the drivers going. We literally had one service end on Saturday, and by Monday we had whole new service going.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Why is it important to have good data and have it in a usable format? What do you with that?

Angela Wynes:
That data helps us make decisions, but it also informs the decision makers above us. The people who provide the funding, they want to know what ridership is like, they want to know how productive are we, are we doing two trips an hour or are we doing 25 trips an hour. That data also helps us determine, is there a route that we need to either eliminate, restructure? Or is it a route that is doing so well we need to consider, do we need to add another bus? It drives all of those decisions that most people don’t see in the background.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Do you think that technology and planning software, has it changed the job of the transportation planner over the last many years, or is the job just basically the same but it’s just made easier with these tools?

Angela Wynes:
The job is the same. Very much, it’s become easier to do all those things. You can make changes on the fly and you can see instantly what kind of impact that has. Whereas before, if we made a change, you’d be making the change, cross your fingers and hope that it didn’t create a nightmare, and then you’d have to start over again.

Andrei Greenawalt:
As Angela explained, pulling together data is the key to making this all work.

Tiffany, in your experience, what kind of data makes this dynamic planning possible and how was it managed historically before all this tech?

Tiffany Chu:
So talking to Remix users about how they used to do planning, it was everything from paper maps, colored pencils, sketch and trace paper, all of those things that are really important to just visualizing things, you can now do digitally on a computer. And what’s even more important is that you can have data that helps become an input to deciding what it is that you plan.

So for example, I think before, you had to be pretty much an expert on your whole network, and just know what were the most popular routes. And now, if you look at the data around ridership, so for example, boardings and alightings where people get on and off the bus, those stops, that data’s really important. Data around transit speeds, where is the bus getting stuck in traffic and where might it need some extra transit priority, infrastructure, or signal timing to get it across the intersection faster and keep it on time and reliable. All of these things that help optimize your traditional run of the mill bus route can be now done with much more precision and much more nuance due to technology and data.

Andrei Greenawalt:
And when I spoke with Aaron Bielenberg of McKinsey, he also zoomed in on this critical data and analytics piece as well.

Aaron Bielenberg:
We’re very much in the beginning of this. And infrastructure operators, whether they’re private or public, are really starting to see themselves as having to have a core data and analytics capability at the center of their organization. And having to have a more iterative, both capital planning, but also operational planning.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Big data has transformed the way that companies are designing products and services and then serving consumer demand. And it is now starting to also impact public transit.

Aaron Bielenberg:
And I think that the push here is really the declining traffic and usage for many of our public transport systems has created a lot of stress on their economics. But it also has forced, in many cases, a rethinking of really the quality and nature of the service they provide, and has focused their need to provide services that are more tailored to their user base. So we are seeing it. It’s still very early stage. It’s honestly not really specific to just transportation operators. It’s part of the way that we operate, but it’s more and more relevant for the delivery infrastructure services.

Andrei Greenawalt:
So we’re at a pivotal moment in transit. We have the tech tools to do a lot of good, but we’ve also seen new innovations strain their relationship with cities and lead to some controversies.

Tiffany, what do you think the path forward looks like for expanding options for riders and communities, while also making this all work for the broader public benefit?

Tiffany Chu:
So now that I have my public sector hat on, I think that there’s a lot of things I’ve learned just in the last couple months about what makes a really good public-private partnership and what makes a good private partner for local government.

And the first thing is about deeply understanding every city and every local government agency’s needs. And yes, every city thinks of themselves as a special snowflake. And I think in many ways that’s true. At the same time, I think there’s an element of technology, especially software-as-a-service, that kind of wants to make the assumption that you can use the same product at scale to serve everybody. And that’s what makes for a huge market. I actually think that in GovTech, the ability to kind of configure and change and tweak the product to fit the most important needs and pain points of a city or a community is kind of what makes or breaks the deal. In that, you want a vendor, you want a private company that basically you feel has been in your shoes before, or has done something similar before for a similarly sized city or community, to build that trust around even something as simple as data sharing. Being able to have good data at your fingertips as a city to make good decisions at the government level, I think that’s really clutch.

Andrei Greenawalt:
That’s such a good point, Tiffany. I think sometimes we think, “Oh, the technology can just be applied the same way everywhere,” but transportation and the needs of a community, it’s extremely local. And so, I think you absolutely need the private sector to recognize that and spend time listening and trying to solve the community’s problems, rather than suggesting to a city exactly how their problems should be solved.

And to dig deeper into this question of public private partnership and how to make that effective, I talked with Gabe Klein, who’s led both companies and government agencies. He’s the co-founder of Cityfi, which is a design firm focused on sustainable cities, mobility, and civic innovation.

Gabe Klein:
And we founded it on the belief that you can do good and be good. And what I mean by that is that you can have a great company, you can have great business practices, but you can also match that to great policy making. And if you do it right and you layer on the right technologies when needed, you can deliver top quality services and results and positive outcomes for society. So we basically don’t believe that to make money, you need to do bad things to the planet or to people. And we think those things should be aligned in a triple bottom line strategy. And so, we only work with companies that we think are at least working towards doing good things and want to partner with government, not work against government. And we work with a lot of government agencies as well; state, local, federal.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Gabe was a VP at Zipcar in the early 2000s. He founded Virgin’s mobility service, Virgin-Go. And he also started his own organic electric powered food truck chain called On the Fly. Later, he became the commissioner of the Departments of Transportation in both Chicago and Washington D.C., not at the same time. And then, just this past September, he was chosen to lead the Biden administration’s program to expand electric vehicle charging networks across the nation. Having worked at the front edge of both technology and government, Gabe has a ton of insight into how private sector innovators and public agencies can work together.

Gabe Klein:
And so, when I went into government I was like, “Oh my God, I could maybe make this less of an opaque black box and make it something that’s friendly, not just to citizens, but also to companies that want to do good things.” Because the things I wanted to do were good for society, whether it was Zipcar, Virgin-Go, On the Fly. And I felt like there was this assumption on government side, that no matter if you were a giant company or a little entrepreneur, that you were basically trying to exploit the government. And I really wanted to dispel that within the agency, try to set a national example, that you could partner with the private sector and do good things, and we should not just assume that they’re there to exploit us. So I had this sort of realization that we needed to try to create understanding between two sides.

Andrei Greenawalt:
What would be your advice to, I mean, there’s the tech companies that are doing their own thing and their interaction with government is regulatory. Then as you talked about, tech companies that are taking more of a partnership model. But you talked earlier about being inside government, and of misperceptions about the private sector, or at least those companies that want to do good. What about the reverse of that? What do tech companies not understand about government and how to interact with them?

Gabe Klein:
You ever seen two bucks sort of locked with their horns? There’s this assumption, I think, that government wants to make their lives a living hell, right? And look, to be fair, in my experience, and I wrote about in my book, I mean, I experienced that too, and it creates resentment. But I think the automatic assumption that all government’s the same, all local government’s the same, or all state government’s the same, and that they all want to make it incredibly hard for you to operate, is misplaced.

I think fundamentally, the partnership approach for the most part, 75% is the way to go. Because I look at what some companies that have gone this other way have actually spent, and the problem is that their business models may not work because of the amount of resources they have to put into lobbying, regulatory, legal. I mean, you’re talking about in some cases, millions of dollars a month. That’s one thing.

I think companies also should be thinking about, not just how to work with government, but also are they just pursuing scale or are they they pursuing quality of service and profitability? Because scale doesn’t always equal profitability. I think there’s just growth for the sake of growth, and there’s growth into particular areas or geographies that make financial sense where you either have a friendly government that wants to work with you or you’ve got some other sort of financial reason that makes sense.

Andrei Greenawalt:
What’s your kind of optimistic take on the future of mobility in our cities and the role that you think technology can play in that?

Gabe Klein:
So I’m actually very optimistic. I think sometimes you got to hit rock bottom before you can rebuild something the way it should be. I think the pandemic was devastating in a lot of ways there. I lost two friends that died, people I’d worked with, but I think it forced a reassessment of what’s important in transit and transportation. And so, whether it’s the money that’s flowed in to shared mobility, whether it’s the innovation and services and technology, whether it’s the federal wind at our back now to electrify everything. So I feel very positive. If you asked me two years ago, I may have given you a different answer.

Andrei Greenawalt:
So Tiffany, we’re coming out of this really hard period, I think for everyone, the pandemic, and you and I have been on both sides of this public sector, private sector divide. Do you think that moving forward, that transit technology has a role to play in helping bring our communities back? And what’s your sense of whether the public sector and private sector should be partnering more or less to make that happen?

Tiffany Chu:
Yeah, so having sat on the city side in both San Francisco and now Boston, I’ve started to formulate the opinion that there are things that cities are never going to do just based on the way that we’re staffed, we’re structured, the type of people we employ. And creating super disruptive, risky technology is never going to be the thing that a city is going to be amazing at. It’s just not. And I think there are certain things that we absolutely need to leave it to the private sector to innovate on and partner with companies to take a much bigger leap than the city would on its own. And I absolutely think that there are disruptive technology forces that are going to be super helpful to cities in the way that they think about their relevance in the future, what their residents’ expectations are and how to meet and exceed them. So that’s where I am now.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Yeah, that all makes sense to me. And I think it’s not always easy for people who work at cities or transit agencies to identify which company or which technology is going to help them achieve their goals best. And so I do think that sort of interaction between the private sector and public sector in a sort of candid, honest way is so important. And if we do it right, I think it can just have a tremendous impact on people’s lives. And I think we’re seeing that already. We’re seeing transit agencies and cities use a variety of technologies and it really is changing people’s lives on the ground, helping them reach that job that maybe they couldn’t reach before, or attend the school that would’ve been really hard for them to attend before, or just saving a bunch of money in their pocketbook so that they can do something else really important for their family.

I mean, I think the other reality is, regardless of what cities and transit agencies think in terms of partnering with technological companies, there are real changes happening and they are affecting things on the ground. And so, I think that’s what people like Angela Wynes are seeing every day in her job as she adapts to changing conditions that are happening on the ground.

If you were to be talking to an agency that sort of hasn’t done this yet, hasn’t started to adopt technology in a variety of forms, what would you express to them if they were like, “Angela, tell us why we should be adopting technology and looking at this in its various forms,” what would be your answer to them?

Angela Wynes:
I would say that like anywhere else, if you don’t start to adopt the technologies and provide your passengers, the public, the things that they want, you’ll start to lose your ridership. Or if you don’t lose it, you are not going to grow it because you aren’t going to be meeting people’s needs. We’ve gotten to a day and time where our kids, basically, by the time one, they’re already using some type of smart device; a tablet, a phone, even touchscreen computers. And so this generation now, they want instant, quick, fast, and those are things that we’re going to have to keep up with if we want future generations to be the ones who are using our service.

Tiffany Chu:
And that’s exactly why we’re making this podcast: to help people stay on top of changes happening in transportation.

Andrei Greenawalt:
That’s right. And coming up in our next episode, Equity and Accessibility. How to harness these changes so the system works for everyone. Mode Shift is produced by Via in partnership with Postscript Media. Via’s technology enables partners to create end-to-end transit systems from planning better networks and streets to operating efficient public transit. Learn more at ridewithvia.com. This show is hosted by me, Andrei Greenawalt.

Tiffany Chu:
And me. Tiffany Chu. If you’d like what you hear, please rate and review us in the app of your choice and send a link to the transit nerd in your life. This episode was produced by Steven Lacey, Anne Bailey, Cecily Meza-Martinez, Davin Aboagye, and Daniel Waldorf of Postscript Media. It’s also produced by Francis Cooperman, Andy Ambrosius, and Andrei Greenawalt from Via. Sean Marquand composed our theme song. Sean Marquand and Gregg Vilranc mixed the show.

Andrei Greenawalt:
Thanks for listening. We hope you’ll stick around as we explore these topics more deeply in coming episodes.

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