APTA Senior Policy Researcher
What are the three job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
I find information our members need: in other words, I perform research. I analyze information and put it into useful packages and formats to answer questions from a range of people, including members, APTA staff, and “outsiders” such as academics and investment decision makers. I also perform analyses of funding options for the Legislative Committee. Last, I have been the APTA liaison for several Transit Cooperative Research Program projects, helping to make sure they provide information useful to the industry.
Do you have any direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Yes. I provide information they can’t find. A couple of recent examples are members asking when specific provisions of funding laws were enacted—and where to find analyses of why ridership goes up or down.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
Publications – I’d divide them into two groups. One I do by myself, and the others I do as a member of the team. The ones I do by myself that I am most proud of are:
* Public Transportation Investment Background Data. This is the newest of the reports I am working on. It puts together all of the data investment firms typically ask for before they decide to make an investment in a public transit agency or manufacturer. I update this several times a year.
* APTA Primer on SAFETEA-LU Transit Funding Provisions. This document, which I update regularly, describes federal funding programs, with a legislative history, and details the funding from each program over time.
* Profile of Public Transportation Passenger Demographics and Travel Characteristics Reported in On-Board Surveys. This is the most analytical report I have ever done since it combines data from 150 agency on-board surveys conducted in diverse formats into a standard format.
My favorite group effort is the Fact Book and its appendices. Over the past three years we have expanded it from an annual summary of transit data to a set of reports—both in book format and spreadsheet formats—that provide, in an historical tabular format, nearly every piece of information published in the Fact Book since 1944, as well as an annual set of comparative tables that allow Fact Book data to be used to determine peer groups. Further, we are in the process of making every Fact Book APTA has published available online.
What gives me particular satisfaction is when I see something I have written quoted on an APTA member’s web site.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I have been here 37 years—the longest of any APTA employee. I got here by answering a Washington Post ad for someone who could do statistics. I answered from Illinois, where I was in grad school: they called on Wednesday, I interviewed on Thursday, and started work on Friday. Incidentally, I was the last person hired by the American Transit Association, because two weeks later ATA merged with the Institute for Rapid Transit to become APTA.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
I served in the U.S. Coast Guard, which became part of DOT shortly after I started there. After serving on an icebreaker, I was a Marine Inspection Officer, examining merchant vessels in the port of St. Louis to ensure they conform with safety regulations.
What professional affiliations do you have?
Association of American Geographers, American Library Association.
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
Two things. I met my wife playing co-ed soccer. I was a goalkeeper and she was a fullback. And when I was in high school, I ushered for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Make sure you see John's video, now that you've read this!