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Meet Nadine Lee!

Nadine Lee
Deputy Chief Innovation Officer
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Member, Leadership APTA Class of 2015; Leadership APTA, Mobility Management and Policy & Planning committees.

Please describe your agency’s scope.

LA Metro is the third largest transit agency in the U.S. We provide service over 1,433 square miles to 10 million residents in Los Angeles County. We carry 1.2 million riders per day on a network of 170 bus routes and 105 miles of subway and light rail. As a county transportation provider, we also fund local and state roadway improvements, provide congestion management through tolled express lanes and operate bike share with the city of Los Angeles. We are also a significant funding partner for Metrolink, our regional rail providers.

What attracted your interest in the industry?

I became interested when I had the opportunity in 1998 to work on the Southeast Corridor light rail in Denver. With that move, I solidified my future in transit because I knew that our broader goals for economic, fiscal and environmental sustainability can only be addressed by finding new ways to use existing capacity more efficiently and effectively. In addition, I felt strongly that people who are dependent on public transportation for mobility independence deserve high quality transport. I still believe that we can provide that quality through partnerships between the public and private sectors. It is an exciting time in transportation. In addition to determining how best to use current technologies, we have the opportunity to guide the creation of new technologies.

Please describe your involvement with APTA.

I have been a member of APTA since 2006, when I attended my first Rail Conference as a new employee with Denver RTD. From my first participation at that conference to my recent work with the Leadership APTA Committee, I have had tremendous experiences learning about other systems, meeting industry experts and delving into the policy issues that affect our work.

I’ve also been fortunate to have opportunities to share my own experiences. APTA is a wonderful organization to help transit geeks like me stay on top of current trends and issues.

Which APTA benefit or resource helps you do your job and why?

One of the biggest benefits is the network of colleagues and friends I can rely on no matter what I am encountering. There are resources at my fingertips to serve as a sounding board for career dilemmas, provide perspective on operational challenges or advocate for important policy issues. At a moment’s notice, APTA facilitates information exchange and connects me to people I need to know.

Also, I would not be where I am today without Leadership APTA. The program is a transformational experience that opens your eyes to the opportunities that lie before you when you are at that tipping point of your career. Leadership APTA gave me the exposure, development and lifelong friendships that serve as an essential foundation for the rest of my career.

What do you like most about your industry involvement?

People in this industry are a tight-knit bunch who will jump on demand to help a colleague. Perhaps this is because we have a very specific and unifying mission. No one idea is a panacea for all our problems.

The exchange of information and best practices gives us a place to start problem solving. In this industry, we are one big family that helps each other achieve success because our successes are good for everyone.

What would readers be surprised to learn about your agency?

One unique thing is that Metro administers funding for local and state roadway improvements, so we have the ability to influence how money can be spent to benefit high capacity rapid transit operations. This is something most transit agencies don’t have. Some other interesting things to know about Metro:

The Office of Extraordinary Innovation was created in late 2015 to bring ideas and private sector partnerships to Metro in a completely open way. We’re not just testing any random idea, though. We are working with private sector partners to address our problems head on and incorporate learning in the areas of equity and accessibility so we ensure that new services are available to people of all abilities and socioeconomic status.

In November, Metro passed Measure M, a $120 billion package that has no sunset—the first of its kind in the U.S.

Metro is in the throes of writing a transformational strategic plan for LA’s mobility future, which will set an aspirational vision for how we provide a seamless, accessible and convenient mobility network for residents and visitors. If we can accomplish this in LA County, it can be done anywhere.
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