We admit it—we are transit nerds. And we confess that 2023 was a great year to engage in our transit nerdery (is that even a word?!?). We’re excited we had numerous opportunities to share our expertise and learn from others at various conferences throughout the year across the country. Here are four topics we “nerded” out about in 2023.
The Power of Data
We are definitely data nerds. We know how powerful data can be, and Foursquare ITP excels in developing tools to visualize data and create innovative ways to analyze it. In fact, our year in data got off to a great start, with ultimate data nerd Wylie Timmerman winning the “People’s Choice” award at the TRB Annual Meeting’s Transit Data Challenge! He presented on customer segmentation at WMATA to extract new insights on who rides transit.
We were able to nerd out in Denver, too. At the Southwest Transportation Association Annual Conference & Expo, Thomas Orgren and Steven Schrayer identified how to choose and design the best data to tell the story you want to tell. And in Maryland, Kyle Hearing applied his GIS nerdery to explain how to measure bicycling accessibility at the TuGIS conference.
In three different cities on the east coast—Washington, DC; Boston; and New York City—our data science team were super nerds at TransportationCamp. Sal Zahedi examined how agencies can use data dashboards to show existing conditions and shared best practices in performance measurement. Ehab Ebeid identified how planners can use R for spatial analysis and transit data analysis. Wylie Timmerman and Vickram Peter shared how isochrones can be used to analyze equity and accessibility.
Equity and Accessibility for All
In Concord, North Carolina, Sandy Brennan shared an equity framework with fellow transit nerds. At the North Carolina Public Transit Association, she discussed how Foursquare ITP developed this framework for service planning specifically for a post-COVID world.
Sandy also explored the themes of mobility, energy, and environmental justice with the Centralina Regional Council during a webinar. She discussed the Justice40 Initiative and identified how to make environmental justice a reality within one’s community.
Our TDM staff (that’s transportation demand management for those who aren’t as nerdy as we are) is especially nerdy about equity and accessibility. Through award-winning initiatives, they ensure everyone in Washington, DC has access to safe biking, walking, and transit options. Samantha Huff, the TDM Marketing Manager, shared her passion in Seattle this year. She discussed how to address transit deserts at the ACT International Conference. In her presentation, Samantha shared best practices about how to approach barriers to sustainable transportation through a successful neighborhood marketing and outreach campaign, “Go Far with No Car.”
Ehab Ebeid makes an appearance in this topic—not just once, but twice! At the TRB Annual Meeting, he examined the equity of alternative transit fare structures. He presented on a related topic online for the Research to Practice Transit Symposium, showing Foursquare ITP’s tool that helps planners analyze fare scenario changes to determine their impacts.
We Love Buses!
Having access to reliable buses is paramount to ensuring equity and accessibility. At the core of safeguarding a reliable bus network is ensuring there is a strong transit workforce. Guess what? We nerded out about this topic, also! In fact, at the APTA Conference in Orlando, Florida, Reinaldo Germano discussed best practices for recruiting and retaining transit operators, which we shared in a recent APTA report. Fully committing to his love for buses, Reinaldo shared this report virtually as well, participating in two different webinars to present the information.
Nerding out again at the TRB Annual Meeting, David Miller discussed implementable system-level bus priority plans. He showed fellow nerds how to prioritize corridors using toolkits for bus priority treatment and passenger facilities, sharing Foursquare ITP’s successes in DC, Albany, and Charlotte.
Our Bread and Butter: Sustainable Transportation
It might be hard to believe, but we might nerd out the most about sustainable transportation—an area from which the rest of our practice stems. For instance, we are at the forefront of microtransit planning, which often helps agencies promote their environmental goals.
Three of our planners attended the Georgia Transit Association (GTA) Annual Conference in Athens, Georgia to promote microtransit ideas. David Miller identified how planning and partnerships can strengthen mobility and microtransit initiatives, highlighting our work on Gwinnett County’s transportation development plan (which won our client GTA’s Innovation Award!). Jessica Klion and Aileen Daney shared national best practices for microtransit planning and implementation, including goal setting and evaluating performance.
Again, at the ACT International Conference in Seattle, we geeked out again. There, Danelle Carey, Program Director of the District of Columbia’s TDM program, goDCgo, was on a panel covering the DC Parking Cashout Law, sharing best practices on outreach and marketing strategies to effectively educate and assist employers with compliance. Parking Cashout is a commuter benefit that an employer can offer their employees, giving them the option to receive monetary compensation or alternative transportation benefits in exchange for giving up their parking benefit. Thus, parking cashout encourages employees to commute via more sustainable modes.
Future Transit Nerds, Unite!
Nerd out with us next year! In January, we will continue to embrace transit nerdery at the TRB Annual Meeting. We’re excited to share information about TDM, best practices in public engagement, and rural decarbonization. We hope fellow transit nerds join us at TRB and beyond in 2024!