Transit and rail

Strong leadership among elected officials, transit CEOs, general managers, transit boards and others are reframing the public’s understanding of transit’s role.

Transit must be part of any vision for livable cities. A revolution is underway in public transportation as innovative transit agencies embrace advanced technology tools for delivering safe, cost-effective services to their communities. Agencies are now in a position to use technology and work with microtransit providers to enhance convenience for riders — it also is imperative that agencies incorporate strategies that benefit all population groups in their regions. 

A recent Viewpoint from Kim Slaughter, HNTB national transit/rail market sector leader and senior vice president, discusses transit technology, the importance of rider equity and the rise of microtransit. 

Our nation also has changed its opinion of public transportation. Public support in the past two years for light rail, subways, buses and streetcars is proof Americans now perceive public transportation as more than a public service, operated for those who might have no other mobility option.

Today, Americans view public transportation in a broader context: as an investment in economic growth, stronger business and a better quality of life – in addition to fulfilling its traditional role of providing basic mobility. 

Americans also have strong views about who should fund public transportation. A 2018 HNTB America THINKS survey, Public Transportation in the U.S.-2018, found that 86 percent of Americans believe government should help fund public transportation. While this belief is held most strongly among Americans living in urban areas (92 percent), 85 percent of suburban respondents, as well as 79 percent of those living in rural areas agree.

Several key factors may be contributing to the shift in perspective:
  • The benefits of transit go far beyond transportation: Businesses thrive near transit stations, and commercial and residential real estate can rise in value. This generates greater economic activity and jobs while increasing the tax base.
  • People want choice, so they can determine for themselves the most convenient, fast and efficient way to get from Point A-B.
  • With expanding rideshare services, emerging ride-hailing and the potential for autonomous vehicle options, more people have a lower-stress, modestly priced way to connect from home to station.
  • When transit and rideshare options work in tandem, they can decrease demand for parking, thus freeing up land for more fruitful development.

HNTB Transit and Rail Experts

Kimberly Slaughter serves as HNTB's national transit/rail market sector leader and senior vice president. With more than 30 years of comprehensive expeirence in transportation and public transit, her role includes collaborating with HNTB's regional and office leadership on styrategic planning and implementation, industry representation, business development, service delivery and client satisfaction.

Selected HNTB thought leadership

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Photo: Dallas Area Rapid Transit South Oak Cliff Blue Line Extension (SOC-3)