Transit and rail

Americans prefer a more multimodal transportation network

Across the nation, transit leaders face complex challenges as they strive to enhance their systems and services while adapting to private-sector innovations currently disrupting the transportation industry. Yet, this upheaval places transit agencies in a unique position to seize opportunities as they emerge — by rethinking and refining their services and plans to reflect a customer-centered perspective.

A recent Viewpoint from Kim Slaughter, HNTB national transit/rail market sector leader and senior vice president, explores ways transit agencies may be able to use to gain greater insight into people's travel needs, common obstacles and what they value most. 

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.

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, fastest, most efficient way to get from Point A to Point 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 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.
  • Strong leadership among elected officials, transit CEOs, general managers, transit boards and others are reframing the public’s understanding of transit’s role.

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

Selected media

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