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Editorial: An Open Letter to Transit

Dear Transit Colleagues,

This has been an unbelievable year (or two), and I want to acknowledge your sheer determination and resilience during a chapter destined for the history books. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have witnessed an incredible can-do attitude within the transit industry. You continue to overcome insurmountable odds, and TransLoc is proud to be your partner.

Your adaptability has been a lifeline for your community. When there was a 79% drop in ridership at the onset of COVID-19, you continued to deliver service for essential workers. When your communities had an urgent need, you stepped up and delivered PPE and meals. When vaccines became available, it was our sincere honor to help you deliver riders to clinics for free

Throughout this chapter, transit leaders have risen to new levels. And with all of the change happening around us, we are learning there is still a lot to do. Our riders have told us what they need, and we need to continue to deliver. Now is the time to invest in our future.

First, we need to invest in our people. The driver shortage has been simmering for a while and merely exacerbated by the pandemic. The State of New York is trying some innovative approaches to fill this gap including speeding up the licensing process for new commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), increasing the number of exams and road tests, and reaching out to the 550,000 CDL holders in the state to see if they want to get back to driving buses. However, with the influx of funding coming from the Infrastructure Deal, now is the time to make a serious investment in the fine people who pursue transit driving careers. When we take care of our people and provide livable wages, safe working conditions, and competitive benefits, we create an enthusiastic workforce that will help us avoid service cuts. 

We also need to invest in our planet. The data continues to point to transportation as the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions. As members of the transit community, we are doing our part in reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road by efficiently moving large groups of people. However, we need to get serious about reducing pollution and creating a more sustainable future. With Infrastructure Deal funding, municipalities, school districts, and corporate employers can convert to electric vehicles (EVs) at hyperspeed. Now is the time to go electric. In TransLoc’s Transit Value Index, 70% of riders said they believe EVs will improve public transit with 56% saying the top benefit will be reduced carbon emissions. 

Finally, we need to invest in our services. The needs of your community have changed, and transit riders are ready for more technology integration with 74% saying they want to see new apps or technology to enhance their rider experience. By continuing to pursue public-private partnerships, transit can use data to plan and design more efficient systems by intelligently flexing between fixed-route and on-demand services. We can make riders feel more safe with contactless fare payment, contact tracing, and automatic passenger counting. And we can offer our communities comprehensive multimodal ecosystems with microtransit and micromobility to solve the first-mile/last-mile conundrum. 

TransLoc, with the backing of Ford Motor Company*, is humbled to be your partner as we invest in the future of transit together. As 2021 comes to close, I want to commend transit providers who have made more with less, and delivered safe, quality service under the most difficult circumstances. I couldn’t be more proud to be in the trenches with you every day to make mobility efficient and accessible for all.

Let’s keep investing in the future for our people, planet, and industry.

*On March 1, 2022, global technology company Modaxo acquired TransLoc from Ford Motor Company. TransLoc is no longer affiliated with Ford or any Ford properties.