The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials held a joint winter meeting November 6-7 in Nashville, TN, for its Council on Public Transportation and the AASHTO Transit Management technical service program or TSP.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
The meeting brought together state department of transportation transit staff with the Federal Transit Administration and industry partners to discuss the state of public transportation programs and funding priorities across the country.
Stephen Bland, CEO of WeGo Public Transit – which serves the Nashville Metropolitan Area and the counties of Middle Tennessee – spoke at event, highlighting the work WeGo is undertaking to expand its operations in order to serve the diverse needs of Nashville’s growing population.
WeGo staff also provided meeting attendees with a tour of the company’s Elizabeth Duff Transit Center in Nashville; offering a special “behind-the-scenes” look at the transit facility’s operations center.
Jason Spain, executive director of the Tennessee Public Transportation Association – a statewide nonprofit dedicated to improving public transportation in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties – highlighted the state’s IMPROVE Transit Investment Grant program, administered by Tennessee Department of Transportation, which supports transit capital investment across the state.
The Tennessee Public Transportation Association and Tennessee DOT have worked together since the IMPROVE program began in 2017 to deliver projects that support transit ridership, improve capacity, and enhance safety statewide.
Nicole Majeski, secretary of Delaware Department of Transportation and chair of AASHTO’s Council on Public Transportation, emphasized to attending state DOTs the importance of continuing to uphold safety as a priority in all of the work they do – especially in the transit sector.
She also referenced the AASHTO 2023 Safety Summit – held in Kansas City, MO, in mid-October – in terms of ways to identify how safety can be better incorporated throughout state DOT decisions and activities.
Tennessee DOT Commissioner Butch Eley provided closing remarks for the winter meeting; highlighting the importance Tennessee’s transit program places on supporting both urban and rural transit projects, upholding safety and the state of good repair as priorities, and investing in transit infrastructure to support community needs.
He also discussed the state’s Transportation Modernization Act, passed by the Tennessee legislature and signed into law by Governor Bill Lee (R) in April, which authorizes public-private partnerships to construct choice lanes which allow for public transit use.
In alignment with the efforts of fellow state DOTs like Texas and Florida, Eley said the Tennessee DOT aims to enhance public transit by supporting choice lanes which will enable multimodal and shared use of Tennessee’s roadways. Eley also showed a brief video (seen below) during his remarks that showcased the benefits of transit to his state’s residents.
Concurrent to the Winter Meeting program, AASHTO had the opportunity to host a technical training on transit procurement led by the National Transit Institute, thanks to a new sponsorship agreement between the National Transit Institute and AASHTO.
This sponsorship agreement enabled AASHTO to partner with the National Transit Institute on coordinating a technical training for state DOTs. The Council on Public Transportation and Transit Management noted at the conclusion of that training that they look forward to continuing the sponsorship agreement and partnership efforts with the National Transit Institute next year.