State DOT CEOs Join Passenger Rail Advisory Committee

The Surface Transportation Board or STB recently named two state department of transportation chief executives to serve on its newly-formed Passenger Rail Advisory Committee or PRAC.

[Above image by the FRA]

The STB is an independent federal agency created in 1996 following the abolition of the Interstate Commerce Commission. It absorbed regulatory powers relevant to the railroad industry that were previously under the ICC’s purview.

Image via the STB

In a statement, the STB said it established the 21-member PRAC to “help better fulfill its statutory responsibilities” in overseeing certain aspects of passenger rail service. The PRAC’s activities will include providing information, advice, and recommendations to the STB on issues impacting the development and operation of passenger rail services.

Such issues include improving efficiency on passenger rail routes; reducing disputes between passenger rail carriers and freight rail hosts regarding the use of freight-owned facilities and infrastructure for passenger service, including passenger on-time performance issues; and improving regulatory processes related to intercity passenger rail to the benefit of the public.

Roger Millar. Photo by AASHTO.

The STB tapped Roger Millar, secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation, to serve a two-year term on the PRAC to represent state interests where intercity passenger rail operations are concerned.

The agency also appointed Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, to serve a three-year term representing states that host only long-distance passenger rail service.

Appointed WSDOT secretary by Governor Jay Inslee (D) in 2016, Millar has focused his career on “stewarding transportation systems” as they serve not an end unto themselves, but rather are means by which communities improve toward economic vitality, environmental resilience, aesthetic quality, public health, and social equity.

Shoshana Lew. Photo by Colorado DOT.

Millar most recently served as the 2022-2023 president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, as well as the chair of board of directors for the Intelligence Transportation Society of American from 2021 to 2022.

He was also selected by The Resilient Roads Roundtable as one of its “Innovators and Influencers” luminaries in April 2023 and received a 2024 Outstanding Projects and Leadership or OPAL award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in February.

Meanwhile, Colorado DOT’s Lew – named executive director by Governor Jared Polis (D) in 2019 – is a longtime transportation policy veteran.

She worked for nearly two years as the chief operating officer of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation before joining Colorado DOT and also spent eight years in the Obama Administration, including a stint as chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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