CTS Research Conference to explore funding, policy innovation

Aerial view of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus and the Mississippi River In November, CTS will conclude our 30th anniversary celebration at the annual Transportation Research Conference.The one-day event will celebrate CTS’s first 30 years and explore what comes next by presenting new learning, emerging ideas, and the latest innovations in transportation.

The conference will be held November 2 at the Commons Hotel on the U of M east bank campus. The opening plenary and luncheon presentations are described below, and registration information is available on the conference web page.

Opening Session: How We Pay for Transportation Infrastructure—What’s the Value Proposition?

The public generally support investing in transportation infrastructure, yet they fiercely oppose increases in user fees or taxes to support this investment. The opaqueness of transportation revenue mechanisms like the gas tax makes it difficult for the public to easily discern how much they pay for infrastructure and what value they derive from it.

Joung Lee, policy director at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, will examine the latest direction in infrastructure funding at the federal level. He will also offer examples of innovation happening in states all around the country and discuss policy and political considerations when it comes to transportation revenue and financing tools.Celebrating 30 years of CTS

Following Lee’s presentation, a panel of Minnesota leaders and experts will share perspectives on transportation infrastructure funding. Panelists will include Tracy Hatch, Minnesota Department of Transportation deputy commissioner; Jim McDonough, Ramsey County commissioner; and Jerry Zhao, associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Luncheon: Transportation Policy Innovation—LA Metro’s Experience

In August 2015, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) embarked on an ambitious experiment: Could a new department with an extraordinary name bring about dramatic changes in transportation policy and innovation for a large government agency in a short period of time?

LA Metro’s chief innovation officer Joshua Schank will describe the creation of the Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI), designed to manage public-private-partnerships (P3) and strategic planning for the agency. For P3s, this included overseeing a new unsolicited proposal process designed to encourage private-sector ideas for delivering Metro projects and services. OEI was also charged with developing the Metro Strategic Plan, which would clearly define the mission, vision, and goals for the agency and create a culture of innovation.

Schank’s presentation will look back on the successes and failures of the first two years of this experiment in innovation at LA Metro and explore the path forward. This will include a discussion of the challenges faced—including fierce resistance to innovative approaches and intense demands on OEI to deliver quickly—as well as the new ideas brought to the agency.

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