Virtual CTS research conference explores transportation equity

A diverse collection of pedestrians crossing a street at an instersection
Photo: Shutterstock

This year’s annual CTS Transportation Research Conference is moving online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of convening on campus in Minneapolis, we will be hosting the event virtually on November 5, 2020. We’ll miss the chance to see our stakeholders in person, but the health and safety of our attendees, speakers, and staff is our top priority.

The online event will feature two plenary sessions, described below, and two sets of concurrent sessions on topics including connected and automated vehicles, COVID-19 impacts, bicycle and pedestrian safety, transit innovations, winter maintenance, and more. A complete event schedule, registration details, and technology information is available on the conference web page.

Opening Plenary: Addressing Minnesota’s Transportation Inequities and Disparities

The COVID-19 pandemic and the death of George Floyd have brought new attention to racial inequities and disparities in many sectors of our society, including transportation. The transportation system helps provide connection (to family, friends, colleagues, faith) and access (to jobs, health care, education, food), but it does not meet these critical needs equally for all people.

Before we discuss how transportation can and should transform to address these disparities, we must first acknowledge where we have been and where we are today. What are our values and hopes for what will change about the transportation system and what will stay the same? This panel discussion aims to bring those values and hopes to the forefront, so they may guide us as we strive to make Minnesota’s transportation system more equitable for all.


  • Gina Baas, Associate Director, Engagement and Education, CTS
  • Kathy Quick, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Tawanna Black, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Center for Economic Inclusion
  • Yingling Fan, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • Jason Hollinday, Co-chair, Advocacy Council for Tribal Transportation and Director of Planning, Fond du Lac Reservation
  • Theresa Thompson Nix, Field Manager, Move Minnesota
  • Charlie Zelle, Chair, Metropolitan Council

Afternoon Plenary: Where Do We Go From Here?

2020 started off like a nightmare of biblical proportions—droughts, fires, floods, and a pandemic that has gripped the planet. The response from governments, companies, and communities to the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our way of life as well our local, regional, and global transportation systems with sudden and extraordinary speed. Transportation system providers have experienced free-fall declines in customers, revenues, and support. The resulting pressure to reduce service, delay repairs, or even shut down operations altogether has thrown these systems into worst-case scenarios and uncharted territory against a backdrop of rising social equity concerns.

In this presentation, Timothy Papandreou will discuss how these combined forces are compelling us to reexamine the status quo. Papandreou will also explore how current circumstances are offering us a once-in-a-lifetime window to re-imagine the transportation system and use practical and proven innovation to move it towards a more resilient, equitable, and seamless experience.

Papandreou is the founder and CEO of Emerging Transport Advisors, which provides strategic guidance to companies, investors, startups, and governments on the active, shared, electric, connected, and automated transport transition. He is a trusted thought leader in both technology and government with extensive global experience in the movement of people and things.