Transit Unplugged
Transit Unplugged

Transit Unplugged

Paul Comfort, SVP Modaxo

Overview
Episodes

Details

We share the stories, challenges, and successes of the top transit professionals from around the world. Learn how top transit leaders got to where they are with stories and insights from their careers. Get the inside story about public transit and transit trends from the people who run it. Transit Unplugged is hosted and produced by Paul Comfort and brought to you by Modaxo Learn more at https://transitunplugged.com/

Recent Episodes

Erick Van Wagenen, CEO WeDriveU, on Innovation and the Future of Transit Contracting
JUN 19, 2024
Erick Van Wagenen, CEO WeDriveU, on Innovation and the Future of Transit Contracting

In this episode Paul Comfort interviews Erick Van Wagenen, CEO of WeDriveU, formerly National Express. They discuss the transformation of National Express, the North American Transit Alliance, and the evolving role of contractors in public transportation. Additionally, Erick reflects on his 18-year career with WeDriveU, where he progressed from assistant general manager to CEO, and discusses the rebranding and strategic initiatives under his leadership.

Erick shares his insights on industry trends, including electrification, addressing labor shortages, and leveraging innovation to help operators drive more safely. Erick and Paul also discuss the impact of inflation on costs and how strong partnerships with agencies paves the way through the rough spots.

And we don't usually get into other forms of transit like on-campus shuttles, but these connections are fundamentally important to schools and the community. Erick talks about campus transportation systems, like at Princeton University, that connect students and the larger community together. Finally, Erick reflects on WeDriveU's approach to global operations, adapting to post-COVID challenges, and how contracting helps shape the future direction in the transit sector.

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.com

  • Host: Paul Comfort
  • Producer: Paul Comfort
  • Editor and Writer: Tris Hussey
  • Executive Producer: Julie Gates

Special thanks to:

  • Brand design: Tina Olagundoye
  • Social Media: Tatyana Mechkarova
  • Marketing content, Transit Unplugged Newsletter, & transit puns: Tris Hussey

If you have a question or comment, email us at [email protected].

Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Threads- Instagram - Facebook

Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter

00:00 Introduction to Transit Unplugged

02:02 Interview with Eric Van Wagenen Begins

02:25 National Express and WeDriveU Overview

03:00 Global Operations and Services

03:59 Entrepreneurial Spirit and Customer Success

06:57 Industry Trends and Challenges

08:55 Innovation in Transportation

12:19 Campus Transportation Focus

13:47 Future of Public Transportation

14:42 Impact of Inflation on Contracting

16:39 Conclusion and Final Thoughts

16:53 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the guests, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Modaxo Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries, or any entities they represent (“Modaxo”). This production belongs to Modaxo, and may contain information that may be subject to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights and restrictions. This production provides general information, and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. Modaxo specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and will not be liable for any losses, claims, or damages arising from the use of this presentation, from any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken in response to it.

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18 MIN
NYC Stalls on Congestion Pricing: A Deep Dive with Matthew Daus
JUN 12, 2024
NYC Stalls on Congestion Pricing: A Deep Dive with Matthew Daus

Plus policing on the subway and upcoming transit conferences.

Last week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul abruptly put a stop to New York City's planned congestion charges due to come into effect June 30th. This announcement took nearly everyone by surprise, critics and supporters alike, and this week we have Matthew Daus return as our guest to talk about this sudden change, what it means for the New York MTA's budget, and if congestion pricing will return to the city.

We've talked about congestion pricing many times on the show before, from Matthew a year ago to the outgoing head of MTA Rich Davey and just recently Transport for London's Andy Lord. It's a hot topic with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. With congestion charging in NYC seen as a test bed for cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, its fate is now uncertain in the U.S.

Matthew and Paul continue the discussion on another hot topic right now: transit safety and policing. Recently the U.S. National Guard was deployed in the New York Subway to fight rash of violent incidents. Matthew and Paul talk about safety in transit and how it affects returning ridership.

Paul and Matthew wrap up their conversation with a discussion of the International Association of Transportation Regulators upcoming conference in October and their new collaboration with the CoMotion conference.

Next week, Erick Leishman CEO of WeDriveU (formerly National Express), talks with Paul about the state of contracting in the U.S. and its essential role in delivering innovative transit solutions.

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.com

  • Host: Paul Comfort
  • Producer: Paul Comfort
  • Editor and Writer: Tris Hussey
  • Executive Producer: Julie Gates

Special thanks to:

  • Brand design: Tina Olagundoye
  • Social Media: Tatyana Mechkarova
  • Marketing content, Transit Unplugged Newsletter, & transit puns: Tris Hussey

If you have a question or comment, email us at [email protected].

Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Threads- Instagram - Facebook

Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter

00:00 Introduction and Breaking News

00:51 Expert Guest Introduction: Matthew Daus

02:33 Discussion on Congestion Charging

11:10 Crime and Safety on the New York Subway

15:56 Matthew Daus' Professional Roles and Upcoming Conference

20:18 Collaboration with CoMotion

21:58 Conclusion and Final Thoughts

22:29 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the guests, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Modaxo Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries, or any entities they represent (“Modaxo”). This production belongs to Modaxo, and may contain information that may be subject to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights and restrictions. This production provides general information, and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. Modaxo specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and will not be liable for any losses, claims, or damages arising from the use of this presentation, from any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken in response to it.

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25 MIN
Hill Testing, Hydrogen, and Electric Ferries: Halifax Transit’s Green Innovations with Dave Reage
JUN 5, 2024
Hill Testing, Hydrogen, and Electric Ferries: Halifax Transit’s Green Innovations with Dave Reage

While in Halifax, Canada filming Transit Unplugged TV, Paul sat down with Dave Reage, Executive Director of Halifax Transit and First Vice Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) to talk about his transit system, testing their new electric buses, and building new ferry terminals for an electric ferry fleet (a first in Canada). Dave shares insights into Halifax's rapid growth, his background, and the challenges and innovations facing the industry in Canada. Dave talks about how critical CUTA is in molding future leaders. Before heading over to Dartmouth on the ferry for some seafood, Dave shows Paul around the future Mill Cove Ferry Terminal and talks about their new electric ferries. Dave details plans for a bus rapid transit network and the adoption of new fare technologies like open payment systems.

"I've been telling my team to keep in mind, the last time we had a transition this significant, we were actually going from trolley buses to diesel buses, so it's all kind of coming full circle now. And the testing piece is so crucial because we need to learn everything we can and make sure we know how it's going to work, make sure it's going to work, before we ever put it out into public service. Although the bus itself is very similar to the untrained eye, so many systems are different, new, modern. From safety to reliability, we need to make sure we've tested everything out very thoroughly and we're comfortable with." - Dave Reage

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.com

  • Host: Paul Comfort
  • Producer: Paul Comfort
  • Editor and Writer: Tris Hussey
  • Executive Producer: Julie Gates

Special thanks to:

  • Brand design: Tina Olagundoye
  • Social Media: Tatyana Mechkarova
  • Marketing content, Transit Unplugged Newsletter, & transit puns: Tris Hussey

If you have a question or comment, email us at [email protected].

Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Threads- Instagram - Facebook

Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter

00:00 Introduction by Paul Comfort

03:19 Welcome to the show

03:31 Overview of Halifax Transit

04:03 Electric and Alternative Fuel Buses

06:25 Funding and Structure of Halifax Transit

09:58 Ferry System Expansion

17:49 CUTA and career development

21:24 What's coming up for Halifax Transit

22:43 Bus Manufacturing Issues

24:08 Coming Up Next Week on Transit Unplugged

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the guests, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Modaxo Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries, or any entities they represent (“Modaxo”). This production belongs to Modaxo, and may contain information that may be subject to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights and restrictions. This production provides general information, and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. Modaxo specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and will not be liable for any losses, claims, or damages arising from the use of this presentation, from any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken in response to it.

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25 MIN
Planning for Savannah’s Expanded Transit Future with Faye DiMassimo
MAY 29, 2024
Planning for Savannah’s Expanded Transit Future with Faye DiMassimo

This week Paul chats with Faye DiMassimo, CEO and Executive Director of Chatham Area Transit Authority (CAT) in Savannah, and soon to be Chief of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Savannah. Paul and Faye discuss the recent APTA Public Transit CEO Conference, Faye's career path (including recent promotion), and the innovations at CAT, including hybrid ferries, an electric microtransit pilot, and their long-term fiscal plan.

They get into how CAT is preparing for the fiscal cliff as COVID federal relief runs out and challenges getting grants based on local matches. Faye reflects on how transit CEOs support each other in good times, and bad. Paul and Faye close with a special coda about new role in the City of Savannah, continuing her mission to improve public mobility for everyone in Savannah. The episode highlights the importance of community, equity, and sustainability in public transit.

Next week we have repeat guest Dave Reage giving Paul a tour of Halifax by land and sea!

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.com

  • Host: Paul Comfort
  • Producer: Paul Comfort
  • Editor and Writer: Tris Hussey
  • Executive Producer: Julie Gates

Special thanks to:

  • Brand design: Tina Olagundoye
  • Social Media: Tatyana Mechkarova
  • Marketing content, Transit Unplugged Newsletter, & transit puns: Tris Hussey

If you have a question or comment, email us at [email protected].

Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Threads- Instagram - Facebook

Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter

00:05 Welcome to Transit Unplugged

01:10 Interview with Faye DiMassimo

01:56 Hosting the APTA CEO Summit in Savannah

02:34 Challenges and Opportunities for Transit CEOs

06:46 The Evolution of Faye's Career in Transit

09:35 Inside Savannah's Transit System: CAT

13:38 Savannah's Charm and History

15:55 Innovations in Transit: Electric Microtransit and More

17:41 Master Planning for the Future of Transit in Savannah

19:48 Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff and Closing Thoughts

24:56 Update to this interview

28:04 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the guests, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Modaxo Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries, or any entities they represent (“Modaxo”). This production belongs to Modaxo, and may contain information that may be subject to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights and restrictions. This production provides general information, and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. Modaxo specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and will not be liable for any losses, claims, or damages arising from the use of this presentation, from any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken in response to it.

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29 MIN
Tackling today’s biggest challenges at four transit agencies
MAY 22, 2024
Tackling today’s biggest challenges at four transit agencies

Across North America there are four fundamental issues facing transit agencies:

  • Getting enough buses
  • Getting enough people to fix and drive the buses
  • Getting enough funding to keep running the buses
  • Getting (cyber)secure

The bus manufacturing crisis is forcing many transit agencies to get creative at keeping buses running longer. Workforce shortages mean agencies are getting creative at finding and hiring enough people. With a fiscal cliff looming for many agencies, finding ways to save money and still offer the same level of service means finding some new ways to connect people on something other than a 40 foot bus. And every week someone makes the news for getting hacked, so keeping systems secure is a lot harder than it used to be.

Joining Paul on stage for a transit leaders roundtable at TripSpark Ignite are:

  • Pam Shepherd, Executive Director, Federated Transportation Services of the Blue Grass
  • Ryan Landers, General Manager Lawton Area Transit
  • Randy Anderson, Operations IT Systems Administrator CityBus – Greater Lafayette Public Transit
  • Matt Maier, Director of Operations Lake Tran

What makes this roundtable unique isn't that they are talking about these issues, but that they've found creative and innovative ways to address them. Learn how:

  • Simple ads on buses are getting more applications
  • Creating flexible schedules has brought in a whole new group of drivers
  • Making sure every usable part of a bus at the end of its life is used to extend the service life of the rest of the fleet
  • Auditing your system is the first step to actively preventing hacks on your systems

Sit back and enjoy a fun, interesting, and informative discussion about the top issues facing our industry and how four agencies are meeting them head on.

Next week on the show we have an interview with Faye DiMassimo. When Paul interviewed her, she was leading Chatham Area Transit in Savannah, Georgia, but since then she has a new job with the City of Savannah. Her job still involves connecting people, but has a much bigger and more interesting mandate than transit alone. It's not often we have an interview where we get to talk with someone before and after a career transition. Make sure you tune in for this one!

Transit Unplugged is brought to you by Modaxo https://www.modaxo.com

  • Host: Paul Comfort
  • Producer: Paul Comfort
  • Editor and Writer: Tris Hussey
  • Executive Producer: Julie Gates

Special thanks to:

  • Brand design: Tina Olagundoye
  • Social Media: Tatyana Mechkarova
  • Marketing content, Transit Unplugged Newsletter, & transit puns: Tris Hussey

If you have a question or comment, email us at [email protected].

Follow us on social media: LinkedIn - Twitter - Threads- Instagram - Facebook

Sign up for the Transit Unplugged Newsletter

00:04 Introduction from Tris Hussey, Editor Transit Unplugged

01:11 Transit Leader Roundtable at TripSpark Ignite

01:51 Introducing the Panelists: Leaders in Transit

02:23 Tackling Transit Challenges: From Driver Shortages to Public Amenities

06:00 Innovative Solutions and Success Stories in Transit

11:25 A Day in the Life of Transit Leaders

22:38 Navigating Post-COVID Challenges and Opportunities

23:18 Ridership and Revenue Trends: A Closer Look

25:06 Innovative Solutions for Transit Systems

33:33 Embracing Technology for Future Growth

37:32 Personal Insights and Agency Success Stories

42:07 Coming up next week on Transit Unplugged

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the guests, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Modaxo Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries, or any entities they represent (“Modaxo”). This production belongs to Modaxo, and may contain information that may be subject to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights and restrictions. This production provides general information, and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. Modaxo specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and will not be liable for any losses, claims, or damages arising from the use of this presentation, from any material contained in it, or from any action or decision taken in response to it.

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43 MIN