What's Happening

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July 29, 2020

Graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University recently met with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian and members of her executive team, to present a comprehensive policy study titled “Mobility, Accessibility, and Connectivity: Assessments and Recommendations Concerning Rural Transportation Equity in Pennsylvania.”

Included in the report was a review of key national findings, an analysis of rural equity as a systemic concern in Pennsylvania, strategies and practices from around the U.S., and the students’ recommendations to implement a rural transportation council.  As a first–of-its-kind rural transportation model, the council would identify research and information needs, as well as recommend and advocate for policy and program initiatives to enhance the mobility, connectivity, and accessibility of Pennsylvania’s rural communities and become a model for other states.

Roger Cohen, PennDOT’s Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary and the client for this project shared: “At a time when new technologies are dramatically redefining transportation and citizens are demanding greater accountability and responsiveness on the part of government, the student team from Carnegie Mellon looked at rural transportation services and found that there are disparities that can begin to be addressed by giving rural Pennsylvanians a greater voice in shaping the future of their communities.”

Under the guidance of Traffic21’s Executive Director and Heinz College Adjunct Associate Professor Stan Caldwell and Heinz College Distinguished Service Professor Rick Stafford, CMU graduate students Blair Chen, Erick Shiring, and Marcus Robinson of Heinz College and Ziyu Dai of the College of Engineering were able to apply their knowledge and experiences to inspire real world policy change for future progress.

Also involved in the project  was former Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow Ngani Ndimbie, executive policy specialist for PennDOT.  Ngani was able to advise the students from a policy standpoint, as well as provide guidance from her experience as a Heinz College graduate.

This project was supported by the Mobility21 National University Transportation Center.

For more information and detail, you can read the full report here.