On the Road with Eno

On the Road with Eno

November 04, 2016  | Robert Puentes

November 4, 2016

America’s transportation system is large and complex. An amazing array of actors are responsible for moving people and goods around the world, from coast-to-coast, or within a region. This means there are countless approaches that are impossible to generalize or observe only from inside the Beltway.

That approach is encapsulated in the mission here at Eno: to cultivate a creative and innovative workforce and to impact emerging issues for the nation’s multi-modal transportation system. That broad mandate means we have to cut across all modes of transportation (from roads and rails to air and sea), levels of government (federal, state, local), and issue areas (funding, workforce, technology.)

It also means we get to intersect with other civic, corporate, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders across the country – and in recent weeks I have seen this demonstrated in sharp relief.

Due to Eno’s leadership and innovative thinking on aviation, I had the opportunity to participate in a high level panel at the Air Traffic Control Association’s annual meeting. Along with federal, advocacy, and international officials we discussed how the Federal Aviation Administration can and should move to a system of better performance-based oversight. For my remarks I was able to draw on our upcoming work on aviation certification as well as a previous project on air traffic control reform.

From there I spoke on a keynote panel at the Shared Use Mobility Summit. This excellent conference focuses on some of the most exciting innovations deployed in cities throughout the world today (think carsharing, ridesharing, bikesharing and the like). But the focus of our panel was on making sure those mobility benefits are broadly shared, as inequality and lack of access have a tight grip on people in many American neighborhoods.

At Eno we believe these new technologies are transforming how we get around, but there needs to be an intentional focus to ensure that access to transportation is available to all, not just some. I echoed a similar theme when I was asked to speak at the closing session of the Virginia Governor’s Transportation Summit.

Two important areas of focus for Eno in the coming months are transportation workforce and procurement reform. I was fortunate enough to discuss both at a roundtable sponsored by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Transatlantic stakeholders recognize the opportunities for connecting infrastructure investments to broader public policies for strengthening the local economic impact of these public investments. These initiatives to hire and train a new workforce are top-of-mind for policymakers and international firms are keen to understand key points of intervention.

But in addition to these national and international opportunities, Eno is also regularly called on to inform and educate local officials about transportation issues they care about. Here in the nation’s capital none are larger than the seemingly intractable challenges of our regional transit system. Some note that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is caught in a “death-spiral” of increasing budget deficits and declining ridership. Turning it around will not be easy, which was the focus of a regional summit at Georgetown University.

The purpose of this article is not to simply list our travel itinerary, but to highlight the depth and breadth of the work we love to do at Eno. By cutting across all modes, issue areas, and geographies we treat transportation as a seamless whole, rather than separate pieces. In doing so we can achieve our vision for an American transportation system that fosters economic vitality and improves the quality of life for all.

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