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The 2019 Eno Transit Senior Executive Program Is A Wrap!

In the beginning of March, thirty-six top transit executives from across the country traveled to Alexandria, VA to take part in Eno’s 15th annual Transit Senior Executive (TSE) Program. TSE students come together for a week of interactive workshops and guest lectures focused on strategic management, leadership development and critical issues facing the transit industry.

Highlights of the week included hearing from a number of distinguished speakers, including current and past transit general managers such as Phil Washington, CEO, LA Metro, Kenneth McDonald, President and CEO, Long Beach Transit, Tina Quigley, CEO, RTC of Southern Nevada, Greg Kelly, CEO – USA, WSP, Thomas Prendergast, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer, STV Group, Inc., Matt Welbes, Executive Director, Federal Transit Administration, Katharine Eagan Kelleman, CEO, Port Authority of Allegheny County, and many more. At the end of the week, TSE students participated in a case study simulation where they had to handle a crisis situation as leaders of a transit agency and run a mock press conference with reporters.

Beyond hearing from guest lecturers, students were engaged in small groups where they discuss the issues facing them every day back at the work place. They receive advice from peers, as well as coaching from staff on how best to handle the challenges. This is a time for reflection and students to open up to one another.

Congratulations to the 2019 class, who join over 600 distinguished alumni of the program. Our alumni are moving their agencies, as well as the transit industry, forward with the skills and lessons learned from participating in the TSE Program.

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2019 Transit Senior Executive Class

John Andoh
Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET)-  Columbia, SC, United States

Lacy Bell
Sound Transit- Seattle,WA, United States

Jeffrey Bennett
DDOT- Washington,DC, United States

Megan Blum
Federal Transit Administration- Washington,DC, United States

Lou Cripps
Regional Transportation District- Denver,CO, United States

Mark Fuhrmann
HDR- Minneapolis,MN, United States

Kevin Gaddis
Metro Transit Police Department WMATA- Washington,DC, United States

Thomas Goodyer
WSP USA, Inc.- Chicago,IL, United States

Carla Grano
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority- Washington, DC, United States

Gwendolen Gray
G2B Consulting- Whittier,CA, United States

Polly Hanson
American Public Transportation Association- Washington DC, DC,United States

Michael Heidkamp
Port Authority of Allegheny County- Pittsburgh,PA, United States

Ruby Horta
County Connection- Concord,CA, United States

Candace Key
Federal Transit Administration  – Washington , DC,United States

Ashley Liang
Long Beach Public Transportation- Long Beach, CA, United States

Maggie McJilton
Orange County Transportation Authority- Orange, CA,United States

Heather McKillop
Regional Transportation District- Denver,CO, United States

Kelli O’Leary
Jacksonville Transportation Authority- Jacksonville,FL, United States

Jeanet Owens
LA Metro- Los Angeles,CA, United States

Geoff Patrick
Sound Transit- Seattle,WA, United States

Vanessa Rauschenberger
Gold Coast Transit District – Oxnard, CA, United States

Manjeet Ranu
LA Metro- Los Angeles,CA, United States

Tracy Reed
Sound Transit- Seattle,WA, United States

Margaret Schilling
Federal Transit Administration – Washington, DC,United States

Jarrett Stoltzfus
Proterra- Walnut,CA, United States

Metropolitan Authority of Harris County- Houston, TX,United States

William Tonis
Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District- Oakland ,CA, United States

Norman Tuitavuki
Monterey-Salinas Transit District (MST)- Monterey, CA,United States

Erik Van Hagen
TriMet- Portland,OR, United States

Jyotsna Vishwakarma
Regional Transportation District- Denver,CO, United States

David Vitezy
Museum of Transport- Budapest,AE, Hungary

Frank White III
Kansas City Area Transportation Authority – Kansas City, MO, United States

 Douglas Woodbury
HNTB Corp.- Chelmsford,MA, United States

Lisa Woodruff
LA Metro- Los Angeles,CA, United States

Steve Young
VIA Metropolitan Transit- San Antonio, TX, United States

Eno Announces 2019 Transit Senior Executive Program Roster

The Eno Center for Transportation is pleased to announce the 2019 Transit Senior Executive Program (TSE) class. The program will be held March 4-8, 2019 in Washington, DC. The TSE Program is a year-long leadership development course centered around an intensive week-long seminar, always held in Washington, DC. Now in its 16th year with over 500 alumni, this selective program is designed to develop the next generation of public and private transit organization CEOs. Participants hear from distinguished guest lecturers, develop their leadership skills, and build connections within the transit industry.

Thirty-six students from across the country will participate in the 2019 class. Eno congratulates them on their acceptance to the program and welcomes them into the Eno network! This year’s students are:

  • John Andoh, Executive Director/CEO, Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET)
  • Lacy Bell, Corridor Operations Director (BRT), Sound Transit
  • Jeffrey Bennett, Associate Director, Transit Delivery Division (Head of Transit), DDOT
  • Megan Blum, Director, Office of Environmental Programs, Federal Transit Administration
  • Edward Driscoll, Assistant General Manager, New York City Transit Department of Buses
  • Sylvester Fadal, Director of HR/Deputy Director of Business Services, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
  • Mark Fuhrmann, Associate Vice President, HDR
  • Kevin Gaddis, Deputy Chief, Metro Transit Police Department WMATA
  • Thomas Goodyer, Assistant Vice President, WSP USA, Inc.
  • Carla Grano, Assistant Chief Safety Officer, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
  • Gwendolen Gray, President, G2B Consulting
  • Polly Hanson, Director of Security, Risk and Emergency Management, American Public Transportation Association
  • Michael Heidkamp, Acting Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Port Authority of Allegheny County
  • Ruby Horta, Director of Planning, Marketing & Innovation, County Connection
  • Candace Key, Attorney Advisor, Federal Transit Administration
  • Benoît Lavigne, Executive Director, Performance and Customer Experience, Exo
  • Ashley Liang, Treasurer, Long Beach Public Transportation
  • Christine Loyer, Director, Transportation Training, TriMet
  • Maggie McJilton, Executive Director, Human Resources and Organizational Development, Orange County Transportation Authority
  • Heather McKillop, CFO and Assistant General Manager of Finance & Administration, Regional Transportation District
  • Kelli O’Leary, Assistant Vice President – Engagement, Jacksonville Transportation Authority
  • Jeanet Owens, Senior Executive Officer, LA Metro
  • Geoff Patrick, Deputy Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs, Sound Transit
  • Manjeet Ranu, Senior Executive Officer, LA Metro
  • Vanessa Rauschenberger, Director of Planning and Marketing, Gold Coast Transit District
  • Tracy Reed, Deputy Executive Director, Project Management – Facilities and LRVs, Sound Transit
  • Jarrett Stoltzfus, Bid and Proposal Manager, Proterra
  • William Tonis, Director of Project Controls and Systems Analysis, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District
  • Roberto Trevino, Executive Vice President, Metropolitan Authority of Harris County
  • Norman Tuitavuki, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Monterey-Salinas Transit District (MST) (APTF’s Frank J. Lichtanski Memorial Scholarship Winner)
  • Erik Van Hagen, Director of Legal Services, TriMet
  • Jyotsna Vishwakarma, Senior Manager, Engineering/Chief Engineer, Regional Transportation District
  • David Vitezy, director general, former commissioner of transport of Budapest, Museum of Transport
  • Douglas Woodbury, Vice President, HNTB Corp.
  • Lisa Woodruff, Senior Executive Officer/Deputy Chief Operating Officer, LA Metro
  • Steve Young, Vice President of Technology & Innovation, VIA Metropolitan Transit

Colorado: Let’s Go, Colorado or Fix Our Damn Roads?

Colorado voters will see two competing transportation measures on their ballots this year: one that raises new revenue for all transportation modes, and one that just funds road improvements using existing revenue. Bob Murphy, former mayor of Lakewood, CO, and now state director for AARP, talks to us about the “Let’s Go, Colorado” and “Fix Our Damn Roads” ballot measures and what they say about voter priorities in the state.

Alumni letter from Eno’s President: Fall 2018

Greetings Eno Alumni!

As the weather cools and we all get back to work from our August vacations, I am excited to share with you several new developments here at Eno.

First, I am pleased to announce we are expanding our Board of Regents in order to help us better steward Eno’s alumni network and provide you with additional opportunities to get involved and build your own networks and knowledge. Specifically, the Board of Regents will continue its current work to support the Future Leaders Development Conference (LDC) and now will also help Eno develop our professional development programs, such as webinars, and support Eno’s alumni network through in-person and virtual network development. If you are interested in learning more, please visit our website for more information. Eno staff and our Board of Directors will review nominations received by October 4, 2018 and announce the new members this winter.

On the policy front, Eno continues to provide vital insight into the most pressing and relevant issues in transportation. For example, we recently examined the fees levied on transportation network companies at the state and local level in our most recent Eno Brief, Taxing New Mobility Services: What’s Right? What’s Next? On the federal level, another paper—Deal or No Deal: Prospects for Airport Privatization in the United States—was intended to directly inform the discussion about these arrangements in legislation currently winding its way through Congress. Later this year, look for new policy work on the transportation workforce, procurement, and ballot measures.

Please stay in touch via our new Alumni Group on Facebook or join as an Alumni member (it’s free). Thank you all again for all you do to improve transportation in your communities and for being part of Eno’s dynamic and talented alumni network.

Apply for Eno’s Board of Regents

The Eno Board of Regents supports Eno’s educational and professional development programs. Members are selected from across the public and private sectors and share Eno’s commitment to creative and visionary leadership in the transportation sector.

The Board of Regents does not frequently meet as a whole. Rather, its usual mode of operation is for several members to collaborate on discrete aspects of the program. These fall into three broad categories:

  • Future Leaders Development Conference (LDC)
    • Review all applicants for the LDC Conference annually
    • Assist in the evaluation and selection of successful program applicants
    • Select award winners from among the applicants, according to the selection criteria set by the donor(s)
    • Participate in a panel for the LDC Fellows, if available
  • Course/Program Development
    • Offer advice to improve the value of Eno’s professional development programs, help identify needs in workforce development, and promote courses to the transportation community
    • Assist with development of educational and leadership skill development webinars to provide quality continuing education
    • Select winners of scholarships to select Eno courses.
    • Participating as a guest speaker in one of Eno’s programs
  • Network and Community
    • Provide on-going opportunities to network and build relationships across Eno’s alumni network through Eno receptions, alumni-organized happy hours, and other alumni events
    • Participate actively in Eno’s social media, including the Eno Alumni Facebook Group
    • Support fundraising efforts for scholarships and initiatives
    • Contribute relevant professional development or leadership skill development articles for Eno Transportation Weekly (ETW) and/or the Eno Alumni Newsletter

Members serve a two-year term, beginning in January each year, and can be invited to serve by Eno staff or alumni can apply and be approved by staff. Not all members of the Board of Regents are Eno alumni, but strong preference is given to applicants that are. In addition, they meet annually with the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors to provide advice on organizational priorities and participate in policy and professional development activities.

If you would like to join Eno’s Board of Regents and contribute to building educational and professional development programs to benefit the transportation industry, please apply below.


What We Can Learn from Traffic Zebras

The Unites States is in the middle of a crisis. In the first half of 2016, motor vehicle deaths increased by 9 percent in the United States. That is a spike of a whopping 18 percent since 2014. Experts are not sure why exactly this is happening but there is speculation that an increase in urban sprawl, elderly drivers, and distracted driving could be major contributors.

No matter what the cause, it is readily apparent that the United States needs to reckon with this problem.

So what can be done? A small South American country may offer some hints.

The Bolivian capitol of La Paz was facing problems with cars failing to follow traffic laws. Despite having police enforce the laws and handing out tickets, cars were regularly disregarding traffic lights and speed limits, resulting in congestion, motor vehicle accidents, and pedestrian injury. La Paz isn’t facing a unique problem, every urban area grapples with problems caused by motor vehicles. But La Paz decided it needed to fix this problem and keep it’s citizens safe. Cue the Zebras.

Yes, zebras. Instead of increasing police presence or giving out more fines, the city decided to use more creative means. The zebra or cebritas program started in 2001 and is inspired by a Columbian program from the 1990s that used mimes to tease and shame drivers for reckless driving. Instead of mimes, La Paz decided to use zebras because crosswalks are known as “zebra crossings”.

So for the past sixteen years, people in giant zebra costumes have manned the crosswalks of La Paz. They are known for the comical ways they encourage drivers to follow traffic laws and educate pedestrians on how to safely cross streets. A search on YouTube will yield dozens of videos showing zebras dancing and making teasing gestures at cars until they stop. According to an article in The Atlantic, La Paz has 265 zebras out on the streets today. Many of these zebras are city youth who receive a stipend for their work.

The cebritas program sounds ridiculous, but according to the residents of La Paz the experiment is working.

This is not to say that the United States should immediately issue an army of men and women in zebra costumes onto streets everywhere. But rather, this speaks to a larger goal that we may have lost sight of in our search for better, faster, more efficient transportation. That is – safety is not a by-product of good transportation and infrastructure, it is a core goal. Bolivia is demonstrating this with zebra costumes and Columbia did it with mimes. While the solution here in the United States may not involve a costume, the effect should be the same.

The push for safe streets is growing. Movements like Vision Zero, Road to Zero, and the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets are all working to improve safety on streets and sidewalks as well as educate and enforce safety practices across the country.

Whether by zebra, mime, or more traditional means, safety should be priority and practice for everyone on the road.

DC-Area Metro Riders Voice Opposition to Service Cuts and Fare Hikes

Riders and employees expressed outcry at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) proposed 2018 fiscal year budget during a public hearing on January 30th. The budget would raise fares for Metrorail by 10-25 cents and Metrobus by 25 cents, while reducing rail and bus service and eliminating nearly three-dozen bus routes.

Speakers in the crowded four-hour hearing focused on saving bus lines and fighting fare hikes. They argued that governments and businesses that benefit from the public transit system do not contribute enough to keeping it working.

Speakers also noted that many bus routes slotted to be cut serve primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods, leaving residents with fewer transit options at a higher price. In addition, the budget would eliminate 500 administrative and operational positions at WMATA.

2016 was a rough year for WMATA riders due to the SafeTrack maintenance program, which shut down and single-tracked Metro lines for weeks at a time. The proposed bus service adjustments anger riders who grew increasingly reliant upon the bus network rather than crowded, infrequent, and expensive trains.

The service cuts and fare hikes in the proposed $3.1 billion budget attempt to pay down the $290 million shortfall from the 2017 fiscal year – a deficit struggle WMATA’s budget report blames on declining ridership. The report estimates that the new budget will even further decline ridership by approximately 15 million trips in the 2018 fiscal year.

But bus operators argued at the hearing that ridership is “at an all time high,” according to bus operator Linda Mercer, yet fares cannot be collected because of broken fare collection boxes on many buses.

Many riders at the hearing told the Board they might lose their jobs if their bus line was eliminated. Some riders calculated how much more money they would have to spend per week riding Metro instead of the bus – a substitute the budget report proposed for riders who lost their bus route.

After the hearing, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told reporters he was moved “[t]o hear the impact it has on peoples’ lives when you take away their service, and just some of the other issues they raised, but we also have to deal with the financial realities.”

Robert Puentes, the president of Eno, suggests that WMATA think outside the box to better serve riders, like the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s partnership with Uber and Lyft. Puentes told WAMU, “There are so many innovations that are happening on the transportation side that there is no reason why this region should not be able to solve a range of different problems.”

In addition, speakers advocated for more public hearings, particularly town hall meetings held in neighborhoods that would be affected by service cuts.

The Board will decide the final budget in March. Until then, riders can submit a survey commenting on the proposed budget until February 6th.

Keeping up with the Alums: The 2014 California Transit Mid Manager Class

The students in Eno’s 2014 Transit Mid Manager class met for just one week in Orange County, California almost two years ago, but that week proved to be the starting point for an informal alumni group that has stayed in touch ever since.

The 2014 Eno Transit Mid Manager Class in Orange County, CA
The 2014 Eno Transit Mid Manager Class in Orange County, CA

The group was founded and organized by two class participants, Charles Murphy of Boston’s MBTA and Amber Dakan of the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART).

This monthly call is “no-pressure” as Charles Murphy put it. Not all of the students from the 2014 class participate, but for those who do it is a wonderful way to stay in touch, apply what they learned in class, and ask for advice from their industry peers.

The calls cover a wide range of topics. From trading best practices, to sharing career advice, job training, safety solutions, to even solving a case of bed bugs on transit, the 2014 TMM Alums have become a tight knit group. (Ed. note: We are happy to report that the bed bug incident was resolved quickly – all because this alumni group came together and crowd sourced a solution!)

The group holds an hour-long conference call bi-monthly. According to Murphy, there is a core group who joins the calls consistently but others often email with advice, best practices, questions, personal updates, etc.

When asked if he had advice for other Eno Alumni who would be interested in forming their own groups, Murphy had two concrete pieces of advice. First, make sure you have at least two key members who will organize follow-up communication and keep the group organized. Second, he suggested establishing an official photo/file sharing platform for the group. This will help classmates share important documents, photos, and videos.

For those who would like to form their own alumni groups, Eno would love to help. Eno’s Alumni Association hosts an online forum for any Alums that would like to reconnect, ask advice, make new industry contacts, etc.. All you have to do to gain access is sign up for Eno’s free alumni membership here (if you’re not already signed up, which you should be if you are reading this).


City of Des Moines and DART Partner To Improve Transit

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) and the City of Des Moines have partnered to run free downtown shuttle service on Saturdays. The free D-Line shuttle will run for free on Saturdays over the next two years and will give residents easier access to the numerous restaurants, shops, and attractions in the downtown area.

Free D-Line shuttle route through downtown Des Moines.

According to the early August announcement, funding for the additional service was approved at the July 25 meeting of the Des Moines City Council and was finalized by the DART Commission at their August 2 meeting.

The Commission has also approved a three-year contract with Broadlawns Hospital to provide additional bus service to Broadlawns’ East University Clinic when the clinic opens in fall 2016. With this contract, DART will rework some of its current routes in order to provide service to the hospital and will add mid-day trips. Broadlawns Hospital will pay the full cost of the service for the first two years, and a sliding scale fee in the third year based on ridership.

The addition of this free shuttle service is partly in response to a development boom in downtown Des Moines. The greater Des Moines area has long been known for its agriculture, its political importance, and more recently as a hub for insurance providers. But the region has been working hard to establish itself as a healthy urban center and economic leader for quite some time. The Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has approximated that by 2050 the metro population will increase by 56% and that employment will increase by 40%. Just recently, the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. recognized Des Moines (among others) as a “metro that is redefining what it means to be a global city”.  And in 2014 and 2015, Forbes ranked the city #2 best city for jobs and #1 best city for young professionals.

Photo courtesy of The Des Moines Register

The agency’s partnership with the City of Des Moines has been transformative for both parties. Since its formation in July of 2006, DART has grown rapidly, adding more service in the past three years than had been added in the past 50 years. The agency maintains a fleet of 149 fixed route, flex/on call, and paratransit vehicles and has 108 rideshare vans as well. And in fiscal year 2015, DART reported an annual ridership of 4.8 million trips (the vast majority of which were on their fixed route bus system).

“We greatly appreciate the partnership with the City of Des Moines to offer additional service to the community. There’s a lot of exciting things happening downtown Des Moines, and the additional D-Line service gives residents and visitors more ways to get more places.” Added Amanda Wanke, the Chief Engagement and Communications Officer at DART.

To learn more about Des Moines and DART visit www.desmoinesmetro.com and www.ridedart.com.

(Image courtesy The Des Moines Register

NATCA, Fellow Aviation Leaders Agree: U.S. Aviation System Needs Reform

Director of Communications
National Air Traffic Controllers Association

The omnibus budget agreement approved by Congress and signed into law by the President last month allowed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety professionals, including the nation’s 14,600 air traffic controllers, to breathe a sigh of relief. The combined effect of sequestration in the spring of 2013 and the government shutdown in October created a tremendously negative and uncertain situation for FAA employees and air travelers who suffered through needless flight disruptions for one chaotic week in April 2013.

This temporary reprieve is not a substitute for a long-term funding solution for the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS), however, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) began speaking out about funding issues early in 2013 and is carrying its message into 2014 to as many transportation venues as possible.

On January 14, aviation leaders gathered for the Transportation Research Board’s 93rd annual meeting Washington, D.C., to discuss the future of air traffic control and the aviation system in the United States.

NATCA President and a member of the Eno Board of Advisors Paul Rinaldi; Professional Aviation Safety Specialists National Vice President Rich Casey; Airlines for America Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy and a member of the Eno Board of Advisors Sharon Pinkerton; and Boeing Director of Strategy and Policy for Commercial Programs David Traynham spoke on a panel discussing the future of air traffic control in the United States. Steve Van Beek, Executive Director of Policy and Strategy at Leigh Fisher, moderated the panel.

“Today is different than when we were talking about FAA reform years back,” Rinaldi said. “Sequester is the game changer. When you have the FAA mandating bottom-line cuts and closure of 149 air traffic control towers, not because it would be safe and efficient, but because they need to save money, when you have the FAA delaying maintenance and not ordering back-up parts, not because its safe and efficient, but to save money, when you are sending 10 percent of the air traffic controllers home every day, not because it is safe and efficient, but to save money, that is a game changer for us.”

“You need FAA reform, and you need a sustainable funding system,” he added.

All the panelists were quick to dispel the notion that they were advocating for air traffic privatization. They repeatedly reiterated that what the air traffic system needs is reform and a focus on operations.

“We can talk about a lot of projects, we can talk a lot of NextGen shortcomings, and we can talk about a lot of successes that we have,” Rinaldi said. “I think [the FAA leadership] is doing the best job they can. It is a tremendous bureaucracy. I think every time we try to change, with all good intentions, we create more layers of bureaucracy.”

Traynham suggested that aviation reform needs to focus on governance. He then introduced the idea of a board of directors that is made up of various aviation stakeholders that sets goals for the organization.

“We are at a tipping point,” he said. “[Change] needs to be stakeholder driven, more than it is today.”

Rinaldi and the other panelists agreed that stakeholder involvement and agreement were paramount in ensuring the future success of the aviation system.

“What you are hearing now is a very important beginning of a dialogue,” Pinkerton said. “The stakeholders need to be on the same page.”

With the FAA reauthorization bill expiring in 2015, the panelists repeated that conversations such as this to continue.

“Anyone that is in the aviation system that thinks status quo is okay does not have that luxury anymore, and you would be naïve to say that,” said Rinaldi. “We have to move forward, but we have to be careful. We also have to keep in mind that we run the safest, most efficient, most complex aviation system in the world.”

Without a stable funding source for the long-term, NATCA members will continue to feel a tremendous sense of uncertainty. The threat of furloughs and potential job loss negatively affect morale for this highly specialized workforce, and there are the more tangible effects as well. Flight schedules have been disrupted, layers of safety protections have been peeled away, and the ability to maintain a fully staffed and trained workforce has been undermined.

The impacts of furloughs for air traffic controllers and other safety professionals were not temporary. The implementation of critical technology modernization programs like NextGen – an important upgrade in flight control – have been slowed as a result of the shutdown. When safety professionals were unable to work during the shutdown, vital infrastructure maintenance and improvements were put in jeopardy.

The 2013 hiring freeze imposed on controllers and the associated training delays caused by sequestration and the shutdown dealt a setback to staffing levels and the skill levels of the controller corps. This could not have happened at a worse time for the NAS, which is already managing a delicate balance of air traffic controllers who are fully certified, those who are in training, and those who are eligible to retire. The NAS is only just adjusting to the mass exodus during the 2006 to 2009 period, and the subsequent mass hiring. At present, 1,800 controllers are in training, and over 3,000 are eligible to retire. This imbalance means the NAS is facing a critical staffing problem right now.

Even with the FAA beginning to hire again, NATCA is concerned about the agency’s ability to keep hiring in pace with attrition.

If nothing is done to alter the funding equation, more damage could be done. Aviation is too important of an economic engine to be subjected to these kinds of recent disruptions. It contributes $1.3 trillion annually to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and supports more than 10 million jobs. That kind of economic activity cannot and should not be subjected to repeated budget crises. In order to grow, modernize, and help improve the U.S. economy, aviation, and more specifically the air traffic control system, the NAS needs a stable source of long-term funding.

Between the FAA partial shutdown in 2011, sequestration, and the October 2013 government shutdown, we believe the federal government has reached a critical juncture. It has never been more important to engage in a conversation with lawmakers and other policymakers about how the NAS can be removed from the chronic budget battles on Capitol Hill to protect the aviation assets of America.

Air traffic control is a team sport and when nearly half the team is missing from the field, the team gets worn down. The aviation industry has been put through the wringer, and we no longer have the luxury of saying everything is fine.

We believe a debate regarding how to establish a stable funding system for aviation is a natural next step for lawmakers. A broad agreement exists within the aviation community that positive changes need to be made.

To be clear, NATCA is not signing up for privatization of our nation’s air traffic control system. Nor are we wedding ourselves to a specific answer. What we are saying is this: let us talk about a better way. Where we are now is not where we should be.

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