Reforming America’s Transportation System

Reforming America’s Transportation System

October 15, 2019  | ENO CENTER FOR TRANSPORTATION

In February 2019 the Eno Center for Transportation (Eno) and the Reason Foundation (Reason) convened a three-day workshop (the Workshop) at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) near Tarrytown, New York. Supported by RBF, with additional funding from Smith Richardson Foundation (SRF), the Workshop brought together twenty-four scholars and executives, expert in transportation policy, finance, operations, technology, and environment.

The Workshop explored challenges to transportation governance and considered whether they can be addressed through institutional reform. Questions included: Can today’s transportation governance structures, funding arrangements, decision-making mechanisms, and operating practices respond to the disruptive changes that surround them? What potential reforms to institutions and practices could improve safety, efficiency, and equity in the movement of people and goods? The discussion addressed both capital and operational decision-making.

As transportation-related organizations’ missions evolve and goals change, these questions become “threshold issues.” They are necessary to the provision of efficient, reliable, and accessible transportation services, yet are rarely researched or analyzed. Policy changes are suggested without considering whether agencies and departments are structured to enable their implementation. The discussion at Pocantico addressed this need because of the dramatic changes taking place in American society and the economy. The Workshop explored these changes and how they influence and are influenced by the nation’s transportation system through planning, capital programming, operations, and maintenance.

This report is not a summary or consensus statement of the Workshop’s proceedings. The discussions were exploratory and wide-ranging, and this report identifies significant issues, areas of common concern, and broad themes that emerged. Together, the participants hope that they can motivate further discussion among those who participated and other transportation thought leaders. The intent is that the discussions and exchanges of ideas and experiences will lead to recommendations for specific governance and institutional reforms recognizing the critical influence of transportation policies, investments, and operations on American society.

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