Podcast: Metro’s Chief Innovation Officer

Shortly after Phil Washington became CEO of Metro in 2015, he said that he intended to help Metro become the best transit agency in the world. As part of that effort, Phil announced he was creating an Office of Extraordinary Innovation. And then last fall he hired Joshua Schank to lead that office.

In today’s podcast, I talk to Joshua about his first few months on the job, some of the ideas he’s considering and the crazy  and complex world of transportation finance. The podcast runs about 25 minutes. Thanks for listening!

4 replies

  1. I enjoyed this interview, and it does provide me a bit of optimism for Metro’s future. I have a couple points.

    First would be that I heard the comment “of things being difficult” mentioned a number of times, I assume this to mean unlikely to happen. I think that we should not shy away from projects because they are difficult, if something needs to be done it should not matter the difficulty. I’m sure making the first iPhone was rather difficult but they did it and it transformed everything.

    Secondly, I agree with the concept of there needing to be a transition away from this being a social service to transportation service. I would consider this involves raising the bar in standards of service. Namely in areas that transit users care about, speed, convenience, ease of use and safety. I think adding fees for parking at metro stations is a mistake in this sense because it is adding a barrier to adoption. If you don’t have the infrastructure that allows for people to leave their auto at home, adding additional costs just creates more disincentives for adoption. If you need additional funding for transit, then I’d think taxes on roadways or fuel is a better option, (but I would say all these funds must be put toward QUICKLY expanding the rail system so that people have a viable alternative to the automobile.)

    Something that I feel is promising is the development of more of these express lines, namely the 501 from North Hollywood to Pasadena. To have lines with minimal stops (4 or less) that shoot travelers from one part of the grid to another is effectively shrinking the city grid. This is marvelous and begins to make mass-transit more attractive to those that have the option to ride or not ride it. Although still I think grade-separated is going to be necessary to achieve competitive travel times against the auto.

    I don’t think there are many transit solutions from other cities will meet the usage needs of LA citizens, because we have a huge regional grid which people commonly travers from end to end. It is common for people to live in pasadena , work in downtown, and dine in west hollywood, if you want people to adopt mass-transit you need to have a network that supports citizens lifestyles and activities without becoming a burden.

    When you do this you will be effective at transitioning from a social service to a transportation service.

  2. Mr. Hymon, I admire your writing style but when it comes to podcasting you are a ROOKIE!
    Do Not assume that we all drink from an RSS feed / iTunes / Google Play etc.
    Soundcloud, great, another service to figure out … I’ve got too many podcasts to scan as it is.

    Puleeze post a direct link here to the audio file for downloading.

  3. […] Finalmente, el director de la Oficina de Innovación de Metro, Joshua Schank, dijo que una de sus principales metas es encontrar una alianza pública-privada (PPP] para Metro. En síntesis, las PPPs son una forma de usar dinero privado para financiar, construir u operar infraestructura pública. ¿Qué proyectos? Eso lo veremos. Escuchen una reciente entrevista con Joshua en este enlace. […]