The Vision Process

Development of Imagine Transportation 2.0 began in early 2015, when the board of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development directed staff to develop a regional transportation vision and implementation framework that focused on the region’s future needs. The Allegheny Conference is a 72-year-old business-civic leadership group that focuses on issues of sustainability, prosperity and quality of life in the Pittsburgh region.

The Allegheny Conference established the Regional Transportation Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a public-private partnership consisting of one public-sector representative and one private-sector representative from each of the 10 counties in the region, plus the City of Pittsburgh. This structure was modeled after the previously-successful regional development initiative from the late 1990s called the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance. In this case, the RTA’s purpose was to facilitate a broad community discussion about the region’s transportation future. The Allegheny Conference provided the staff support for the RTA: Ken Zapinski, Senior Vice President, Energy & Infrastructure; Carly Dobbins-Bucklad, Senior Policy Analyst and RTA Project Manager; and Katelyn Haas, Transportation Fellow.

During the summer of 2015, each county was asked to approve a formal resolution of participation in the RTA. Nearly every county passed such a resolution, though some jurisdictions chose a more informal route. Recruitment of private-sector participants was conducted at the same time.

The RTA was publicly launched on Sept. 30, 2015. The first phase of the project was a crowdsourcing initiative to ask a broad cross-section of groups across the 10 counties to identify their biggest transportation challenges. The RTA contacted nearly 800 groups across 23 different market segments for this effort:

  1. Aging Population Advocates
  2. Chambers of Commerce
  3. Colleges and Universities
  4. Community Colleges & Trade Schools
  5. Economic and Industrial Development Partners
  6. Environmental & Health Advocacy Groups
  7. Freight Carriers
  8. Human/Social Services
  9. Large Arts and Entertainment Organizations
  10. Library Systems
  11. Organized Labor
  12. Minority and Diversity Advocacy Organizations
  13. Community Development Organizations
  14. Park Systems and Recreation Organizations
  15. Top 10 Private Employers by County
  16. 3 Largest School Districts by County
  17. Tourism Boards
  18. Trade Associations
  19. Transportation Advocacy Groups
  20. Transportation Providers
  21. Workforce Investment Boards
  22. Young Professional Organizations
  23. Youth Services Organizations

The RTA received responses from more than 350 of those contacted. In Spring 2016, the free-form responses were analyzed and 17 different priorities, grouped into four themes, emerged.

The solution that crowdsourcing respondents most often suggested to address these challenges was expanded public transit service.

RTA staff sought reaction and feedback on these preliminary findings at speaking engagements around the region, in interviews with targeted stakeholders across the regions, and in sessions convened with elected officials from around southwestern PA. RTA staff also held additional focus groups and other data-gathering meetings with business executives from across the region, particularly in the manufacturing and freight sectors, to round out the input.

The RTA sponsored a Future of Mobility Forum, free and open to the public, on July 11, 2016. The forum featured video highlights from the November 2015 MIT Disrupting Mobility Global Summit (which had been attended by RTA staff), panels of experts and futurists, and an apres-event wine-and-beer salon for participants to engage with the speakers, who included:

  • Nahom Beyene, RAND
  • Marshal Brown, Illinois Institute of Technology Driverless Cities Program
  • Stan Caldwell, Carnegie Mellon University Traffic 21 Institute
  • Chris Cochran, Pinellas Suncoast Transit
  • Roger Cohen, Policy Director, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and co-chair, PA Autonomous Vehicle Task Force
  • Grace Gallucci, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency
  • Robert Hampshire, Human Factors Group, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
  • Jennifer Krusius, Uber
  • Joe McAndrew, Transportation for America
  • Jake Sion, Transit App

The RTA Steering Committee held eight meetings in 2015-2016 to discuss findings, debate recommendations, identify information gaps to be addressed, and to direct the staff’s ongoing work, before reaching a unanimous consensus around the content of Imagine Transportation 2.0.

Imagine Transportation 2.0 was released to the public on March 8, 2017.