Candidate Statements for the October 2019 Regional Transportation Advisory Council Election
Candidate Statement: Schuyler Larrabee, running for Chair of the Advisory Council
Who I am
I graduated from Syracuse University with both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Architecture and have been practicing architecture for close to 50 years. A great deal of my experience in both the private sector, where I had my own firm for 18 years, and in the public sector working for the Commonwealth as a Senior Program Manager with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) has been in master planning large developments, and the vehicle and transit access to them.
Throughout my entire career, transportation, and how it shapes cities, towns and the development of individual projects has been of great, often the primary, interest for me in designing and managing the development of private and public projects. Because of my avocational interest, I have accumulated substantial technical knowledge about how transportation systems are created and managed.
I have represented the Boston Society of Architects on the RTAC since January 2008. I chaired the development of a prior edition of the LRTP, and have taken active participation in the development of the TIP and the UPWP. I am currently working with CTPS staff to revive and extend the membership of several towns and interest groups.
I have lived in Cambridge and Newton since 1976, observing the evolution of the transportation systems in eastern Massachusetts ever since. I joined RTAC in January 2008. I served one term as Vice Chair with Laura Wiener as Chair.
What I believe
Boston, and the region, are on the cusp of enormous developments in all forms of transportation. Extending and improving the frequency of commuter rail, the expanded and improved Green Line, reconstruction of the Turnpike through the “throat” in Allston, even connecting North and South Stations are enormous undertakings. At the other end of the scale, we see electric scooters and ebikes. How will all this be accommodated and even better, integrated?
The state has plans: the MBTA’s Focus 40, and the State Rail Plan, the MBTA’s Program for Mass Transportation, among others. MassPort has expansion plans concerning access.
I believe that Regional Transportation Advisory Council must be fully informed about all these developments to be in a position to render advice to the MPO. To that end, I will work to have presentations to the Council on all of these topics well in advance of the decisions being finalized by the various agencies making them.
Only then, I believe, can the Council serve its purpose, to advise the MPO on the opinions of the various cities, towns and interest groups.
(If I hang up on you, please call again. Due to spam, I tend to hang up on unrecognized numbers.)
Candidate Statement: Len Diggins, running for Chair of the Advisory Council
I currently reside in Arlington, and I’ve lived in the Boston area continuously since 1981. I majored in biology, and I've done extensive research in population & evolution genetics as well as neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's Disease and Huntington's Disease (1, 2, 3). My experience relating to transit and transportation began in 2004 when I became one of the initial members of the MBTA Rider Oversight Committee. Since then, I've acquired much knowledge regarding the MBTA. general transit issues across properties, and the overall transportation network of which transit is a part. Though much of my knowledge has come from reading various reports and draft proposals, more important and detailed knowledge has come from those who work within the MBTA, MassDOT, CTPS, and other groups as well as many individuals with which I have formed trusting relationships (4, 5).
Though I didn’t set out to become the Chair of RTAC this year, bolstered by some unexpected encouragement, I find myself excited and energized by the prospect of becoming the Chair of RTAC, a group that has accelerated my understanding of the complexity and importance of our transportation network. By becoming Chair, my hope is that my knowledge and understanding not only will increase through closer interaction with members of RTAC, but also that I will be able to apply what I’ve learned and will continue to learn to serving the goals of RTAC more effectively from a leadership position (6).
With a group like RTAC, I feel that the notion of "leading from behind" should be seen in a positive light. I think that the Chair should make sure that the voice of every member is heard, publicly and/or privately, and then the Chair should take steps to address the issues and concerns of the membership. Of course, as a member, I have some ideas to contribute, too. Below, is a list of what I see as some goals for RTAC along with some ideas that I intend to propose to the group:
* Work with the MPO to transform the RTAC's comments on the current Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) into action items. This includes: (A) the development of performance metrics that are more relevant to the MPOs goals; (B) scenario planning exercises in order to better appreciate the benefits of sufficient funding for the transportation network and the consequences of continued underfunding; and (C) working with cities and towns to identify or create local entities that can propose needed projects to the MPO and that can also function as resources for input and feedback to RTAC. This will involve a thorough review of the Needs Assessment document associated with most recent LRTP.
* Work with the MPO to make the MBTA’s Capital Investment Planning process more transparent. This includes revealing how projects are scored and the rationale for project selection.
* Participate in the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) working group.
* Interact more closely with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and keep abreast of the development of MetroCommon 2050. Though it is not in our scope to comment on MetroCommon 2050, we can take measures to make sure that we are well-informed and in a better position to comment on the 2050 plan as individuals and/or through the groups that we represent.
* Review the Future of Transportation Report and determine how to use the information provided in the near-term and long-term in order to foster better regional planning and cooperation.
* Devote some time at each meeting (and possibly extending the meetings by 15 minutes) to hearing from one or two members of RTAC on issues that concern them personally and/or the organizations that they represent.
* Engage non-executive RTAC members to a greater extent in creating the monthly meeting agenda.
* Reach out to other established groups that deal with transportation or transportation-related issues for ideas and comments regarding the RTAC, the BostonMPO, and salient issues of the day
I generally think of myself as an incrementalist. Yes, major changes do happen, such as the internet and possibly autonomous vehicles, but year in and year out, we strive to improve the system that we have rather than rebuild it. The key is to find the small changes that will have
the biggest impact while also being watchful of innovations that can affect not only the transportation system but also how people use it. This requires attention to details and the ability to interact effectively with other groups and individuals. I have the necessary aptitudes and skills! I am very enthusiastic about using my abilities in any role on the RTAC as we work to accomplish our primary goal of making the transportation network function better for everyone.
To the extent that I know anything, it is because I have learned from the words, written or spoken, of more knowledgeable people. I have tremendous respect for the people that I have met and worked with on transportation and transit issues over the last 15 years, and my heart has been warmed by the positive responses that I received when I asked the people listed below to
serve as references. I made it clear to them and I make it clear to you that these are not endorsements. This is a listing of people that you can contact for more input on what it's like to work with me and/or my knowledge of transportation and transit issues. More importantly, though, they are people to whom I do and will continue to refer when I want feedback, comments, advice, and new ideas.
* Daniel Amstutz, Senior Transportation Planner, Arlington, email@example.com
* Eric Bourassa, Transportation Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Ali Carter, Economic Developer Coordinator, Arlington, email@example.com
* Adam Chapdelaine, Town Manager, Arlington, AChapdelaine@town.arlington.ma.us
* Joe Curro, Select Board Member, Arlington, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Chris Dempsey, Director, Transportation for Massachusetts, email@example.com
* Melissa Dullea, Senior Director of Service Planning, MBTA, MDullea@mbta.com
* Linda Dillon, Director of Customer Service, Keolis, Linda.firstname.lastname@example.org
* Dan Dunn, Select Board Member, Arlington, email@example.com
* Alison Felix, Senior Transportation Planner & Emerging Technologies Specialist, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Robert Guptill, Manager of Service Planning, MBTA, email@example.com
* Scott Hamwey, Manager of Transit Planning, Office of Transportation Planning, MassDOT, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Brian Langevin, Co-Chair, Capital Investment & Finance Subcommittee, MBTA Rider Oversight Committee, email@example.com
* John Lozada, former, Director, Office of Civil Rights, MassDOT, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Liz Moore, former Director of Policy and Planning, CTPS, email@example.com
* Howard Muise, Chair, Arlington Transportation Advisory Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Josh Ostroff, Partnerships Director, Transportation for Massachusetts, email@example.com
* Laurel Paget-Seekins, Assistant General Manager for Policy, MBTA, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Jenny Raitt, Director, Department of Planning & Community Development, Arlington, email@example.com
* Jen Rowe, Transportation Planner, Boston Transportation Department, (formerly Participation Program Manager, CTPS), firstname.lastname@example.org
* Paul Regan, Executive Director, MBTA Advisory Board, email@example.com
* Scott Smith, Operations Research Analyst, Volpe National Transportation Center, USDOT, firstname.lastname@example.org
* Charlie Ticotsky, Policy Director, Transportation for Massachusetts, email@example.com
* Robert Vivona, Principal Autonomy Engineer, Aurora Flight Sciences, firstname.lastname@example.org
* There are at least 9 current members of the CTPS that I feel that I can call anytime, but I didn’t think that it was appropriate for me to ask them to serve as references.
(1) Increased Selection Response in Larger Populations: Selection for Ethanol Vapor Resistance in Drosophila melanogaster at Two Population Sizes
Weber KE and Diggins LT, Genetics, 125: 585-597 (July, 1990)
(2) Genomic analysis reveals that Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence is combinatorial
Lee DG, Urbach JM, Wu G, Liberati NT, Feinbaum RI, Myata S, Diggins LT, He J,
Saucier M, Deziel E, Friedman L, Li L, Grills G, Montgomery K, Kucherlapati R,
Rahme LG, Ausubel FM, Genome Biology, 2006; 7 (10): R90
(3) Optimization of treatment regimens for high-throughput screening of transgenic fruit flies.
L Diggins, MB Mahoney, D Keefe, W Lee, E Lund, J Symonds, CM Singh, Society for Neuroscience Conference 2009 (Poster)
(4) Central Transportation Planning Staff
(5) I have worked with the MBTA and the MPO on separate occasions to give extensive input on developing their respective equity (Disparate Impact and Disproportionate Burden) policies.
(6) I have also attended at least ten MPO and UPWP working group meetings over the last three years, and there are many faces that I recognize in the room. I know them, and they know me; so, I would come to the table with a sense of comfort and confidence that would allow me to interact at the meetings with greater ease from the beginning of my term as Chair.
Candidate Statement: Scott Zadakis, running for Vice Chair of the Advisory Council
Over the past four years that I have been attending RTAC meetings I have become well-acquainted with the functions of the Boston MPO and I have enjoyed learning more over time about the important role the MPO plays in sustaining, expanding, and evolving our regional transportation systems. During this time I have also found that within RTAC the varied disciplines, sub-sectors, and voices that are represented – whether members, presenters, staff, or attendees – create great value in our meetings and ultimately our input to the MPO. I look forward to the opportunity as Vice Chair to help facilitate informative meetings with dynamic presentations that continue this dialogue and keep RTAC both interesting and effective as an advisory body.
As Vice Chair I will leverage my background in transportation policy and planning as well as my knowledge about the needs of the region to effectively communicate the vision of our members and I will assist the Chair in any way I can so that they may be as effective as possible at doing the same. I will also strive in the exemplary footsteps of recent leadership to keep meetings efficient and keep the Council on-task to improve transportation assets in our region.
Lastly, I look forward to the opportunity of working more closely with CTPS and MPO staff to help them carry out their mandate, as well as with RTAC committees, guest speakers, and all of you.