Through a mix of project efforts, organizational participation, authorship of magazine articles, publication of documents and plans, and pro bono work, Transportation Alternatives has been deeply involved in policy development and analysis throughout its nearly four decades in the transportation field.
Policy Documents and Statements
Largely through TA’s organizational activities, the Company has commented formally on transportation policies in a number of key areas. Among the most noteworthy are:
- TA President Ned Einstein authored one of the nation’s most comprehensive overviews of seat belts on school buses, strongly urging the pupil transportation community and state legislatures not to mandate the installation of lap belts on large school buses. This overview was published in School Transportation News (“Why Seat Belts Should Not Be Installed on Large School Buses: A Summary Report” (May 1999, pp. 18,19), as well as a full-length, 8000-word treatise on the subject available on STN’s website (see STNonline.com/Why Seatbelts Should Not Be Installed on Large School Buses).
- TA President Ned Einstein’s co-authorship (with California Supervisor of Pupil Transportation Ron Kinney) of a policy document calling for safety improvements in transit and other forms of public transportation in addition to traditional pupil transportation, and requesting the commencement of a dialogue between leaders of the pupil transportation and transit communities and the organizations which represent and direct them. (“Partnership between School Bus and Public Transit Service.”) This document was adopted unanimously by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), and broke a longstanding stalemate between the pupil transportation and transit communities.
- TA President Ned Einstein submitted a formal paper to L’association Internationale pour le Sècuritè du Transport des Jeunes (A.I.S.T.) for presentation at the First International Conference on Child Transportation Safety (postponed from September, 1995), on the subject of Federal standards for U.S.-manufactured school buses and the infeasibility of installing lap belts on these full-size school buses
- For the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), TA helped the plaintiff’s win a Consent Decree in a class action suit between the disabled residents of Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority involving the LACMTA’s continued non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (See Safety Consulting and Expert Witness Services and ADA Planning.)
- As the original Director of the U.S. Business Council for Slovenia, and following the U.S. model government loan to Chrysler Corporation, TA President Ned Einstein lobbied the Slovene government to provide $9M in subsidies to TA’s joint venture partners, TAM-BUS and AM-BUS (representing 12,000 workers) during the nation’s initial years of democracy and free-market economics. Numerous articles by and about Mr. Einstein and the TAM-USA venture appeared in Vecer, Gospodarski Vestnik, Podjetnik and other Slovene publications (see Articles about Transportation Alternatives, TAM-USA and Ned Einstein and Make Way… Slovenia Coming Through!).
- Prior to TA’s formation, Ned Einstein prepared the Summary of the National Survey of the Transportation Handicapped submitted to Congress — the document which led to the Carter Administration’s adoption of the doctrine of “full accessibility” (i.e., installing wheelchair lifts and securement devices on all fixed route transit buses), and which 15 years later led to the formulation of the transportation sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Formal Work Products
TA has often expressed a range of important policy positions and recommendations, and commented on a number of often controversial transportation-related issues, in the context of the numerous transit plans, studies and analyses performed by the Company. These issues have included:
- TA conducted Los Angeles County’s first two studies of the cost savings and performance benefits from the privatization of its transit system, urging the County to contract out low-performing portions of service and reprogram the savings into areas of high transit demand (see Transportation Planning, Analysis and Studies). Years later, these efforts led to the formation of the San Gabriel Transit Zone and Foothill Transit, as well as the LACMTA’s contracting out of 37 of its several hundred fixed routes.
- In its preparation of five municipal Transit Plans, TA established policies, priorities and criteria for these communities’ expenditure of discretionary County sales tax revenues (see Transportation Planning, Analysis and Studies).
- In its many system design and performance analysis efforts, and their countless plans, proposals and memoranda, TA issued technical recommendations for transportation system restructuring to effect a range of policy objectives from improved service to transit-dependent and disabled individuals to cost savings and performance improvement. (See ADA Planning and Performance Analysis and Evaluation.)
- TA’s USDOT-funded analysis of 30 paratransit systems in 18 U.S. cities resulted in a sweeping set of policy recommendations about transportation for special user groups like elderly and disabled individuals. These recommendations were contained in a three-volume manual authored by TA President Ned Einstein published by USDOT (see Technical Documents by Transportation Alternatives).
- TA encouraged coordination and consolidation of various transportation services in its conduct of numerous analyses, preparation of documents submitted to Federal, local and county governments, and countless presentations to City Councils and at other public forums (see Coordination and Consolidation).
- TA’s efforts on the TAM-USA school bus project led directly to a considerable number of changes in every U.S. manufacturers’ school buses – including the widespread availability of features like pneumatic suspension systems and ABS brakes in virtually every full-size school bus model. (See Vehicle Design and Product Development.) TA and TAM-USA effectively campaigned for an enormous range of safety improvements in its marketing and advertising efforts associated with this project (see Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations).
- Through its participation as an Expert Witness in more than 400 personal injury, wrong death, labor relations and class action lawsuits – more than half of them involving schoolchildren, elderly individuals, physically and developmentally challenged persons and wheelchair occupants, TA has helped expand the legal framework, and establish a broad range of safety precedents, in a range of areas (see Safety Consulting and Expert Witness Services).
- In its redesign of the Carson Circuit Transit System (see Transportation System Design, TA created the most extensive model of integrated transit and pupil transportation service in North America – including the creation of a non-lingual and user-centric map and schedule (see Map and Schedule Design).
Publication of Articles in National Trade Magazines
TA has taken a number of strong advocacy positions in articles submitted to and published by a number of national trade magazines ranging from School Bus Fleet and School Transportation News to Exceptional Parent and National Bus Trader. Among these publications, Mr. Einstein has authored a monthly column on the subject of “Safety and Liability” for National Bus Trader magazine since 2000, and a monthly column on crossing (“The Crossing Guy”) for School Transportation News since 2008. Otherwise, policy positions of many of my articles have included approaches to improving transit and paratransit performance, wheelchair transportation safety and liability, the transportation of schoolchildren on alternative modes, and the perceptions of children when using public transportation. (See Articles by Ned Einstein.) In particular, TA’s involvement in the TAM-USA venture represented one of the first cases of an East-West joint venture where the Eastern partner contributed most of the financing (see Make Way… Slovenia Coming Through!).