News | METRANS Advisory Board Meeting Looks to the Future of Sustainability

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The METRANS Advisory Board gathered on November 5th, 2021, meeting virtually to discuss new organizational initiatives, timely transportation topics, including the recently passed Infrastructure Bill, and their potential impacts. The Board also considered ways to strengthen communications efforts with an eye toward reaching a wider audience for METRANS research and programs. The board welcomed guests including a representative from the ILWU to learn more about METRANS activities, new METRANS Associates Program (MAP) members Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), as well as new representatives from existing MAP members such as Metrolink’s interim Chief Strategy Officer Arnold Hackett.

Advisory Board members discussed a range of METRANS initiatives and received activity updates on selected projects. Topics include the METRANS’ Freight Futures Initiative; the success of expanding student mentorship programs, recruitment, and internships; and ongoing efforts to bring awareness to the current supply chain disruptions. Research updates were provided on the METRANS port automation studies. Geraldine Knatz, USC Professor of Practice, is leading an international team on a comparative analysis of port automation efforts and outcomes at major ports around the world. Tom O’Brien, METRANS Deputy Director, and Tyler Reeb, Director of Research and Workforce Development at CSULB’s Center for International Trade and Transportation, are leading a team examining the economic and workforce impacts of potential port automation in California associated with the conversion of port equipment to zero emissions technology.

METRANS leaders discussed the importance of continuing to strengthen its presence among non-academic audiences. “By the time our research gets out there, decisions have already been made.” said Genevieve Giuliano, Director of METRANS, “It behooves us to anticipate and be ahead of policy, as opposed to being behind.” METRANS has increased efforts in communicating research in better ways and working to create a more visible, united image for its many research and education partners with a rebranding and shift in focus from “Center” to “Consortium.” Giuliano also introduced a “Supply Chain 101” public information service proposal to the Board. This initiative would be comprised of a series of blogs and podcasts featuring experts at USC, CSULB, and METRANS agency and industry partners in order to better inform the public about supply chains and clear up the misconceptions often shared by press, government and the public at large. The initiative, promoted through the METRANS website, will provide an opportunity to promote informed discussions regarding supply chains. “This is an opportunity because we have people's attention […] in a way that we've not had people's attention before,” Giuliano said. “It's really an opportunity to provide information and have informed discussions that’s not just among stakeholders but among policymakers and everybody else.” Advisory Board members enthusiastically supported the proposal and gave many suggestions for extending reach via existing podcasts or media channels.

The next METRANS board meeting will take place April 1, 2022, and is anticipated to be the first in-person meeting since 2019.