Research Projects


by By Jimmy Mai, USC Viterbi MSCE 2017


On June 21st, WTS-LA presented The State of Good Repair and Asset Management lunch meeting in the iconic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The program included a panel of speakers from the three largest public transportation agencies in the Southern California region to discuss their plans regarding maintenance and repair. Speakers Roderick Diaz, Director of Planning and Development for the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink); Gregory Kildare, Risk, Safety, & Asset Management Chief Officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro); and Kia Mortazavi, Executive Director of Planning for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) were moderated by Fran Inman, Vice Chair of the California Transportation Commission as they tackled the challenges of maintaining one of the most extensive transportation systems in the country.

WTS regularly organizes events that are educational while providing networking opportunities for students. This time, five USC students attended event with the generous sponsorship of Arthur Schurr, John Livzey, Alexandra Spencer, Foothill Transit, and METRANS. One was USC Master of Planning student, Meiduo Ji. “As an aspiring urban planner, attending WTS-LA event is one of my favorite activities,” she shared. “The chapter provides so many opportunities for students to network and learn from the experience and knowledge of transportation professionals. I know I speak for all of the students when I express my sincere appreciation to the chapter and the sponsors for making these opportunities accessible to us.”    

The panelists pointed out three key reasons for maintaining a state of good repair. First, safety - conducting proper maintenance on public infrastructure is a significant factor in public safety. With over one million passengers using Metro, Metrolink, and OCTA transit services daily, keeping transit infrastructure operation safe is vital to a large component of the population, not to mention those impacted who are not riders. Secondly, good asset management can preserve these valuable structures, and bad asset management can effectively squander the funds used to create them. Public transportation infrastructure in the SoCal region, in part due to its extensive rail services, cost billions of dollars to build. Public transit agencies have the responsibility to do everything possible to make these assets reach their intended service life. Lastly, agencies should be proactive in their asset management strategies; the cost of poor maintenance from a year over year budget perspective is much higher than the cost of good, proactive efforts. Proper maintenance and repair should be conducted regularly instead of after breakdown occurs. The cost of repair after a breakdown is dramatically higher than regular maintenance cost.

From left to right: Hue-Tam Jamme, USC Price School Urban Planning & Development PhD student; Meiduo Ji, USC Price School MPL 2018; METRANS Advisory Board Member Fran Inman, Vice Chair of California Transportation Commission; Jimmy Mai, USC Viterbi School MSCE 2017; Prithvi Deore, USC Price School MPL 2018; and Rui Zhang, USC Price School MPL 2018.

Photo by John Livzey


About the Author

Jimmy Mai is a recent graduate of the USC Viterbi MSCE – Transportation Engineering program. He can be reached at [email protected].