By Hannah King, 1st year PhD and Ryan Yowell 1st year Master of Urban and Regional Planning, UCLA
On Monday, April 16th, 2018, at USC’s Lewis Hall, PSR students had the pleasure of sharing lunch with Elissa Konove, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Metrolink, who spoke on her personal and professional journey as part of PSR’s Lunch With a Practitioner Speaker Series.
Konove touched on topics ranging from earning her Master’s in Public Policy at USC to serving as the Chief Financial Officer at the Federal Highway Administration and finally her return to Los Angeles as a Metrolink executive. The entertaining learning experience highlighted some of the many possibilities open to graduates interested in issues of transportation logistics, planning, and scheduling.
Elissa Konove addressing PSR Students
Of particular interest to many in the audience, Konove discussed the future of regional and high-speed rail in Los Angeles, including the ongoing preparations for the 2028 Olympic Games. As with all mega-events, planning for the efficient and effective transportation of Angelenos and Olympic visitors alike will be a massive undertaking. Planning for the Games raises some big questions: how do we make the most efficient use of the existing roadways and public transit infrastructure? How will we need to rethink and reconfigure Metrolink routes to best facilitate the movement of goods and people during the Olympics? And, how do we serve the transportation needs of both Angelenos and visitors during the games?
Konove noted how these preparations for the games have opened, and will continue to open, job opportunities for interested students. Additionally, Konove’s talk highlighted the current plans of Metrolink to address these and other related issues. Some of these topics included the difficulties of double-tracking lines throughout the region, the long-term vision of electrification of the system, and the uncertainty surrounding the future impacts of autonomous vehicles on regional rail service.
The opportunity to listen to an accomplished woman in transportation speaking in an intimate atmosphere was well received by many of the students. Furthermore, the chance for students from the many local universities to meet, catch-up, and discuss transportation issues further developed a warm environment and a great opportunity for networking.
About the Authors:
Hannah King is a first year PhD student in Urban Planning at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She is interested in issues of transportation finance, equity, and policy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Yowell is a first year Master of Urban and Regional Planning student at UCLA and a Communications Fellow at the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. He is interested in the role of communications and public engagement in the transportation decision making process. He can be reached at email@example.com.