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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Mary Buchanan

Mary Buchanan is the research associate at TransitCenter. Her work uncovers practical, rider-focused solutions that make transit more functional and more equitable in U.S. cities. Some of her work addresses improving bus stops, understanding ridership decline, and using transit performance data to strengthen advocacy for better service. Mary holds a B.A. in Economics from Rice University and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University.

What do you most enjoy about YPT?

Having a network to draw on for professional connections is great, but the thing I like most is meeting people who are as nerdy about transit and cities as me. It’s valuable to dig into issues I’m facing at work or experiencing on my daily commute, with people who really know and care about these questions. And it’s fun to do that over a beer.

What’s your preferred transport mode and why?

Walking! It’s the exploring mode, because you can take in a lot more of your surroundings from the sidewalk. And you control everything about it – how fast you go, which path you take, if and when and where you stop. For short trips in New York City, walking can be fastest (if you walk fast, which I do). Plus, the exercise and fresh air.

What are you working on that you’re most passionate or proud about?

Transit agencies are required to provide equitable transit – where everyone has fair access to quality service. In reality, people of color, people with low incomes, and other marginalized groups – who often use transit more – are allotted lesser service and have worse access to opportunity. TransitCenter, with Center for Neighborhood Technology, seeks to understand what decisions at transit agencies cause these imbalances, identify which existing agency policies have led to equitable outcomes, and build a set of processes for achieving equitable transit broadly. I’m excited to contribute to a body of work by advocates, academics, and practitioners that’s called for transformative changes to how we govern and plan transit to make it equitable, as it’s meant to be.

What is the biggest transit-related problem that you’d like to help solve?

Most of our country’s sidewalks are in deplorable conditions, and in most of the U.S., there aren’t any sidewalks at all. Walking feels impossible, taking transit feels impossible – in fact, it is nearly impossible to travel by anything but a car. Changing this sidewalk status quo would make walking and transit attainable for many more trips, it would make driving and biking safer as well.

Do you have any career advice for YPT’ers interested in advocacy/organizing work?

It’s easiest and most rewarding to advocate for something you really believe in. And, advocacy takes all forms – it’s much richer than rallying cries and signs. Identify what your strengths are and offer those skills up to your cause.

Categories
Member Profiles

Member Profile: Lauren Bailey

We’re excited to launch this year’s member profile series with Lauren Bailey, the Director of Climate Policy at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign!

Lauren works to fulfill Tri-State’s priority to meet climate goals. Previously, Lauren served as the Capital District’s Transportation Authority’s Mobility Manager, overseeing their alternative transportation portfolio including a bike-share program, taxi policy, and microtransit. She also has experience in policy development and advocacy, including clean energy and healthcare. Lauren holds a Master’s Certificate in Urban Policy and a B.A. in Political Science & Public Health from the University at Albany, State University of New York.

What do you most enjoy about YPT?

Having a way to talk about the transportation and transit industry with my peers without the pressure of representing my organization–and getting to joke about it. Transportation can be a slog, and it’s fun to talk to other people who find it interesting as well.

What’s your preferred transport mode and why?

Biking! It’s freeing to not have to stress about traffic or making a public transit timetable work. Plus, the breeze and fresh air always put me in a good mood–even biking through Manhattan.

What are you working on that you’re most passionate or proud about?

I think I am most proud of my organization’s work around the MTA Capital Plan. It’s so easy for the public–and even transit professionals–to glaze over when you look at project lists, budgets, and timelines. Our work has centered on humanizing the massive investments and asking questions to make sure transit advocates, other government officials and the riding public have the answers they need.

What is the biggest transit-related problem that you’d like to help solve?

I want to figure out how to get people in suburban areas out of their vehicles. There is such a stigma to walking, biking, and taking transit in areas where driving is often the quickest. 

Do you have any career advice for YPT’ers interested in advocacy/organizing work?

Start by getting involved as a volunteer. Find organizations that resonate with you–for me, I’ve always felt tied to climate organizing and bicycle/pedestrian advocacy. If you like an organization’s mission and they have a job opening, apply and make sure to attend any events they have to make an impression. Lots of advocacy and organizing groups are very small and low budget, so they are more likely to take notice of you as a candidate if they already know your face and name.