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The Elements of Innovative Transit Leadership

Cover art in the form of the periodic table

More than 20 transit leaders from around the nation will be featured in this exciting edition of DigitalCT, spanning six key concepts for the future of community and public transportation: Creative Partnerships, Service Design, Affordability, Applied Technology, Organizational Development and Policy-Making. These features utilize four unique formats for delivering content: lists, podcasts, profiles and question & answers, along with video discussions with CTAA staff.


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Editor's Note

Editor Scott Bogren

DigitalCT Editor-in-Chief Scott Bogren discusses how transit providers and advocates can better demonstrate the value of improved mobility, and the new approaches this issue of DigitalCT uses to convey that message.

A Look at the Data: Survey Results from Transit Leaders & Industry

Earlier this year, DigitalCT conducted a survey of both a sample of transit leaders and the larger community and public transportation industry. We asked them what elements of innovative leadership they considered to be most crucial. We also asked the same groups to quantify their overall level of optimism of the future of the community and public transportation industry.

Creative Partnerships

Icon similar to an element in the periodic table representing Creative Partnerships

Leadership is often viewed as a singular trait of character, but true leadership involves building consensus and finding mutual interest between key players. In today's environment of constrained investment sources and growing needs, true transit leaders cultivate unique and lasting partnerships to both provide better service and achieve efficient operations.

Service Design

Icon similar to an element in the periodic table representing Service Design

As leaders strive to develop responsive and efficient mobility options, it is more apparent than ever that what worked in the past is no longer what's needed for today. The leaders we feature in this section deploy creative mechanisms to provide service that are grounded in the needs of their communities as the a priori factor.


Icon similar to an element in the periodic table representing Affordability

These days, nothing connects transit leaders more with elected officials at all levels of government than their ability to explain how and why their services are an affordable investment for their constituents. The twin pillars of affordability -- efficient operations to justify public investment and the value riders receive from access to mobility options -- are as crucial considerations as any for today's transit leaders.

Applied Technology

Icon similar to an element in the periodic table representing Applied Technology

When viewed not as toy, but an essential element of providing reliable and responsive transit service, technological applications are vital tools for contemporary transit professionals. Technology is far more than software and computers. The most successful leaders determine their system's technology needs before rushing to acquire new software and gadgets, and utilize them in a manner that serves the needs of their community first and IT departments after.

Organizational Development

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Military historians often describe historic commanders' ability to balance strategy and tactics. Transit leaders must provide the same capability to think about their system's long-term direction as well as oversee the day-to-day functions of their organizations. By instilling an organizational culture that assumes some measure of risk in new thinking while also putting the right people and policies in place to provide reliable and effective service, transit leaders can be master strategists and solid tacticians at the same time.


Icon similar to an element in the periodic table representing Policy-Making

Transit leaders must forge a delicate blend of involvement from their boards of directors, riders, community stakeholders, partnering agencies and elected officials in order to shape their system's future direction, then codify those preferences in policy decisions. When that process is grounded in the needs of the community, new strategies, trends and investments will follow.

Postlude: Succinct Advice from Innovative Transit Leaders in Their Own Words

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A collection of some of the most memorable quotes from the innovative leaders featured in this edition of DigitalCT.

Transit Notes


Updates, news items and the latest stories on community and public transportation around the nation.


Richard Sampson
Communications Specialist
Community Transportation and RAIL Magazines
800.891.0590 x729