Location: Zoom

Transit Research in Practice:

Making change from inside an agency


Friday, April 8th, 2022    


1:40 PM (Pacific)



The research and data analysis team at the MBTA/MassDOT was situated in organizational space between policy decision-makers and the operating divisions. This position allowed us to use research to inform key policy decisions and to help operating divisions improve performance. Several factors were central to our ability to effect change. We built relationships with operating units, the community we served, and leadership/decision-makers. We understood the data we had, the data we didn’t have, and what type of accuracy was important for different types of decisions. We developed the analytic capacity of the agency and the data literacy of various audiences. The iterative research and implementation process showed the impact of research on the outcomes for the community we served.


Dr. Laurel Paget-Seekins was a 2021 Leadership in Government fellow with Open Society Foundation working on a project on transit equity in the recovery from COVID. Until December 2020 Laurel was the Assistant General Manager for Policy at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. She worked on service and fare policy with the goal to improve transit equity, including collaborating with community partners to lower fares for youth, add early morning service for shift workers, and decriminalize fare evasion. Previously Laurel was a Director in the Office of Performance Management and Innovation for the MBTA and Massachusetts Department of Transportation. She led a diverse interdisciplinary team that analyzed transportation data across the modal silos to address policy and operational challenges.

Before joining the public sector, Laurel was a post-doc fellow at the BRT Center of Excellence in Santiago, Chile and at the Technical University of Munich. She is the co-editor of Restructuring Public Transport through Bus Rapid Transit from Policy Press. She earned a BA from Oberlin College and a master’s in City and Regional Planning and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.