News | Transportation Students Breakfast with L.A. Metro Chief Planning Officer, Therese McMillan

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Transportation Students Breakfast with L.A. Metro Chief Planning Officer, Therese McMillan

Sunday, April 29, 2018

by By Meiduo Ji , USC Sol Price School of Public Policy,MPL 2018

On April 11, 2018 WTS-LA hosted a breakfast event with LA Metro’s Chief Planning officer Theresa McMillan. In her role with Metro, McMillan has been responsible for helping nearly 10 million people use public transportation since April 2016. She is both a leader in transportation policy and a community and coalition builder. Last year, McMillan came to USC to share her experiences and the future of public transportation future with students, faculty, practitioners, and the general public, hosted by METRANS Transportation Center. This year, she presented an update, hosted by WTS-LA, and focused on Metro’s long-range infrastructure plans for Los Angeles County.  Thirteen local college students were able to attend at no cost to them, thanks to the generous sponsorships of Emilie Gino, John Livzey, Arthur Schurr, and Thornton Tomasetti.

Students with Therese McMillan, from the left Radin Rahimzade, MPP 2018; Meiduo Ji, MPL 2018; Andrea Lopez, MPL 2018;

Isai Jefferson Rosa, MPL & MPA 2019; Dylan Coyle, MPL 2019; Parama Ghosh Roy, MPL 2018;

Rui Zhang, MPL 2018; Kevin Barrow, MPL 2019; Armeen Neshat, MPL 2018; Kidada Malloy, UCLA MURP 2019;

Yilin Zhang, MPL 2018; and Sanjana Mada, MPL 2018. Photo by Meiduo Ji

McMillan spoke about the opportunities and challenges of planning transportation in this dynamic region, including community outreach, safety, grant funding, and the need for active forms of transportation. McMillan emphasized the importance of community outreach. “It’s important moving beyond the thought of joint development and land we own and really start thinking about how transit infrastructure transforms the community.” she said. She explained community outreach in three aspects: engagement, education, and coordination.

Safety is another topic that McMillan emphasized in the speech. She mentioned the importance of customer service. “With the understanding of our customers, we will address the need for a better balance between service and track outages to upgrade the system. We remain committed to creating an even safer system.” she mentioned.

“The event was a great opportunity to learn how L.A. Metro works to advance the agency's efforts and initiatives through branding and targeted outreach,” noted Kidada Malloy, a graduate student in the Master of Planning program at UCLA. “Additionally, the event provided an opportunity to network with other students and staff in the transportation field and learn about the diverse range of academic and professional pursuits. The WTS-LA event was an incredibly enriching one, and I'm glad that I had the chance to attend."

Rui Zhang, a graduate student in the Master of Planning program at USC, emphasized the importance of building connections with professionals at the event. “WTS events are great opportunities for students like me to build connections with professionals and keep up with updates in the industry. As a transit enthusiast, it’s very exciting to learn Metro’s continuing effort to improve safety of the transit system, engage more communities and create opportunities for people.”

Rui Zhang has a great conversation with a professional.  Photo by Meiduo Ji

Yilin Zhang, a master of transportation planning student at USC, shared that she is most appreciative of these types of events and the sponsorships which make them possible for students.  “As a graduate student majoring in transportation planning, I try to seize every opportunity to listen to professional veterans like Therese McMillan. Their experience is so valuable to  young professionals like me.”

Yilin Zhang networking with professionals. Photo by Meiduo Ji

About the Author:

Meiduo Ji is a second-year graduate student majoring in Urban Planning at the University of Southern California. She is also pursuing a GIS Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence. She works as a student assistant at METRANS Transportation Center, both as a staff writer and as a research assistant helping to document and describe current shipment patterns in the LA region for the Cyber Physical Regional Freight Transportation System. She is also an intern in Kendall Planning + Design, designing maps for Metro First Last Mile Training Workshops.  She is interested in transportation planning and aims to apply her GIS skills to the planning field. She can be reached at [email protected].