News | USC's Andy Meger Joins METRANS Student News Team as News Data Analyst

Stop the Video



by Christopher Keating, USC, Master of Urban Planning, Transportation 2023


USC Price Master of Urban Planning, Mobility and Transportation Planning student Anderson (Andy) Meger has been tapped to lead strategic efforts for the METRANS Student News Team. Meger graduated from Santa Clara University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, magna cum laude. Showcasing his ambition, Meger joined METRANS the summer prior to his first semester at USC to work on both the strategy and newsletter teams. Colleague Christopher Keating sat down with Andy to discuss his background, interests, and ambitions.


Anderson (Andy) Meger, 

USC Price Master of Urban Planning, Mobility and Transportation Planning student


You studied economics.  What made you interested in urban planning and transportation?

That's a really good question. I would say a couple of things. First of all, I have had a passion for transportation for a really long time. That wasn't really something that I discovered in college or anything, I initially wanted to go into more of like a business, more for-profit side. But after spending a bit of time actually in a finance program, I kind of realized that that wasn't for me. And I wanted to be in a position where I could work on equity goals and environmental goals. And really, the transportation side of urban planning stood out in that regard. In particular, being able to work to use transportation to make cities more equitable and sustainable.


If you had to pick just one mode of transportation, what would you say is your favorite?

Well, I'm partial to all things public transportation, but I think especially think buses are unloved – but so versatile and essential. I’d pick them!


What attracted you to USC Price? For example, what ultimately made you choose USC over a different program?

One thing that attracted me to USC was the fact that the urban planning program was within a public policy school (Price School of Public Policy). As you know, [urban planning programs] are all over the place, some in the architecture schools, others in engineering. I knew that the policy side was the most interesting to me. So, I figured that those core classes would probably resonate the most with me. I also kind of wanted to come back to California to see LA. I feel like [in the Southern California] region, you can find like the worst of planning and the best of planning in the same ecosystem. So I think it's kind of an interesting place to study planning. And those were kind of the two driving factors that pulled me to USC.


That’s really interesting, I have heard that before. Where people say that Southern California has the best and worst ideas. I think, honestly, it's because it's a testing ground for everything, and some things fail horribly while others worked out great.

Definitely. I feel like it is because bad choices were made [previously]. But, there's a political and financial will to do something about that. And examine what went well and what went wrong.


How did you discover METRANS and what made you want to become part of the team?

I went to admitted student day for the Price School. One of the speakers was Reaghan Murphy, whom you may have met. I met her and she actually talked about things both inside and outside of METRANS that she was working on with LADOT and some other organizations that resonated with my career goals. So, I reached out to her to have an informational interview about that. On that call, she brought up more about METRANS and talked about how it was a great experience for her. She introduced me by email to [the Associate Director] Dr. Victoria Deguzman. That's how I got involved. [What attracted me to METRANS was] being able to be involved in a research consortium and institution at a master's level. Especially when you don't necessarily have your dissertation and or your own research as the main focus. METRANS sounded really valuable to me. Also, from the student side, just like being in a group of like-minded people who are also passionate about transportation. That was definitely a thing I wanted to be a part of.


That was one of the things that attracted me to METRANS as well, so I definitely relate. Have you conducted research on anything before coming to USC that interested you?

I would say in a formal academic setting, no, not necessarily. However, at internships and jobs, I was kind of in a research role on the professional side of things. I found that I really enjoyed how open-ended that was. Starting with a problem and diving into it like the sky is your limit in a way, like nobody at that stage is telling you what you can and can't do. I was involved with some work with my internship at Caltrain on researching their holiday schedule performance, for example. [Specifically, looking to see], if there was a way that they could improve efficiencies with the uncertainty of shoulder holidays, for instance, the day after Thanksgiving. That was a really amazing experience. But in terms of an academic research project, no I don’t really have a lot of experience – yet!


Are there any specific transportation issues that you would love to research while you're at USC and METRANS?

Yes, one thing that I think is really interesting is examining urban transportation from an international perspective. I think there are a lot of ways that particularly the United States has fallen behind even other kind of sprawling, car-centric developed countries like Australia or Canada. So I would love to do some work to examine what Canadian cities and governments do to encourage the use of transit, biking, and walking, and how they're able to achieve higher rates of mode-share in an environment that really looks very similar to the United States. That's one thing that's always kind of interested me.


I love that. I think it's really important to have an international focus. Do you have a favorite transit system? Or, if you had to choose one system to visit, which one would you choose?

I would love to visit London and go to the Underground. I mean, I feel like it's the original; you’ve got to have that experience. As for a system I have already been on, I actually had the opportunity to study abroad in Vienna. Their public transit was second to none. I mean, just so efficient. [Trains and buses] came like every three to six minutes all day, you didn't need a schedule. Perfect, in my opinion.


I've heard amazing things about Austria's metro system and ÖBB, their inter-city rail. I can't wait to visit it one day. Are there any classes or professors you're excited to take or meet while you're at USC?

I'm really excited about the transportation intro class taught by METRANS Director, Professor Genevieve Giuliano. As well as getting sort of the fundamentals, down, I think that'll be a great class. Really excited that I am able to take urban mass transit with Professor Lisa Schweitzer, I believe. I don't think that's offered all the time, so I'm glad that I will have that opportunity.


I saw you had a lot of work experience in the transportation field. So I was wondering if you had to pick one role? What was your favorite and why?

I did really enjoy my internship with Caltrain. That kind of introduced me — I didn't know what service planning was before that. That internship was super interesting to get a hands on approach to that. I also had to go out into the field quite a bit for that to monitor things, tracks, and stuff like that, which was, I don't know, just felt very official!