Research Scientist and Program Manager
505 E. Huntland Dr., Suite 455
Austin, TX 78752
Michael is proud to be a research scientist and program manager of the Transit Mobility Program at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI). Michael has 10 years of management and executive experience in public transit and over 12 years of experience conducting research, leading projects, and training. He specializes in transit performance management and measurement; collaborative problem solving; process improvement; data collection and analysis; transit planning, operations, and scheduling; customer and community outreach; and applying innovation and technology to transportation challenges. In 2014, his work earned him recognition as one of Mass Transit Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40.
Since joining TTI in January 2016, Michael has been the Principal Investigator (PI) for 20 completed or ongoing research projects for various sponsors including regional transit authorities, TxDOT public transportation division, and the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP). He has also been a significant contributing researcher or author in several other research projects for both local and national sponsors. His current research work focuses on using data and technology to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of transit, analyzing regional and state-wide transportation needs, customer-focused practices in transit, transit funding and financial management, and recruiting and retaining transit staff (including bus operators and transit schedulers).
Before coming to TTI, Michael spent most of his professional career at the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) in Baltimore, MD. During his career there, Michael initiated many programs, including a performance management program called OpStat (short for operations statistics). Michael was then tasked to create MTA’s first-ever Office of Performance Management, which had the charge to implement an agency-wide performance management program, working with administrative, engineering, and operations departments. In these roles, Michael had many opportunities to lead solutions-oriented interdisciplinary teams to solve intransigent agency challenges; for example, he led a taskforce to review and revamp procedures for maintaining and repairing bus fareboxes, he managed a project to reduce overtime spending, and he implemented new policies at the agency, including a mobile device policy and an absenteeism policy.
After working as Chief Performance Officer, Michael was then tasked as the Director Service Development, a role in which he served for 3 years. There, Michael was responsible for the data collection, planning, and scheduling for MTA’s directly operated bus, light rail, and metro subway services. In this role, Michael led the agency’s efforts to re-boot its local bus system—a project that was embraced by two separate administrations (first as the Bus Network Improvement Project and then as BaltimoreLink). These projects involved significant public outreach and involvement, analysis of operating and planning data, and compliance with local and federal regulations regarding planning processes.
A few other accomplishments while at MTA:
- Inaugurated the Rate Your Ride program (rateyourride.org), a short survey tool to gather and report real-time rider satisfaction via text message, call-in, and the web.
- Initiated the Bus Stop Optimization Program to strategically reduce the number of bus stops along targeted lines while still maintaining accessibility and ridership.
- Secured FTA approval to use Automated Passenger Counters (APCs) for NTD reporting.
This work has given Michael a breadth of experience in public transportation and he has shared his work with the industry at large through regular presentations and lectures.
Prior to working at the MTA, Michael obtained his M.S. in Applied Psychology from the University of Baltimore. His education there focused on organizational development, research methods, program evaluation, and statistics. He has also served as a freelance research consultant, a trainer focusing on Microsoft Excel and Access, and an adjunct professor.
Current and recent projects include:
Work at TTI
- Title VI Technical Assistance and Innovation Research for Denton County Transportation Authority (ongoing, Task Lead)
- Conduct research to compare an innovative geo-spatial demographic analysis technique for assessing transit service changes with DCTA’s current Title VI service change analysis methods. The innovative method being assessed streamlines the service change analysis process and accounts for service performance and equity of service access concurrently, presenting an opportunity to improve service efficiency and enhance equity concurrently. As part of this project, TTI will provide technical assistance to conduct Title VI equity analyses for DCTA’s upcoming proposed service and fare changes in order to develop a baseline service change analysis for comparison with the innovative method. The objective of assessing an alternative methodology is to determine the effectiveness of the analysis to better inform DCTA staff about potential adverse/inequitable impacts of service changes during the development of proposed changes and introduce an alternative method for assessing service efficiency.
- TCRP Synthesis SA-47: Bus Transit Signal Prioritization – Current State of the Practice (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- Bus Transit Signal Priority (TSP) is an important tool that increases bus speeds and reliability, thereby improving transit system efficiency and effectiveness. Transit agencies implement a wide variety of TSP strategies and parameters and report different levels of benefits from TSP implementations in various traffic conditions and right-of-way treatments (e.g. mixed vs. dedicated guideway). This synthesis study will document the current practice of transit systems’ use of TSP to meet the different objectives under diverse conditions; will provide an overview of 1) TSP strategies and parameters, 2) the resulting benefits and 3) an assessment of to what extent the disparity in benefits realized are driven by strategy and parameter choices. Data will be collected using a literature review focusing on modern deployments (both domestic and international), a survey of selected North-American transit systems that utilize TSP, and case examples.
- Rural Economic Assistance League, Inc. Financial Sustainability Review (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- On behalf of the TxDOT Public Transportation Division, review the Rural Economic Assistance League’s (REAL) financial procedures, make recommendations for improvements, and provide tools and templates to help the financial sustainability of REAL.
- Multi-Modal Cost Allocation Model for Denton County Transportation Authority (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- Develop a multi-modal service cost allocation model for the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) that calculates the variable and fixed unit costs of each of DCTA’s services. Conduct review or organizational functions, interview staff, review best practices and regulatory context, and create an Excel-based cost allocation model. Train staff and provide documentation for future users.
- TCRP IDEA Project T-91: Comprehensive Wayfinding for All (CWall) (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- This project will develop and test a prototype CWall smartphone application (app) that will provide transit and pedestrian trip planning and navigation assistance along the entire transit trip. CWall will aid users in locating bus stops (bus stops will be equipped with Bluetooth low-energy beacons), traveling to stops using accessible pedestrian pathways, obtaining real-time transit information, and receiving alerts for when to board and get off buses. Although CWall’s intended audience is users with visual and mobility impairments, the app will also benefit users without disabilities by reducing the learning curve of taking transit and making the sidewalk and transit network easier to understand and use. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) will lead the project and will partner with Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) and two of Capital Metro’s contractors, including the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology (TCAT) for pedestrian pathway mapping and Knowbility for app accessibility testing.
- Transit Signal Prioritization (TSP) Functionality Assessment for Capital Metro (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- This research assesses the transit signal prioritization (TSP) for transit vehicles on Capital Metros bus rapid transit lines (i.e., MetroRapid routes 801 and 803). The assessment will determine system functionality by merging large, transactional data sets from Capital Metro and the City of Austin and by comparing existing TSP transactions against system specifications.
- Transit Route Level of Service Index: Metrics and Mapping for VIA San Antonio (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- This project will develop a Level of Service (LOS) Index for VIA San Antonio bus routes calculated from several rider-oriented metrics. The study will assist VIA in developing the LOS metrics, weighting the metrics, calculating the LOS Index, and visualizing the results on an interactive map.
- TCRP Synthesis SF-20: Managing the Transit Scheduling Workforce (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- Provides an overview of the current state of practice regarding how transit agencies approach management of transit scheduling human capital and examines how transit agencies are recruiting, training, developing, and retaining schedulers. This research is nearing completion; publication expected in early 2019.
- Strategies for Improving Performance Data Reliability and Validity for Denton County Transportation Authority (ongoing, Principal Investigator)
- Provide the Denton County Transportation Authority with technical assistance, system and data analysis and assessment, and best-practice guidance to enhance current performance management processes in order to: (1) improve the quality of data used in performance reporting, (2) enhance the presentation and reporting of performance metrics, and (3) expand the usefulness of performance data for management decision-making.
- TCRP Synthesis SA-44: Comprehensive Bus Network Redesign (ongoing, Task Lead, TTI is a sub to Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning)
- Provides an overview of the current state of practice regarding bus network redesign, including agency decision making, planning, evaluation criteria, stakeholder engagement, implementation, and challenges and lessons learned. TTI’s role was to assist in the literature review, survey analysis, case studies, and writing the final report.
- El Paso County Regional Transit Institutional Options Assessment Study (ongoing, task lead)
- The study seeks to address congestion by identifying transit organizational, regulatory, and financial framework alternatives for the operation of transit within travel corridors throughout the county and adapts state-of-the-art methodologies and tools for their application in specific regional travel corridors.
- TxDOT AV/CV Test Bed to Improve Transit, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Safety (ongoing)
- Research and develop AV/CV technologies to prevent crashes involving transit vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians at signalized intersections.
- TCRP Synthesis Report 134: Customer Focused Service Guarantees and Transparency Practices (2018, Principal Investigator)
- This synthesis documents the nature and prevalence of service guarantees and publicly-available customer-focused performance dashboards, scorecards, or reports among transit providers in North America. It documents the current state of the practice, including benefits and implementation strategies, and identifies challenges and lessons learned through a literature review, survey of representative transit agencies, and documentation of selected case examples/profiles.
- Sources of Funding Transit in Texas (2018, co-author)
- Documents and summarizes the sources of revenues for large urban, small urban, and rural transit districts in Texas. Discusses both the federal and state formula and discretionary grant programs. Documents sources and use of local revenue for transit.
- Research Implications of Emerging Technology on METRO Bus and Paratransit Modes (2017-2018, Co-Investigator)
- Assesses the potential roles of emerging technologies on Houston METRO’s bus and paratransit modes and provides a research routemap to test and apply technologies to solve specific transit challenges.
- Denton County Transportation Authority Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness Peer Review (2018, Principal Investigator)
- Benchmarks the Denton County Transportation Authority’s transit modes’ cost efficiency and effectiveness against peer and similar transit agencies.
- NCHRP Project 20-65 Task 64 — Guidebook on Health and Human Service Revenues as Public Transit Local Match (in press, Lead Author)
- This guidebook provides a helpful brief to respond to common questions and situations for determining and documenting match when the match comes from revenues associated with coordinated transportation.
- Texas Transit Needs Assessment 2.0 (2017, Principal Investigator)
- An assessment of state-funded public transit services in the state of Texas. Determines whether gaps in service coverage or span of service exist throughout the state and estimates cost of filling gaps, accounting for local contexts and transit cost inflation.
- Making Dollars and Sense of Transit Finance (2017-2018, Principal Investigator and Lead Instructor)
- Lead a 2-and-a-half-day workshop on transit finance at the Texas Transit Association’s 2017 and 2018 Training, Expo, and Roadeo.
- Helped develop and deliver a compressed version of the workshop to almost 70 attendees at a TxDOT Public Transportation Division meeting.
- Research for the Austin Area Research Organization (2016-2018, task lead and co-author)
- Conduct research and develop reports on the governance structures, planning processes, and funding sources for transportation in Central Texas as well as regions identified as Central Texas peers.
- TxDOT State Safety Oversight Peer Review and Benchmarking (2017, supporting researcher)
- Assisting the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)’s rail safety division with understanding and implementing regulatory changes regarding state safety oversight agencies.
- Bus Operator Retention Improvement (2016-2017, Principal Investigator)
- Examine causes of unsatisfactory retention of bus operators (including wages, working conditions, and hiring pool competitors) and provide recommendations for improving retention rates.
- TCRP Report 192 Decision-Making Toolbox to Plan and Manage Park-and-Ride Facilities for Public Transportation (2017, co-author)
- This guidebook is a resource for transit staff seeking to better plan and manage park-and-ride facilities for public transportation by incorporating improved strategies and best practices. The guidebook is a route map for planning and managing park-and-ride facilities—from concept to day-to-day management.
- Bluetooth Bus Stop Beacon Project (2016, co-Principal Investigator)
- Pilot test with Houston METRO to use Bluetooth beacons as bus stops to provide accessible transit information to riders with visual impairments.
- Analysis of Fixed-Route Bus Dispatch Data to Examine Use of Stand-By Buses (2016, Principal Investigator)
- Mine Capital Metro fixed-route bus dispatching data to detect patterns and issues in using stand-by buses.
- Fixed-Route Bus On-Time Performance Peer Review (2016, Principal Investigator)
- Examine and document state-of-the-industry practices for measuring, reporting, and managing on-time performance of fixed-route bus services.
- Texas Transit Needs Assessment (2016, Principal Investigator)
- Assessment of service levels, service areas, population growth, and transit cost inflation affecting state-funded Texas transit districts
- Peer Review of Bus Operator Transport Procedures (2016, Principal Investigator)
- Documenting how agencies similar in size and operation to Houston METRO transport bus operators between garages and relief points.
Selected Work at the Maryland Transit Administration
- BaltimoreLink (a plan to connect Baltimore)
- Bus Network Improvement Project
- Obtained FTA approval for using APCs for reporting bus unlinked passenger trips
- Implemented bus stop optimization program
Education and Training
- M.S., Applied Psychology, University of Baltimore, 2008.
- B.A., Psychology, Eastern University, 2004.
- Additional Training:
- FTA Financial Management Oversight Workshop (2017)
- Texas A&M Transportation Institute CORE Leadership Development Program
- Introduction to ArcGIS
- Transit ITS Seminar (National Transit Institute)
- Introduction to Transit Service Planning (TCQSM)
- Transit Network Design
- Introduction to Transit Operations Planning (ITOP)
- Strategic Planning
- American Public Transportation Association (committee membership listed below:)
- Bus Operations (chair of the Policy and Procedures Task Force)
- Human Resources
- Mobility Management
- Policy and Planning
- Transportation Research Board (committee “friendships” listed below:)
- Standing Committee on Bus Transit Systems
- Standing Committee on Management and Productivity
- Standing Committee on Performance Management
- Standing Committee on Transit Capacity and Quality of Service
- Standing Committee on Transit Management and Performance
- Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT), Austin Chapter
- Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
TTI Tenure / Total Industry Tenure
- 2 years
- 9 years
- Transit performance measurement and management
- Transit network performance analysis
- GTFS applications
- Transit operations, planning, and scheduling
- Workforce development, organizational development
- Innovation and technology in multi-modal transportation
- Best practices, benchmarking and peer research
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
- Associate Research Scientist, January 2016 to November 2017
- Research Scientist and Transit Mobility Program Manager, November 2017 – current
Maryland Transit Administration
- Director of Service Development, September 2012 – January 2016
- Chief Performance Officer, February 2011 – September 2012
- Special Assistant to the Administrator, August 2010 – February 2011
- Transit Analyst / Statistician, July 2008 – August 2010
University of Baltimore
- Microsoft Access and Excel Instructor, July 2008 – January 2016
- Adjunct Professor, August 2008 – May 2012
- Research Assistant, August 2007 – May 2008
Selected Honors, Presentations, and Papers
- 2018, Southwest Transit Association (SWTA) Summer University
- Service (not) guaranteed: Service guarantees and transparency in public transit
- 2018, Walk, M., J. Cardenas, K. Miller, P. Ericson-Graber, and C. Simek. TCRP Synthesis Report 134: Customer-focused service guarantees and transparency practices.
- 2018, Cherrington, L., S. Tan, T. Hansen, and M. Walk. Sources of funding for transit in Texas. PRC 15-11.3.
- 2018, Transportation Works: Collaboration and Connectivity Summit
- Texas on the move: Emerging issues and advances in accessible transportation.
- 2017, Cherrington, L. et al. TCRP Report 192 – Decision making toolbox to plan and manage park-and-ride facilities for public transportation: Guidebook on planning and managing park-and-ride (co-author).
- 2017, APTA TransITech Conference
- Bus stop beacons: Transit wayfinding for people with visual impairments
- 2017, Texas Accessible Transportation Summit
- Using new technology to assist in transit navigation
- 2017, Southwest Transit Association (SWTA) Conference and Expo
- A driving challenge: Recruiting, selecting, and retaining bus operators
- Panelist in Amazing Transit Technology Lightning Round; presented Bus Stop Beacon Project
- 2016, Texas Transit Association Annual Conference
- Texas transit needs assessment
- Performance management in transit: Driving toward results
- Rate your ride: Improving customer communication and feedback with low-cost real-time surveys
- 2016, Remix Webinar
- 2015, Central Maryland Regional Transit Mobility Matters Conference
- MTA efforts to “Mind the Gaps”
- Be involved: Correcting issues & advocating for improvements
- 2014, Mass Transit Magazine, Top 40 Under 40
- 2013, Transit Communications Conference
- Crowdsourcing service quality data to make improvements and increase stakeholder & customer engagement
- 2013, Baltimore Data Day
- 2012, Transit Communications & E-Ticketing Workshop
- Providing the BESTRIDE: Utilizing customer feedback to make operational improvements
- 2012 – 2014, annual Transportation Systems Operations and Management Academy
- The business of transit: A (literally) moving target
- 2012, APTA Multimodal Operations and Planning Workshop
- 2012, APTA Fare Collection & TransITech Conference
- 2010, Encyclopedia of Research Design (pp. 1023-1027)
- 2010, 1st Annual Northeast Conference on Public Administration
- Performance management in public transit: Decreasing costs and improving service through data-driven accountability