My MBA capstone research focused on the modernization of transportation infrastructure using public-private partnerships. In December 2019 I announced an initiative to advance Southeast Michigan’s proposed Regional Transit Authority expansion after a major research project in 2018 to try and understand public and private sector sentiment around the failed ballot initiative. The proposal failed to even make it to the ballot given the disruptions from COVID, but the RTA announced in January 2021 that they would be pursuing the initiative again in 2022.
This gives us opportunities to study the process of infrastructure planning, and to get involved to advocate for better infrastructure planning.
Capstone Research and Adjacent Material
On March 18, I turned in all 208 pages of my paper, Prime Movers: Public-Private Partnerships for Scalable, Next-Generation Infrastructure Investment in Southeast Michigan and Beyond. The project was a combination business strategy proposal, academic analysis, and media theory, looking at the culture of innovation, thinking about strategies for building cities and resilient systems in the golden age of corporate greed and municipal austerity, and asking questions about why people believe the things we do about infrastructure.
I interviewed 81 respondents directly on the question of what the future of structure should look like as far as the public versus private divide and asking them what sort of things they were most excited about versus most concerned about. I also collected 236 responses for a survey to try and better understand perception about infrastructure and the public-private divide, as well as to try and understand consumer behavior around transportation. I’ll be posting updates as I work through the specifics.
List of Articles
The list of articles, written either as a summary of research or written in parallel to the research, is here. Enjoy!
- Apr. 2021: SISE Podcast: Innovation and Equity in the Transportation of Tomorrow
- Apr. 2021: Biggest research takeaways
- Apr. 2021: Maven v. Dilettante: The Languid Leap of Automotive Innovation
- Mar. 31, 2021: Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg Suggests VMT Tax. Here Are A Few Alternatives.
- Mar. 26, 2021: Centralization: Economy of Scale? Looming Disaster? Lil Bit of Both?
- Mar. 25, 2021: Black Ocean Strategy? Private Firms Are Looking To Cut Themselves A Slice Of The Infrastructure Pie.
- Mar. 24, 2021: Debt or Asset? How Utility Shutoffs Are About To Be A Big Problem.
- Mar. 22, 2021: BUILD GREEN Act Charges Forward with Electric Transit: Is It The Right Move?
- Mar. 10, 2021: Best Nerds Studio Podcast – No. 1: The Grid (feat. George Crabtree and Lynn Trahey)
- Mar. 2, 2021: Mispricing the Chevrolet Bolt (Consumer Behavior in the Young Electric Car Market)
- Feb. 26, 2021: The Mobility Council’s Preliminary Report: Buy A Car, Peasants!
- Feb. 25, 2021: Why Do Airports Not Want Us To Have Nice Things?
- Feb. 17, 2021: Cato Needs To Re-Toole Their Bad Takes On Infrastructure
- Feb. 16, 2021: In Search of Cheap, Scalable Solutions for Grid Resiliency
- Feb. 15, 2021: This Doesn’t Happen in a Normal Climate– Or Power Grid
- Feb. 8, 2021: EV Charging Infrastructure – From Demand to Reality (Luo Yang)
- Feb. 4, 2021: ACEEE Scorecard: Michigan is Behind the Times, Again
- Feb. 3, 2021: Book review – Ghost Road: Beyond the Driverless Car
- Feb. 2, 2021: What If We Can’t Wait? Public-Private Partnership Solutions for Infrastructure
- Jan. 25, 2021: Book review – Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America
- Jan. 20, 2021: Book review – Driven: The Race To Create The Autonomous Car, By Alex Davies
- Jan. 19, 2021: From Fantasy To Innovation: The Autonomous Car in Film History
2019-2020 RTA Coverage
During my advocacy around the RTA proposal, I chronicled my work with Detroit-based Transportation Riders United and other partners. I also wrote up related and unrelated articles about mobility in Southeast Michigan and beyond.
- Mar. 10, 2020: Climate Leadership Conference – Decarbonizing Transportation, One Electric SUV At A Time
- Feb. 17, 2020: The Rural, The Urban, And The MDOT
- Feb. 14, 2020: It’s Not Infrastructure If It’s Just Cars: Gretchen Whitmer’s Bond Issue and My Chat with Brian Calley
- Feb. 11, 2020: Ann Arbor To Detroit, Train Vs. Bus, Part II
- Feb. 3, 2019: Travel Writing: Density, Mobility, and Dreams of a Better New York
- Jan. 31, 2019: State of Transit 2020: A Brooksless Mobility Future Rolls Forward
- Jan. 9, 2019: RTA Proposes Bus Service Between Ann Arbor and Detroit
- Dec. 20, 2019: State Lawmaker Asks Why Can’t People Just Take Uber Instead
- Dec. 20, 2019: Bridging the Transit Gulf: APTA in Tampa
- Dec. 9, 2019: New Mobility Requires a New Workforce
- Dec. 5, 2019: All Aboard, RTA: An introduction to the series
- Dec. 3, 2019: Challenging The Automotive Paradigm in Reagan Democrat Country
For more information on transit and mobility, check out the diverse and dedicated Detroit transit scene through our super-cool co-conspirators and other organizations we’re generally a fan of: Michigan Mobility Institute, MOSES, Motor City Freedom Riders, Transportation Riders United, and Young Transportation Professionals of Detroit.
You can find interesting advocacy from the APTA, the Eno Center, and more. Bloomberg Cities (CityLab), Planetizen, Streetsblog, and Curbed all often have quite a bit of worthwhile content. Or, read some books. These are divided by subject.
Power grids, electricity, and infrastructure:
- The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans And Our Energy Future, by Gretchen Bakke (★★★★★)
- Move: How to Rebuild and Reinvent America’s Infrastructure, by Rosabeth Moss Kanter(★★★★★)
- Short Circuiting Policy: Interest Groups and the Battle Over Clean Energy and Climate Policy in the American States, by Leah Cardamore Stokes
- Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest, by Andrew Needham
Autonomous (self-driving) cars:
- Driven: The Race To Create The Autonomous Car, by Alex Davies (★★★)
- Ghost Road: Beyond The Driverless Car, by Anthony Townsend (★★★★)
- Networking Vehicles to Everything: Evolving Automotive Solutions, by Markus Mueck and Ingolf Karls (★★½)
Transit, mobility, and urban systems, generally:
- Parking and the City, by Donald Shoup (★★★★★)
- Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives, by Jarrett Walker
- Ecology of Transportation: Managing Mobility for the Environment, John & Julia Davenport, eds.
- Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step At A Time, by Jeff Speck (★★★)
- Unsafe at Any Speed, by Ralph Nader (★★★★)
- High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV, by Keith Bradsher (★★★★)
- Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America, by Angie Schmitt (★★★★)
Privatization, libertarianism, public private partnerships, markets, and environmentalism:
- Privatization Of Roads And Highways: Human And Economic Factors, by Walter Block (★)
- Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, by William Cronon (★★★★½)
- Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture, by Wes Jackson
- Gridlock: Why We’re Stuck In Traffic And What To Do About It, by Randal O’Toole (★★½)
- Free Market Environmentalism For The Next Generation, T. Anderson & D. Leal (★★★★)
- Infrastructure as an Asset Class: Investment Strategy, Sustainability, Project Finance and PPP, by Weber, Staub-Bisang, and Alfen (★★★★)
- Flesh and Stone: The Body and the City in Western Civilization, by Richard Sennett (★★★★★)
More coming as I sort through my notes.
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