"As we look back at our history, transportation has long been the driver of transformation."
The City of Atlanta is a major transportation network in Georgia's capital city. In the past two decades, the region has experienced unprecedented growth with 420,000 people. The metro population has also grown in the last ten years by nearly 40 percent, from 2.9 million to 4.1 million people. To keep up with the rapid pace of demand the city now offers 48 miles of rail and 740 bus stops which took nearly seven years of legislative and electoral work to gain the support to make MARTA a reality. Today, these developments generate $1.4 billion in economic activity annually in Georgia. This week we spoke to Faye DiMassimo the Executive Director for the City of Atlanta.
Emily O’Dowd (EOD): What is it that first inspired you to enter the rail industry?
Faye DiMassimo (FD): I have been in the transportation industry for over 35 years, including roads, bridges, traffic operations, bus transit, bike/ped and rail. I was first inspired as an architecture student that found the community planning courses far more engaging – designing communities rather than buildings and then focusing on how transportation really is the needle and thread of every community’s fabric.
EOD: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen between rail now and five years’ ago?
FD: There have been conversations for a number of years regarding a high speed rail system in the U.S. As we look back at our history, transportation has long been the driver of transformation – whether canals and stagecoach lines, rail and airports or the interstate system. On deck should be substantive investments in all transportation infrastructure that is not just maintaining but transformative, including high speed rail and technology driven “smart transport” investments. Rail’s competitiveness in the freight sector will also be an area of continued investment.
EOD: What is your biggest achievement whilst working for City of Atlanta?
FD: I have worked in both the public and private sector over the course of my career in mostly surface transportation. The biggest achievement is in the projects and programmes that improve safety and earn the public’s confidence and trust. In my current position with the City of Atlanta, working with the visionary leadership of Mayor Kasim Reed fully engages you to accomplish at extraordinary levels.
EOD: How do you predict rail is likely to change in the next ten years’?
FD: I think enhanced market collaboration and partnerships to achieve rail’s large portfolio of opportunity may drive business model change and expansion. Technology will be the single greatest influencer for all transportation sectors including rail. Sustainability metrics in rail will also be important.
EOD: What do you enjoy most about your role?
FD: The opportunity to make a difference every day, and realising that we need to make sure every day counts.
EOD: What is your favourite rail journey?
FD: Many years ago, I took an Amtrak train during a snow storm from Washington DC back to Atlanta. As it turns out, Charles Kuralt was also aboard for a part of the trip with an On The Road segment.
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