Investigating the Future of Transportation

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The pandemic brought a strategic inflection point (SIP) to the world and eco-system of transportation. Before the Covid pandemic, the transportation industry was in a state of upheaval due to the entrance of new tech-driven on-demand mobility services such as Uber, Doordash, and Lime. Long-standing travel habits such as driving to the store were starting to change and be replaced by ride-hailing, home delivery, and using shared bikes or e-scooters instead of a car. During the Covid crisis, people had to adapt their travel behavior even more, abandoning their commute under shelter-in-place orders and starting to bike and walk more around their local neighborhood. New high-tech mobility options like flying taxis and space tourism were making headlines during the pandemic, yet people were actually buying traditional reliable options like used cars and bicycles in unprecedented numbers. Public transit ridership plummeted to historic lows, calling its survival into question, while fixed routes began to be replaced by on-demand services.

Course Content

This course featured a project investigating the question of what happens next. Which long-term trends boosted by the pandemic are here to stay? Will some travel return to pre-pandemic norms? What new technological and institutional adaptations are required to serve the “new normal” for travel demand and traffic? We addressed these questions using a mixed-methods approach. First, the students conducted a review of the scientific and news literature to assess the emerging trends and understanding in the public dialogue on these topics. This review was used to generate interview questions with leading experts and practitioners, including MTI Board Members and Research Associates. The students also produced introductory and conclusion videos presenting their findings.

We then interviewed leading entrepreneurs, technologists, executives, leading experts, and top government officials in mobility and transportation businesses for their thoughts and opinions about their predications and expectations, after the pandemic is over. Which aspects of personal and goods transportation would return to pre-pandemic norms? Which pandemic adaptation trends would stick and create a new normal? How would emerging technologies continue to change mobility? These interviews were video recorded on a videoconferencing platform (e.g. Zoom). We asked for consent from interviewees to share and disseminate the content. Once they agreed to participate, they were given a set of questions to aid with preparation.

At the conclusion of the course, the students became knowledgeable about the impacts of the Covid pandemic on the transportation system, including travel demand, traffic, transit ridership, and on-demand modes. They also understood the management challenges faced by private and public sector leaders, how they adapted to the pandemic, and how they are preparing for the “new normal.”


List of Interviewees

CalSTA Secretary Toks Omishakin

Leadership through 'People First'

Secretary, California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)


Dr. Harry Patridge

From Space to Earth and Research to Reality​

Center Chief Technologist (CCT), NASA's Ames Research Center

Abbas Mohaddes

Traffic Optimization through Data Intelligence

Serving Customers through Innovation and Leadership in Pandemic times

Stephanie Wiggins
CEO, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)

Jeffrey Tumlin

Collaboration & Innovation during Pandemic Times for Enhanced Public Service

Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)

Michael Wygant

Operational Strategy & Execution during Pandemic Times

Michael Wygant

Dr. Susan Shaheen

The 'Next Normal' for Shared Mobility​

Carrie Diamond

Equitable and Inclusive Transportation Models

Dr. Giovanni Circella

Electrification, Automation and Shared Mobility​

James Corless

Smart and Local Transportation Strategies and Solutions

CEO, Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)

Chris Ganson

Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) Patterns and Challenges​

Chris Ganson
(Former) Deputy Division Chief, Planning and Analysis, Caltrans

Muffi Ghadiali

Electrification – Accelerating Transportation through Electrons and Software​

Paul Huelskamp

Mobile Energy Storage Technology & Solutions​

CEO & Co-Founder, Moxion Power Co.

Julie Blunden

Battery Technology – Future of Renewables, Climate Change and Electrification

Vish Palekar

Driving the Future of Transportation through Connectivity, Autonomous, Sharing, and Electrification (CASE)​

Vish Palekar
Global Head IOT Partners, Energy and Utilities, Amazon Web Services

Kyle Rowe

Micro-Mobility Eco Systems

Kyle Rowe
SVP, Partnerships & Policy, Spin


Dr. Andrea Broaddus is an MTI Research Associate and transportation policy expert focused on managing the demand for travel through behavioral incentives and land use practices. She has published articles on road pricing and transit-oriented development and has served as a lecturer at UC Berkeley and San Jose State since 2010.


Gurmeet Naroola is an SJSU Adjunct Professor who taught MSTM classes with Dr. Broaddus, seasoned entrepreneur, executive, and author, having held key positions at SunPower, Apple, Sanmina, and Panasonic in business development, quality, global operations, and customer management. He currently heads Strategy and Business Development for GenZe, a manufacturer of zero-emission personal transportation devices. 


Students participating in this investigation are Leila Hajalilou, Carla Mays, Edwin Miranda, Jay Washburn, Mike Dang, David Capelli, Justin Windus, and Jonathan Stekette

December 2022



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