The theme chosen for the 34th annual conference of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) was “Regulatory Reboot!” Regulators and our industries have been resilient and were holding the line, taking things day-by-day since March 2020. In 2021, having been through hopefully the worst days of this unprecedented pandemic, there was a feeling of excitement among the industry, regulators, and society in general. As we approach the light at the end of the tunnel, the first question asked is: What do we do next? Continue as is, or try something new and different?

For the 2021 IATR conference, it was important to determine where we go from here – in terms of advancement and innovation. Let’s pick-up where we left off, survey the landscape, upgrade our regulatory toolbox, and move forward into a changed and changing mobility world.

Since COVID-19 upended the transportation industry, the IATR has been working around the clock to support its regulator members and their industries. Those interested in the IATR are encouraged to join for 2022. Membership benefits include immediate access to all videos, PowerPoint presentations, papers, and other information from the 2021 conference, as well as access and participation in webinars, committee meetings/calls, daily/weekly newsletters, and model regulation projects. To learn more about becoming involved, renewing membership, or making plans to attend or sponsor the 2022 in-person conference in Memphis, Sept. 22-25, 2022, visit the IATR website (www.iatr.global).

2021 “Regulatory reboot” VIRTUAL CONFERENCE RECAP

The conference was held virtually over five days in December 2021 and featured the 5th Annual Boot Camp and plenary sessions that covered a wide range of topics, including electric vehicles and congestion mitigation. The IATR also held a hearing on Best Practices, Guiding Principles & Model Regulations for “Robotaxis” (https://bit.ly/33LxsoG) and a workshop to develop Global Principles for Congestion Mitigation (https://bit.ly/352BFVz) measures for passenger ground transportation regulators.

Overall, the conference was a huge success, with panelists and participants from around the world in attendance.

In addition to panel discussions and the Regulator Boot Camp, attendees heard from Benjamin de la Peña, Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC), who delivered the opening keynote speech, and an Elvis Presley impersonator to give a taste of what is to come at next year’s conference. In addition, the IATR’s committees on Technology & Innovation Committee, Accessible Transport, Safety, and Canadian Regulators held meetings (https://bit.ly/3FJ4FhA).

 

Awards

 

2021 Driver of the Year

The IATR’s Driver of the Year Award is recognition by government transportation professionals to a driver who has provided excellent service to passengers and has likewise performed in an extraordinary manner that exemplifies the highest level of the profession. This year’s Driver of the Year Award went to Liverpool taxi driver David Perry, who was injured when a homemade bomb exploded shortly after he pulled up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Mr. Perry picked up a fare in Liverpool and was asked to be taken to the hospital, about 10 minutes away, police said. As the taxi arrived at the hospital’s drop-off area, it exploded and Mr. Perry escaped the car seconds before it was engulfed in flames. The city’s mayor Joanne Anderson said the taxi driver’s “heroic efforts” averted what could have been an “awful disaster.”

2021 Regulator of the Year: Rupal Bapat (Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection)

The IATR 2021 Regulator of the Year award went to Rupal Bapat, Deputy Commissioner of the Public Passenger Vehicle Operations Division at the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). Ms. Bapat helped Chicago become a greener city and has lots of impressive achievements, including quintupling the number of WAVs in Chicago. Rupal Bapat has built a career dedicated to public service and consumer protection. She started with the City of Chicago in 1998, and since then she has implemented and enforced laws and policies geared to protecting consumers against fraud, deceptive practices, and unsafe policies.

Her career has covered the spectrum of business compliance: retail stores, home repair contractors, immigration service providers, liquor establishments, and public passenger vehicles. She oversees the BACP division that handles the licensing of taxicabs, liveries, transportation network providers (commonly referred to as rideshare services), ambulances, charter-sightseeing buses, horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, medicars, water taxis and commercial passenger boats.

Since assuming her role as Deputy Commissioner of the division, Rupal has eliminated outdated practices and streamlined licensing processes creating an efficient licensing experience with reduced customer wait times for service and an economical use of staff and resources. In this role, she has been instrumental in modernizing licensing and regulatory framework for existing public passenger vehicle licensees. Deputy Commissioner Bapat has also been a long and ardent supporter and volunteer for IATR, known for mentoring less experienced regulators and for co-chairing the IATR’s Accessible Transportation Committee since its formation.

Norma Reyes Regulator Scholarship

The Norma Reyes Scholarship was established in 2013 in memory of the late former Commissioner of the Chicago BACP. An active member of the IATR, an accomplished lawyer, and public servant, Norma truly left her mark on the world and on her IATR friends and colleagues. The Scholarship provides a chance to participate in the IATR’s annual conference for new regulators and/or regulators in need, whose budgets do not otherwise permit for travel and lodging to attend.

This year’s Norma Reyes IATR Regulator Scholarship went to Nashon Odhiambo Kondiwa, Deputy Director ICT & Innovation at the National Transport and Safety Authority in Kenya. Mr. Kondiwa has been in charge of digital transformation at the National Transport Authority and manages a transformation project aimed at making the road transport policy environment smart and data driven.

 

5th Annual IATR Boot Camp

 

Training Session 101: Urban Air Mobility

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is flying off the pages of sci-fi novels and into our transportation network. UAM involves high efficiency, light weight aircraft, verticraft, and rotocraft transporting passengers and cargo in and out of urban centers as a form of rapid first-mile, last-mile service. IATR’s UAM Boot Camp was a fast-paced course with a steep learning curve, bringing attendees up to speed on UAM technology and its inevitable path to scale. Moderated by UC Berkley’s Adam Cohen, the panelists included program managers from the FAA and NASA, a UAM specialist from the City of Los Angeles, a UAM community engagement think tank, and private enterprise capitalizing on the UAM movement.

Panelists discussed UAM shifting from the experimental phase to the implementation phase by examining issues such as safety, air-space regulations, operations, infrastructure, and community engagement. IATR’s UAM Boot Camp got regulators mission ready to chart their course in this new form of transportation.

Training Session 102: EVs — Introduction, Case Studies, Future Outlook and Opportunities for Growth

Prachi J. Vakharia, co-founder of Womanium, moderated Training Session 102: EVs – Introduction, Case Studies, Future Outlook and Opportunities for Growth. The panel of subject-matter experts delved beneath the surface into the technology behind EVs and charging infrastructure, its benefits and challenges, infrastructure issues, and what taxicabs, limousines, buses, transportation network companies (TNCs), micromobility and other transport modes are doing to promote and deploy electric vehicles.

Panelists provided real-life examples of how EVs are being deployed across the country by public-private partnerships, cities, and in shared-use mobility and the analyzing their experiences with such programs – both the good and the bad. The panelists offered tips on funding sources, siting considerations for EV charging stations, and the logistics of transitioning a fleet from fossil fuels to EV. They also discussed the barriers to electrifying ride-hail vehicles due to the higher initial costs and, to an extent, electricity rates for public fast chargers.

Training Session 103: Food & Package Delivery Services, Optimization & Regulation

During the pandemic, many taxicabs, for-hire vehicles, and TNCs started to deliver packages and food between trips as a means of earning extra income. The IATR hosted a panel discussion surrounding the package and food delivery industry moderated by Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy.

The pandemic has made the on-demand food and package delivery industry a staple. Businesses had to adapt to delivering items that were traditionally bought at brick-and-mortar stores, from prepared foods all the way to larger items like lawnmowers. Businesses have to have the freedom to adapt, and this relies heavily on carrier stability, vehicle capacity, and a driver workforce.

The panel discussion featured speakers Aleksey Medvedovskiy, CEO and founder of Myle; Sasha Ozeran, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Hailify; Jamie Spataro, Lead Counsel at FedEx Ground Package System; Allison Wylie, Public Policy Manager for Uber;and Gregg Zuman, Principal of Revolution Rickshaws. The panelists addressed the future of package and food delivery and the role they believe regulators should play. Panelists emphasized the importance of leveraging local networks to provide first and last mile delivery. Further, all the panelists agreed that infrastructure is critical to determining the timeframe for delivery and the vehicle that should be used to transport the item.

Regulation in the delivery industry is almost nonexistent, aside from traffic and environmental regulations on motor vehicles and e-bikes. Regulation falls short when it comes to driver safety within food and package delivery. Panelists suggest that regulations should focus on driver and vehicle safety and consider the impact on businesses and drivers, as well as how the infrastructure in this area could be changed to help meet safety goals. Safer bike infrastructure would increase courier safety, while giving companies the opportunity to effectively right-size trips to meet consumer demand.

Hearing on Best Practices, Guiding Principles & Model Regulations for “Robotaxis”

Adam Cohen, UC Berkeley, and I moderated IATR’s International Hearing on Best Practices, Guiding Principles & Model Regulations for “Robotaxis:” Testing & Implementation of Shared-Connected-Automated-Electric For-Hire Vehicles (S-CAEVs). Since the 2019 conference, the IATR has been developing model regulations and best practices to prepare for the deployment and mainstream adoption of S-CAEVs in taxicabs, ride-hailing, and other for-hire passenger ground transportation services.

The IATR held the hearing to obtain input and feedback from its membership, other subject-matter experts and stakeholders to inform and shape the draft model regulations. During this session, Adam and I presented the proposed guiding principles for the model regulations, which cover safety and vehicle standards; equity and accessibility; data access and privacy; labor concerns and workforce development; governance, business models and implementation; sustainability; integration with existing systems; transportation planning and zoning; and risk, liability, and insurance.

During the hearing, we heard from the following subject-matter experts and stakeholders from Europe and the U.S.:

  • Stéphane Dreher, Senior Manager at ERTICO – ITS Europe, provided an overview of connectivity in the European Commission policy context.
  • Jessica Uguccioni, Lead Lawyer at the Law Commission of England and Wales, shared the Law Commission’s findings from a far-reaching review of the legal framework for automated vehicles, and their use as part of public transport networks and on-demand passenger services for the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).
  • Elizabeth Mack, a Co-Principal Investigator at Preparing the Future Workforce for the Era of Automated Vehicles (WEAVE), presented an overview of her research on perceived benefits and concerns of autonomous vehicle adoption and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation employment, in addition to an overview of WEAVE’s work.
  • Paul Carlson, Chief Technology Officer at the Road Adaptation for Autonomous Vehicles (RAAV) Task Force, talked about his work with departments of transportation and other highway agencies to help them connect the infrastructure industry to the AV industry safely, enhancing policy, and developing “no regret” strategies.
  • Tom Antonissen, Senior Advisor, Europe & Central Asia, International Road Federation, presented on the work of IRF RAAV Task Force, which is working to produce non-binding, globally applicable recommendations on adapting road infrastructure design, construction, and operations to the new needs of AVs.
  • Susan Shaheen, Ph.D., Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Berkley, Institute of Transportation Studies, presented her analysis on the synthesis of state-level planning and strategic action on automated vehicles: lessons and policy guidance for California.
  • Finally, Selika Talbott, founder of Autonomous Vehicle Consulting, LLC, and an adjunct at the University of Southern California, spoke about her experiences over the course of her career with AVs and the needs of communities and the lack of equity. Her “ask” for transportation regulators with respect to AVs and other innovations is to stop putting the apparatus of the transportation first, and instead put the people first.

The draft guiding principles are available here: https://bit.ly/3rrvd1T. The IATR will continue to accept written comments on the draft guiding principles until April 1, 2022. Comments should be emailed to info@iatr.global.

Global Regulator Spotlight: Regulator Star Trek 3.0

For the past three years, the IATR conference has used the “Regulator Star Trek” themed session to spotlight regulators who have taken new and innovative approaches to managing and shaping the future of mobility in their jurisdictions. This year, officials from London, Manitoba, Los Angeles, Seattle, King County and the District of Columbia discussed the impact of the pandemic on the for-hire industry, along with the incentives, initiatives and projects implemented to keep the for-hire industry viable in the face of new challenges.

Simon Buggey, Taxi and PHV Policy Manager at Transport for London (TfL), gave an overview of his agency’s operations and jurisdiction. London had to be creative with regulation during the pandemic, as taxi legislation has not been changed by parliament since the 19th century and does not account for technological advances in the industry. Similarly,

  • Jarvis Murray, For-Hire Transportation Administrator of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, spoke about regulators getting creative to help taxi owners reduce insurance costs by working with vehicle insurers to create tiered insurance policies, which made operating a taxi more affordable and attractive to drivers. Across the board, global regulators saw the same major issue – driver shortages. Due to the pandemic many drivers left and are not returning to the industry.
  • Grant Heather, Manager of Vehicles for Hire (VFH) for the City of Winnipeg, discussed lowering licensing fees and licensing requirements in order to better acknowledge the realities of the industry.
  • Matthew Eng, Strategic Advisor in the City of Seattle and Sean Bouffiou, For-hire Transportation Policy Manager for King County Records and Licensing Services (RALS), spoke about similar changes in Seattle and King County, as they waived licensing fees for 2020 renewals, temporarily changed insurance requirements and stopped enforcement of vehicle age limits for all vehicle types. In addition, the pandemic created an opportunity for regulators to modernize the regulatory approach and reduce the burden on the for-hire industry, generate more income for drivers and give customers more access to multimodal services.
  • Wendy Klancher, Senior Policy Advisor for D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV) spoke about using technology to shift D.C. from a street hail culture to digital dispatch, as well as diversifying income for drivers through food delivery services and school bus initiatives.

Global Principles for Congestion Mitigation

At the 2021 IATR Conference, a great deal of excitement was generated by the Global Principles for Congestion Mitigation Workshop (https://bit.ly/352sZhX). During this workshop, we brought together IATR regulators, academics, and other stakeholders to help develop principles that will form a framework for best practices to support multi-modal passenger transportation and package/food delivery policy making to mitigate congestion.

This workshop helped develop the scope of the issues and ideas to be addressed, including an outline of initial general principles. The issues to be tackled include private car dependence, modal shift from public transit, for-hire vehicle growth, and surging e-commerce. The proposed guiding principles include: fair road pricing; multi-modal integration; maximizing vehicle utilization; innovative street management; sustainable transportation incentives and disincentives; expansion of EV infrastructure; promotion of shared mobility, equity, accessibility; and reduction of government fleets. Lastly, the regulatory do’s and don’ts include areas such as vehicle caps, fare regulation, congestion pricing, and vehicle utilization.

During the workshop, Darius Spiteri from TfL provided an overview of the congestion charging scheme in Central London, including the purpose, enforcement issues, exemptions, impact, and key lessons learned. When the charging scheme was first implemented in 2003, taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) were exempted, but the influx of PHVs over the next 15 years caused the exemptions to be removed in 2019, except for wheelchair accessible PHVs. There are discounts for cleaner vehicles (e.g., EVs), but it would end by December 2025. Spiteri emphasized that any charging scheme should be accompanied by measures to make public transport (and other alternatives to car travel) cheaper, faster and more reliable.

Jonathan Peters, Professor of of Finance and Data Analytics at the College of Staten Island (CSI) CUNY, detailed New York City’s congestion surcharge (applicable to taxis and FHVs, south of 96th Street Manhattan) and the to-be-determined CBD tolling program (applicable to most vehicles, south of 60th Street Manhattan). Regarding the surcharge, Peters proposed exemptions for taxis, and covering the revenue shortfall through a per-minute roaming charge on ride-hailing services.

As for the CBD tolling program, much remains unknown at this point, but key issues such as geographical equity, political will, and cross-subsidization must be addressed adequately. Peters also shared some interesting data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Consumer Expenditure Survey), which showed the usage of taxis and FHVs increasing prior to the pandemic but dropped 55% after the pandemic.

Jim Peters, founder and President of the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) discussed the importance of the nighttime economy and unseen transportation issues plaguing those workers. Contributing factors to nighttime congestion include parking mismanagement, state laws requiring business to close at the same hour, chartered private buses, food delivery, and loading zones. Parking management is a critical aspect of the nighttime economy, and the expansion of bike lanes and outdoor dining have actually complicated matters for those choosing to drive using their own cars.

Join Us to Celebrate 35 Years of IATR in Memphis – Transportation Equity

After two years of virtual conferences, the IATR is excited to announce that it is finally heading to Memphis, Tennessee to celebrate its 35 year anniversary from September 22-25, 2022! For the third straight year now, it has been our plan to hold a live in-person conference, and while we have had two challenging, yet productive years weathering the pandemic together virtually, we will at long last visit the “Home of Blues, Soul and Rock’n’Roll.”

Named after the ancient Egyptian city meaning “Place of Good Abode,” the “Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll” is the perfect place to celebrate a “rebirth” of new policy and governance approaches in the post-pandemic world. While we look forward to productive networking and policy discussions at the conference, after hours,  we plan to visit Elvis Presley’s home at Graceland, enjoy lively music venues on Beale Street (with our Rocking Regulators), as well as meeting the legendary ducks at the historic Peabody Memphis Hotel. Some “Rockin’ Regulation” is on the way for 2022, so please register and/or sponsor today by visiting www.iatr.global.

The theme of the IATR’s 35th Annual Conference will be “Transportation Equity!” In the mobility arena, with literally so many moving parts – including modes and technology innovation – we cannot lose focus and repeat the unfair policy and planning mistakes of the past. To this end, we will ensure every conference session focuses in some way on the concept of “equity” – which is the civil rights issue of our time that must permeate every aspect of our thinking.

Simply put, “equity” means accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation for everyone in the community, with a fair distribution of resources, benefits, costs, programs and services that account for differences in income, ability and other factors affecting modal choice. In the for-hire ground transportation sector, such services can be part of the solution, if we commit ourselves to discussing and debating ideas, and to implementing fair policies for all. Now is the time – and the place is Memphis, Tennessee – where our beloved civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. left this world far too soon. What better way to honor the memory of Dr. King than to pay tribute through not just words, but deeds; and in his own words, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Accessible Transportation Bootcamp

A primary concept in the equity arena is ensuring that people with disabilities (and aging populations) receive safe, affordable and efficient transportation. To this end, IATR’s Accessible Transportation Committee will be helping to organize a day-long bootcamp in Memphis focused exclusively on the basics of accessible mobility, working closely with stakeholder groups such as Keroul, the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Accreditation Commission (NEMTAC), the Transportation Research Board and others.

Designed to be a comprehensive primer on the laws, regulations, standards of care, funding sources, challenges and issues involving accessibility, one will come away with an understanding of the basics to assess all aspects. Topics covered will include: public transit and the use of wheelchair accessible taxicabs and other for-hire vehicles; multi-modal integration of public paratransit and private brokerage and e-hail taxi programs; the funding streams applicable to NEMT mobility services, and anti-fraud measures. The committee will also address how new modes and technology innovations, such as Urban Air Mobility and Autonomous Vehicles, must embrace access issues up front – and not as an after-thought.

IATR “Transportation Equity” Hack-a-Thon

The IATR has partnered with the University Transportation Research Center at the City College of the City University of New York and U.C. Berkeley for many years to build a mobility data commons with the IATR to facilitate hack-a-thon competitions with other universities so that professors, students and industry start-ups, to help develop solutions to challenges and service improvements that are important to government transportation officials in making and implementing policy. In 2022, the competition will focus on “equity,” and regulators will serve as both data suppliers and judges in this competition, with the winning teams presenting their solutions at our 35th IATR Annual Conference in Memphis.

Global Regulatory Spotlight – Electric Mobility & Taxis Working with TNCs

This year, the IATR’s popular panel where transportation regulators from every continent share a wide variety of work they are doing in their respective jurisdictions, will focus and highlight the following: efforts to build infrastructure and incentivize electrification; driver welfare and compensation; the regulatory impacts of the recent phenomenon of taxicabs partnering with Transportation Network Companies (TNCs); and of course, plans to improve equity-based solutions.

Disruptive Transportation Technologies

At its 2021 virtual conference, the IATR coordinated with the World Road Association (PIARC) to hold an innovation workshop where private transportation industry executives from all modes (from micromobility, to taxis and TNCs, to MaaS, EVs and AVs) presented their perspectives on how disruptive technologies and service models have and will continue to shape the mobility sector. Surveys were conducted by PIARC and the IATR of government transport officials’ perspectives as well. All perspectives will be an analyzed and finalized to present to our 2022 conference attendees ways in which the public and private sector can work together moving forward (learning from past disruption lessons).

Model Regulations for “Robotaxis” (Automated & Connected Vehicles)

The IATR will continue its work on the Best Practices, Guiding Principles and Model Regulations for “Robotaxis,” at the 2022 Memphis conference by releasing the final report and recommendations covering the issues of safety & vehicle standards, equity & accessibility, data access & privacy, labor & workforce, governance and business models.

Global Principles for Congestion Mitigation – Avoiding the Car-pocalypse

At our virtual conference in December, we held a workshop to obtain input from stakeholders and experts to develop framework principles to support mobility policymaking to achieve efficient, affordable, sustainable, resilient  and equitable multi-modal passenger transport and package/food delivery, while also reducing vehicular congestion and discouraging personal motor vehicle ownership to help offset the post-pandemic traffic volume increase. The input received will be analyzed and the final guiding principles will be presented to the IATR membership in Memphis this year, with a panel of experts and regulators, to discuss how to use and implement these principles to avoid the Car-pocalypse.

The above and much more is in store for our 35th annual conference, which we are confident will be a resounding success. While we are hopeful that we will be able to meet in person in Memphis, those who register now to attend should know that the IATR will monitor travel restrictions and provide updates (https://bit.ly/33RMs4s). If there are any questions about registration options or membership renewal, please contact info@iatr.global.