Skip to main content


Project Dates
12/01/2007 - 12/31/2009
Project Status
General Discussion

Historically, transportation agencies have been built on a traditional public administration management model: they hired technical staff with expertise in specific projects, and managers who focused on completing those projects within time and budget constraints. Increasingly, however, these same transportation agencies are being asked to adopt more strategic- and planning-based management styles. In this new capacity, managers must now be able to interact with, accommodate, and persuade a wide array of external actors; they must be able to organize their efforts around an evolving and changing set of strategic goals; and they must have the creativity and flexibility to implement new management strategies to enhance operations in times of fiscal and capacity constraints. At the same time, technical staff have many more tools at their disposal and must better understand how best to use them ad how to translate their findings for those not as familiar with these new techniques.

To meet these challenges, transportation agencies need professional staff at all levels who understand best practices in their fields, who can communicate effectively with stakeholders and members of other agencies and other disciplines. Managers need to be familiar with emerging management concepts, while they also learn to understand the uses and limitations of new technologies and analysis techniques being adopted in their departments and elsewhere. Technical professionals need to better understand the strategic purposes to which their analyses and modeling outputs will be applied, and the best ways to communicate their findings so that they are no misused or misinterpreted. Most importantly, managers and technical staff need to work together effectively, and need to understand how their jobs interrelate and contribute to their agency’s mission.

A number of years ago, the faculty at NYU Wagner, Polytechnic, and the University Transportation Research Center, developed a course to address these issues for both management and technical staff at the various agencies around the NYMTC region. The NYU Wagner Rudin Center is now proposing a similar but updated course, over a twelve-month period, that will provide participants with the tools, skills, and understanding they need to succeed in this new transportation environment.

Developing the Program While Building upon Previous Experience

The audience for this series of courses is mid-level transportation managers and technical staff around the New York metropolitan region. They will be looking for courses that provide value – something from which they not only learn while there, but that supplies them with the tools to add to their skills on their own after the class is completed. Information must be interesting, timely, and relevant, and when possible, tailored to the participants’ needs and concerns. Classes will be engaging and offer ample opportunity for participation through exercises intended to allow the participants to use and apply new skills and tools, and through discussion aimed at helping participants better understand new concepts.

To develop the NYMTC Staff Training Program, the NYU Wagner Rudin Center need not begin from scratch. In addition to having been involved in the original offering, the Center has ongoing experience with similar technical and managerial training programs. For nine years, the Rudin Center has been running an Executive Development course, funded by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), for managers in transportation. Over the course of a year, with weekly classes, the course focuses on transportation management, policy, operations, and planning. The Rudin Center has also developed a Senior Leadership Training course for the National Transit Institute which is offered around the country over a three-day period. While focused more on transit, it too includes modules on management, policy, and planning, among other issues.

To prepare for the new course proposed here, the NYU Wagner Rudin Center Training Team [hereafter, “the Team”] will draw upon the themes covered in the earlier NYMTC program as well as in current training and management courses being offered, modifying and adding to them as needed to respond to the changing transportation environment. The Team will also include a member of Polytechnic University and will engage additional faculty from Rensselaer Polytechnic University to work on the technical aspects of the curriculum.