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Meet Zachary Smith!

Zachary Smith
Program Manager-Policy and Planning
Policy Department

What are your primary responsibilities—the job elements you focus on the most?

I devote the majority of my time to the National Center for Mobility Management (NCMM), a technical assistance center operated by a consortium of APTA, the Community Transportation Association of America and Easter Seals. The goal of NCMM is to help communities deliver a customer-centered mobility strategy that empowers people to live independently and advance health, economic vitality, self-sufficiency and community.

My work for NCMM involves programmatic support and technical assistance. I also support recipients of NCMM’s Health Challenge Grants, given to 16 public transit agencies to improve access between transportation and health resources.

NCMM also provides mobility management information practices. Public transit agencies interested in improving their paratransit options can consult the center for information, or agencies that have already implemented a strategy can share it so others can replicate it.

In the aftermath of passage of the FAST Act, NCMM is helping convene and plan a conference for the Coordination Council on Access and Mobility in June to improve partnerships across federal agencies to ensure that people who need rides can get them.

In addition, I serve as the staff advisor to the APTA Mobility Management and State Affairs committees and provide support to the APTA Policy and Planning Committee and its subcommittees.

I also engage grassroots supporters of public transit through the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates, which includes managing the Local Coalition Grant program to support increasing investment in public transportation in their communities.

Tell us about your recent contact with APTA members.

I share best practices with APTA members on a day-to-day basis. For example, one member wanted to develop a TOD policy for her transit agency and asked if APTA had policies the agency could work from. I work with the Land Use and Economic Development Subcommittee of the APTA Policy and Planning Committee. The subcommittee develops materials to show the benefit of linking land use and transit.

My work with the subcommittee includes maintaining a database of TOD policies, guidelines and case studies, so I was able to get the ­member the information she needed.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?

Shortly after I joined APTA, I was asked to write a complete ­summary of proceedings for the Rides to Wellness Summit convened by NCMM through FTA regarding efforts to improve access to healthcare, including transportation. APTA had a major role in planning the event, setting up the logistics, scheduling the speakers—and I summarized what happened.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?

I’ve always been interested in transportation and land use. Before coming to APTA, I worked for an organization that helped real estate developers with TOD projects. That group was a program of Smart Growth America. Rich Weaver, my supervisor at APTA, is the chair of another program of Smart Growth America, the National Complete Streets Coalition.
While working with Smart Growth America, I learned about the job opening at APTA. I thought it looked interesting and I’ve worked here for eight months now.

Have you held other jobs in the public ­transportation industry?

Not with public transportation per se, but I’ve worked on transportation issues. I was a member of a citizens’ advisory committee to the Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a volunteer group that makes sure the DC area’s transportation priorities include residents’ views. When I was in college, I served on an advisory committee for transportation for the school. The college operated a free bus network and was considering adding fares, but in the end the service remained free.

What professional affiliations do you have?

Urban Land Institute and Young ­Professionals in Transportation.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

I can play the trombone and I’ve never had a piece of candy I didn’t enjoy.
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