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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

International Workshops Bring Together Transportation Leaders Around the World

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In 2015, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and South Africa Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters signed a Memorandum of Cooperation that addresses a broad range of areas for engagement, including a mutual commitment to promote careers for women in transportation. Their first initiative is Tomorrow’s Transportation Leaders, which connects emerging transportation professionals with established experts and kicked off with a Volpe-led workshop held in June in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This initiative was the first part of a multi-year agreement with the Secretary’s office to engage Volpe support in Africa, Brazil, India, and other countries.

The Johannesburg workshop brought together 30 young African transportation professionals, many of them women, from policy, road, rail, transit, aviation, and environment offices. Students exchanged ideas and perspectives with expert instructors from Volpe and the South Africa Department of Transport.

“During my visit to Johannesburg last year, I had the opportunity to see first-hand the tremendous interest that so many South Africans demonstrated in furthering their careers in transportation,” said Secretary Foxx. “I was especially encouraged by the number of young women in transportation who had the opportunity to connect with Volpe’s multimodal experts. These types of events are empowering and impactful, and will help inspire young leaders to continue working to uplift and improve South Africa’s transportation networks.”

Tomorrow's Transportation Leaders in South Africa with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (middle). (U.S. Department of Transportation photo)

South Africa faces significant transportation challenges, including increasing dependence on automobile travel, which can be costly and can have negative environmental impacts; lack of mobility alternatives, particularly for low-income populations without access to cars; security concerns; and the need for new investments to stimulate economic growth and employment.

Volpe transportation planners spent three months designing the workshop and are providing follow-up technical assistance.

Instructors discussed how the U.S. and South Africa address transportation policy and planning and several other critical topics, including the following:

  • Asset management
  • Major trends and emerging issues in transportation planning
  • New technologies affecting transportation systems
  • Planning for accessibility and healthy communities
  • Transit management and performance

Students and Volpe instructors discussed how the above themes fit into frameworks of national transportation strategies, institutional roles and responsibilities, long-range and vision planning, smart cities, and safety, among others. In one exercise, teams used data benchmarks on transit performance to diagnose inefficient operations practices and communicate with policy makers and the public on transit’s potential to address regional mobility needs. Students also had the opportunity to present ideas spurred by the emerging issues they learned during the course.

Secretary Foxx participated in the workshop wrap-up by leading discussions on challenges shaping South Africa’s transportation future.

Multimodal, Global Transportation Workshops

In February 2016, staff from the Office of the Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs and Volpe traveled to Delhi, India, to follow up on the Memorandum of Cooperation signed by Secretary Foxx and his Indian counterparts during his visit in June 2015.  Staff met with Indian government transportation representatives, and representatives from the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the U.S. Embassy in India.

Those discussions identified potential workshop topics on regional transportation and cross-border trade, port modernization, Smart Cities, and safety oversight. 

Volpe staff are also supporting the Office of the Secretary to plan peer expert meetings with transportation officials in Brazil and their partner organizations. Those meetings will cover maritime port policy, management, and operations topics.

Department of Transportation 50th anniversary logo.

Each month during the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 50th anniversary, U.S. DOT focuses on a different theme. This month, U.S. DOT is celebrating Women in Transportation. In this article, we’re taking a look at a Volpe-led workshop, held this past summer in South Africa and attended by early-career women in transportation. We’re also taking a look toward Volpe’s upcoming work in developing nations on behalf of the U.S. DOT Secretary’s office.