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WSP Senior VP Jannet Walker-Ford discusses transport equity

WSP Senior VP Jannet Walker-Ford discusses transport equity

 June 07, 2022

WSP develops creative, comprehensive and sustainable engineering solutions for a future where society can thrive. Equipped with local knowledge, world-class talent and proactive leadership, WSP plans, designs, manages and engineers long-lasting and impactful solutions to uniquely complex problems. The company delivers advanced and sustainable outcomes to make transportation smarter and more affordable for its clients and their communities.

WSP USA's Jannet Walker-Ford, Senior Vice President, Principal Director of National Transit & Rail Business Line Leader, spoke with METRO Magazine about ways transit can engage with the communities they serve to improve equity, inclusion and ridership. Jannet has more than 20 years of experience working with large transportation agencies, leading key transit, rail, highway and aviation projects across the U.S.

Jannet is responsible for growing the firm’s business in the transit and rail markets; developing client relationships within state and local transit agencies, consultants, industry associations, railroads and contractors; and establishing strategies that position WSP for major advisory, planning, design, program management and construction management assignments. She participates in strategic pursuits and serves as principal-in-charge or project director on various projects.

Championing inclusion and social equity

Jannet discusses the ways transit has effectively dealt with inclusion and social equity, issues that have come to the forefront outside of the pandemic. She shares her insights on the ways transit can continue to address these issues.

"Transit provides a vital service, creating access and connecting people, places, and opportunities. We need to craft and catalyze strategies that help underserved, marginalized, and disinvested communities," comments Jannet.

"Healthcare is just one example of how transit can support a more equitable society. Access to education, voting locations, good jobs, and healthy food sources are also significant opportunities for us to rethink how to ensure equity," she says.

Engaging with communities

WSP knows that rail and transit systems play a leading role in the future of modern transportation. They offer sustainable solutions that reduce carbon emissions, create greater mobility with increased energy efficiency and provide long-term economic benefits.

"At WSP, we believe it’s critical to be in continuous conversation with the communities in which an agency or service is operating. It’s key to early planning, and it continues to be critical over time. Open dialog about fares, new technologies, and shifting routes isn’t just for the benefit of the people, it also ensures the agency is paying attention to — and addressing — evolving needs and concerns," explains Jannet.

Janet shares her thoughts on the aspects that support equity, including language translation and how that information needs to be available in the languages spoken in a community.

"Similarly, transit needs to consider disabilities, elderly travelers, and people with other unique access needs," she adds.

Thinking creatively and expansively

Jannet shares the keys to transit being able to bring back ridership post-pandemic and discusses how electric buses can assist in significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"For commuting, transit agencies will need to continue to adjust and adapt, looking for the emerging patterns to provide appropriate trip options, while also exceeding expectations of dependability, cleanliness, and accessibility," comments Jannet.

"Electric buses can also play a role in the transportation equity discussion by improving air quality in our low-income communities," she adds.

Read the article in full to learn more about Jannet's insights on the ways transit can engage with communities to improve social equity, inclusion and ridership.

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