Pioneer Institute Announces Winner of 29th Annual Better Government Competition

NTSB Vice Chair, Massachusetts Governor to Headline Awards Gala

BOSTON – Pioneer Institute is pleased to announce that Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)’s program, “Operation Farm Team: Global Transportation Infrastructure Workforce Initiative” is the winner of the 29th annual Better Government Competition. The theme of the 2019 contest was, “Moving People, Moving Goods, Moving Forward,” focusing on innovations that prepare America for the future of transportation.

The competition received over 140 entries from transit and other public agencies, tech entrepreneurs, universities, and nonprofits across the nation. The winner, four runners-up, six special recognition recipients, and a “citizens” awardee will be honored at the Better Government Competition Awards Gala tonight, September 16th, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Boston.

“No one solution can address our region’s transportation needs, especially during this period of rapid economic growth. With tech innovations across the transportation sector, what we need is a different mindset–to embrace the future,” says Jim Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute. “The 2019 Competition takes up that charge, with the winning ideas spanning freight delivery, construction costs, expressway congestion, commuter rail modernization, and more. The judges fittingly chose as Competition winner an entry that develops fresh talent capable of taking advantage of exciting opportunities in the industry.”

LA Metro’s Operation Farm Team is a Career Pathway Program that combines education, mentorships, and hands-on learning opportunities to offset the system’s aging workforce and fill the transportation-related jobs that will be created over the next 40 years. The centerpiece of the program is a new transportation academy, the SEED School of Los Angeles County, which will train high school students to be the next generation of transportation employees. LA Metro is slated to deliver 40 major transportation projects in Los Angeles County over the next 40 years, creating 778,000 jobs. But who will fill those jobs? LA Metro will lose 42% of its workforce to retirement in the next 5 years; 68.5% of employees are over 40.

This entry was submitted by Phillip A. Washington, who has been CEO of LA Metro since 2015. He manages a budget of $7.2 billion, with over $18 billion in capital projects, nearly 11,000 employees, six rail lines and 2,000 clean-air buses transporting 1.2 million passengers daily. Previously, he served as CEO of Denver Regional Transportation District. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including for his service in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of Columbia College, Webster University, and Harvard’s Kennedy School.

At the awards gala, Mr. Washington will accept the top prize, a check for $10,000, made out to the SEED Foundation, and deliver acceptance remarks.

Bruce Landsberg, Vice Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, will provide a keynote presentation. Vice Chair Landsberg was appointed in 2018, after holding leadership positions with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Foundation, which received international recognition and numerous awards for promoting light aircraft safety. He has also worked for Cessna, Flying magazine, and Flight Safety International, and served in the U.S. Air Force.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is also a featured speaker at the event. Governor Baker’s administration is overseeing a major overhaul of the MBTA, investing billions in long overdue infrastructure upgrades, and implementing reforms to operations and finances. Almost a year ago, the administration released a report outlining longterm challenges and opportunities from an appointed Future of Transportation Commission. This summer, the Governor’s commission to study traffic congestion in Massachusetts included proposals for investments in the Commonwealth’s transportation system.

The runners up, described below, will each receive $1,000.

Alternative Contracting Method Performance in U.S. Highway Construction

Keith Molenaar, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, University of Colorado Boulder and Arthur Antoine, Senior Project Manager, Shrewsberry: The Federal Highway Administration, along with Colorado’s Department of Transportation, developed a Project Delivery Selection Matrix to provide an up-to-date perspective on the types of alternative contracting methods for highway construction and a formal approach for selecting highway project delivery methods, so that state agencies can get more work in place faster and with less disruption to the traveling public.

Better Managing the I-93 Northern Expressway HOV Lane for Commuters and Communities

Conrad Crawford, Member, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority: A Tolled Express Lane on the Northern Expressway would improve traffic flow, reduce congestion, and, most importantly, reduce air pollution in those communities that have long borne the brunt of tailpipe emissions.

Bringing the Providence Line into the 21st Century

Ari Ofsevit, Transportation Planning Fellow, TransitMatters: Converting the cars that run on the Providence Commuter Rail Line from diesel to electric, and building new station platforms that would allow for level-boarding, would decrease travel times, allowing for an increase in the number of trains that run during rush hour and, in turn, likely increasing ridership, all while dramatically reducing staffing costs per trip.

Freight Demand Management

Dr. José Holguín-Veras, William Hart Professor, Director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Managing freight demand through off-hour deliveries and receiver-led consolidation can help reduce traffic and decrease greenhouse gas emissions (by up to 64%) produced by freight trucks in congested metropolitan areas.

The winning entries were selected by a distinguished panel of judges with expertise in transportation, including:

· Adam Portnoy, President and CEO, The RMR Group

· Frederick Salvucci, Senior Lecturer, MIT Transit Lab

· Stephen J. Silveira, Senior Vice President, ML Strategies

· Mary Skelton Roberts, Co-Director for Climate, Barr Foundation

· Adam Vaccaro, Transportation Reporter, The Boston Globe


Six special recognition awardees will also be acknowledged at the gala:

GoMentum Station and Shared Autonomous Vehicles

Randell Iwaseki, Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CA): A pilot program to integrate zero-emission, low-speed, electric autonomous shared shuttles with public transit to ease congestion, reduce emissions, and provide access to transportation hubs, marking the first time a shared autonomous vehicle has been allowed to travel on public roads in California.

Innovative Approaches to Improving Pedestrian Safety

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston: Technical assistance, advocacy, and education initiatives to increase pedestrian safety and advance the goal of walkable communities across Massachusetts.

Mobility Data from MetroTech

Christian Kotscher, Founder & CEO, MetroTech: MetroTech leverages existing infrastructure to produce real-time traffic counts and speeds to change signal-timing patterns and reveal the accurate condition of traffic in a Digital Streets Platform that can be broadcast to drivers and autonomous vehicles, and accessed by vehicle makers and app developers.

North Station Seaport Ferry

Erin Anderson and Shannon McDermott, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority: A public-private partnership operating ferry service during commuting hours between Lovejoy Wharf at North Station and Fan Pier, that reduces road traffic congestion and mitigates the impact of air pollution.

Task Force on Regional Transit Authority Performance & Funding

Astrid Glynn, Administrator, Rail & Transit Division, MassDOT: A Task Force on Regional Transit Authority Performance and Funding recommended predictable increases in state operating assistance, but also the adoption of performance targets by the RTAs, recommendations acted upon by the Massachusetts State Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Act.

Truck Platooning with PlatoonPro

Stephen Boyd and Amanda F. Anderson, Peloton Technology, Inc.: A driver-Assistive Truck Platooning system, PlatoonPro, that allows pairs of trucks to accelerate and brake as a single system, reducing fuel consumption by roughly 7.25% through safe aerodynamic drafting.

For the 2019 contest, Pioneer Institute introduced a “citizen” awards category and honored Massachusetts attorney Jacob Ventura for his entry, “Employer-Incentive Traffic Reduction and Regional Economic Development Tax Credit Plan,” an incentive-based and market-driven plan to reduce traffic congestion and benefit employers and employees.

At the Better Government Competition Awards Gala, a compendium of winning entries will be distributed to attendees; Pioneer will also send it to policy makers and opinion leaders in Massachusetts and across the country.

2019 Better Government Competition Compendium of Winning Entries by Pioneer Institute on Scribd

Stay Connected with the Better Government Competition!

Pioneer Institute’s Better Government Competition, founded in 1991, is an annual citizens’ ideas contest that rewards some of the nation’s most innovative public policy proposals. The Better Government Competition Awards Gala attracts hundreds of leaders in business, government, and the non-profit sector. Past speakers have included: The Right Honorable James D. Bolger, New Zealand Ambassador; John Stossel, former ABC News correspondent; U.S. Senator Alan Simpson; Massachusetts Governors Mitt Romney, William Weld, Paul Cellucci, Deval Patrick, and Charlie Baker; David Gergen, advisor to four presidents; Michelle Rhee, head of StudentsFirst; U.S. Senator Scott Brown; financial publisher Steve Forbes; Boston Mayor Martin Walsh; former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Joseph F. Coughlin, Founder and Director of the MIT AgeLab; and John Sexton, former President of New York University.


Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Pioneer’s Better Government Competition brings you the country’s top proposals for improving transportation, healthcare, education, and other critical policy areas. Help us continue this important work.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *