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Thursday, January 28, 2010

OnTrackAmerica adds three staffers

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Expanding on the momentum it built throughout 2009, OnTrackAmerica (OTA), the Philadelphia-based non-profit transportation consultancy is expanding its staff to fully develop its comprehensive agenda for 2010.


Ed Fischer was named OTA's director of development. Fischer, an accomplished fund-raising consultant, will be charged with securing financial support for all of OTA's projects.


Jason Owens, a master's candidate at the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government, was also hired as project coordinator. Owens will oversee several OTA initiatives for 2010, including OnTrackPennsylvania and Freight Transportation Land Use Strategy.


Collin Keefe was named director of public relations. Keefe brings 10-plus years of both newsroom and public relations experience to OTA, and will serve as a media liaison while overseeing all strategic communications efforts.


For 2010, OTA will convene a yearlong series of in-person summits, co-facilitated by Barbara Gray, Director of Penn State University's Center for Research in Conflict and Negotiation. This initial set of multi-stakeholder summits is designed to define the parameters for measuring a doubling of freight transportation efficiency by the year 2020.


Also in 2010, OTA will continue to develop its model state freight transportation business plan for improving freight transportation productivity and efficiency. It has launched OnTrackPennsylvania, a statewide Collaboration for Optimal Freight Transportation, and is working on partnerships to advance a parallel model in western states. In 2009, OTA built support for OnTrackPennsylvania throughout the state legislature, governor's office and relevant non-governmental organizations and associations, including the legislature's transportation committee chairmen and Governor Rendell's policy team. A targeted fundraising effort has been initiated to fully develop this concept into its most effective approach. Authorizing legislation is intended to be ready for introduction by the second half of 2010.


Additionally, OTA will continue to champion the revitalization of Stony Creek, a 10-mile branch line in metropolitan Philadelphia that runs from Norristown to Lansdale, Pa. Saving and regenerating the Stony Creek line provides an opportunity to use stakeholder engagement to expand the narrow economic lens that is used to assess individual rail lines, a perspective that currently devalues the key role of rail line segments in the regional transportation system.


Furthermore, in 2010 OTA will advocate a continental moratorium on rail line abandonments in support of the effort to rebuild missing transportation links.