These past six months have been very difficult for so many people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, including the International Association of Transportation Regulators’ (IATRs’) regulator members and licensed industries. Yet, despite the sadness surrounding the loss of life, the uncertainty surrounding the economic futures of both public and private transportation, and the fears and risks we all must face daily, we should be encouraged by the resiliency that has been on full display by all of the essential workers in the transportation sector – including our public servant regulators, business owners and especially, the drivers on the front lines. It is this ability to adapt and respond to rapid and unexpected change that has inspired the new theme of the IATR’s 33rd Annual Conference: “Resilient Regulation!”
The dictionary definition meaning of the word “resilience” includes: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; or the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. In the transportation lexicon, the term resilience is often used to refer to the ability of a transportation system to be able to respond to, recover and/or withstand an emergency situation or catastrophe, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. All of the above meanings of “resilience” apply to this new and unforeseen pandemic, in terms of what regulators and regulated industries need to do to get moving again, recover and then build a regulatory paradigm to withstand any resurgence or future pandemics that may come our way.
This conference will focus almost exclusively on the topic of COVID-19 readiness and responses to protect health, safety and economic viability for passenger mobility and freight delivery, from a transportation regulation point of view – hence, the apropos theme of “Resilient Regulation.”
Unfortunately, due to the uncertainty surrounding a possible resurgence of the COVID-19 virus in the Fall of 2020, coupled with many of our government regulator members being required to cancel all travel for this year, the IATR had no choice but to reschedule its 33rd Annual Conference original scheduled for September 22nd-25th in Memphis, Tenn. The good news is that we have officially moved our Memphis conference to September 22nd-25th in 2021, so we are hopeful that we will all be able to meet in person by then to visit this wonderful city, and resume human safe interaction by then.
Meanwhile, the IATR has been working in overdrive to support its regulator members and their industries throughout this time of crisis. For over 100 days now, IATR has issued important daily global news updates on the pandemic, created resources on its website for its members on guidance and reports of relevance to their work, conducted several surveys, and has held numerous meetings and webinars to share information and best practices.
IATR has also worked with many other organizations in the field, participating in joint surveys, webinars and reports, and is developing its own model pandemic regulations for safe and healthy mobility through its IATR COVID-19 Task Force. The need for these services, and the possibility that there may be a second wave of the virus, necessitates that we hold our annual conference this year, so that our members are ready to tackle whatever comes our way. I am pleased to announce that we will have our 33rd Annual Conference Virtually, starting Monday, October 26th and ending on Thursday, October 29th, 2020. To view more information about the conference, and to register or sponsor, view our website at www.iatr.global
The IATR’s Virtual Conference will utilize the Zoom conference platform, and there are many benefits our group will take advantage of to reduce pricing and expand our attendance footprint and membership. Over the years, there are so many times that many potential IATR conference attendees were are unable to visit us in person – due to conflicting conferences, reduced travel budgets and pressing work or priorities at home. This time, we have our first opportunity to have an unlimited number of potential attendees and speakers who may not have been able to join us in the past.
Also, with many regulators and industry members still working remotely, the virtual conference will allow for the opportunity to attend events and webinars spaced out throughout the day, so as not to interfere with other work that needs to be done. We believe that this new format will open the door to new members, sponsors and other interested parties that never would have had the opportunity to join us in person – and the virtual conference could really help attract more members, and help grow and further diversify the IATR.
The remainder of this article sets forth a description of the planned virtual conference program.
4th Annual IATR Bootcamp
The IATR’s Boot Camp Training has now become a regular part of our conferences, and will be back for an all-day virtual session on Monday, October 26th. The boot camp is a great way to meet new and experienced regulators, who start with the basics on a topic. Assume you just took on a position as a regulator and know little to nothing about a topic – well that is the place the boot camp comes in handy. Our trainers assume you do not know the terminology, and we begin instruction with those pedagogical precepts in mind. This year, we have modified some of our topics from the original Memphis conference to meet the pressing needs or interests in certain modes and subject matter during the pandemic.
Transportation Regulator Data Access & Use: This session will cover the history of taxicab, for-hire, Transportation Network Company (TNC) and other mobility data collection, by both government agencies and private companies, including what types and sources of data are available, and how and for what policy purposes such data is analyzed, modelled and used. Case studies will be presented by regulators and academics on: data use; the applicability of basic privacy and data access laws and paradigms – including Freedom of Information Laws (FOIL); the impact of data access and privacy litigation; and third party repository solutions.
Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) Primer: This session will cover the basic concepts of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), and explore which global jurisdictions are experimenting with multi-modal platforms and smartphone applications. Topics will also cover the regulatory, legal, policy and funding issues relating to implementation, and the status of the various U.S. experiments with the Federal Transit Administration’s Mobility-on-Demand (MOD Sandbox) pilot programs.
Micro-Mobility Regulation Primer: The advent of micro-mobility, which includes dockless and docked bike and e-bike share systems, e-scooters, e-mopeds and other mobility devices, and the history of these urban proliferating modes will be covered, especially in light of increased use post-COVID-19. Regulators and industry stakeholders will discuss policymaking, public private partnerships, safety, liability and sustainability issues, as well as licensing and enforcement.
IATR Model Regulations and COVID-19 Task Force – International Public Hearing
The IATR’s best practices and model regulations will hopefully act as a guide for regulators around the world to implement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective jurisdictions. IATR has already drafted and issued model regulations for smartphone apps and accessible transportation, and currently has model regulation projects in the works for autonomous vehicles, safety equipment, soft meters, digital advertising on taxicabs, transportation data access & privacy, and non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) certification.
IATR’s model regulations outline the accepted practices carried out by operators throughout the industry, and provide language that can be drafted into applicable rules and regulations. The IATR’s most recent project, IATR Model Regulations for COVID-19 Health, Safety & Resiliency, will address scenarios that create contingency plans for future crises and prepare the industry for a possible second wave of COVID-19, should that present itself. The model pandemic regulations will discuss the potential long-term implications of current regulations, and adapt them to present a plan that addresses the needs of all industry operators in the short- and long-term.
The subject matter includes:
- Vehicle Cleanliness
- Transportation Health & Safety Re-opening Plans
- Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – Drivers & Passengers
- Social Distancing & Ride-Sharing (Group Rides)
- Vehicle Partitions
- COVID-19 Testing & Temperature Checks
- Agency Operations & Industry Aid/Relief
- Accessibility (Paratransit & Non-Emergency Medical Transport – NEMT)
- Governance & Communication
- Regulation Of Specialty Modes (Food/Package Delivery, School Bus, Micro-Mobility – e-scooter, bike and e-moped share)
- Collaboration, Research & Coordination
Consistent with the IATR’s revised mission statement of “Multi-Modal Mobility Innovation for All,” any recommended best practice mandates, guidance and/or other safety and health regulations will cover all transportation modes, including: taxicab; limousine; Transportation Network Companies (TNCs); buses and motor coaches; school buses; public paratransit and Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT); micro-mobility (bike and e-scooter share, tuk tuks and e-mopeds); and specialized topics such as airport ground transport and nightlife transportation.
In order to collect the best data, regulatory and policy information, and opinions of regulators from different areas of the world, the IATR formed a COVID-19 Task Force comprised of the chairs of our IATR committees. Representatives from the Technology & Innovation, Safety & Health, Canadian Regulator, Accessible Transportation, and TNC Regulator (Working Group) Committees have undertaken the creation of an international regulator survey, and will be involved in scoping the outline for the model regulations and resulting report.
The IATR’s Advisory Board members http://iatr.global/bod will also be asked to participate, including the following organizations: American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA); American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); Airport Ground Transportation Association (AGTA); American Public Transportation Association (APTA); Alliance for Transportation Innovation (ATI21); City Innovate; The Eno Center for Transportation; Keroul; The Institutes Griffith Foundation; Intelligent Transportation Systems of America (ITSA); International Association of Public Transport (UITP); International Transport Forum, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (ITF-OECD); National Conference of State Transportation Specialists (NCSTS); National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM); National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) within the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention; Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI); Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC); Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at the University of California, Berkeley; University Transportation Research Center (UTRC) at City College, City University of NY; and Womanium.
Select Advisory Board members will be part of an extension group advising the task force, and will submit comments and perspectives before and at the IATR’s virtual conference. The process will conclude with the preparation of proposed model regulations that will be published for written comments before the virtual conference, and an entire day will be devoted to hearing from conference attendees live via web testimony on what changes, if any, should be made to the draft document. The goal will be to finalize and make available these model regulations before the winter flu season starts, so regulators can be ready for any resurgence of COVID-19.
IATR’s 5th Annual Hack-A-Thon
The IATR continues to organize and hold one or more hack-a-thons every year, and to grow its Data Commons repository of multi-modal transportation trip data, which is housed at the University of California, Berkeley. The IATR Data Commons will continue to be used by students, start-ups and academics competing in hack-a-thons or data challenges, and as information to help fellow regulators – whether to prepare legislative testimony, issue internal or external studies or reports, or to conduct benchmarking analysis.
In September 2019, the IATR partnered with The Transportation Alliance (formerly known as the Taxicab, Limousine, Paratransit Association, or TLPA), to host a “Micro-Transit” themed hack-a-thon. The mission of the hack-a-thon was to analyze data from two cities – St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. and Toronto, Ontario, CA, to point to opportunities in micro-transit for the taxicab industry and regulators. The winners of the “Micro-Transit” hack-a-thon, will present their findings and answer audience questions during the IATR’s 33rd annual virtual conference.
Global Regulator Spotlight
The IATR has for the last two years, held a Regulatory Star Trek session, to introduce new and innovative regulators with differing approaches. The originally scheduled Next Generation 3.0 version will take place, but with an expanded vision to cover every continent’s regulators during this session. A varied number of topics will be covered, including how sustainability, accessibility, technology, equity and other projects and initiatives are faring with respect to the pandemic.
Some projects may have slowed down, and others sped-up as a result of shifting transportation policy priorities. This panel of regulators will talk about how their current and future plans and issues are faring, and what is in store for short and long-term mobility trends and regulation.
IATR Committee Meetings
The IATR’s subject matter committees, that work year-round to share best regulatory practices, news and developments, will be meeting on the last day of the conference, including the following, to discuss a variety of different issues:
Technology & Innovation Committee
Committee Chair, David Do, Director at the District of Columbia’s Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV)
Agenda items will include: the Final Model Regulations for Digital Rooftop Advertising, Urban Air Mobility and Electric Vehicle Technology Initiatives, and report on status of Automated and Connected Vehicle Model Regulations.
Accessible Transportation Committee
Co-Committee Chairs, Rupal Bapat, Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection; Isabelle Ducharme, Chairman of the Board of Kéroul
Agenda items will include: Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Accreditation Commission (NEMTAC) activities; the modification of Accessible Transportation Model Regulations to address NEMTAC or other duty of care certification of paratransit providers; and volunteer accessible transportation services.
Canadian Regulators Committee
Committee Chair, Sylvain Tousignant, Development Director of the Ville de Montreal (Bureau de Taxi)
Agenda items will include: federal and provincial COVID-19 pandemic approaches to regulation and economic recovery in Canada
Committee Chair, Dr. Cammie Chaumont-Menendez, Senior Scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Agenda items will include: bus, motor coach and stretch limousine safety standards (post-Schoharie, NY crash).
TNC Working Group
Committee Chair: Terry Mercer, Associate Administrator for the Motor Carriers at the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC)
Agenda items will include: TNC agency enforcement and data collection.
IATR Lawyers Network
The inaugural meeting of this group of mostly government agency lawyers responsible for drafting regulations, legislation and analyzing case law impacting on ground transportation licensees will take place, to discuss operations and the mission of this exclusive IATR network.
Professor Matthew W. Daus, Esq. is President, International Association of Transportation Regulators (http://iatr.global/); Transportation Technology Chair, City University of New York, Transportation Research Center at The City College of New York (http://www.utrc2.org/); and Partner and Chairman, Windels Marx Transportation Practice Group (http://windelsmarx.com). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.237.1106.