Space, transportation, local government conference
The Future of Transportation

» The Future of Transportation: 5th Annual Public Policy Conference

Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Beckman Hall, Room 404 - George Bush Conference Center
This conference is made possible due to a generous grant from Fieldstead and Company.

Public transit is losing riders. There’s big backlash against California’s high speed rail system and the gas taxes that fund roads and other transportation projects. And navigating traffic and finding a parking space have never been harder. But for all our public discontent with the chore of moving around California, the state has never seen more new ideas about how to improve and transform transportation. Which of these ideas are worth pursuing? What would a California transportation system that is convenient, safe, clean, and affordable look like? And how do we cross--and fund—the bridge from today’s transit horror’s to tomorrow’s transportation dreams? These are among the questions that will be addressed at our fifth local government conference, “How will we get around the Southland and California?

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Conference Program


8-8:45 a.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404
Welcome: Provost Glenn Pfeiffer

Panel 1: California's Trains

9-10:30 a.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

What role should rail play in CA’s transportation future? Should rail dollars be spent on projects that help us to get around the state or around our local communities? Is the high speed rail project a bold new initiative or colossal boondoggle? Is Orange County’s $300 million, four-mile Streetcar the future of local transportation or white elephant? Should Orange County push for an extension of LA’ s Metro to Santa Ana? Should proposals such as Elon Musk’s Hyperloop be taken seriously? Is “fixed” rail the way to go given the coming autonomous vehicle (or self-driving cars and trucks) revolution?

Moderator: Karen E. Philbrick, Director, Mineta Transportation Institute, San Jose State University


  • Dan Richard, Director, California High Speed Rail
  • Martin Wachs, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School (emeritus)
  • Lou Thompson, California High Speed Rail Peer Group Review
  • Tian Feng, District Architect, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

Panel 2: Traffic in the Southland

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

In the next decade, we will experience a revolution in how we use cars. Car manufacturers estimate that high-functioning autonomous vehicles (or self-driving cars and trucks) will be on U.S. roads as soon as the early 2020s. What will these new cars look like? How will they work and fit into the rest of the transportation system, from buses to bikes? How will they change how we live and work? Will they require an expensive remaking of roads and other infrastructure, or allow us to save the money we spend on building park garages and use it to transform public spaces? This panel will also discuss the increase in ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, California’s electric vehicle mandate, and congestion pricing.

Moderator: Laura Nelson, Transportation reporter Los Angeles Times


  • Dan McNichol, Author, The Roads That Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate System
  • Shane Philips, Director of Public Policy, Central City Association of Los Angeles
  • Randal O'Toole, Public policy analyst, author, “Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What To Do About It.” CATO Institute.
  • Michael Floyd, Editor, Automobile Magazine

Lunch: Orange County Annual Survey

12:30-1:45 p.m.
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Conference Suite, Second Floor, Argyros Forum, Room 209 A, B, and C

Chapman University Orange County Annual Survey with Fred Smoller and Mike Moodian

Panel 3: What should we build and how do we pay for it?

2-3:30 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

How best do we connect transportation and transit to where we live, work and play so that our infrastructure has the greatest value? What are the proper roles of bicycles, scooters, drones, and walking in building connections? What sort of development do we need in Orange County and in California so that the things we build best serve the things that move us? And how will we pay for all of this?

Moderator: Andrew Lyon, Founding Dean, Fowler School of Engineering


  • Jonathan English, Ph.D. Candidate, CityLab, author of “Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don't Blame Cars.)”
  • Darrell Johnson, Director, Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA)
  • Laurie Berman, Director, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
  • Mike Dukakis, Former Governor, MA; Professor, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Panel 4: What can we learn from others?

4-5:30 p.m.
George H. W. Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404

Places such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Germany have substantially better public transportation systems than we do in the United States. Even Bogata, Colombia has a successful bus rapid transit system--TransMilenio--that is used by millions and surpasses anything Californians experience. And others places around the world have surpassed California in incorporating bikes and scooters into commuting and transportation. Can “low-tech” systems generate more “bang” for the transportation “buck” in California? What systems from other U.S. metropolitan areas--from New York to Portland -- that have more robust and more widely used transportation systems would work in California? Why are other countries able to build high-speed rail and other transportation infrastructure so much more quickly and at lower cost than California?

Moderator: Tom Zoellner, Author, Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World--from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief


  • Stephen Mikesell, Author, A Tale of Two Bridges: The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridges of 1936 and 2013.
  • Susan Handy, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis.
  • Susan Carpenter, KPCC transportation reporter
  • Liliana Pereira, Transportation Consultant, TransMilenio, Bogota. Colombia

Reserve Your Spot

Email to attend.

Conference Panelists

 Laurie Berman

Laurie Berman was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to be the Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) beginning in March 2018. She leads the more than $8 billion organization and nearly 20,000 employees who build, maintain, and operate the 50,000 lane miles of California’s transportation system. Director Berman has been actively engaged in the implementation of SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act and will seamlessly continue Caltrans’ momentum to deliver SB 1 projects and rebuild California. Since she started at Caltrans in 1983, Director Berman has held several positions, including acting chief deputy director, San Diego and Imperial County district director, chief deputy district director of project delivery, State Route 125 south toll road corridor project manager, design manager and senior transportation engineer.

Susan Carpenter

Susan Carpenter is co-host of The Ride, a series about modern mobility on the Southern California Public Radio Station, KPCC-FM. In broadcast radio segments and a weekly podcast, she reports on everything from autonomous cars and ride sharing to motorcycles, bicycles and public transit. Before joining KPCC, she was the car and motorcycle critic for the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register. She is also known for operating two illegal pirate radio stations and writing about unconventional adventures for the women's magazine, Jane, that she undertook in order to experience them firsthand. A University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate, Carpenter was working as a legal secretary in San Francisco, California in 1995 when she began pseudonymously running an illegal all-music pirate radio station, which she named "KPBJ" after the sandwich. The station operated for three and a half years before the FCC shut it down.


Michael Dukakis is the longest-serving governor in the history of Massachusetts. He won the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States in 1988 but was defeated by George Bush. Since June 1991, Dukakis has been a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and visiting professor at the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. His research has focused on national health care policy reform and the lessons that national policy makers can learn from state reform efforts. Dukakis was nominated by President Bill Clinton for a five-year term as a member of the new Board of Directors of Amtrak, The National Railroad Passenger Corporation on May 21, 1998 and served as Vice-Chairman on the Amtrak Board.

Jonathan English

Jonathan English is a doctoral candidate in Urban Planning at Columbia University. His research uses historical and other methods to examine the development of public transportation in North American suburban areas, and the effect of service levels on transit demand. He has an MA and MSc in International History from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He has worked in government in Canada and Germany as well as in the private sector. He also works as a consultant on transportation and infrastructure policy. His writing has been published in Citylab, Urban Omnibus, City+State New York, and other publications.

Tian Feng

Tian Feng, FAIA, FCSI, is the District Architect of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Vice President of California Architects Board. He created and enforces BART Facilities Standards which guide infrastructural and systems investment valued at billions of dollars. Feng pioneered BART’s sustainability policies and practices, as well as climate resiliency program. Feng was an advisor to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and implemented a number of region-wide transit improvement initiatives and projects. Feng’s leadership roles in transportation also include as the chief editor of Transit Sustainability Guidelines published by American Public Transportation Association and as the managing architect for several climate resilient projects in the Bay Area funded by FTA, FHWA, and CalTrans. He is currently a research advisor for the Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenges program where he provides infrastructural, transportation and architectural advice. Feng was appointed by Governor Brown to the California Architects Board since 2014.

Mike Floyd

A born and bred Detroiter, Mike Floyd began his 25-plus year career at the Detroit Free Press, where he helped launch the newspaper’s website in 1996. From there he moved to Autoweek magazine as the editor of Floyd moved to L.A. in 2006 to take the helm of Motor Trend’s Web operations, where he led a transformation of Motor Trend’s online presence. Most recently, Floyd was elevated to editor-in-chief of Automobile magazine in June of 2014. He has evaluated and written about countless cars of all shapes and sizes and has become an expert on the auto industry. Floyd is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit with a degree in journalism and resides in Redondo Beach, California, with his wife Tammy.

Susan Handy

Susan Handy is a professor of Environmental Science and Policy and director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at the University of California, Davis. She is known internationally for her research on the connections between land use and travel behavior as well as her recent work on bicycling as a mode of transportation.  She is an associate editor of the Journal of Transport and Health.

Darrell Johnson

Darrell Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority, leading an agency of 1,400 employees responsible for delivering projects, programs and services that improve mobility for more than 3 million county residents. Under the direction of OCTA’s 17-member Board of Directors, Mr. Johnson is responsible for a more than $1.2 billion annual budget, implementing the planning, financing and coordinating of Orange County's freeway, street and rail development, as well as managing countywide bus services, commuter-rail services, paratransit service and operation of the 91 Express Lanes. Since becoming CEO in 2013, Mr. Johnson has focused on utilizing innovative financing methods to maximize Measure M, Orange County’s voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. Mr. Johnson represents OCTA on local, state and national policy issues related to successfully planning, financing and delivering transportation programs.

Andrew Lyon

Andrew Lyon has over 20 years of experience as a chemist, bioengineer, educator, and entrepreneur and currently serves as the Founding Dean of the Fowler School of Engineering at Chapman University. Prior to his current role, he served as Dean of the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University from 2014-2018. Before arriving at Chapman, Dr. Lyon spent 16 years at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a member of the Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty and directing a research program aimed at creating new types of biomaterials for regenerative medicine applications. In addition to his role at Chapman, he serves as the Chief Scientific Officer of both Sanguina, LLC and Split Rock Therapeutics, two early-stage biotechnology companies. He is the recipient of the NSF CAREER, Beckman Young Investigator, Research Corporation Research Innovation, and Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the National Fresenius Award.

Joe Mathews

Joe Mathews is California columnist and editor for Zócalo Public Square, the media nonprofit in Los Angeles. He writes the weekly syndicated Connecting California column for Zócalo; it appears in 30 media outlets around California. Joe was formerly a reporter at the LA Times, Wall Street Journal and Baltimore Sun, and served as a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Joe is co-president of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy (, through which he led the process of creating a new Magna Charta for Democracy Cities, adopted in Rome in 2018. He is the co-author, with Mark Paul, of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California Press, 2010). Joe’s previous book was The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy (PublicAffairs, 2006).

Dan McNichol

Dan McNichol is a number-one bestselling author and an award-winning journalist. Mega engineering projects are the focus of his published books, articles and thought-leadership papers. For decades, McNichol has been a national media commentator on infrastructural headline stories. Upon the election of President Donald Trump, McNichol collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winner and business columnist James Stewart on a New York Times front-page story titled, “Trump-Sized Idea for a New President: Build Stuff.” A White House appointee between 1991-1993, McNichol served the President on US transportation policy. McNichol has worked in official capacities on the nation’s largest infrastructure projects including California’s high-speed rail project, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Replacement Project, and The Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts.  

Stephen D. Mikesell

Stephen D. Mikesell is a practicing historian and historic preservationist and owner of Mikesell Historical Consulting. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MA from the University of California. For 30 years, he has worked in the historic preservation field, including 14 years at the Office of Historic Preservation, including a decade as the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. He has also worked at Caltrans and for a variety of private consulting firms, including JRP Historical Consulting and ICF International. He is the author of four books, all dealing with the history of transportation engineering. His most recent book, A Tale of Two Bridges: the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges of 1936 and 2013, was published in 2017 by the University of Nevada Press.

Michael A. (Mike) Moodian

Michael A. (Mike) Moodian teaches for Chapman University’s integrated educational studies program, codirects Wilkinson College’s Orange County Annual Survey, and serves as an associate professor of social science at Chapman-affiliated Brandman University. Moodian is one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointees to the California Commission on Judicial Performance. He is the editor of the textbook Contemporary Leadership and Intercultural Competence (Sage, 2008). Moodian is the former chairman of the World Affairs Council of Orange County.

Laura J. Nelson

Laura J. Nelson covers transportation and mobility issues across Southern California. She was part of the team of reporters awarded the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for coverage of the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino. Before joining The Times in 2012, Nelson wrote for the Boston Globe, the Tampa Bay Times and the Los Angeles Daily News. Nelson grew up in suburban Kansas City in a family of journalists and graduated from the University of Southern California.


Randal O’Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute working on transportation and land-use issues. His research on the Forest Service in the 1980s had a major influence on national forest policy. Since 1995, he has focused on urban issues and has influenced transportation policies in Austin, Indianapolis, San Antonio, St. Petersburg, Virginia Beach, and numerous other cities. He has written six books, most recently Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need. He has also written numerous papers on housing, land-use regulation, transit, and highways, many of which are downloadable from his blog, the Antiplanner ( Before working for Cato, he taught environmental economics at Yale, the University of California at Berkeley, and Utah State University.

Liliana Pereira

Liliana Pereira is an experienced consultant with over 17 years of experience in strategic infrastructure planning and transport projects including policy, public transport, rail and toll roads. She works as an Associate Director in Steer, an international consultancy working on cities, infrastructure and transport. Liliana leads a growing team in Mexico, and is a key member of Steer’s leadership group in Latin America. She has led more than 60 projects in coordination with multidisciplinary teams worldwide, including public transport, rail, infrastructure transactions, and strategic policy and investment advice for a wide range of public and private sector clients. Liliana started her career in the transport research programme at the National University in Colombia. She joined Steer from TransMilenio, the renowned bus rapid transit system in Bogota, where she worked as a key member of the transport planning team, in charge of demand forecasting as well as general planning of new trunk and feeder services.

Karen Philbrick

Karen Philbrick has served as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San José State University since 2014, after five years of service as MTI research director. Dr. Philbrick is responsible for day-to-day administration and management and long-term financial and strategic initiatives. Prior to joining MTI, she was assistant director of the National Center for Intermodal Transportation at the University of Denver, where her contributions included research expertise on transportation fatigue management and operator response to work-related trauma. Dr. Philbrick was appointed by US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to her second term on the USDOT Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), where she chaired the working group charged with identifying key elements of a fatigue management program for the transit industry.

Shane Phillips

Shane Phillips is the Director of Public Policy for Central City Association (CCA), a member-based advocacy organization focused on issues affecting Downtown LA. He helps manage the organization’s advocacy on topics including housing and land use, transportation, homelessness, environmental sustainability, and economic development. Shane has been car-free for over 10 years and is passionate about the intersection of land use and transportation, how the way we build our cities determines what transportation choices are viable, and how policy can help create healthier and more affordable communities. Originally from Seattle, Shane received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Washington and master’s degrees in urban planning and public administration from the University of Southern California.

Dan Richard

Dan Richard’s career is one of leadership in both the public and private sectors. Mr. Richard heads an energy and infrastructure consultancy specializing in sophisticated problem-solving in the political and regulatory arena. Since 2006, he has advised energy & infrastructure development companies, financial sector entities, and utilities. In the public sector, Mr. Richard is currently the Chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority. He was appointed to that position in 2011 by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and has led the effort to bring management and programmatic improvements to that effort. The High Speed Rail Authority is charged with designing and constructing an 800-mile, $68 billion advanced train system in California and is the largest infrastructure project in the United States. In 2012, Mr. Richard was recognized by the Obama Administration as a “Champion of Change” in the transportation sector in a ceremony at the White House.

Fred Smoller

Fred Smoller is associate professor of political science at Chapman University, where he has been on the faculty since 1983.  He received his Ph.D. from Indiana University. His major area of interest is American politics, with an emphasis on media and politics, local government, and public administration. Smoller directs Chapman’s annual local government conference and is the author of the 2018 book From Kleptocracy to Democracy: How Citizens Can Take Back Local Government.

Lou Thompson

Lou Thompson has had a long career in transportation.  He worked at the US Department of Transportation in the Office of the Secretary, and he was an Associate Administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration where he ran the Northeast Corridor Project and oversaw federal financing programs for Amtrak and for freight railroads. He was the Railways Adviser at the World Bank where he oversaw rail lending in most developing countries, including China, India, Russia, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. After retirement, he has been a consultant in transportation policy issues around the world. He is currently Chairman of the Peer Review Group for the California High-Speed Rail project reporting to the legislature.

Martin Wachs

Martin Wachs served as Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and of City Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he directed the Institute of Transportation Studies. He earlier spent 25 years at UCLA, where he was Chairman of the Department of Urban Planning for eleven years. After retiring from the University, Wachs became the Director of the Transportation, Space, and Technology Program at the RAND Corporation. He is now teaching courses and conducting research at UCLA in transportation policy and working on transportation policy projects at RAND. He is a member of the peer review group of the California High Speed Rail program.

Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner is the author of "Train: Riding the Routes that Created the Modern World," and the forthcoming "Your Land: American Essays." He is the Politics Editor of The Los Angeles Review of Books, and an associate professor of English at Chapman University.

Orange County Annual Survey

Speaker Presentations

Coming soon!

Further Reading