Intern – Public Transit Planning
Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates is seeking a highly organized, independent, and motivated intern for its Seattle office primarily to support the firm’s practice in public transit service planning. This is an outstanding opportunity for the right person to become involved in Nelson\Nygaard’s transit planning practice, which complements the firm’s activities in other areas including paratransit and community-based transportation, multimodal transportation, non-motorized transportation, transportation demand management, smart parking management, and climate action and CO2 reduction. While this internship may include some work in these other areas, prospective applicants should note that this position will primarily focus on transit service planning projects, which include route and operations planning, corridor studies, and improving ridership and productivity of transit systems. A strong interest in public transit systems as well as some background in transit planning are key components to succeeding in this position.
Intern responsibilities will depend on the specific needs of transit service planning projects that are being undertaken but will likely include research, data collection and route performance analysis, mapping, editing reports, support/field work, and possibly some business development tasks. Interns must be available to travel for project work and may be required to work outside of normal business hours.
The ideal candidate will have completed a BA/BS in Urban or Transportation Planning or a related field.
Advanced knowledge of MS Excel and ArcGIS is required. Knowledge of Adobe Illustrator is recommended. Solid writing skills are also a must.
Above all, we are looking for someone who has a passion for public transit, and is interested in making transit better for our clients and their constituents.
About This Position
This paid position provides an opportunity to join Nelson\Nygaard for 6-12 months with the possibility of transitioning to a permanent Associate position depending on compatibility and workloads. The position is full time (40 hour week), but we may accommodate a part-time schedule for the right candidate. The hourly pay range for this position is $18-20 depending on experience.
How to Apply
Prior to sending your materials, please combine cover letter and resume into a single PDF with the filename format “Firstname Lastname – Seattle Transit Intern.pdf”. Please send materials to email@example.com with the subject line “Seattle Transit Intern Position.”
Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
Today we talk to AirSage’s Matthew Martimo, VP of R&D. Matthew is an accomplished R&D executive and respected thought leader in the rapidly evolving big data and predictive analytics sectors with nine years of experience driving high-tech product development and revenue goals. We talk to Matthew about how AirSage’s innovative wireless signaling analytics has changed the transportation industry, the current state of population analytics, and where the transportation planning industry is headed. You can find out more about Matthew and AirSage at airsage.com
M: We work with cellphone carriers to place lat/long coordinates onto live events in their wireless network. We can then understand the population as a whole and its movements. We feed that population movement data back to the carriers, agencies, and enterprise to provide data products and services on “where and when” things happen.
A: What services and applications do you provide and to whom?
M: We provide a couple different slices of population analytics. Fundamentally we provide trip matrix, select zone analysis, home-work matrix, and arrival/departure data, but there are lots of different movement data points we diffuse. We’ve been working with the transportation industry for some time to provide data that informs transportation demand models as well as analysis. We’ll produce trip and origin-destination (O-D) data. We can focus on specific areas and start to look at who is going where, associate that with demographic information, and then we can understand the “who” behind the usage of transportation facilities. We sell these kinds of data products and are used a lot by transportation engineers and planners. We make sure that transportation infrastructure investments are analyzed as efficiently as possible.
A: Who is your typical user?
M: My own background has been in transportation modeling, population modeling, simulation, forecasting, etc. I myself used to look for real live data that directly answers some of these fundamental population movement questions that before would have to be completely synthetic. When I joined AirSage over a year ago it seemed like this data was a unicorn, people didn’t believe it really existed. Over the last year and a half part of my job has been to educate people to let them know our data is a real thing and they can have direct answers to some fundamental transportation questions. For new developments, whether that’s state transportation infrastructure or building a new casino, we can let agencies or developers know how many people might use the new highway or casino. We can look at other locations that are comparable across the nation and see what’s going on at those locations. For us it seems like when an engineering firm or agency starts using the data it becomes much more regular for them. After a few studies agencies or engineering firms do with us it becomes a regular thing in their toolbox. They are our typical user.
A: If I never have to do a synthetic traffic model itself it would be a beautiful thing. Have you seen any customers say “AirSage are now the platinum standard and we don’t want the VISSIM style modeling, we want only AirSage data?”
M: We see that a lot more from commercial applications. It’s always fascinating to work with transportation engineers, and speaking as one myself, we are very skeptical and quite deliberately weigh pros/cons. AirSage’s data is absolutely massive to the point where we can sample 20% to 30% of the population at anytime. AirSage can actually observe what’s happening as opposed to the old-school survey of an O-D study and dealing with observation or reporting errors. For the engineers there can be downsides though. For example our data is completely anonymous and so the information I have on demographics and income and household size is only what I can observe from the data itself. I don’t anything about any individual phone number, address, who that person is, or who is carrying that device. And so in only dealing with this data in aggregate we can certainly see and understand the population movement but we don’t have the specific path trace you’d get from a transportation survey and all the specific demographic data that goes with it. Like anything else, with AirSage there’s a learning curve, there’s a new understanding, but there’s also a blending of data. So we are adding something new. Our integrated data, the data quality is really unmatched by anything out there. Now, there are questions that we can’t answer. Yet there is value in blending real-live cell and static survey data together. Once people come in and use our data they certainly don’t want to start going back to what they were doing before necessarily, but it certainly allows them to reduce the need of traditional surveys and helps them get a much higher quality solution. I don’t necessarily think the traditional survey methods will go away. It’s just a matter of changing how we’ve been using them. AirSage improves the final quality of the results.
A: Let’s talk some shop here. I work for an urban mobility startup that produces 24/7/365 data that enables transportation asset owners to do things they couldn’t do before like dynamic pricing. Convincing the owners that there are benefits in changing their current strategies, however, is our main difficulty. How do you convince potential new users to change their approach and that there is benefit in using live and continuous large data sets?
M: Engineers are naturally more skeptical since “they know how to do it” and have been doing it their way for a long time, so influencing change is difficult. We work with younger engineers, groups like YPT that are more open to looking at alternative solutions, and experienced but experimental engineers that are open to finding the best way to do this now. So it’s a little bit of selecting the right audience to begin with.
A: So besides the traditional transportation firms and agencies, what other types of users is AirSage accommodating?
M: Some of the tangential stuff is really interesting. When you look at things like the National Park Service or the National Forest Service, they cover millions and millions of acres of land and tens of thousands of miles or roadway. But they don’t have the same kind of budget that FHWA or a State DOT has. They own tertiary roads at best and they’re making decisions whether to maintain them at all or let them deteriorate to trail access. Our data is able to provide a much broader solution to some of these agencies who may not have the budget or who’s size make it unfeasible to do surveys and studies of their assets. We can also give them a national picture of what’s going on. We’re able to help some agencies who would never have the funding to do the job right. Our data set allows them to look holistically at any potential access or transport problems. Also on the commercial side it’s been fascinating. For example, a company wants to put up a high-end car dealership. They are going to be marketing to the wealthy population. The land where the wealthy are, though, is expensive. We’re able to provide, using our mix of cellular and population data, an approximate mix of locations where the wealthy live and plot over the course of a city where they may travel to. We can then advise the developer where they can build the dealership to better attract their demographic markets. Another market is analyzing population activities over specified time frames. Where do people meet? These are the kinds of questions from companies who are deploying Wi-Fi hotspots. Where are people spending time when not at work or at home? We can map that in aggregate over an entire city. For example, “Give us a location where people were stationary for more than 80 minutes.” We can map a city with very targeted market segments and activity patterns that companies are looking for. This decision support helps people develop more informed strategies and better use their resources in deploying new technologies.
A: You mentioned before that you worked with telecom companies. Do you have partnerships with them? What about other partnerships necessary to deliver your products and services?
M: AirSage has been doing this the last 13 years. We started off assessing locations where different types of cellular events occurred, allowing the telecoms to do network analytics. If a call drops, they want to know the location and closest cellular tower. Our technology defines event locations with very high precision. Telecom’s are sharing data with us so they can get usage insights back. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
We work with a lot of different technology vendors. We are a true big data company, receiving over 90 billion events a day, and we extract location data on more than 15 billion of those daily events. There is a lot of effort involved acquiring, maintaining, and looking in a geospatial way at this absolutely massive amount of data. The volume and velocity of the data really exceeds almost any other data source out there right now. We have a lot of partnerships with technology and hardware partners that allow us to push the envelope on storage, recalling, etc. Then down on the customer side and going into specific markets and new applications of the data there is certainly some very specialized companies that come to us asking tough questions, if it’s something we can answer we’ll form partnerships to look into different markets and different applications of the data.
A: At a high level how do you guys handle all that big data? What’s your architecture?
M: We certainly use a lot of different types of technologies. When most people think of big data, they think of Hadoop and Storm, and we definitely use tools like that. For some of our activity we handle raw processing with scripts on massive computing clusters using grid computing utilities like Condor, which is a job distribution framework. We use Storm to keep track of things. A lot of processing is still done with Python scripts and deployments on a massive scale. Our Operations people deserve a lot of credit at making the data accessible and managing these clusters who run and process as fast as they do.
A: Where do you see AirSage going in the next 5 years?
M: Coming from a background of transportation and population modeling, there’s still more research to be done in this field. What kinds of understandings and insights can we get from the population and its movement from these types of cellular datasets and others? We work a lot with universities, with a specific shout out to MIT, to get as much value as we can from the activity patterns that we’re seeing. Conventional methods include doing a one week travel survey of a few thousand households. It will take teams of planners and analysts 6 months to evaluate the data, then they come back with their findings and results.
In metro Atlanta alone there are more than 2 million devices that I get a full survey out of every day. We absolutely need to continue the research on this but really work with engineering groups and researchers to help answer some fundamental questions like how do we even characterize this data? For example we look at a traditional GPS survey and come back with these kinds of insights that this is the “average” day. “Is that the average day?” is a question I have every day of the year. How do we quantify these seasonal, daily, or year over year changes in the travel and movements of the population? How do we assess those types of impacts? The models will become exponentially more accurate when we can see the true behavior of the population and start looking at these predictive models and forecasting models that are used now. Our forecasts will become much better and more reliable and we’re going to be able to answer a lot more questions then we can today.
A: What AirSage is doing is beyond fascinating and I’m sure will really catch on more and more. This will fundamentally change the way that people analyze movement and mobility.
M: To me it’s as you say, absolutely exciting. Our product is a real game changer which is why I’m here working with AirSage now. We need fresh perspectives that folks like YPT bring. We’re absolutely proud of our participation with YPT and want to nurture that relationship. Every day we’re investing more and more in the future. That includes helping develop new engineers as much as it includes developing products on the technology side. We appreciate the opportunity to talk to YPT today.
Arthur Pazdan is a transportation geek, attempted polymath, and humbled surfer. When he’s not paddling out, you can find him at fine coffee purveyors across the San Francisco Bay Area, dreaming of ways to bring our crumbling infrastructure into the 21st century. Flying cars, here we come. @arthurpazdan Arthur Pazdan on LinkedIn
Today we talk to uShip’s Timur Eligulashvili, VP of Commercial Products. Timur has over 10 years of experience in the transportation logistics industry. Before uShip he held several roles in logistics including analyst, sales, product manager, and even company founder. We talk to Timur about how uShip’s innovative marketplace has changed the logistics industry, the current state of shipper/carrier relationships, and where the logistics industry is headed. You can find out more about Timur and uShip at uship.com or catch their product offerings on A&E’s “Shipping Wars” on Tuesdays at 10/9c.
AP: What is uShip’s elevator pitch, i.e. what do you do (in 30 seconds or less)?
TE: We’re an online transportation marketplace that connects customers who want to ship things (i.e. shippers) and the service providers who deliver shipments (i.e. carriers). We offer an easy way for shippers and carriers to connect and transact online. Think eBay or Orbitz, but for shipping services.
The company was founded by our CEO Matt Chasen. Our company was born when he identified two problems he was having. The first problem was he wanted to ship an old dresser from his Grandmother’s house in the Midwest to Texas. They looked at all the usual suspects but couldn’t find a good price. All the carriers offered different prices for different services. The second problem occurred when Matt was working in Seattle before getting accepted into the MBA program at Austin. He packed up a truck with his wife and started driving down to Texas and thought about how he had extra space on his truck that wasn’t utilized. He thought about how he could have connected with someone who needed to ship something down to Texas so Matt could offset his own shipping costs or even make money. Along with his other co-founders, Matt then connected the dots at the UT-Austin MBA program. There are a lot of trucks out on the road today that aren’t fully utilized and have empty space that could be sold to people needing to ship something. That’s how the uShip idea was born.
AP: There are a lot of companies in other spaces that are also doing resource sharing of other kinds like AirBnB or RelayRides. Does uShip identify with that space? Do you ever see uShip capitalizing on its existing platform for other types of resource sharing?
TE: In the big picture, there’s so much opportunity in the shipping and freight space, that we look at those companies you mention as examples as how to model something. Almost every industry has had its marketplace disrupted by online information. AirBnB has provided a new service in an already disrupted hospitality industry. Orbitz, along with Priceline disrupted the personal travel industry marketplace. We don’t anticipate entering other industries because we’re looking at $300 billion and $39 billion industries in full truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, respectively. There is no shortage of odd items that need to be shipped, including more normal things like vehicle shipping and household good moving. There’s no lack of opportunity in shipping. So yes, we’re interested in learning from other industries but not necessarily expanding into their space.
AP: What is the profile of your typical users and the “whale” users i.e. those who make up the bulk of your revenue?
TE: If you take a look at the shipping marketplace and consider our slogan “Ship Anything, Anytime, Anywhere” we initially started in a very little market segment called “consumer freight”. If you want to ship a car or motorcycle or household good, bed, desk, etc. you could ship that with uShip. Once we created this marketplace and launched it, we were drawing business and commercial shippers who came into our marketplace and wanted a customized version of it for themselves. Our marketplace could be used for something more than just one-off shipments, it could be used for enterprise. We got into commercial freight because that opportunity presented itself. We produced an enterprise marketplace with some great partners including Ritchie Brothers auctioneers. They are the largest auctioneers of heavy equipment in the world. They would have these auctions where they sold large tractors or construction equipment. After the auction was completed the buyer would complete the transaction and need to move the equipment to their desired location. We formed a really strong partnership with Ritchie Brothers where we are their online provider for shipping. Anyone that buys a piece of equipment at a Ritchie Brothers auction can go to uShip and get quotes from multiple (feedback rated) carriers where they can then filter their decision by price and feedback rating of the carrier. We have over 2 million shippers and 350,000 transportation providers in our marketplace. Because the market is so diverse in size and highly fragmented we just don’t have that “one” customer out there who represents a large percentage of our business. What we do have, is our strong partnerships with businesses like Ritchie Brothers who then lead their customers to our platform. It’s not just one buyer, but several strong partnerships that feed their customers to us.
AP: Is it fair to say then that you guys are more focused on the “long-tail”? You don’t have #1 hits or “whale” users per se, but hundreds of thousands of millions of limited individual users and customers who make up the bulk of your revenue
TE: That’s right, at the same time though, at least half of the customers who come to uShip are regulars who just bought something on eBay. As a regular consumer, after their eBay purchase, they may use a service like uShip to find a transportation provider, but consumers may not always have a need for our service. Then we have small businesses that have a regular shipping need and regularly ship items. About half of our customers are repeat users. Where I think we’ve seen the highest engagement on the consumer side is with “enthusiasts”. These are people who ship motorcycles, or boats, the snowbirds who need to ship their cars from the North to the South seasonally. We see music enthusiasts who need to ship pianos or sensitive musical instruments. Vehicle shipping is huge. For that we have a strategic partnership with eBay. If you purchase a passenger vehicle on eBay we are there in their shipping tab and we connect you with transporters. On eBay, 3 of every 4 cars go to an out of state buyer. You can imagine the volume of cars that eBay processes, which translates into a huge opportunity for transportation.
We recently noticed that businesses are using us more regularly. Some 35% of our listings are listed by businesses, not consumers. When we started talking to these companies, they love uShip, the technology, the value proposition, they come back and say “We love what you’ve built with this technology. I have a trucking company or several that I work with on a regular basis, is there any way to leverage your technology for me to be more efficient with my business?” In response, a couple years ago we created a solution called uShip PRO. This is targeted towards the larger shippers. These companies have their own inter-network of carriers that they want to use. So we’ve enabled them a way to leverage the whole uShip marketplace and all the tools we’ve implemented over the last 9 years to bring in their own carriers and manager their own carrier network using uShip’s tools.
AP: How did you go about acquiring or bringing in all of those shipping providers?
TE: Good question. We have 350,000 providers worldwide. It’s such a fragmented market. This isn’t parcel carriers where the industry is dominated by the top 3 (UPS, FedEx, DHL), because worldwide there are millions of freight & shipping providers. To funnel those millions of providers into our marketplace we’ve built a successful online strategy. We do a lot of really good things with SEO, online advertising, and most importantly forming strong partnerships with other sites online. If someone has an ecommerce site that requires freight shipment, these ecommerce folks can put a uShip widget on their site, enabling their users to get an estimated quote to move that shipment. The fact that we are prominently integrated into A&E’s TV show “Shipping Wars” is extremely helpful. We have no say in production on “Shipping Wars”, but we do offer up loads that are on our site. They follow some of the more compelling providers on our site. What that show has done is raise interest in attracting transporters to the site. They believe there may be an opportunity to pick up some additional loads from uShip in the process. We always see a spike in sign-ups when there are new episodes or a marathon.
From a transportation carrier standpoint, we as a marketplace, are not in a position where we can legally vet them. Instead we provide a user feedback system similar to eBay or AirBnB. In time, as business shipping has increased on the site, we’ve needed to introduce more verification and raise the bar for who can participate in certain load activity versus others. That is an area where we can improve. We’re not a broker, we’re a marketplace, so it restricts how we can categorize the service providers. We are a venue, a technology marketplace. We don’t actually arrange the transportation for the shipper. The shipper uses our technology as decision support to select a transportation provider based on the information we provide. One thing we’re doing in this regard is our integration with SaferWatch, who enables monitoring of a carrier to ensure that they meet certain criteria. Does the carrier have the right legal authority? Do they have the right level of insurance? Have they had a satisfactory rating with the DOT? So we can present that data from SaferWatch to the customer, especially with our uShip PRO product. A lot of our uShip PRO users monitor their network using this tool, and in the background we can inform them which carriers still meet their criteria.
Obviously most people filter first on cost, but secondly they look at the carriers history on uShip via feedback and star ratings on things like punctuality, communication, etc. All in all, we’re developing the tools and giving the shipper the tools and information to make the right decision on which carrier they want to use.
AP: You have the Consumer marketplace, the PRO marketplace, what’s next in the product roadmap?
TE: Earlier this year we launched an LTL instant rates product. Booking a shipment should be as easy booking travel arrangements on PriceLine. If you look back in time people would have to call or visit a travel agent. Nowadays they’ve been replaced by online marketplaces. So we believe shipping your product should be as simple as booking your flight. Businesses want to save time and money. The auction format works so long as the shipper has time. In those cases though where a shipper needs to ship today, however, at uShip what we’ve done is integrate with several regional and national LTL carriers. We make it easy for our shippers to get dynamic price quotes in real-time. Based on the demand of where that carrier has available open space, they can provide a good price. Over time, the LTL carrier has started to lose market share to third-party logistics providers (3PL) on a contract or wholesale basis. Some 35% of our business is now enterprise shipping so we can essentially help facilitate that connection for those small to medium sized businesses (SMB) for whom a direct LTL carrier sale is cost prohibitive because the SMB doesn’t have the shipping volume necessary to make the potential profit for LTL carrier worthwhile to acquire with their existing salesforce. For the first time there is a spot market for LTL carrier rates, and uShip has provided that market disruption.
AP: What do you believe is the ultimate impact of uShip’s marketplace on the size or number of carrier providers? Do you foresee proliferation, consolidation, etc.? Who are the winners and losers in the next few years?
TE: We’ve been at this for 9 years by bringing value to both sides of the shipping marketplace. Our belief is that in 10 years the model of picking up the phone to call somebody to schedule a pickup will go away. Everything will be done online via web or mobile device. On the expansion side, just bringing on these LTL carriers into a dynamic priced marketplace to compete on a national level, these LTL carriers coming to the marketplace will provide a new service to shippers they didn’t have before. The carriers like it because we bring them customers that would be too cost-prohibitive to acquire on their own. We allow them to keep more of their revenue rather than allowing a 3PL or broker to take a roughly 30% markup on their LTL shipping service. One question we have is how do we make this one product fit all? There are all kinds of shipments out there. LTL is just one mode, mostly for pallet type freight, something that can be moved easily with a forklift and minimal manual handling. We need to be able to account for every possibility. One thing we’ve done recently is launch a product called MyRates to enable the smaller providers to add their services and rates on uSHip. If you’re not a LTL or FTL carrier it’d be hard for you to approach a million dollar transportation management system or any other companies. What we’ve done is create a tool for trucking companies to come to our site and upload their pricing model and keep it updated as often as desired. Someone can come in and say “We haul boats”. Boats are not LTL. “We go from Illinois down to Florida”. There are lots of boat shipments down to Florida in the fall. They can come and set their price, then uShip brings these carriers business. Shippers will see that carrier’s quote instantly and they can then choose to use that carrier based on an instant quote instead of putting their shipment request into auction. We’re making it a lot easier for these different scale trucking companies to work with uSHip instead of monitoring auctions. So while dynamic pricing is a market economy ideal, occasionally a static pricing model works better.
AP: Who would you say is your main direct competition and how do you differentiate yourself?
TE: There have been some knockoff sites in Europe and Latin America, but we have first-mover advantage, especially when you consider our name and brand recognition. If you’re going to talk about competition though, we should consider any alternative option that our customers have to facilitate their shipment. For example, there are still DIY options where people can rent their own trucks. Our data shows that it’s not cost efficient to do it yourself. You don’t really save that much by renting your own truck to move household goods. The same goes for car shipping. Someone who thinks they can take time off work, fly to where they bought their car, rent a truck and trailer putting their car on the trailer bed, drive it all the way back across 3 time zones because of the great deal you got on eBay. Why do that when you can get a similar or better price by using uShip? Sometimes you think you can save a buck yourself, but with a competitive marketplace that information asymmetry is removed and you can get a better price for using professionals.
AP: Are there any features that users keep asking for that technically aren’t feasible yet?
TE: We’re going in an interesting direction with mobile. For example, Uber makes it easy for you to make a real time request for transportation service and provide a slick integrated experience. We are expanding into mobile possibilities that are now becoming available. Imagine that you’re at an antique market and have just picked up a new armoire. At that moment there are dozens of drivers with empty space on their truck within a reasonable distance of you. Today we should be able to leverage smartphone technology to connect you with a trucker that is close enough and travelling in your desired direction. Connecting that demand with supply via mobile is quite compelling. You take a picture of what you’re shipping, put in your requirements and desired shipping prices, and now within seconds more than a few trucking companies see your request and can get you a real-time quote so you can get your armoire home that day instead of laboring over what to do and when you’ll get your find home. What we’re moving towards now is people being able to publish their rates and consumers being able to name their price to complement our more traditional auction marketplace. That is one of our core growth areas.
Arthur Pazdan is a transportation geek, attempted polymath, and humbled surfer. When he’s not paddling out, you can find him at fine coffee purveyors across the San Francisco Bay Area, dreaming of ways to bring our crumbling infrastructure into the 21st century. Flying cars, here we come. @arthurpazdan Arthur Pazdan on LinkedIn
Calling all young professionals and students!
George Mason University’s School of Public Policy is pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Cameron Rian Hays Competition for Outside-the-Box Transportation Business and Policy Innovations!
If you are 35 or under, submit a proposal outlining your creative way to address a significant transportation challenge and you could win $10,000! Get your idea to the decision makers who can help you make it happen; visit our website for submission guidelines and procedures:
Collaborate with your peers! Team submissions are accepted!
Transportation faces many challenges:
How can you affect change?
Entries are due February 14, 2014
First Prize: $10,000
Second Prize: $5,000
Third Prize: $2,500
The award will be announced in the Spring of 2014. Please visit the competition website for details on submission requirements and procedures.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) 93rd Annual Meeting is nearly here, and it’s time to start thinking about which sessions to go to! To get a head start, check out the link below, which includes all the TRB Young Member sponsored and related activities, including Transportation Camp 2014 and the Young Professionals’ Reception.