Keynote Fireside Chat Mini-Series: TDM in Philadelphia

Feb 23, 2023

Andy Keeton

VP Global Strategy

Between the Lines and The 82 Alliance presents: Keynote Fireside Chat Mini-Series: TDM in Philadelphia

with Michael Carroll


TDM in Philadelphia

Welcome to our Keynote Fireside Chat mini-series, presented by The 82 Alliance. We're talking with the industry's leading experts and innovators to dive more deeply into the challenges we face and the many ways TDM and mobility can help. We're joined by co-host Rob Henry, the President of The 82 Alliance. He is a Transportation Demand Management Certified Professional (TDM-CP) with over 20 years of experience in transportation.

In this episode, we're talking to Michael Carroll. Michael is the Deputy Managing Director for Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (oTIS), where he leads the staff in developing strategies and implementing policies to build a safe and equitable multi-modal systems across Philadelphia’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. He’s also the President of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and has his Master’s degree from UC Berkeley.


Episode Transcript

Intro: Commutifi presents Between the Lines with Andy Keeton. Each week, we explore the challenging issues Transportation Demand Management professionals face on their journey to transition commuters from driving alone to more sustainable, shared and active commuting habits. Be sure to subscribe to hear next week's episode and check out our exclusive commuter playlist on Spotify. This is Between the Lines with Andy Keeton.

AK: Hi everyone and welcome aboard to the fourth episode of our Keynote Fireside Chat Mini Series presented by the 82 Alliance. As a reminder, in this eight episode series, we are talking with industry leading experts and innovators to dive more deeply into the challenges that we face and the many ways TDM and mobility can help. It's been a little while actually, since our last episode has been posted here at the Between the Lines for taking a bit of a winter break. So this is a nice interlude in that break and kind of keep an eye out. Will be coming back from our break here pretty soon with new episodes and new content, for everyone who's sort of a regular listener of Between the Lines. This series might sound a little bit different because we're joined by a co-host here, Rob Henry. Rob is the president of the 82 Alliance- He's a Transportation Demand Management Certified Professional and an award winning mobility expert. With over 20 years of experience in transportation, a good friend and a big Eagles fan, which is great for this time. We'll see once the episode gets posted. Hopefully I didn’t just Jinx it. Rob, thanks for being on.

RH: Sure. Thanks, Andy. And no, we're going all the way. It's very good. Good. 2023. Am I right, Mike, another parade in Philadelphia, right?

AK: Oh, I'll say. I'm a little nervous now because I did have someone on an episode who is England soccer fan during the Euro competition. I think that was last year. And he said that same thing and they lost. So I'm a little nervous, but yeah, I'll fly with the Eagles. So we're going to bring Mike- Michael Carroll in just a second. He's the deputy managing director for Philadelphia's Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, where he leads the staff in developing strategies and implementing policies to build a safe and equitable multimodal system across Philadelphia's diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. He's also the president of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). And he has a Master's degree from my alma mater as well, UC Berkeley (go bears). So we're going to bring you in just a second, Michael. But first, I actually wanted to talk to you, Rob. I know we were talking before this call and you were mentioning something you did over the break and working with your son and kind of talking and maybe getting him a little into the, you know, trains and maybe TDM a bit, but if I wanted to ask you about your experience over the summer going to the museum and sort of what are you up to?

RH: Yeah, Andy and I were chatting. So over in Philadelphia, we have a great institution called the Franklin Institute, and they do a little winter sort of mini train, but they have a big Baldwin locomotive that's been there for, I think, 100 plus years. And they also have an outline of kind of where things are with rail in the United States.And it's a fascinating kind of look at Northeast corridor line. And then it goes to talk about high speed rail, which we have a little of. It goes into Japan and China and France and current train speeds. And what I thought was pretty cool is then we went to school and they were talking about Japan. And he could talk about that, that he had just experienced that and kind of got you know, it's always fun when kids understand kind of what you do a little bit and get a perspective on that. So it's always a fun thing to hear them talking about that and try to get about a better understanding of how that impacts and then ask, well, how come we don't have trains that fast here? How come we don't have this is kind of a nice little way to stimulate that. And, that's what museums should do.

AK: Yeah, I think it's great. I think it's it's pretty cool as well, you know, figuring pointing out the differences. And certainly Japan and East Asia as a whole have that really incredible public transit system and rail system. I mean, probably the best in the world. So pretty cool that he's able to point that out.

RH: Yeah. So thinking about that, Mike, that got me when Andy and I were chatting with transportation in general in Philadelphia and now we've had the global pandemic, which has upset so much and changed so much and just curious, you know, what, what you're all doing and some of the changes that have come out of the pandemic in Philadelphia and kind of what do you think the future of transportation looks like in the cities?

MC: Excellent question, Rob. And it's something I think we've been struggling with since March of 2020 in a lot of different ways. So one of the things that I think is obvious to folks is that the commute patterns are different with the hybrid schedules. We're not seeing the pre-pandemic AM rush the same way the PM rush the same way that regular pattern of behavior, which so much of our decision making was predicated on, you know, for like the last hundred years, just trying to build roads that could carry that peak hour to and from organizing public transportation in ways where there was more service around those periods. And there was an assumption that people were kind of all coming downtown and all leaving downtown, pretty much. And so just starting with a passenger vehicle mode of transportation, I think what we're trying to figure out is whether we have other opportunities since the streets aren't quite as packed with cars all the time. And so during the pandemic, we experimented quite a bit with converting the street to other uses, and I think we had some successes. There were certainly some challenges in what we're doing right now is thinking about how to make those things, outdoor dining, maybe bringing back some sort of patterns of street closures make them sustainable. And the things that were challenging were that it's some time in some places it was kind of a free for all, and it was hard to get control back of a street that we released to the public realm where we needed to maintain something or we, we needed to get that back in. We needed a network to circulate vehicles or take care of other issues that cities need to take care of. And so we're looking at this, people may see news stories about street areas. And it seems like from a restaurants perspective, it's the end of the world that we're taking them out of the cart way or maybe regulating them a little bit different. And there are changes. There are some facilities that's not going to be available for, but then there's going to be other opportunities for people. So making sure we focused on that is a big issue. And I'll just say the public transportation conversation is very challenging because the ridership really kind of cratered when everything shut down and the process of coaxing folks back is more like prong. It's about providing service. People want and people can use a safe and secure environment for people so they don't feel like they're taking any risks, taking public transit and then matching the service to the demand is really, I think, the long term need there. And so that's something we're really focused on, I think for quite some time.

AK: So I think one of the things when you see sort of this title, Deputy Managing Director, Philadelphia's Office of Transportation Infrastructure Systems, it's a big title. There's a lot there. I think when I was looking through your video, one of the things that stuck out to me was this sentence I saw says, you know, you oversee more than 9500 transit stops, 2500 miles of street, 320 bridge structures, 450 miles of bike facilities, a thousand indigo bikes, a hundred indigo stations, 6500 miles of sewers and water mains. That's a lot. So I love the numbers because it really is like, boom, okay, there's a lot going on here. Where do you see personally, where do you see sort of the most room for growth there? Those are some big numbers there. To me, that seems great. It seems like there's a lot there. But where do you see the most growth? And maybe it's something that's admitted, maybe there's something that's not on that list.

MC: Yeah, well, it's a pretty long list of stuff. I've sometimes try to trim it down a little bit, I don't do it by myself, I should say that. There's a great team across the board that takes care of the actual work and I'm just trying to provide support for that team. So that's just for starters. But I think one of the things that I would say, like we're not a growing city in terms of like expanding like there's a lot of development that's going on in parts of the city. We need to keep up with that development and figure out how we serve it. But unlike some communities, it's not like we're converting things to, residential or industrial or other uses at scale. So the infrastructure portfolio's not really going to expand too much in most cases. But I think when we think about, to go back to the last thing I was saying, when we think about what we call public transportation, we've got an opportunity to think about that expansively. So I'm really proud of the work that we've done to stand up this indigo bike share system, because we think that's part of the public transportation system and it's one that checks off a lot of boxes in terms of the ways people in 2023 are going to want to get around.I mean, it's on demand, right? And you've got it sort of like is played a role where when we think about kind of micromobility being the last mile for other modes of transportation, it integrates well with so many other ways of getting around, so many ways you could organize your day, organize your appointments, get to work and so forth. So we're really, I think at the early stages of what that could be. And we've got a pretty ambitious plan to pretty much double the network, let's say, over the next mayor's administration. And that's going to be really exciting. We took a little bit different path than other cities did in terms of having a docked bikeshare system, which the city's involved in. And we may explore some of the other things that folks are doing. And I think this fits really well with an older city, a denser city, a busy city like Philadelphia. So I'm just excited to see how that grows and fills in a lot of gaps for people.

AK: Yeah, I think and I want to get your opinions on this too. As someone who grew up in Philadelphia and still lives in the area, but I love that idea of public transit doesn't just mean busses and trains, it also means bikes and other devices. And I live in Montreal and we've got a great publicly funded bike share system here as well and it's also a docked system and there's no dockless bikes around, but it works great because you have enough of those stations everywhere and it really does extend the transit network a bit. So I really appreciate it, I think that's a really interesting perspective and excited to see that happening in Philadelphia.

RH: So one of the things, Mike, that I thought was interesting, I hadn't been in Center City since probably pre-pandemic and then was down there not long ago. And so all the different bike lanes and striping and things that were put in one of it's not unique to Pennsylvania but one of our challenges is sometimes legislative restrictions. So e-scooters is a big challenge in the state. Pittsburgh had a good pilot. You guys had a pilot with our D.O.T. on some of the bike lanes. And so how do you get around those barriers or challenges when we want to it sounds great. We want to do all these different forms of mobility, but then we need enabling legislation to do that. And I know we've gotten creative in some ways.

MC: Yeah, well, persistence, I think is the main thing and it can be frustrating. I'll be honest with you. We focus on the protected bike lane or separate bike lane conversations, I'm thrilled to have great partners at PennDOT who are creative and willing to work with us to find ways to pilot things, to try things out, to learn and give things a chance. I feel like this, it's kind of a no brainer that municipalities should have some latitude to explore these accommodations, like these safety measures for people traveling public on state routes. And we're in a city where most of the major streets are state routes especially as you get in the center city. So we wouldn't be able to create a complete high quality network. And that's our goal of a protected network without significantly impacting the status quo on state routes. And we think we can do it in a positive way by not only creating safe places for people but also in some of the same instances, we can implement a number of safety measures for people who are walking around, driving public and, people in transit, whether they're going to or from the station or they're catching the bus. And, we've got some good examples. And so Chestnut Street is one that we rolled out. It must have been about eight years ago. And when you look at the data, it's all very favorable When you talk to people about their experience. You know, there's a handful of people who are frustrated now and then, much less so than in 2016 or 17. Right now, it's just part of the landscape. And generally speaking, people who remember what a free for all was before are really happy to see it. And, we have to navigate these conversations, but that's our job as a city to do. And I just can't see good reason why the legislature doesn't give us the ability to move forward. Frankly, I think that the interpretation of the vehicle code is incorrect, which prevents us from doing that. You know, there's a clause about what you can do when you're parking next to the curb and right next with something when you're parking next to the shoulder. And there's no real meaningful distinction between those two things. And so what we're doing is we're creating a, you know, a safe area of shoulder where bikes can ride. And it just happens to be in a city. And it just seems like we've got to find a way to get this done. It just doesn't make any sense. We're still stuck on that question.

RH: Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

AK: So I want to kind of shift gears just a little bit, but I mean, it's all the same type of conversation. So we just had an episode. It was a really good episode with the executive director of the Open Mobility Foundation, Andrew Glass Hastings and you're on the board of directors. They're I mean, it's always great to sort of get the perspective of something we just talked about from someone on the city level working to implement some of these standards. And if you haven't checked out that episode, to all our listeners make sure you go check that out. It's a really good episode, but can you talk to us a little bit more, Mike, about how you see that work with the Open Mobility Foundation, everything they're doing impacting cities like.

MC: You know, yeah, I'm really thrilled with the fact that that organization has really taken off,  very proud to be a part of that and the way I see it, it is a manifestation of the idea that there's always strength in numbers, right? And so we have an opportunity. The city's coming together, working in that format, are pulling in folks from the private sector to amplify our voices and start to, again, prepare the landscape for innovation that's going to be beneficial for urban mobility. And that's not always been a priority in the way that either innovation takes place for the way that transportation is managed. And so the contrast is if you think about transportation for the last 100 years or so of cities have taken a back seat to what was in the interest of states and the way states, if we're talking about the Curb Bill, that that's an example of that, sometimes that makes sense because you don't want a thousand different vehicle codes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You want one vehicle. So I get that. But within the scope of reasonable standards, reasonable standardization, you need for cities to be able to protect their interests and manage the development of ideas and the implementation of ideas and ways that are going to work in that great chaos. And if we think about the way innovation has been characterized in the last 20 years, I don't dispute the benefits, but the emphasis on disruption is appropriate in some places, but not in other places. So I always get a little bit nervous when people say they're going to disrupt transportation. Gentrification gets disrupted every time there's a traffic jam. But it's not great. It's not great. It's not super. So the ways that we shake things up and then make sure all the pieces land in the place, it's constructive. It really supports people's lives. It makes it easier for us to manage a network. So these are the things we want and so we have an opportunity to guide that and not guide it strictly through regulation, not all will stick, but to provide incentives, to provide clarity to create format specifications which organize the work that the private sector really, frankly going to do for the most part in ways that provides the benefits and we can minimize some of the costs. And it's a fascinating concept. And when we think about all the things that we're sort of right on the cusp of having an opportunity to have voice and to share voice and amplify voice around what is going to work, what we see and what we need to be successful, that just has been such a thrill. And, we've implemented a pilot, which, it's certainly been inspired by our membership and the conversations with OMF around what we call curbside reservation, a smart loading. And it seems like this kind of thing is really fertile. So having partners to share ideas with is great.

RH: Do you see, in the last I don't know maybe 15, 20 years we've had we talk about disruption, the Uber, Lyft kind of disruption and cities experience the kind of e-scooter some respects e-bikes not as much because they were somewhat controlled. And I can see with all the EV funding, there are going to be areas that just put these chargers all over the place. And then you wonder in ten years if the technology is antiquated or they're just sitting there like a phone booth or newspaper boxes, just kind of stuck. Like in Philadelphia, you still have some of those old horse-hitching posts which are now kind of huge. But thinking about how do you use data? You had dramatic increase in delivery services with the pandemic. You have people wanting to walk more, ride their bikes more. If they can ride scooters in cities. How do you see, cities sharing this so that they don't have to do it themselves, but they can partner with others?

MC: Well, yeah, that's really exciting when you get the data. And so one of the good things about the work that's going into the mobility data specification, which is one of the core initiatives of the Open Mobility Foundation, is that it ensures that cities get the data. So if we're talking about Micromobility, you know, that felt to me like a game changer so they could see what was going on pretty much as it was happening and make sure that there was accountability and kind of make their needs clear to folks who are who are trying to innovate. One of the issues, I think if we're talking about rideshare is that the main entities in the rideshare space, so to speak, as you know, created a little bit of a patchwork state by state trying to get as favorable terms as possible everywhere they could. So I can't necessarily compare notes with people in California because I don't have the same authority to even look at data that they do in terms of what types of services are being provided. And everyone is in business for a reason and I appreciate that and certainly support people's contributions. But there's some absurdity, frankly, in what people are allowed to hold back. So we've got mandates that have been in place for providing service for people with disabilities. And we have no real way of knowing whether that's happening or not. And I think there's a huge segment of the market here. I mean, it's pretty narrow and it wouldn't be hard for us to compel compliance. But the way that the laws are written, we really have no teeth. And when it comes to safety inspections, this is something the parking authority is constantly wringing their hands around. They can't even really inspect the vehicles and hold dangerous vehicles back off the street. And that's something they're required to do. So these types of things, I think, sometimes get in the way of us being able to manage. But where we get the data, it's always really fascinating to see what's going on. Unfortunately, we're often in the situation of trying to translate what we see in another city, in another state, to the experience that anecdotally, you know, we feel like we have here in Philadelphia.

AK: Yeah, I think, the way that at least in America, that we sort of see it as like the private sector job is sort of to innovate and bring in new things. And then the public sector's job is to make sure it actually works and does something of value. But you can't if you're not speaking the same language, if you don't have that ability to really work together at the granular level, which in tech really is just data, then it, it falls apart that that sort of synergy. So I appreciate that. I think that makes sense. I want to shift gears again to another place that you spend some time and dedicate some time to, NACTO. We mentioned that at the beginning when talking about your bio as well, your role as the president of NACTO. I think many of our listeners have heard of NACTO, so they probably know what it is a bit, but I'd love to hear from you a little bit more.

What is NACTO?  What do you see its function? What does it do in the world?

MC: It's the National Association of City Transportation Officials, and it's a collection mostly, but not exclusively, especially at first of large cities. They came together and wanted to provide some counterbalance to AASHTO, Association of State Transportation Officials which has a long and very strong record in promoting transportation across the board. From planning research standards making really a very big presence throughout North America and really around the world. So that's the aspiration is how do you compare yourself and support and complement the work that they're doing and focus it on cities and the issues around city transportation. So I mentioned before, like you could go back 100 years, maybe even 150 years and start to see how the life of moving around cities became standardized, kind of pigeonholed. And then that uniformity shifted away from what makes cities work over time and became more about what's happening between cities. You know what I mean? So the fact that we had to move people from suburbs to cities, the fact that we were introducing, the internal combustion engine and the speed associated with that, the fact that the speed was free,  it allowed people's lives to really expand in such incredible ways. A lot of the footprint of a metropolitan area, to expand in such incredible ways. And that needed to be regulated and planned for at a state level by the states, state highway administration, and state bureaus of highways took something away from cities in the wash, and it took the focus on the pedestrian away, took the public use of the right away because although it could work fine on Market Street or South Broad if it didn't work between York and Lancaster, you couldn't do it. You couldn't do it because we really needed to focus on that to make this process pay off. And so the federal government, as it became more involved in developing the networks, naturally had to go to somebody in the States were better organized, and they were the natural partners for transportation policy to be organized around. And I think you started to see in the seventies and eighties and nineties some pushback. But it wasn't really a well organized pushback. And so coming into this century, I think there was a determination.  And I think the cities were planning before that we needed to get organized to cities to make sure that our ideas weren't lost when we were having these debates, frankly, about what the priorities were. So moving around fast moving around without congestion is certainly a good. But what is that good coming at a cost of and where and when and to who? And so the idea that we could achieve a better balance by focusing more on active transportation, people walking around, people biking around and needed to invest in order to support that was one that was, an early flag that an actor felt that they needed to carry. And there were other, kind of movements. So you think about the complete streets movement, that certainly dovetails with this. I think Vision Zero was certainly embraced early by NACTO but it wasn't invented by NACTO. And it really lays the groundwork for a lot of work that cities are doing. And so having the ability to kind of push these ideas forward, get funding for these things changed the rules that the federal government is. I'm thrilled. We have a lot of NACTO alumni in DC right now in the Department of Transportation. They're kind of helping these ideas take stock too. So I could go on for 3 hours about that. But that's the main idea. And I'm really just proud that I've had a chance to provide some stewardship over the last couple of years.

RH: It's interesting traveling around to the cities across the U.S. and a lot of them are experiencing kind of some of the same challenges as post-pandemic with massive equity issues. How do we provide better access? How do we make sure that it's fair? We talked a little bit about the technology, making sure that it's open to everyone. What do you see with cities going forward with an act? How can they kind of help that, I guess I could call it post-pandemic, it was only last year that we were still kind of in this bubble growing because I fear that some cities are not evolving fast enough and changing fast enough and they're going to get unfortunately left behind. And other cities seem to be ahead of the curve. So how do we kind of swim together so that everybody would question it?

MC: It's very timely and one that NACTO was trying to work with now. And we are looking to expand the membership. And, you know, cities can join as affiliates, transit authorities, transit operators, communities, affiliates. And we're trying to create some new pathways for cities to be more involved. And so we're talking that stuff over. And I would encourage people who work with cities to follow as closely, come to the conference, we do a lot of kind of webinars and there's a band of folks on staff who kind of travel around and have a real presence. And now with a lot of things happening in remote fashion, there's a lot of events that folks have a chance to kind of jump into, can request some attention from NACTO. There's a lot of engagement that we put into recruiting cities. So it's not like you have to be a member of NACTO before you get any attention. But it's a big country. There's a lot of cities. So the best way to get the best attention is to join the activity today. So we want to provide people with technical support, design guidance. We want to kind of hear their problems and process that. The thing we are trying to really think through is how much we're, sounding the trumpets for things we understand well where our core values are, where we see the country, the world really needs to go on transportation and how much we want to listen and learn from what the experiences are in cities. And so I think we have a real recognition that not every city in North America is the same and every city has to start from somewhere. And we don't want to alienate cities that are not in the same policy environments as some of the larger cities are. Right. That have different geographies, have different configure stations of roads, different geometries and so forth, and be able to provide actual, meaningful support to these cities and not just aspirations. So there's a challenge for sure. And I'm very, very pleased we've had good conversations with the staff who focus on design. And we think it starts with that. It starts with conversations about what the issues are, having workshops and just kind of really drilling down and thinking about what could we do to make a situation better. We know what we think best practices. And that probably doesn't change too, too much. But how do we get closer to best practice when we're in a situation which is just, not there, has its own issues. And so we won't necessarily all be splitting at the same pace, but if we can swim in the right direction, everyone, that's the start. I think that's where we want to get things kicked off.

AK: So I'm interested to hear from you a little bit about maybe where TDM, transportation demand management sort of fits into NACTO, and what you all are doing or looking to do, moving forward. It's something that is important to both Rob and specifically. But it's a really, I think, sort of growing idea here in the transportation space. So is that something NACTO is looking at how to play a role specifically?

MC: I think it's something we need to look at more closely. And I think in general, everyone needs to look at it more closely right now because like we're saying in the post-pandemic world, a lot of our assumptions have changed and I think we need to think about the role TDM plays and folks who are advocating for the commuter and the commuters impact on the city are dealing with a different world now as if we were before. But it's not a world without challenges. I think that's important for folks to understand. And I'm hopeful we can work more on empowering, travel demand management agencies, and entities to do planning to really dig the planning and to organize that planning around, key objectives, not independent of MPOs and municipalities, but in a way that sort of sets the table for opportunities to try things out. And I think that will be a theme in a lot of what I've talked about today. We want to be able to try things out, to see how they work, to bring in resources, but to do it in a way where if we're talking about micro-mobility if we're talking about rideshare, if we're talking about innovation in, how we pay for transit, there's nobody who's really better situated to bring people together across multiple public jurisdictions, but also people in the industry and the general public. So I have a passion, a little bit of a passion for, never missing an opportunity to push forward this idea that, mobility as a service can be a real thing if we just keep engaging all the different silos and fighting the different silos together. And that has a lot to do with people's willingness to be the guinea pigs a little bit right now, to they're going to try out this fair medium.  They're going to make trips with more than one mode. They're going to kind of rethink about the way they organize a week at least on a trial basis or an interim basis, to see if we can learn some lessons, we can prove it, we can come back to it. And you need to be able to recruit a public to do that. Certainly government can help, but you need to be able to recruit people who are running businesses and people who are working in businesses to do that. And it's nice when opportunities walk in the door, but we need to really get organized around that kind of thing, I think. And so I think that for me is a real role that we should all converge on, whether it's me with my city hat or NACTO hat or me just as a member of the general public. I think that we really rely on folks who have a track record of innovating in TDM to really care that boards that that make sense.

RH: I think that that's great. Obviously I've been involved for a long time with TDM and I think one of the beauties of it is its one size does not fit all approach and certain cities' public transit system is phenomenal. And other cities, are better with bike-ped than they are some of the transit. So it's what kind of makes sense and not trying to shoehorn this is what you shall do or should do, and fortunately, some of the DOT guidelines historically have been that way, which is why some of the cities have struggled over time, thinking about kind of moving forward, with Philadelphia and the things that we've been talking about. So we have a big anniversary for the country in 2026, which I can't believe is only three years away. And we know Philadelphia's done a phenomenal job. We got the World Cup, Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Lots of other activities going on, and I'd love to hear kind of what planning is going on now as it relates to mobility. I know there's a group that has been meeting, but I'd love to hear your thoughts And other obviously, other cities are going to be celebrating.

MC: Yeah. So yeah, this is truly exciting. So if we focus on the 250th, we're working with our folks from the Budget Office to identify some projects that we could just get done. We just have enough time to get done for 250. So some of the stuff is kind of in the works, but there will be a focus on some of the historic areas of the city to stand up a few projects which create more of this public realm. We're working on a project in the Old City, so this is Market Street between Second and Fifth Street, to really reorganize the way things work there. And so that's one, in particular, I'm so excited about because you know that that is really the historic gateway for America. When you look at what's around there, you've got, you know, Independence Hall, you've got Christchurch, you've got Betsy Ross house. It's really all right there. And people really don't, I mean, if they got their tour book, they know that they can go there, but it doesn't present itself that way. And we can create something which is a bit more pleasant, like we feel like for people to really just be there and enjoy that space. Hopefully, we can kick that off and folks who are here for that birthday can be there to celebrate. I'm interested in a handful of other projects like that around the city, and I'm not going to say too much about them because I can't promise them to anybody. But there are a few locations where I'm trying to target some investors to create places for people to be in and experience. It's a little unfortunate, it was never going to be ideal, even from the beginning. But we're trying to move forward with the I-95 cap project. But unfortunately, I don't think I'm making news that one's not going to be done in 2026, but that was one that we had hoped maybe we could at least say, look over there, it's coming together, it's built. But that one got away from us. But there's a handful of other things that we're doing for some of the other events. So around the World Cup, there will be some investments in order to create some training facilities in South Philadelphia. So that's moving forward. You know, there's got a fair amount of momentum behind that. And for people who use FDR Park, I think there were some concerns about what it might be like. People wanted to kind of preserve the legacy space. I think the key elements are going to be fine. People are going to really enjoy that park on a regular basis, but there'll be some great facilities there and a real upgrade and facelift for that whole area. So that's really exciting to us. And then a lot of this is kind of what we do for the events as they come. I mean, we've, I think, developed the reputation that we know how to throw a party when people come through, whether it's the political conventions or the pope's coming through or we've had the NFL here for a number of things over time. So I think some of this is just running a good operation and with our partners throughout the region and PennDOT, I think we've really got a bit of a feather we can put in our cap that unlike many cities, especially to this size, we've got it down to a bit of an art here. So we're really excited about all that stuff.

RH: And it's going to be an exciting long year. Yeah.

MC: Yeah.

RH: Celebrating in Philadelphia.

AK: And speaking of parties, hopefully for the two of you in Philadelphia, there's a big party you're handling early February, maybe a Super Bowl parade tied to it.

MC: So yeah, I'm really excited about that.

Yeah, yeah. This is one of those years where it's got to be right. It's got to be everything's falling into place. All the signs are right and I'll discount the last three weeks. But if we could turn a 180 next month but all sins are forgiven.

RH: It's just three games.

MC: That's right.

AK: Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us. This has been it's been a great conversation. Love to hear more about what's happening in Philadelphia in the future. What's been happening. And I loved also the history impact, too. I don't think I've heard it in a succinct way before. So all this is great. Thanks for being on and certainly to you, good luck on everything you're coming up against 2026
or everything up until that as well.

MC: My pleasure. Thank you both. Appreciate seeing you again Rob, and good luck with everything.

RH: Thanks Mike.

AK: Thanks Mike. And to all of our listeners, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. You can do that at You get an email when we have a new episode out like this one and make sure to give us a like, a follow, rating, wherever you listen to podcasts or watch them on YouTube and Spotify. You can actually watch our faces do the talking. Well, once again, thanks for being on, Mike. Rob, as always, thanks for being here. And everyone, all of our listeners, we'll see you again next time.

Outro: Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Between the Lines with Andy Keeton. Be sure to subscribe to hear next week's episode and check out our exclusive commuter playlist on Spotify.

Better commuting starts here.

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