The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority (SRPRA) has hired Thomas Frawley as Interim Director. Also, Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., has joined the California Mobility Center (CMC) as CEO.
SRPRA announced on Sept. 20 that it has hired Thomas Frawley as Interim Executive Director to “lead the effort of restoring passenger rail service between Reading and Philadelphia,” Yahoo! reported via the Reading Eagle. He will be paid $100 an hour for up to 25 hours a week.
At its monthly meeting, the authority “voted unanimously” to bring on Frawley to “help lead the effort of officials in Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties to revive passenger rail service by formalizing agreements, pursuing funding and partnering with rail operators and state and federal transportation agencies,” according to the Yahoo! report.
According to the Yahoo! report, Frawley has more than 40 years of experience in transportation systems planning, development, design, engineering, procurement, construction, operation and management. As principal of the Berwyn-based Thomas Frawley Consulting, he has focused primarily on public transit and passenger rail, working with organizations including the Virginia Railway Express (VRA), Amtrak, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
According to the Yahoo! report, Frawley has also worked on a feasibility study for a Phoenixville task force about “the potential restoration of passenger rail service between Phoenixville and Philadelphia, giving him insight regarding potential regional rail ridership and an understanding of institutional issues.”
“The committee felt Frawley was the best candidate for the post following conversations with four people who expressed interest in the position,” said Greater Reading Chamber Alliance President Jim Gerlach, who serves on the personnel committee.
“We are excited to have Tom Frawley join us,” he added. “He has a wealth of experience not only with authorities such as this, but also dealing with Amtrak directly on rail transportation projects.”
According to the Yahoo! report, the authority also approved a budget plan that will carry the authority through 2025, which Montgomery County Planning Commission Director and Planning Committee Chairman Scott France says, “will help the finance officers in the three counties as they plan for the upcoming budget season and the additional county contributions, as needed.”
According to the Yahoo report, the authority has budgeted a total of just under $1.3 million for the three-plus-year span. From October through the end of the year, $82,630 has been budgeted, while $378,140 has been budgeted for 2023. Expenses are estimated to be $410,734 in 2024 and $423,056 in 2025.
The only income listed in the budget through 2025 is from county contributions, according to the Yahoo! report, with the three counties sharing the expense equally— each will provide $431,520. For the remainder of 2022, that number is $27,543 per county.
“The budget acknowledges the expected payment of the Interim Executive Director, as well as the likely cost of the consulting firm the authority hired last month to help navigate the technical and political aspects of the passenger rail project,” according to the Yahoo! report. It also includes operating expenses over the next three years.
France said the budget “does not address potential capital investments that could be made or large-scale studies that may take place because the authority is not yet aware of the costs,” but stressed that “there are already some additional funding sources lined up in the form of federal and state dollars,” according to the Yahoo! report.
“For now, this represents the way that the counties plan on funding the authority at least for the next three years,” France said.
“Tom brings to the role his immense professional expertise, as well as a personal interest as a resident of the region who understands the value a Reading-to-Philadelphia rail service will mean for the economy and for everyone who lives here,” said Berks County Commissioner and Authority Chairman Christian Leinbach.
The CMC publicly announced on Sept. 20 that Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., has taken the position as the first CEO of the 18-month-old nonprofit mobility innovation and commercialization center, effective Oct. 3. The announcement was made at the ITS World Congress in Los Angeles, Calif., an event that “brings together diverse stakeholders in the intelligent transportation systems industry.”
CMC Board Chair Arlen Orchard made the announcement, stating, “Mark’s career includes decades of diverse experiences in complex, high-performance environments that required innovation, data-driven strategies, and strong leadership. It’s this combination that has led to an impressive set of achievements. His skill set, experiences, and expertise developed in academia, NASA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and autonomous vehicles brings to the CMC an unparalleled set of tools and knowledge at a time when we are ready to expand the CMC’s impact, scale, and reach.”
Dr. Rosekind is an “internationally recognized” transportation safety professional with more than 30 years of experience. He comes to the CMC from Zoox, an autonomous mobility company where he served as the Chief Safety Innovation Officer since 2017. He was the 40th member of NTSB from 2010 to 2014 and 15th Administrator of NHTSA from 2014 to 2017, appointed to both positions by President Obama. He also served as the Distinguished Policy Scholar in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for 2020-2022.
Dr. Rosekind comes to the CMC with a “goal of pursuing innovation and ways to leverage and integrate efforts across the areas of safety, sustainability and equity,” said the nonprofit, public benefit corporation that launched commercial operations in Q1-2021
“The accomplishments the CMC has achieved in a very short time are remarkable,” said Rosekind. “In only a year and a half and during a pandemic, the CMC created a portfolio of people, projects, and networks that position it for tremendous future success. We will build on that momentum, while evolving and expanding the CMC’s enormous potential to affect change in the complex and challenging arenas of transportation safety, sustainability and equity.”
“The CMC represents a tremendous opportunity to enhance societal safety, sustainability, and equity through new mobility innovations,” Rosekind said. “These are big, bold opportunities that can leverage California’s innovation, technology, expertise, and resources for meaningful national and global impact.”
According to the CMC, Dr. Rosekind led “significant transformation” at NHTSA, instilling a proactive safety culture while driving both the Agency and automobile industry to be future-oriented. His initiatives included the development and issuance of the first-ever Federal Automated Vehicles Policy; the founding of the Road to Zero coalition to develop a 30-year plan to eliminate traffic fatalities, and aggressive oversight of safety in the automobile industry, including leading the Agency through the nation’s largest product safety recall in U.S history. His leadership earned him the distinction of being named the 2015 Industry Leader of the Year by Automotive News. As a member of the NTSB, he was the Board Member on-scene for seven major investigations and advanced the agency’s advocacy goals on substance-impaired driving, fatigue, fire safety and rail mass transit.
The CMC also announced that Neal Best has been appointed COO succeeding Mark Rawson, who held the position since 2018. From the CMC’s initial conception, “Best has provided leadership in establishing founding partnerships, securing funding, strategizing, and onboarding new clients,” the nonprofit says. He has more than 20 years of global experience in international corporate business consulting and economic development. Rawson will be joining GridCure, an electric vehicle charging optimization platform, as Senior Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships in October. He will continue to support the CMC as a Senior Advisor through the remainder of the year.
Rawson and Best are credited with leading the CMC “through its formative stage,” which included expanding the CMC’s strategic business, member and partner relationships, overseeing the lease agreement for the CMC’s Ramp-Up Factory at Depot Park in Sacramento, Calif., and spearheading the CMC’s official commercialization launch in March 2021.
“The full potential of the CMC is unlimited,” Rosekind said. “The societal needs are great and the opportunities for the CMC to deliver meaningful outcomes is tremendous.”