Are you interested in transit? Are you in the medical or public health fields? Have you ever been caught in a natural disaster or national crisis? This workshop is for anyone looking to understand how transit can be proactively deployed in any of the above scenarios.

Around the world, transit has been reacting to the COVID-19 crisis dynamically and responsibly, working to keep people safe and services operating. But over the next 10 years, a crisis worse than COVID-19 may strike — another pandemic, a climate catastrophe, or a terrorist event that throws into disarray the normal pattern of human life, including transit operations.

In this innovative workshop, CUTRIC draws together global experts who will share case studies from other pandemic and climate crises to shed light on how public transit assets can be effectively deployed to serve as the vanguard in critical battles facing humanity.

From transit as paramedic services to transit as living-room controlled operations, CUTRIC’s guest speakers will provide transit systems with case studies, examples and recommendations in preparing for the next great crisis, be it epidemiological, climatological, or political in nature. 

In times of crisis, transit can be more than just mobility. It can also be a lifesaver. This workshop  will equip transit systems with novel plans for the next humanitarian crisis of the century.

To register, click here.


May 14

Introduction and Welcome


Innovation in the Face of a Pandemic: Six-step Strategy For Transit Pro-activism in Times of Crisis


Transit Agencies Reacting to the Pandemic: Ontario


Transporting Medical Personnel and Ferrying Cruise-ship Passengers During the Pandemic

Last January, a cruise ship with approximately 5,000 passengers (one-third infected with COVID-19) docked in Shenzhen; the local health authorities had to evacuate all the passengers in a safe and efficient manner, and very quickly. The Shenzhen Bus Group (the local transit agency) was asked to help with this project.


Using Self-driving Vehicles During a Crisis

NAVYA’s autonomous vehicles were used to shuttle COVID-19 tests from drive-thru testing sites in Jacksonville, Florida to local hospitals and clinics, which provided an efficient and safe method for the city’s pandemic protocols.


Supporting Communities During the Pandemic

VIA Metropolitan Transit took the lead to ensure residents in San Antonio are safe during this pandemic. Working with local food banks, VIA used their shuttle buses from their fleet to transport food and other items to people who couldn’t leave their home. In addition, VIA is using their buses as wifi hotspots for students who don’t have internet access at home so they can continue with their schooling.


Health Break

11:45am – 11:55am

Case Studies: Learning from the Past to Expand Innovative Responses


Transit Agencies Assisting During a Disaster

Dr. Rozdilsky will provide an overview of how public transit has played a role in disaster management, citing examples from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 and an apartment fire in Toronto in 2019.


Transit Agencies as a Front-line Response

Polly Hanson, Senior Director, Security, Risk & Emergency Management, American Public Transportation Association – Polly has over 30 years of experience working in the public transit sector in a security role. During 9/11, she was Deputy Police Chief of Washington, DC’s transit agency, and can speak to how public transit played a pivotal role during the terrorist attack. In addition, she will provide other examples, including hurricanes along the Atlantic coast states and the nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016 that killed 49 and left 53 injured.


Future Proofing: Controlling Transit from the Living Room

Cathy and Mike will outline the technology that will be required to future-proof transit operations so that they can be controlled remotely during a crisis or disaster. Even from your living room!


Questions and Answers


Conclusions and Next Steps: Elaborating the Dialogues - COVID-19 Pro-activism Panel, CUTRIC Conference, June 2020



Cathy Campbell-Wilson

Vice President, Rail Transit Solutions

Dr. Jack L. Rozdilsky

Associate Professor/Director of Graduate Programs, Graduate Program in Disaster & Emergency Management, York University

Dr. Jack L. Rozdilsky is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director for the Disaster and Emergency Management Program at York University in Toronto, Canada. His professional duties include research, teaching and service in topics related to disaster social science and emergency management practice. Jack is currently a co-investigator on a Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research project sponsored by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and also the lead for the Operational, Ethical and Situational Research Challenges in COVID-19 Working Group sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) network. Prior to joining York University, he was a university professor of Emergency Management in Illinois and Texas, has also worked in the public sector in land use planning and he has directed regional hazard mitigation planning efforts. Jack holds a Doctorate in Resource Development and Urban Studies from Michigan State University.

Hallie Liao

Head of International Development, Shenzhen Bus Group

Hallie Liao, Head of International Development at Shenzhen Bus Group (the first and largest electric-powered public transportation operator in the world), leads their business development, branding, procurement and advertising programs, and is passionate about public policy and public transportation in creating a greener urban environment. Prior to joining Shenzhen Bus Group, she worked for the United Nations Development Programme, McKinsey and other international organizations in cross border development projects across the United States, China, Latin America and South-East Asia. Hallie holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Columbia University.

PhD – Science and Technology Studies (Economics and Mathematics Stream), University of Edinburgh

M.Sc. – Science and Technology Studies (Economics and Mathematics Stream), University of Edinburgh

M.Sc. – Political Science and Public Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science

BJ – Political Science and Journalism, Carleton University

As the President & CEO of CUTRIC, Dr. Josipa Petrunic is leading the formulation of national transportation and energy systems analyses, including battery electric vehicles (BEV), hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and zero-emissions transit technologies.

As one of Canada’s leading experts in Zero-Emissions Bus (ZEB) innovation deployment projects, Dr. Petrunic has designed, developed and launched the Pan-Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration & Integration Trial (Phases I-II), the Pan-Canadian Hydrogen Fuel Cell Demonstration & Integration Trial (Phase I) and the Canadian National Smart Vehicle Demonstration & Integration Trial (Phase I).

In 2014, Dr. Petrunic developed Canada’s first methodological framework for an interdisciplinary physics-, mathematics- and economics-based modelling tool. TRiPSIM™, Canada’s first electric bus modelling tool, helps Canadian public fleets determine how zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) would operate in their communities and the extent to which they would generate operational savings. Now in its third generation and branded as Rout.i™ 2.0, more than two dozen transit agencies in Canada and the United States have relied on it to plan their full-fleet, vehicle- and block-based electrification deployments.

Dr. Petrunic has created Canada’s most interdisciplinary ZEB Consulting Team specializing in all salient variables associated with battery electric bus (BEB) powertrains, hydrogen fuel cell electric bus (FCEB) powertrains, renewable natural gas-powered compressed natural gas (CNG) powertrains, low- and high-powered charging systems, energy storage, smart controls, scheduling optimization, lifecycle cost analyses (LCAs), lifecycle emissions analyses, and facilities design.

Under the leadership of Dr. Petrunic, CUTRIC has expanded from five founding members to more than 130 transit, utility, industry, and academic institutional members across North America with projects valued at over $50 million.

Dr. Petrunic previously served as the Lead Researcher in electric vehicle policy studies at McMaster University and as a Senior Research Fellow in the history and philosophy of mathematics at University College London (UCL), United Kingdom. Dr. Petrunic continues to lecture in Globalization Studies at McMaster University.

Dr. Petrunic currently sits on the Board of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Foundation and Women’s Transportation Seminar – Toronto (WTS Toronto). She is a regular expert contributor to news stories, panels, and editorials focused on ZEB technologies published in the Globe and MailNational PostBNN Bloomberg, CTV, CBC and Toronto Star, among other major news outlets.

In 2018, she was named as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 by Bloomberg News and Canada’s Top Clean 50. In 2019, she was named Aspioneer Top 10 Influential Women Leaders. In 2020, she received an award in WXN’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards for her role in the Science and Technology industry.

Dr. Petrunic is currently based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Karen Cameron

CEO, Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA)

Mike Palmer

Director, Rail Operations & Communications-based Train Control, Parsons

Mike Palmer has been with Parsons since May 2018. Prior to this, he spent four years at the Toronto Transit Commission as the Deputy Chief Operating Office and the Chief Operating Officer responsible for a team of 4,200 employees operating and maintaining the four subway lines on the network. Between 2011 and 2014, Mike worked for Thales UK on CBTC and main line rail projects providing the operational input and perspective to re-signaling projects, including mainline rail. He started his career in 1982 as a Conductor on London Underground, and would spend 29 years working for one of the leading transit agencies worldwide. To date, Mike has worked directly on two brownfield upgrades from fixed block / colour light signaling system to CBTC in London, and one greenfield / brownfield project in Toronto. He was part of the team to extend the Jubilee Line in London (1999) and Line 1 in Toronto in 2017. Mike has an extensive and proven background in both operating and maintaining a daily subway service, as well as project managing and leading the operational aspects of signaling and capacity projects. He is a Companion of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers and is based in his new home city of Toronto.

Polly Hanson

Senior Director, Security, Risk & Emergency Management, American Public Transportation Association

Polly Hanson is responsible for developing transit security, risk and emergency management standards and policies for the American Public Transportation Association. She performs peer reviews and assists with safety audits and serves as an advocate for transportation security, as well as a source matter expert on transit security, risk and emergency management issues.

Previously, Polly was the Chief of Police for AMTRAK where she led a national police department responsible for protecting over 30 million passengers and 20,000 employees. Prior to Amtrak, she was a career SES 1811 serving as the Director of the Office of Law Enforcement and Security for the Department of the Interior. At the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C., Polly was the Executive Director, Strategic Services Bureau where as a civilian Assistant Chief she oversaw the development of policy and procedures, tactical crime analysis and research, strategic planning, applicant and promotional testing.

Polly received her Masters Degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelors Degree in Communications from Temple University. In addition, she continued her education by attending the F.B.I.’s National Executive Institute, Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar and National Academy. Polly is working to obtain her FTA TSSP and SMS certifications.

Steve Young

Vice President, Technology & Innovation, VIA Metropolitan Transit (San Antonio)

Since 2015, Steve Young has served as the Vice President of Technology & Innovation at VIA Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, Texas, which serves as the transportation leader for the greater San Antonio Metropolitan region, moving over 38 million passengers a year. His team oversees a wide range of areas including data centre management, application development, business operations support, fare technologies, intelligent vehicle systems and innovation opportunities.

In 2018, VIA Metropolitan Transit received a Smart 50 Award from Smart Cities Connect for their VIA goMobile app. Also, in 2018, VIA received a coveted national award from the American Public Transportation Association and was named the most Innovative Transit Agency in the United States for its efforts in hosting the VIA goCodeSA Codeathon. In 2019, Steve was named the CIO of the year for San Antonio and received an international CIO Award from Info-Tech.

Formerly, Steve served as Chief Technology Officer for nine years at Judson Independent School District in San Antonio.

Travis Ockerman

Marketing Manager, North America, NAVYA

Travis Ockerman is NAVYA’s Marketing Manager, responsible for the oversight of their North American marketing and public relations efforts. Passionate about the Autonomous Vehicle space’s overall capabilities to create safe, smart, interconnected technologies that simultaneously aim to mitigate risk, Travis’ mission at NAVYA is to bring more awareness to demonstrated uses of AV technology that can positively impact lives and sites in a multitude of ways. With closer to a decade of experience in marketing, sales, and digital strategy, Travis has spent time working in the transportation and higher education industries, as well as working in contracted Vendor Relationship Management with leaders at the forefront of digital technology. Travis joined NAVYA in December 2019.