A partnership with the City of Fairfax has brought a flock of dockless electric scooters to the George Mason University Fairfax Campus. The scooter vendors include Lime, Spin, and Bird, and not only do they bring a new mode of transportation to the campus, these companies are creating employment opportunities for graduates in a field that didn’t exist until recently.
Just one year after earning his master’s degree from Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government in Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics, Chris Stockwell landed a senior manager of partnerships position at Bird.
“Once you’re able to have more free-flowing transportation options, it opens up the city as more of a community,” said Stockwell.
It’s a powerful idea he arrived at during his time at the Schar School. Stockwell credits the transportation program as being structured, yet flexible enough that he could study exactly what was meaningful to him.
“I always focused [my studies] more on the alternative transportation side, and the first mile/last mile challenge was a problem we were always trying to solve,” he said. “[Micro-transportation like electric vehicle sharing] has provided one solution to go that extra mile to get to a bus station or a metro stop, or get to your place of residence, to work, or to school…I can honestly say I’m helping solve the first mile/last mile challenge.”
Stockwell isn’t the only one who thinks so.
Jonathan Gifford, one of Stockwell’s professors, acknowledged there’s a huge tide of innovation happening in transportation today that could produce important social outcomes and enhance mobility. He feels Stockwell’s work at Bird is part of that.
“The challenge is absorbing and adapting to this tide of innovation, and integrating it with our existing legacy infrastructure, policies, financing and delivery,” Gifford said.
Stockwell took a deep dive into how to make this integration and innovation happen during his class practicum, in which he worked with a team to analyze and research how to create a better-connected city for travelers and businesses in Arlington County, Virginia.
“The TPOL program is very practical,” said Stockwell. “It has a lot of real-world examples and experiences. Being in [Washington,] D.C., and Arlington certainly help, too…. The infrastructure and Arlington and D.C.’s ability to forward-think in the transportation world makes it a great environment to be in when you’re studying this ever-evolving topic of mobility.”
Additional reporting by Buzz McClain.