Advanced booking: what are transportation leaders reading?

There’s never been more information available to us via online platforms, rolling TV news and social media channels. In this environment, does the old-fashioned book still have something to offer? We asked a few transportation leaders what they were reading…
Charging, Tolling & Road Pricing / August 21, 2023
By Adam Hill
Transport justice equity reading list holiday reading © Egasit Mullakhut |
What's in a word? (© Egasit Mullakhut |

Chris Tomlinson, MD, Deloitte Consulting 
I'm just about to start reading Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving by Peter Norton from the University of Virginia. Peter is one of my favourite speakers on transportation and the history of transportation. I'm interested to read his take on the future of autonomous mobility and its impact on other mobility choices. I think it’s important to learn from our past and even more important to take into consideration multiple viewpoints on topics: he is usually good at hitting on both. One of my favourite transportation books is The Power Broker by Robert Caro. It is the story of Robert Moses whose transportation and political policies and actions literally and figuratively reshaped New York. The book won the Pulitzer Prize (and may be one of the only transportation-related books that can claim that accolade). To be clear, I'm a fan of the book and not necessarily Robert Moses' actions. But it is a fascinating story, albeit a very long (over 1,100 pages!) read.

Crissy Ditmore, head of strategy & policy, Optibus 
I’m reading a new book by Veronica O. Davis, Inclusive Transportation. Nspiregreen, the LLC she co-founded, is one of the first and longest-running to develop programmes for DC’s Vision Zero campaign. This is an important read to both repairing past harm in our built environment and to understand how to avoid similar decisions in current and future projects.

Bonnie Crawford, general manager, Umo Mobility, Cubic Corporation 
I love to travel so right now I’m reading Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh. So many of the greatest cities in the world have awesome and accessible travel by train (often high-speed rail) which I’m envious of as a West Coaster where we could really benefit from it. I’m also heading to the UK to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary and I’m researching amazing scenic train journeys we can take. The book I’d recommend is Marty Cagan’s Inspired. It’s about creating tech products people love. It’s super-relevant to the challenge I believe many agencies are facing. How do you ensure your riders love the tools and products you’re giving them so it’s easier for them to ride - not harder?

Fred Kalt, MD, Yunex Traffic Asia-Pacific 
ITS International is my main reading for our industry. Good layout, interesting technical, business and policy topics and always there when it comes to innovation.

Joost Vantomme, CEO, Ertico - ITS Europe & vice president, The MaaS Alliance 
I strongly recommend The World is Round by Jo Caudron. It gives a nice view on new challenges in mobility and urbanisation. Also this is an interesting one and opens your eyes - The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google by Scott Galloway.


Ferzan Ahmed, executive director, Ohio Turnpike & Infrastructure Commission 
I love sagas, especially the ones that are around someone going off and starting something new. Charting uncharted territory, making mistakes, going in the wrong direction, making peace... My favourite author is Wilbur Smith. I have read most of his books twice. I read fiction, life stories, as I have found them to be the best teachers when it comes to leadership, management and compromise - I find them better than text books on these subjects. The lessons are the same, but in the words of a master, the message is more interesting and vivid. ITS engineering is different from standard civil engineering. I find a lot of parallels between solving a traffic/safety problem using ITS and a novel: the destination is often unknown.

Susan Harris, CEO, ITS Australia 
I have some interesting reading on my desk at the moment – a draft report Accessibility Guidelines for LZEV Charging Infrastructure, looking to apply inclusive design principles to support accessibility by the widest possible range of drivers. I have been re-reading the findings from the Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving Safety study, undertaken by CarrsQ in Queensland, exploring driver behaviour in a highly-automated vehicle. This highlighted the general positive experience from participants in the AVs and interesting data on the range of times for drivers to take back control when prompted. I have also been having some fun with ChatGPT to get a glimpse of what future transport might be – I am told the future is bright with lots of great technology to solve all our problems!

Pat Jones, executive director & CEO, IBTTA 
I have two books in progress right now which I’m reading on Kindle. One is a new history of World War II called Stalin’s War by Sean McMeekin. As I’m sure you know, there are many transportation-related challenges involved in conducting world war. I’m also reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It’s not really a transportation yarn but interesting nonetheless. I just started listening to the Audible version of An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power by John Steele Gordon - on the recommendation of Jannine Miller, executive director of the State Road & Tollway Authority in Atlanta, Georgia, who was a recent Café IBTTA guest. As far as books in the transportation genre, I highly recommend Peter Norton’s Autonorama. This book is important reading for anyone who is concerned about the cost, accessibility, safety, and climate impacts of our reliance on the automobile over all other forms of transportation, including active (walking, cycling) and public transportation, including buses, trains, etc. I'd recommend two more. One is Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change written by Nathaniel Rich for the New York Times Magazine published in August 2018. It’s an extremely well researched and written article about some of the activists and government officials who, in the decade from 1979-1989, tried to shape US and global policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change. The author draws rich profiles of the people involved and creates a very compelling narrative of that period in our history. The second is the 1619 Project. It is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very centre of our national narrative. 

Peter Koonce, international board of directors, ITE 
As well as Veronica O. Davis' Inclusive Transportation, the other books on my reading list are: Roadways for People: Rethinking Transportation Planning and Engineering by Lynn Peterson and Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz. On the ITS side, I am considering reading Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend, but I am guessing it didn't hold up that well.

Rosa Rountree, national operations director, Atkins
Professional subscriptions: ITS International, staying current with the latest trends and innovations in intelligent transportation systems; Customer Think, exploring insightful articles on customer-centric strategies and experiences; Tech Target News, keeping tabs on the tech industry's latest developments and breakthroughs; TollRoad News, deepening my understanding of the tolling industry and its evolving landscape; Tech Target daily coverage, getting my daily dose of tech news and industry analyses; Nice CXone, discovering cutting-edge solutions and best practices for customer experience excellence; IBTTA Smart Brief, staying informed with concise updates on the tolling and transportation sector; ICMI Contact Center Insider, gaining valuable insights into contact centre management and customer service; Surface Transportation Innovation, exploring advancements and innovations in surface transportation; and Gallup at Work, learning about effective workplace strategies and leadership insights. For pleasure reading: Think Again by Adam Grant. Delving into this captivating read on challenging conventional thinking and embracing new perspectives. I owe a special thanks to Wayne Reed for introducing me to it during an enriching IBTTA Book Club review discussion. It's always rewarding to engage in meaningful discussions that broaden our horizons.


Jim Misener, Qualcomm global V2X ecosystem lead 
I am reading Sven Beiker's The Mobility Diaries. One of my past favourites has been Larry Burns' Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car - And How it Will Reshape our World. Another of my past favourites is Jason Barlow's Bond Cars: The Definitive History. And of course there's Millimeter Wave Technology in Wireless PAN, LAN, MAN, wherein I co-authored a chapter in 2008. It's a go-to when trying to nod off to sleep.

Christian Haas, CEO, Umovity:

At Umovity, our guiding principle is 'Mobility for Humanity'. We are aware that mobility is a basic need, and it should be accessible, affordable, barrier-free, and safe for everyone. Therefore, on my reading list I have: Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities. Authored by Veronica O. Davis, a highly knowledgeable civil engineer and transportation enthusiast, this book piques my curiosity about how she intends to ignite transformation within the realm of transportation. A book I can totally recommend is Smart Cities: Introducing Digital Innovation to Cities by Oliver Gassmann, Jonas Böhm, and Maximilian Palmié from the prestigious University of St. Gallen. It offers a substantial and enlightening perspective on the world of smart cities, unraveling the complexities behind their conception and effective execution. Based on perennial international research in the field of smart cities, the authors not only highlight the benefits but also best practice methods and tools to be implemented. I also very much enjoyed and recommend Movement: How to Take Back our Streets and Transform Our Lives by the well-known professor for urban mobility Marco te Brömmelstroet and journalist Thalia Verkade. This insightful book covers a topic that challenges cities worldwide: The reallocation of limited space in our cities to shape urban environments in a more livable, sustainable and citizen-centric way. Great book, that makes you think in new ways. Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town by Charles Marohn offers an eye-opening journey into the inner workings of America's transportation systems. The author unravels the hidden assumptions and traditional approaches that have shaped these systems over time and introduces an alternative perspective. A must read for transport engineers and urban planners alike. A book that is not specifically related to mobility but left a lasting imprint on me is How to avoid a climate disaster by Bill Gates - not only as a CEO, but especially as a father, caring about a sustainable future. Gates provides his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, describing the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions and where we still need optimization. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions-suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise.