Q& A: The Future of LA’s Advanced Transportation with the Co-Chair of the Advanced Transportation Center
Q: What federal and/or state funding opportunities exist to support the growth of advanced transportation and alternative fuel implementation in the LA County region?
A: One of the top reasons Los Angeles County is a leader in the advanced transportation and alternative fuels industry is the sheer size of our market. Companies frequently locate to Los Angeles, as it’s an ideal location to scale, get close to large markets for selling product, and affect large populations and geographic regions. The Los Angeles region also has some of the worst air quality in the state, which provides an innovative opportunity for deploying advanced transportation in a way that will also achieve significant emissions reduction. It is in this way that our apparent weaknesses become our potential strengths for the industry locally; LA’s air quality and related consequences bring in additional funding to pilot and scale advanced vehicle technology and alternative fuels, and our traffic congestion and sheer population size increases the urgency to develop new forms of and approaches to urban mobility.
Q: How is Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) working to secure those funds for the region?
A: In addition to putting on the largest clean transportation conference in North America and having large fleet end-users as our clients, we are also constantly tracking funding for firms and fleets to leverage nationwide and especially in California. Tracking funding is something we are actively working on with LAEDC, to find appropriate funding that the Advanced Transportation Center can apply for and increase its impact regionally and nationally. There is often an overwhelming amount of information as to potential funding sources and specific requirements and/or restrictions, but it is about managing the noise and sifting out what is most relevant. This is a strength of GNA, and we’ve developed a robust funding prioritization and management program for LAEDC and the Advanced Transportation Center.
Q: What opportunities for growth in this industry exist that are specific to the LA County region?
A: Many of the funding opportunities that the region is exposed to are in emerging sectors of the advanced transportation industry and are also growth opportunities if Los Angeles positions itself correctly. Los Angeles, and especially the governments in LA County, are leaders at implementing advanced transportation and alternative fuels. There is no other place that would have the market size for it, nor the reasons to do it like Los Angeles does. The electrification of public transportation, the region’s leadership in waste-to-energy projects, autonomous vehicles, and connected cars are a few of the region’s biggest growth opportunities. Autonomous vehicles and connected cars are particularly relevant in the LA County region especially as it relates to the incubation of vehicles as entertainment centers. Additionally, efficiency in mobility, both of people and of goods, is another growth opportunity. For example, car sharing services and the electrification and automation of port processes. Los Angeles fosters an innovative culture that finds new and different ways to address transportation.
Q: What challenges exist to securing funding for advanced transportation and alternative fuels in the region? How is the E4 Mobility Alliance addressing these challenges?
A: Frequently, larger cities in the Southern California region—Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, etc.—as well as larger companies are those who have the capacity to take on funding opportunities and apply for them. This frequently means that smaller cities and companies get left behind. We frequently discuss this within the e4Mobility Alliance as our goal is to grow the entire industry and not just strengthen the large companies and large cities within the region—although that’s always nice as well. We believe it is extremely important to find a way to also involve the other cities and smaller companies in the region. We actively go to smaller cities and smaller companies, such as startups, and see if there are projects we can partner with them on. By the way this also happens with universities. For example, everyone wants the biggest schools do their research and development, but how do we ensure the other universities in the region are also involved in a meaningful way? At e4, we strive to be inclusive, but at the same time you don’t want to spread your resources too thin because you want the funds and efforts to have a significant impact. It is a balancing act to see how to involve people without diluting resources and how to spread the wealth. This is certainly a challenge we are still grappling with, but one we are cognizant of and always try to find ways to address it and incorporate others.