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Karina Ricks Takes Role at Federal Transit Administration

Karina Ricks had led the Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure since 2017. She is now working for the Federal Transit Administration as associate administrator for research, innovation and demonstration.

The capitol building in Washington, D.C.
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Karina Ricks, who led the Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI), is the new associate administrator for research, innovation and demonstration at the Federal Transit Administration.

Ricks had served as director of DOMI since 2017. One of her final acts as director — on the day before her final day on Sept. 24 — was to release Pittsburgh’s 2070 Mobility Vision Plan, an ambitious guide for infrastructure development that includes gondolas, new river crossings, a fast transit line to the airport and even “an urban terminal for vertical take-off and landing aircraft and high-speed intercity transit,” according to a press release.

Kim Lucas, who was assistant director of DOMI, is now serving as acting director of DOMI.

“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to establish this Department and work with the dedicated leadership of the city and unbelievably talented (and fun!) staff,” Ricks wrote in a LinkedIn post. “I look forward to all the great things they will continue to do in this amazing city.”

As director, Ricks and her department adopted a more inclusive vision for urban transportation that aims to serve all residents across a range of mobility choices. In August, Pittsburgh launched a universal basic mobility program, which makes public transportation nearly free across a number of modes for a select number of local workers.

“We have to think of this as social impact investing,” Ricks told Government Technology last month, describing the initiative. “So yeah, we’re going to subsidize this, because by subsidizing this, we create money and wealth and revenues in this whole other sector.”

“We can’t just subsidize transit and the private automobile,” she added.

Prior to her work in Pittsburgh, Ricks served as chief transportation planner for Washington, D.C.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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