By Scott Ladd, Media Relations Staff
PATH’s Winnie Chang was recognized recently by the editors of Progressive Railroading magazine as one of the railroad industry’s “20 Rising Stars.” It’s a prestigious honor, but no surprise to her PATH colleagues who’ve witnessed the strides she’s made during her first year and a half on the job.
A project manager in PATH’s rail logistics and planning division, Chang studies the impact of development on the PATH system. Residential growth that directly affects PATH stations, customer safety and convenience, and passenger volume is exploding. Chang’s role — working with planning representatives of host cities to devise a strategy effectively serving surrounding municipalities and PATH — is becoming more pivotal.
”We’re figuring out how development affects us, and what we can do to advance PATH,” she said. “We’ve made a lot of progress.”
Working for the railroad wasn’t originally in the cards. Raised in Edison, N.J., Chang majored in Fine Arts at New York University. But she developed a strong interest in environmental issues and transportation, and interned with the U.S. Green Building Council shortly before making a detour — to Alaska.
Chang joined an environmental non-profit organization in Anchorage, the Alaska Transportation Priorities Project, that got involved in legislation to improve transportation. Eventually her path returned her to the East Coast, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a dual Master’s degree in Transportation and City Planning before moving south to the Port Authority.
PATH was a natural fit for Chang. As a member of the Port Authority’s Leadership Fellows program starting in 2014, she was exposed to a range of the agency’s businesses and practices, from planning to technology. But her rotation with PATH left the deepest impression. In April 2016, she came on board full-time.
“PATH was a good fit for my drive, and my values,” she said.
Joy Chiu, Chang’s former supervisor, concurred. “Winnie strives to maintain the balance between PATH being a good neighbor to new developers, and protecting PATH and the welfare of our existing patrons and stakeholders,” she said.
Chang describes her engagement with municipal leadership as a work in progress. The one constant, she said, is that it’s always challenging. The increase in residential population, not surprisingly, is matched by an increase in ridership. And PATH weekday ridership has been growing sharply, recently reaching record numbers of daily passengers.
“If you care about the public good, are driven by big, complex challenges, and are willing to work through all manner of obstacles, you should work for a public transit agency or passenger railroad,” she said.