Your Invitation To The OnTrack2025 IntelliConference

OnTrack2025 IntelliConference

An IntelliConference and Talk Led by Michael Sussman, Founder and CEO, OnTrackNorthAmerica

“How Collaboration, Trust, and Railroads Will Save the World”

Date: December 5th, Tuesday
Time: 5:30 PM Sharp to 8:00 PM, Eastern Place: Temple University, Science, Education, and Research Center, Hazel M. Tomlinson Lecture Hall, 1st Floor, 1925 N. 12th St., Phila, PA
Cost: Free
Parking: On-street free parking or Montgomery Garage,1859 N.11th St., $10
Food: Dinner sandwiches will be served for in-person attendees
Participation Agreement: See below
Live Streaming: For Zoom Participation, Link Provided Upon Registration

Thank you for engaging with me in this conversation. I am honored to be hosted by Temple University’s Industrial & Systems Engineering Program to present the distillation of my thirty-year exploration of how to solve the world’s challenges. Early in my work in industrial systems, I learned that moving goods on a train saves 50-80% of the diesel fuel and consequent emissions compared to using a truck. I knew that this misuse of the wheel reveals everything that needs to be reoriented for society to deploy capital sustainably—not just financial capital but natural resources, land, and human capital.

In 1914, we had a 240,000-mile robust network of rail lines in the U.S. But instead of intelligently integrating the new trucking industry with railroads, government policies committed to building roads as a public investment. And what was the result of this development? An imbalanced freight system that pitted trucks and railroads against each other—as if this kind of competition is a productive orientation for society. We have been paying the price for that missed opportunity ever since, as the rail network has shrunk to 139,000 route miles. We can fix this. It is time to shift from the fearful rhetoric against “picking winners and losers” to a new era where we consciously and collectively design industrial policies that create “winners and winners.”

Having worked with and learned from over 10,000 individuals on infrastructure projects in 43 U.S. states and Canadian Provinces over the last 30 years, we have invented a practical and immediately productive set of methods and tools for helping communities and stakeholders solve problems and work together. This process, which we named IntelliSynthesisTM, is eminently accessible and applicable to all issues.

That is why I am inviting you to this important evening on December 5th. Experience IntelliSynthesisTM for yourself and see how powerful it can be for charting a smarter future. Your unique perspectives and intelligence will make a valuable contribution.

Focusing initially on growing freight rail service will deliver cascading benefits to the economy, environment, and our future quality of life. We don’t have to stick with sub-optimal use of either railroads or highways, and together, we can redesign governance, commerce, industry, and supply chains. We all want to improve our quality of life, combat the climate crisis, and find better ways to co-exist. When we think and plan together with IntelliSynthesis, we have a way forward that vastly improves matters for all of us.

Come to the talk to learn how you can play a role in OnTrack2025, a two-year Action Planning Process for establishing the measures, goals, and design principles for advancing North American freight railroads’ role within a balanced and sustainable multi-modal industrial supply chain system. I look forward to your participation.

Michael Sussman
1700 Sansom St., Suite 701
Philadelphia PA 19103

In service to OnTrack2025, OnTrackNorthAmerica is introducing its North American Freight Forum, a new institutional model for the citizenry and their business and government representatives to think together for breakthrough results.

In the face of our seemingly most difficult yet critical issues, such as race relations, gun laws, and abortion, invariably, we hear someone say, “We need to have a national conversation.” But really, where would we have that conversation? Social media, press, courts, the town square?

The North American Freight Forum and OnTrack2025 provide the practical answer to that urgent need for large-scale, multi-stakeholder dialogue that is transparent, inclusive, and efficient.

Participation Agreement
IntelliSynthesis utilizes everyone’s time and intellect smartly, beginning with several fundamental participation agreements. Attendance is free, but more importantly, it requires: 1) commitment to attending unless a personal or professional emergency occurs, 2) arriving early enough to be ready to participate at the scheduled start time of 5:30 PM Eastern, 3) participating until the scheduled end time of 8:00 PM Eastern, 4) not using cell phones or email, and minimizing distractions during the IntelliConference in order to be present physically and mentally, and 5) keeping yourself on video if participating via Zoom.

Thank you, Professor Julie Drzymalski and the Temple University Industrial & Systems Engineering Program, for sponsoring our IntelliConference.

Reinventing The Wheel

Place your hand on a steel rail after a 100-car train has just passed and feel the lack of heat. Friction is low when a hard steel wheel rolls over a hard steel rail. Consequently, the wheels last for hundreds of thousands of miles and the rail lasts for decades. Low friction means that hauling heavy weight and people over rails uses 1/2 to 1/6 the amount of energy while producing fewer emissions than moving comparable weight over roads.

Overusing the wheel under single vehicle cars and trucks on rubber tires over rough concrete and asphalt wastes fuel, pollutes air, and diminishes available space. Apply the simple principles of friction efficiency to the task of moving heavy weight and people over land and we take a major step in the direction of creating a sustainable, resilient society.

Hyperloop transit, autonomous vehicles, and flying hotel pods are all exciting possibilities. But let’s not allow the spectacle of high-tech to blind us to the positive immediate impact that could be produced by intelligent use of a steel wheel rolling on a steel track.

Our landing page says it all: “Nothing is more important to our future than our use of the wheel.”

OnTrackNorthAmerica Announces Collaborative Research Relationships

Influential Rail Transportation Scholars to Provide Program and Development Resources

Philadelphia, PA, November 13, 2015

OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit action think tank, today announced new working relationships with Dr. Pasi Lautala from Michigan Tech University and Dr. Mingzhou Jin, Director of the Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain Engineering  lab at the University of Tennessee.  “We are fulfilling our mission by facilitating intellectual collaboration” said Michael Sussman, OTNA President and Founder. “With our academic partners we are extending the boundaries of knowledge in the field of transportation planning and investment strategy while leveraging our industry experience to guide in-the-field application.”

Dr.-Jin-3Dr. Jin’s efforts focus on the formulation of OTNA’s National Transportation Lifecycle Costs and Benefits Project. Dr. Jin summarizes his efforts: “As an author of several papers about transportation performance measurement development and a principal investigator who has conducted more than a dozen projects for US DOT and several state DOTs, I still observe that measures used in practice are very different across transportation modes and government agencies.  There is a need to conduct a comprehensive study to provide a unified life-cycle costs and benefits analysis framework for evaluating transportation systems and facilitating performance-based decision making.”

OTNA and Dr. Lautala’s collaboration is based on recognition that for capital investment in infrastructure to be productive and profitable, it is necessary to develop andimage56401-pers agree on a set of measures and values to guide these major investments public and private purposes. As yet, the measures, data, and analytical method have not been gathered and agreed on across agency, community, and sector lines. Therefore, system-level as well as individual transportation project investments are challenging to evaluate in cases where researchers, consultants, and decision-makers are unable to agree on a full set of lifecycle costs and benefits. “It’s OTNA’s mission to bridge these gaps and enable us to make better decisions, with broader positive social impact, in a timelier manner” noted Mr. Sussman.

Founded in 2007, OnTrackNorthAmerica is an action think tank for expanding the capacity and footprint of rail transportation within an optimal system in service to the environment, economy, and quality of life. In partnership with industry, academia, and government, it develops programs for more intelligent, sustainable, and resilient transportation systems


OnTrackNorthAmerica & Impact Infrastructure, Inc. Form Strategic Partnership

MS PICNonprofit transportation consultancy OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA) has entered a strategic partnership agreement with Impact Infrastructure, Inc. “to bring triple bottom line (financial, environmental, and social) cost-benefit analysis and software to transportation planning and investment in North America.”

“Continued population growth, congestion, and environmental disruptions necessitates that we make best use of capital, resources, and land for moving goods and people,” says OTNA founder and CEO Michael Sussman. “The best way to do that is to apply full lifecycle cost-benefit analysis to transportation investments by business, government and communities. Impact Infrastructure’s expertise in triple bottom line analysis for transportation systems and cost-benefit analysis software greatly enhances our ability to advise businesses and government agencies on whole-systems planning and investment. Particularly given our shared commitment to commercial activity that supports businesses and communities, this partnership represents an important development for the sustainable future of the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

Screenshot iiSteph Larocque, Senior Vice President of Impact Infrastructure’s Consulting Practice, said, “We are eager to apply our hands-on experience in making the case for value associated with infrastructure projects on behalf of transportation investments across the North America.”

Added John Williams, Chairman and CEO of Impact Infrastructure, “Working with OTNA we expect to shine a bright light on the value of public benefit associated with infrastructure investments.”

Philadelphia-based OTNA is described as having “conducted 21 years of research and dialogue with stakeholders throughout industry, government, and academia. It promotes a bold, yet pragmatic vision for advancing transportation profitability, productivity, and efficiency through its consulting and educational activities in the public and private sectors.”

Impact Infrastructure, Inc., with offices in New York City and Toronto, is a SAAS (software as a service) company “focused on bringing affordable economic analysis to the infrastructure industry. The company has a $20 billion track record for assessments of infrastructure and building projects of all kinds. Its cloud-based AutoCASE solution is an automated cost-benefit analysis tool designed to harvest data from building information modeling technology.”

OnTrackNorthAmerica and Cisco Systems sign MOU to co-lead OTNA’s National Transportation Life-Cycle Costs and Benefits Project

OnTrackNorthAmerica (OTNA) and Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco) announce their partnership to build the next generation of transportation life-cycle cost and benefit measurement tools. The purpose of this project is to develop clear, functional measures for future planning and investing in transportation infrastructure. Once established, OTNA and Cisco will make the dataset and analytical framework available for wide adoption. The co-leaders will present their draft list of measures for stakeholders to expand and fine tune during a series of “Intelliconferences” this fall.

Barry EinsigBarry Einsig, Cisco’s Global Transportation Executive, says, “We are pleased to join OTNA in addressing the timely need for agreement on what we want transportation investments to produce for us as a nation and a continent.”

According to OTNA’s president, Michael Sussman, “Applying a rational approach to measuring the life-cycle costs and benefits of transport systems, rail will finally be valued appropriately for its long-term return on investment. Cisco brings a wealth of intellectual resources to this important endeavor. By inviting stakeholders from business, government, and community, we intend to generate collective intelligence toward policies, plans, and investments that serve the country.”

To date, the development of measures and cost-benefit analysis in the transportation field has focused on the individual project level, not the whole system level. In a world of limited resources (i.e. natural, environmental, spatial, and financial), individual projects can only be analyzed and conceived coherently if we know what they are meant to accomplish as part of a complete system. For capital investment in infrastructure to be productive and profitable for public and private purposes, we have to develop and agree on a set of measures and values to guide policies, planning, and investments. Achieving goals requires metrics so that baselines and targets can be set and action plans can be implemented. Once these national level measures are established, they can be applied to regional and local investment plans, so that individual projects can be developed more purposefully and productively.

OnTrackNorthAmerica is a 501c3 nonprofit transportation policy development organization based in Philadelphia, PA. Cisco Systems focuses on the transportation industry through its Internet of Everything Vertical Solutions Group. OTNA’s board members, Ron Batory, Bob VanderClute, and Mike Koontz have been serving on the National Transportation Life-Cycle Costs and Benefits Project development team, along with OTNA founder Sussman and Cisco’s Einsig.

Mike Koontz, former head of USDOT’s CMAQ Program joins OTNA Board of Directors

Michael-KoontzMike Koontz managed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program from 2001 until 2014. As program manager, he oversaw an annual investment of more than $2 billion over three transportation authorizations. Mike’s focus on mobile source emissions reduction and highway congestion relief included grant review and assessment for intermodal transfer facilities, port infrastructure projects, and numerous applications for diesel retrofit acquisitions. He also authored detailed program guidance and a number of legislative interpretations involving the $30-billion, 20-year program. Prior to his role as CMAQ manager, Mike was a transportation planner in a number of field offices for the FHWA and served for six years as a transportation network capacity analyst. Since retirement from public service, Mike has been working on transportation network and congestion management/performance issues, including a number of aerial photography analyses throughout the U.S.

OTNA Advisory Board Member Wins International Award

Phil Mortimer has been awarded the freight sector Global Achievement Award by the International Rail Research Board. Mortimer got the award December 3rd in Paris during the special International Union of Railways Award ceremonies held as a part of the UIC General Assembly where high ranking members of all 6 UIC global regions were gathered.

phil_mortimerPhil Mortimer has been the lead on the TruckTrain concept (shown), developed initially in the UK as a means of making rail a more attractive option for shippers whose traffic profile is less than train load and also intermittent. The TruckTrain is a short, fast, bi-directional self-propelled fixed formation of 5-7 cars aimed at the inter-modal market for logistics traffic. The trains are able to compete at shorter sector lengths and are designed to be “Truck Competitive”.

Phil is a Research Associate at Newcastle University’s School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering.



Revitalizing Direct Rail Service

As Featured in Railway Age, December 2014, Page 44


Written by Michael Sussman, OnTrackNorthAmerica President and Founder

North America has yet to achieve the full extent of railroads’ potential contribution to the economy, environment, and land use. In spite of the good work of railroad developers, investors and staff, as well as significant public sector support, railroads remain underutilized for moving goods and people.

Our freight rail system is already so robust that it is easy to miss the possibility of a continental surge in capacity and reach. But railroads are energy-, capital-, and space-efficient, and these benefits are key to our future. It is time to get working on the rail system that a growing, modern society ultimately needs to be successful and sustainable.

Read more…

OnTrackNorthAmerica Announces Two New Board Members

Seasoned Rail Industry Professionals join board as organization expands mission

Philadelphia, PA, October 24, 2014

Immediate Release

OnTrackNorthAmerica, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that is rallying the continent around a capitalization strategy for dramatically increasing rail utilization announced the expansion of its Board of Directors, naming Leo Penne and Jolene Molitoris to the board. “We are so happy to have these industry leaders.” said Michael Sussman, President and Founder.

LeoPenne250Leo Penne has over three decades of experience with the development and implementation of public policies and programs in the areas of freight transportation, intergovernmental relations, economic development, public finance, and livability. For over a decade he was the Program Director for Intermodal and Industry Activities at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) where he established and directed AASHTO’s freight transportation program.

Jolene250Jolene Molitoris is President of US Railcar, the only US owned company in the passenger rail vehicle business. She is also a principal of Molitoris Associates, her own consulting firm.  Ms. Molitoris served as the Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) from 2009 to 2011, ODOT’s first woman director. During her tenure, Ohio delivered a $2 billion multi-modal construction program, ODOT’s largest construction program in history. Prior to that, Ms. Molitoris was appointed by President Clinton in 1993, as the first woman to head the Federal Railroad Administration. During her nearly eight years as Administrator, she led agency and industry wide changes to improve safety, resulting in the seven safest years in US railroad history.

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