May 3, 2023 4:12 pm

Meet Eric Plosky: MobilityData’s New Executive Director

MobilityData announced Eric Plosky as the new Executive Director earlier this year. The communications team sat down with Eric to get to know him a little more. We chatted about his first few months at MobilityData and his vision while uncovering his favorite transportation experiences!

After over 20 years in the transportation industry, what drew you to MobilityData?

I’ve long been interested in transportation data: in fact, I named my dog Data! My role at U.S. DOT gave me the chance to work with a lot of outstanding people on a number of innovative projects — but it also made me think of other ways I might contribute to the advancement of data and data standards, from a different perspective, outside government. I saw a three-way alignment of opportunity: to work with a unique organization at a moment of new direction, to explore new frontiers in a field where so much remains to be done, and to challenge myself in a new way.

How would you describe your first few weeks at MobilityData in just three words?

Energizing, eye-opening, and proud! Can I explain the three? Energizing because it’s been such a positive experience so far; our team’s talent, engagement, and support have added to my own enthusiasm. Eye-opening because my first few weeks have been such an education, and I know I have so much more to learn. Proud because it’s a huge honor to be part of this fantastic team, and I’m eager to accomplish great things together.

What has it been like adjusting to your new role?

Having the support and trust of the MobilityData team has helped my transition immeasurably; I’m incredibly grateful to everyone. A small nonprofit organization is, of course, a very different work environment than the U.S. government, but a lot of my priorities — especially team building — are the same. I’m also fortunate to have strong professional, academic, and personal networks to help with the adjustment. And I’ll continue to learn every day!

What is your overall vision for MobilityData in the next few years?

I keep coming back to the phrase “better transport through data.” My own vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe, reliable, sustainable, empowering transportation options, so that they can lead their best lives. To achieve that, we need data, and the ability to use it thoughtfully, consistently, and transparently. MobilityData — which has already accomplished so much — has tremendous potential to continue its vitally important role, especially as the field evolves so quickly. Our focus right now, of course, is on advancing GTFS and GBFS and their associated products, supporting our members, funders, and community in understanding and responding to their needs, and delivering results that they can count on. Going forward, we will work to make sure that the tools and know-how are there to make the best use of data and standards, to enable new functionality, new modes of transport, and perhaps even completely new business models. We will offer our best ideas for how to address emerging topics. And we’ll look to maintain robust global engagement, so that we can stay on top of the state of the art everywhere, always learning about how we can deliver even better results for our stakeholders. All of this we’ll do as a true team, encouraging each other to be our best professional selves. After all, the reason our own folks choose to work at MobilityData is because, just as is true of our community as a whole, they’re genuinely committed to… mobility data!

What are you most excited about with your new position?

Being a part of this community. It makes all the difference in the world to be surrounded by people who care: about a broader vision, about the team, and about each other.

What is one thing you want our team and stakeholders to know about you?

I hope everyone knows that my top priority is team building, both for the MobilityData team itself and for our broader community. I really do believe that with a positive approach and an empowering culture, we can work together to achieve anything. Less seriously, there are a bunch of odd little trivia items that (maybe?) make me such a fabulously interesting person. Like, I can happily sing any of a number of 19th-century U.S. presidential campaign songs, or tell you all about the early Soviet space program. I’m quite the character. (Tell the truth, though, I don’t know why everyone can’t do these things!)

What has been your most memorable transit / shared mobility experience?

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to drive a subway train! Don’t worry — it wasn’t carrying passengers; this was just on the test track at the maintenance yard. But it was such a cool moment. The car I drove is still in service, and I always look to see if it’s part of the train when I’m boarding — I ride it whenever I can. Of course, if you ask my mother this question, she might tell you about the time I “drove” a bus when I was three years old — but that’s a whole different story.

What is your favorite mode of transportation?

It seems to me that every little kid, no matter who they are, loves every kind of transportation. How or why most people “grow out” of this fascination, I’ve never understood. I still love every kind of transportation! But, ever since I was a little kid riding the subways of New York with my Brooklyn grandmother, I’ve had a special fondness for rail. I’m lucky to live in a place that is only a short walk from a subway station. Of course, I’m also glad to have a lot of other options nearby, including two bus lines, a comprehensive bike-share system, and fantastic bike routes. I guess I could also say that above the ground, I’ve probably flown aboard more kinds of aircraft than most. Maybe there are other people who’ve soared in a powered paraglider, and winged airborne on both a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a Stearman open-cockpit biplane, and ridden a zeppelin — if so, I’d be delighted to meet them!