Fellowship Openings

Designing an Innovative Transportation System for Groundbreaking Projects

Project: Building a Transportation System in the Era of Innovation

Agency: San José Department of Transportation

Location: San Jose, CA


The City of San José has set forth an ambitious plan to become the “most innovative city in America by 2020” and in 2016 the Mayor laid out a Smart City Vision. This Vision includes a comprehensive plan to explore and adopt game-changing technologies and data-driven decision making that will improve how the city serves its community and promotes benefits in safety, sustainability, economic opportunity, and quality of life. Improving an aging transportation system is a major part of this vision as the city seeks to create a modern, innovative, reliable, safe and affordable transit system that will make the city a place where people want to live, work and raise their families.

As the third largest city in California, where the population is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent by 2040, the city’s goal to provide safe and reliable transportation is urgent. Traffic congestion is one of the region’s largest problems, with a recent study estimating the total cost of traffic in the area at $2.2 billion annually in both fuel costs and lost productivity. About 80 percent of current residents who commute to work in San José do so alone in cars – a rate that needs to fall drastically to offset the expected population growth.

San José is often referred to as the “Capital of Silicon Valley,” a place where innovation thrives and where technology is used to improve people’s lives. Because it is surrounded by so many of the nation’s most successful, high-tech companies and innovative start-ups, San José has a unique opportunity to be involved in groundbreaking transportation projects in partnership with these companies. These partnerships will not only present new ways of moving people, places and things, they will open up the possibility of improving the way the city serves its residents more broadly through access to data, tools, and new technologies.

In 2014, San José established the Transportation Innovation Zone (TIZ) – a one square mile area in North San José selected to serve as an innovation hub due to its proximity to major highways, landmarks, light rail commuter lines and major tech companies. The city has been exploring a variety of pilot projects to improve transportation in this area and hopes to expand these innovations beyond the zone to other neighborhoods throughout the city if they are successful. In order to realize its vision for safe, reliable and improved transportation, the city’s Department of Transportation will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year to implement a roadmap to fully develop the Transportation Innovation Zone and create a framework for partnerships to pilot and evaluate innovative projects.


The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first month of the project, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency.

Starting in October 2017, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin his or her work conducting an in-depth analysis of the city’s current transportation systems, infrastructure, and capabilities for adopting innovative technologies. This will include a detailed review of policies and projects related to the Transportation Innovation Zone as well as a series of interviews with key internal stakeholders. The fellow will also work to understand the capabilities of current and potential partners, including companies interested in demonstrating new technologies and nonprofits that support and advance best practices in cities. With this understanding, the fellow will develop recommendations to inform how the department evaluates proposals for partnerships and demonstration projects in a way that best aligns with the city’s priorities for transportation, safety, and data collection and management.

Using this basis of knowledge, the fellow will help fully develop the Transportation Innovation Zone, which will require a framework for establishing partnerships, identifying and evaluating projects, and other related implementation strategies. Additionally, the fellow will evaluate and propose a plan for capturing and utilizing data most effectively from the implemented projects and technology solutions.

Key to this endeavor will be a focus on identifying long-term technology innovations that yield the most benefits to city residents such as those addressing safety issues, excessive traffic and climate change. The fellow’s efforts will help ensure that the city is able to achieve its vision for the TIZ, placing San José at the forefront of innovative transportation systems and further establishing the city as a place where companies and people want to come work.


  • Evaluate the city’s current transportation systems and identify opportunities for further innovation – Conduct interviews with relevant internal stakeholders to better understand San Jose’s transportation systems, programs, perspectives, goals, responsibilities, concerns and constraints. Research the transportation systems and innovative pilot activities of other cities to identify best practices that are potentially applicable to San José.
  • Support the development of the Transportation Innovation Zone – Analyze and assess opportunities for partnerships and demonstration projects. Evaluate the potential impact of various pilots and the most likely means for implementation. Present recommendations of projects that should be completed to achieve the city’s transportation goals within the TIZ, including a detailed business case for the recommended actions, using data and evidence to support their need and cost-effectiveness. Continuously gather feedback from key internal and external stakeholders to ensure buy-in and modify recommendations when necessary. Internal stakeholders include: Mayor’s Office, the Office of Civic Innovation and numerous divisions within the Department of Transportation that oversee traffic signals, traffic planning and data collection and dissemination.
  • Develop a roadmap for partnership and project implementation within the Transportation Improvement Zone – Develop a business process for agreements with external parties, including a plan for capturing and sharing data. Develop a framework for evaluating and implementing demonstration projects. Gather feedback from key internal and external stakeholders to ensure buy-in and modify recommendations when necessary. Develop a process for cross-departmental collaboration around transportation innovation and data collection, management and analysis.


  • Jim Ortbal, Director, Department of Transportation
  • Kevin O’Connor, Assistant Director, Department of Transportation 


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a background in program management, public policy, systems building, transportation, engineering, infrastructure, technology and/or innovation.
  • Understanding of data collection analysis and developing a business case for improvement projects. Ability to present and articulate a clear strategy.
  • Strong stakeholder management skills; exceptional communication skills and emotional intelligence; able to effectively interact with a wide range of audiences with varying perspectives.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills; able to synthesize information from a variety of sources into clear and concise recommendations; creatively resourceful in coming up with novel solutions to complex problems.
  • Self-motivated, project-driven independent worker; able to implement and execute plans with tight deadlines; persistent in obtaining information; and able to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity and sensitivity to cultural differences.


Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly.

This role offers the opportunity to work full time for 12 months as an independent contractor of FUSE Corps with an annual stipend of $90,000 paid through monthly installments.

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.