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Rail News Home People

September 2013

Rail News: People

Rising Star: Erik Johanson


Erik Johanson

Erik Johanson [AGE 29]

Strategy and Sustainability Planner
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Erik Johanson's passion for transit is rooted in his love of Philadelphia, his hometown. While a senior at Tufts University, Johanson chose SEPTA's 2004-2005 budget crisis as his honors thesis topic because he "always had this feeling that SEPTA was an under-appreciated asset of Philadelphia," he says.

The thesis helped Johanson land his first post-college job at a Philadelphia think tank, which is where SEPTA officials noticed his work and offered him a job. That was in 2009, and he's been with SEPTA ever since.

Today, Johanson helps manage SEPTA's sustainability program, which features initiatives such as recycling and energy efficiency. He managed the process to draft the program, which has received local and national accolades. He also developed SEPTA's first energy action plan, and is project manager for the SEPTA Climate Change Adaptation Assessment pilot project.

In addition, Johanson produces strategic analyses of agency planning issues, such as fleet procurement alternatives.

"You couldn't have an economically robust Philadelphia without SEPTA," he says. "When SEPTA isn't working, Philadelphia isn't working."

Johanson's inspiration?

Wife Katy, who "handles everything with grace and humility."

His five-year career plan?

"I have my dream job now. But in five years, I'd like to be more directly involved in the implementation of plans and strategies. I'd like to be closer to their operational reality."

An interesting fact?

"I love maps. I have a coffee-table map of all the transit systems in the world. I have framed maps of Philadelphia on my wall. In college, I would go to AAA and get all the free maps I could and hang them in my dorm room."

Favorite pastime?

"Baseball. I play in a co-ed softball league with my wife and go to as many Phillies games as I can."

His backup career choice?


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