Hausladen named transit chief

Doug Hausladen ’04, who has championed street safety and public transit as an alderman in Ward 7, was named the city’s new director of the Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking on Tuesday.

Mayor Toni Harp announced the appointment at a press conference on the second floor of City Hall — just a stone’s throw from Hausladen’s post in the chambers of the Board of Aldermen, to which he first won election in 2011. Hausladen, 31, will assume the $90,775-a-year job on Feb. 1. He will replace outgoing traffic chief Jim Travers, who stepped down this month in favor of a position at the social services nonprofit United Way.

“For the past … six years, I have dedicated my life to helping move New Haven forward with a transportation system that is built and designed for all users and for our 21st-century needs,” Hausladen said. He cited two 2008 pedestrian deaths — of Mila Rainoff MED ’08 and 11-year-old Gabrielle Lee — as inspiration for his work.

On the Board, Hausladen was a vocal proponent of the city’s Complete Streets program, a policy that seeks to improve the safety and accessibility of public thoroughfares. Hausladen led efforts to calm traffic in the busy downtown neighborhood and to make streets accessible to cyclists and pedestrians, including taking a leading role in the redesign of the intersection of Whitney Avenue and Audubon Street.

Following formal remarks, Hausladen previewed the administration’s immediate transit angenda, describing specific improvements he will seek to affect in his new position. He said he will ask the state of Connecticut to implement Global Positioning System services for CT Transit buses operating in New Haven. He described a system akin to the GPS device used for the Yale Shuttle, which operates on routes through campus, downtown and the East Rock neighborhood. Hausladen said he will also advocate for additional lines and for later hours on CT Transit.

“How about a bus system that doesn’t end at 11 p.m.?” he said.

Harp described her appointee as the “perfect candidate,” saying Hausladen combines talent with passion and will “challenge the accepted way of doing things.” The appointment marks a willingness to transcend allegiances from last fall’s election. Hausladen was an outspoken supporter of Harp’s opponent, former Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10.

Harp described transportation as a “civil rights issue” last week, throwing her weight behind a feasibility study concerning bringing streetcars to New Haven. Harp’s economic development administrator, Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, unveiled the proposal for federal funds that would underwrite the study last week. Harp said too many residents go without adequate transportation, which harms both their employment prospects and the city’s commercial activities. The administration will seek broad input from residents and alders on potential plans for trolleys and other public transit options, she added.

Nemerson said Hausladen will be tasked with executing the administration’s vision for a more robust and equitable public transportation system. He said the most important attribute Hausladen brings to the job is his attentiveness to the interests of consumers and residents, having served them for more than two years as an alderman.

“He refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer, and now that he’s on our team, that’s going to be very important,” Nemerson said.

Travers, the city’s transit, traffic and parking chief since 2008, leaves the department on firm footing, according to deputy director Mike Mohler.

He said Hausladen has “big shoes to fill” but added that the new appointee shares Travers’s commitment to ensuring the safety of New Haven streets and the accessibility of multiple means of transportation.

Hausladen currently works for the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, an organization under the umbrella of the Yale School of Public Health.

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