More than 23 million rides are provided annually by Iowa's transit systems. Public transit service is provided in every county in Iowa. Iowa transit systems rely on state and federal transit assistance to make rides available and affordable for Iowans. Local support such as tax revenue, fares, and donations provide a large share of agencies' operating budgets.

2019 40 Under 40: Jeremy Johnson-Miller

Friday, September 20, 2019

Jeremy Johnson-Miller, Mobility & Transit Program Administrator, Iowa DOT, Public Transit Bureau

  • Alma Mater: University of Iowa
  • Favorite quote: It’s better to have a voice at the table, rather than let others speak for you.
  • Favorite Transit System: I love riding the DC Metro, partially because of the massive underground infrastructure of the escalators but also the historical value and design of each platform.

Jeremy Johnson-Miller’s career began at an agency that helped low-income families find housing. It was here that he experienced the connection between transit, housing, healthcare, employment and educational opportunities. Through his research and work connecting clients with transit, he was offered a position at the Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA) as its first mobility coordinator.

HIRTA operates in seven counties and Johnson-Miller’s passion for people and transit helped the system see ridership increases that allowed HIRTA to begin developing new programs and earned Johnson-Miller the Federal Transit Administration Region VII Mobility Manager of the Year award in 2013.

He left HIRTA as mobility coordinator to join the Iowa Department of Transportation, in the Office of Public Transit. Johnson-Miller is a firm believer in the power of networking and spends his days working with state agencies, speaking at local events and reaching out to departments within Iowa DOT.

Johnson-Miller worked with the Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Division on a website redesign, bringing all licensing-related topics into one, easy-to-use location, allowing customers to access all information relating to licensing and alternative modes of transportation on a single landing page. He is also working on a first in the nation partnership between motor vehicle licensing and transit. The work focuses on four main areas - corrections/re-entry, disability, aging and medical - to understand the needs of each community to determine obstacles and barriers to obtaining and/or maintaining a valid driver’s license, as well as what options are available to people without a license.

Johnson-Miller has been discovering ways to enhance the Child Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) process, conducted annually by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Through this process, each contractor is required to identify community assets and barriers, including transportation. This effort will identify contractors who have identified transportation as a barrier and connect them with local transit officials and facilitate conversation to create solutions.

Johnson-Miller’s ultimate goal is to change the language and culture of various state agencies. Knowing that each state department is tasked with creating a long-range plan, he wants this to be the opportunity to change how services are coordinated.

“I am a naturally curious person and want to know how things work; it is this curiosity that allowed me to join various networking groups in the community. I would make sure to leave time after each meeting to network and exchange information to learn how we can assist each other. Public transportation is part of a bigger network that serves the entire person. We need to understand that a customer lives a life before and after they ride the bus – this is where a connection with the community is so vital. I have never been driven by a paycheck, only that I can make a difference. Following this curiosity has allowed me to lead a statewide program and called upon as a subject expert nationally.”

“[Working for Iowa DOT is] like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. The demands of public transit can change daily. Having the ability to network with transit and human services providers has allowed me to call upon a network of advocates who can assist in making a vital connection for a community or individual rider. Most importantly, I work for an agency who supports community mobility and values the customer experience.”

“Show up and be consistent. In a world where most people have lost trust in government organizations, continuing to attend and contribute to conversations is your most valuable tool. Having a consistent voice at the table builds trust in an organization, and when you are faced with a need of your own, your partners will step up to assist (attend/speak at events, distribute information, cross promote, local match). We are all in this together and often serve the same customer, so we need to work together!”

“We are like a big family, but not all of us operate in the same way. I have learned that we are always supportive and want to learn from each other.”


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