An interview with Thom Cerny, AICP, TDM-CP

Member Spotlights,

As the world grapples with the challenges of urbanization, congestion, and environmental sustainability, the role of TDM professionals has become increasingly vital. This month, the Certification Board of Trustees (CBOT) was able to chat with one of the trailblazers in the industry - Thom Cerny, AICP, TDM-CP.

Thom began his career over 30 years ago after he joined his university’s bike racing team and was asked to chat with kids at local schools about safe biking and transportation. He was eventually hired to start a bike/pedestrian program in the Orlando metro area because as his boss once said “anyone crazy enough to bike 300 miles a week was crazy enough to get a bike/ped program started in Florida!” He then became the first full-time Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) in the Southeast at a Orlando-based hospital system and built TDM programs throughout the state. In 1996, he became a TDM consultant and has worked in the industry ever since.

As a thought leader in the TDM industry, what do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the TDM industry today?

People in the TDM industry want to do the right thing but don’t step out of their own bubbles enough. We all think we are doing a good job, but have no standardized performance data to back that up. The industry would be far better off if we could learn from data-supported successes and in some cases failures.  That is why I’m excited to work with the ACT Board of Directors on an accreditation package allowing programs to use standardized data collection processes to measure impact. We hope to pilot this in 2024 and roll out the accreditation program in 2025.

What do you think the TDM industry and ACT will look like in 10 years?
With new ways of working impacting how people are traveling, the TDM industry will need to reallocate resources from targeting white-collar, suburb-to-downtown commutes and broaden its scope to include blue-collar workers, shift workers, and non-commute trips between home, school, shops, and doctor’s offices.

As a seasoned professional, why did you decide to pursue the TDM-CP certification?
I was part of the beta test group that took the exam in early 2020 (I think I was the second person to take it.) I wanted to ensure it accurately measured the abilities of a TDM professional. Since I already had 30 years of industry experience, I felt I was qualified and wanted to confirm that the exam would do this.  Fortunately I passed!  It has since evolved to be an even better assessment, but in my opinion, it still needs a greater focus focus on real-life decision making.

How has the TDM-CP certification benefited you?
I can’t yet quantify the benefits TDM-CP’s have received – those will come as more job postings ask for it, and RFP’s assign preference to those that have aquired it.  For me, it is essential that the certification remains credible and the requirements continue to provide a combination of academic and real-world experience.