Michael Sussman | bio
I began my career in transportation in 1994 by launching Strategic Rail Finance, a North American transportation-industry consulting firm. My associates and I have been busy since then, advising private and public sector clients in 44 states and Canada. I entered the rail industry with the intention to improve how we invest capital in infrastructure and industrial systems. In addition to our client work, I have contributed considerable time and energy to educating, and learning from, government officials and staff at all levels.
I have met with the staff or leaders of 68 U.S. Senate offices and 135 U.S. House offices, speaking on behalf of policy and programmatic improvements that would benefit all, not a particular client or vested interest.
Leading up to the founding of OnTrackNorthAmerica in 2007, and in the years since, we have developed our capacity for convening stakeholders in government and industry.
- In 2023 we led a four-county stakeholder process in New Mexico in the aftermath of a 450,000-acre forest fire. This work resulted in the New Mexico Forestry Business Plan.
- In 2021 we convened hundreds of transportation stakeholders in the process of creating Nevada’s 2021 State Rail Plan, supporting the Nevada Department of Transportation in a new whole-systems paradigm for freight rail planning.
- On December 11, 2008 we convened a five-hour summit of industry and government leaders in the U.S. Capitol Building to consider new collaborative approaches to freight transportation efficiency.
- On December 8, 1998 we convened a rail transportation conference in the U.S. Capitol Building for 55 congressional staff, praised by many as the finest briefing they had ever attended.
I am honored to have earned the respect and ear of Congressional leaders and staff.
- In March of 2011 I was the only private sector invitee to a U.S. House Railroad Subcommittee Staff Workshop exploring ways to improve the FRA RRIF loan program.
- On February 17, 2011 I testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Railroad Subcommittee on reforms to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.
- On October 19, 2005 I spoke before the Surface Transportation Board on the 25th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980.
I have found that our common sense message, based in whole-system thinking, resonates across the political spectrum.
Some representative acknowledgments of our efforts:
- Thank you letters from Republican House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf and Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller’s Chief of Staff.
- In 2003 I contributed to Washington State produce shippers by designing and writing important elements of the Washington State Produce Railcar Pool Act as passed by the 2003 state legislature.
- In 1999 I worked with the Federal Railroad Administration to eliminate audited financial statement requirements for Class II and III railroads from the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing Act (RRIF loan program).
- In November of 1997 I was responsible for having freight rail projects made eligible in H.R.115 – the National Infrastructure Development Act.
I am pleased to have had articles published in several transportation industry journals.
- Railway Age, December 2014, “Revitalizing Direct Rail Service”
- Railway Age, April 2011, “A RRIF-Centered Capitalization Growth Strategy”
- Railway Age, September 2008, “Leveraging Capital for the Entire Industry”
- Transportation Quarterly, Fall 2002, “Regional and Short Line Railroads in the United States”
- Association of Transportation Law, Logistics & Policy, Fall 2000, “Assessing the Process of Creating the RRIF Program”
- Progressive Railroading, June 1998, “Getting a Lender’s Attention”