A transportation analyst studies, devises or manages solutions in transportation systems. This career field could also involve managing supply lines through which materials and products are shipped using a variety of transport methods. Transportation analysts who work in supply chain management are often expected to have familiarity with shipping regulations and customs that impact the transport of goods. Sometimes referred to as a transportation logistics manager, those who serve in this capacity may also work with IT professionals, engineers, or shipping companies to oversee intermodal transport systems. The analyst may also plan or manage transportation infrastructure that serves the public.
Transportation systems consist of chains, which move goods or people, and the connections that make up those chains are often complex integrations of various modes of transportation. For example, a consumer good may be shipped thousands of miles or kilometers. During that journey, shipping modes may include a combination of trucking, air transport, and rail. The transportation analyst is generally responsible for ensuring that all the parts of this process function in a seamless, timely and dependable fashion. Since mechanical breakdowns, weather, or even political strife may cause a rupture in a supply chain, the analyst will usually be tasked with developing backup plans for a transportation system.
Sometimes transportation analyst duties may involve working with public transportation systems. If this is the case, the task of the analyst generally involves designing safe, dependable, and appealing modes of transport for commuters. Such systems are often intermodal, as a commuter may drive to a train station, then travel by train from one city to another, and finally use a subway to complete the journey. The analyst is usually expected to develop strategies that keep the system flowing. Assessing the number of commuters and matching that with the appropriate scheduling of subway arrivals and departures, for example, would be a typical task for a transportation analyst in a major metropolitan area.
The analyst may take traffic data and use it to devise efficient and seamless meshing of these different transportation modes. Safety planning may be another responsibility of a transportation analyst. His or her duties may include developing and marking evacuation routes, or ensuring infrastructure remains capable of handling loads safely. Some transportation analysts focus on developing strategies for reducing traffic jams. This may include reprogramming traffic lights so that backups during daily commutes do not occur and traffic moves in a smoother flow.
If a transportation analyst is responsible for keeping a supply chain operational, his or her other duties may require in-depth knowledge of shipping customs. He or she may also be responsible for the tracking of goods in transit. A familiarity with geographic information systems (GIS) may be highly valued in supply chain management, as movement of goods is sometimes tracked using global positioning systems.