October 20, 2008
The 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego was a huge success!
Read all about it.
APTA Recognizes ‘Best of the Best’ at 2008 Awards Breakfast
The public transportation industry honored its own Oct. 7 at the APTA Awards Breakfast during the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego. Awards Committee Chair Karen Rae, deputy commissioner for policy and strategy with New York State DOT, presided at the event.
The Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award went to Joe Calabrese, chief executive officer of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority since 2000, for his outstanding contributions to the industry.
Calabrese’s public transit career began in 1975, when he was a management trainee for the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority in Syracuse. In Cleveland, he has overseen five years of ridership gains and is preparing for the launch of the HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit project. He has promoted numerous innovations at GCRTA, including the “Ride Happy or Ride Free” customer service pledge and Brand Managers to oversee the quality and image of the agency’s services. Calabrese also is active in APTA’s BRT Standards Working Group.
APTA recognized Jerry Premo, North American transit/rail/freight market segment director of AECOM, with the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award.
Premo’s experience includes service to the former Urban Mass Transit Administration, the former Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, and New Jersey Transit Corporation, where he was the first executive director; almost 20 years ago, he entered the private sector, building a business that is now part of the AECOM Transportation Group. He was co-chair of APTA’s Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow Cabinet, is active with Leadership APTA, and chairs APTA’s International Public Transportation Expo Advisory Committee.
Al French, a member of the Spokane Transit Authority (STA) Board of Directors in Spokane, WA, received the 2008 Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award.
French is an architect who joined the STA board after being elected to the Spokane City Council in 2002; he has chaired the board twice and oversaw efforts to improve the authority’s service while reaching out to the community.
APTA presented its Local Distinguished Service Award to Illinois state Rep. Julie Hamos, who led efforts to rescue public transportation in the Chicago area from a financial crisis.
Hamos founded the Illinois House Mass Transit Committee and worked with transit riders, business, organized labor, and community groups statewide in an effort to fund and improve public transportation. Her efforts led to passage of additional state funding for transit in the Chicago region.
The 2008 APTA Innovation Award went to the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority in Cincinnati for its establishment of the Everybody Rides Metro Foundation. The purpose of this 501(c)3 foundation, the first of its kind in the nation, is to help the most vulnerable in society with bus fares to provide equal access to a sustainable quality of life.
Since its founding in 2006, ERM has helped thousands of people by partnering with local agencies to provide bus passes and tokens to their clients. Access to transit, in turn, helps low-income residents find economic self-sufficiency while helping the environment.
APTA honored public transportation agencies with Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Awards in three size categories determined by the annual number of transportation trips provided. The agencies receive the honor for their achievements in ridership, safety, operations, customer service, and financial management.
The Muncie Indiana Transit System (MITS) was honored among transit agencies providing more than one million and fewer than four million annual trips. MITS maintains service with low fares and free rides for students, and provides an emphasis on safety that has meant a very low accident rate and a secure travel experience for its customers. The agency works closely with other community and government organizations, keeps on top of technological advances, and recently switched its fleet to soy biodiesel.
The award for transit systems providing more than four million and fewer than 30 million trips annually went to GRTC Transit System of Richmond, VA. A transit agency with a history going back more than a century, GRTC provides more than 16,000 hours of combined safety training to its employees each year; has formed partnerships with business and community agencies; and operates a state-of-the-art mobile emergency operations center. Its community outreach efforts include “Try Transit Day” and the creation of a 30-minute television show.
Denver’s Regional Transportation District was recognized as Outstanding Public Transportation System Providing More than 30 Million Trips Annually. RTD’s 2,300 employees provide nearly 100 million passenger trips annually on a variety of services including bus, light rail, demand-response, and vanpools. The agency is currently working on the 12-year FasTracks transit expansion, which will add 122 miles of passenger rail, 21,000 new park-and-ride spaces, 18 miles of Bus Rapid Transit service, and increased bus service, along with a redevelopment of Denver Union Station. The first new line is scheduled to enter service in 2013.
Hall of Fame
APTA welcomed three new members to the APTA Hall of Fame during the award ceremony, bringing the total number of Hall of Fame members to 115.
Joe Alexander has been a strong supporter of public transportation in the Washington region since the 1960s, helping to take the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail system from the planning stage to its completion. He led the effort in 1970 to get federal funding for an exclusive bus lane on a major interstate highway—a project that has been called the most successful demonstration project ever undertaken by U.S. DOT. As a member and chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, he helped to start Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service. Alexander served as APTA chairman from 1982 to 1984.
The late Frank Lichtanski joined the newly formed Monterey Peninsula Transit Agency as a supervisor in 1974 and became general manager of the agency, now Monterey-Salinas Transit, in 1981; he held that post until his death in 2005. He traveled extensively, leading an international transit study mission to eastern Europe, and served as a mentor to other public transportation general managers. Public transit education was one of Lichtanski’s top priorities, and his legacy lives on through the Eno Foundation Scholarship Fund for the Center for Transit Leadership.
Reba Malone, the first woman to chair APTA, began her transit career when she joined the San Antonio Transit Board in 1976. She also was the swing vote that put Chance Coach in the business of manufacturing streetcars. Malone was the first chair of the American Public Transportation Foundation in 1988, and still remains on its board. She is active in her community and serves on the APTA Business Member Board of Governors.