APTA | Passenger Transport
February 16, 2009

In This Issue


Congress Advances Economic Recovery Act; Provides $8.4 Billion for Transit

The long-awaited American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appeared headed for a final vote in both houses of Congress as Passenger Transport went to press, after both chambers passed separate versions in previous weeks and resolved their differences in conference on Feb. 11. [More]


Transit Agencies Face Financial Crunch
By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

It could be termed the transportation paradox: Public transportation agencies are providing more rides than ever—the highest number in 50 years—demand for this kind of transportation continues to increase, yet, those same agencies are being forced to cut service, raise fares, and postpone system maintenance. [More]

Financial Downturn Hits Business Members

Public transportation agencies and suppliers run on cash and available credit—two resources currently in short supply because of ongoing fiscal downturn.  Just as transit officials are facing their distinct set of problems and issues, so are the businesses that design and build their facilities, make their vehicles, and provide management services. [More]

Biden: Invest Now in Transportation Infrastructure

Vice President Joe Biden and other dignitaries—emphasizing the critical importance public transit holds in America—recently spoke about the need to invest in public transportation infrastructure at the Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC commuter rail station in Laurel, MD. [More]

FTA: Prepare Now for Federal Grant Funds

Regardless of the final outcome of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, two facts are clear: There will be stimulus money for public transportation, and there will be an imperative to move quickly: Award money quickly, hire people quickly, implement projects quickly. [More]

New Report Highlights Benefits of Increased Investment in Public Transit
By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

A new APTA discussion paper explains how raising America’s public transit ridership by 10 percent annually would make critical progress toward solving the country’s economic, energy, and environmental problems. [More]

TriMet Welcomes Service on WES Rail

Feb. 2 marked the first day of service for Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon commuter rail line, Westside Express Service (WES), which provides weekday rush-hour service on a 14.7-mile route that connects the suburban cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville.  TriMet reported that the line provided 1,900 trips on opening day, about 610 during the morning rush hour and more than twice that number in the afternoon. [More]


A Conversation with HART's David Armijo: Part 1 of 2

The Board of Directors of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL, named David Armijo HART’s chief executive officer in August 2007. HART is a multi-modal system of local and express bus routes, paratransit service for the elderly and mobility impaired, and the TECO Line Streetcar System, combining for more than 13 million passengers in 2008. David oversees the agency’s 734 employees, a fleet of 235 vehicles, and a total capital and operating budget of $117 million. [More]


Technology Aids, Innovates, Leads
By SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

This is a time of technological transformation for the public transportation industry. Who would have thought 20 to 25 years ago, for example, that a commuter could pay for a subway ride – or receive real-time information about train delays or route changes – through a cell phone? Or that a traveler’s security could be enhanced through closed-circuit television cameras or a bus driver’s ability to contact police through a touch of a button? [More]

High Speed Rail: On a Roll in California and the Nation

In the 1960s, the Japanese Shinkansen captured the world’s imagination as the first “bullet train,” followed in the early 1980s by the French TGV and later by similar high speed trains, now traveling at speeds exceeding 200 miles per hour, in Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, China, Korea, Taiwan, and many more of the more advanced countries of the world. [More]

When Ice Storms Paralyzed Louisville, TARC Kept Buses Moving

On Jan. 28, a major storm blew across the midwestern U.S., bringing with it frigid temperatures and snow and ice that put a thick coat of silvery glass on cars, trees, and utility wires. However, the icing that created a winter wonderland in Louisville, KY, also downed trees and utility lines and caused power outages to more than 200,000 customers locally. [More]

LYNX Team Develops Online Software to Track Performance

The Central Florida Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando has developed an internal training program—Service Excellence Training—to enhance its customer-centric goals and help the agency present a higher level of customer service for both internal and external customers. The program establishes service standards for safety, courtesy, efficiency, and cleanliness. [More]

Meeting the Challenges Facing Rail Operators

The pressures of volatile energy costs, operating efficiency, and global climate change increasingly challenge rail operations. Energy consumption and efficiency have become the top issues and priorities for our industry as we endeavor to reduce both our carbon footprint and our energy use. [More]

Counteracting the Retirement ‘Brain Drain’

The baby-boom generation is in its sixties, and the U.S. Department of Labor projects that the number of workers in the 55-and-older group will grow by 49.3 percent in the next eight years. What does this mean for transit? [More]

Warehouse Technology Means Better Data

In many public transit agencies, applications grow to solve management’s need to know how well it is performing in all aspects of operations, including accounting and finance, maintenance and coach operations, scheduling, customer service, marketing, and risk management. [More]

Advanced Solutions: Meeting Daily Challenges of Transit Agencies

While Bombardier is recognized as a leader in passenger rail equipment with advanced vehicle designs, the company also has developed many innovative technologies to enhance the use of transit equipment, inventories, and the most important asset: people. [More]

TriMet Embraces Open Source Technology

As public transit ridership grows around the country, transit agencies are looking for new ways to provide riders with helpful information and innovative tools without having to purchase, build or reinvent technology products. Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon is doing this by embracing open source technology. [More]

CTTRANSIT: Becoming More Responsible Environmental Stewards

Connecticut Transit (CTTRANSIT) is proud of its experience with technologies that directly advance our mission to be responsible environmental stewards and efficient energy consumers. We helped pioneer the deployment of solar voltaic technology that converts sunlight into electricity: the array on the roof of our Hartford operating facility was at one time the largest in Connecticut. [More]

Is Your Data Fresh and Local? A Self-Assessment Questionnaire for Bus and Rail Operations

Lately, the things we eat have come under increased scrutiny. We have been surprised at the places where tainted ingredients show up and the extent of their harmful effects. We want our food to be delivered efficiently and its ingredients to be healthy for long-term prosperity. The value of locally grown produce, with fewer transactions in the supply chain, is being understood more fully. This helps us ensure reliable sources and easier delivery methods, avoiding extra processing and contamination along the way.

Transit authorities have begun to apply the same level of investigation and continuous improvement philosophy to key operational data. It turns out that a relatively few elements of critical data shape many of our real-time decisions as well as our periodic reports and planning. You need these data elements to be timely, accurate, consistent across reporting periods, and obtainable without a lot of labor-intensive effort. [More]

A Critical Need for Systems Engineering in Surface Transportation

Systems engineering is an essential tool for the development and delivery of technology-based solutions in the defense, space, security, and information technology (IT) sectors. Extensive documentation proves the value added from its methodologies and tools. Yet systems engineering is still in its infancy in the transportation sector. [More]

Public Transit Sees Changes in the Age of Web 2.0

It’s been five years since the Web 2.0 revolution—or, more accurately, evolution—got properly underway, and it’s easy to see the imprint of that change on the world. The web is now a place of rich user interfaces that rival and surpass desktop applications, and hundreds of millions of people showcase their ideas on blogs and their social connections on social networking sites. Web sites like Facebook, Flickr, Wikipedia, and YouTube are growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by the continuous input of everyday people around the globe. [More]

How High Tech Can Help the Daily Commute

We are at the dawn of a renaissance in public transit. All over the country, ridership levels are surging and systems are nearing capacity. The little systems we built as social equity projects are now really being used by the masses. [More]

Affordable Smart Card Reader Technology

According to the Smart Card Alliance: “Since the late 1990s, U.S. transit agencies have made significant investments in contactless smart card-based automatic fare collection (AFC) systems, with over $1 billion in contracts awarded for new systems that incorporate the latest developments in information technology (IT) and use contactless smart cards as the primary fare medium.” [More]

Wireless Technology and Licensed Spectrum: What You Know Can Help You

Wireless technologies and spectrum can provide either great opportunities or major challenges to public transit agencies, depending on how they view, plan, and manage their wireless resources. [More]

Greater Dayton RTA Introduces Audio Ads on Board

The Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag contains 31 words. “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” has only 14 words. Now the public transportation system in Dayton, OH, has partnered with an audio ad company to send messages to commuters in 10 seconds. [More]


Pittsburgh Sees the Light at the End of the North Shore Tunnel

Port Authority of Allegheny County workers in Pittsburgh can see “the light at the end of the tunnel” following the Jan. 15 completion of the mining phase of the agency’s North Shore Connector project. The Port Authority used a 500-ton tunnel boring machine (TBM) to mine twin tunnels, each 2,200 feet in length, underneath the Allegheny River as part of constructing the 1.2-mile light rail extension from downtown Pittsburgh to its neighboring North Shore. [More]

New Orleans RTA Introduces ‘Lil’ Easy’ Circulators

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority and Veolia Transportation recently introduced a new form of public transportation to the recovering neighborhoods of the Lower Ninth Ward. The “Lil’ Easy” neighborhood circulator operates with 10 new biodiesel-powered shuttle vans from Daimler Buses North America. [More]


Authorization and Stimulus Funding--Front and Center at APTA Legislative Conference

This year is the most important in history for the future of public transportation—with both the stimulus package providing for transit-related funding and the upcoming authorization affecting the next six years of public transit.

How will the forthcoming surface transit authorization bill affect your agency? Can you affect it first, before it becomes law? Who are the Congressional staffers you should know? What are some key tips on how best to share your transit stories?

APTA Now Accepting Award Nominations

The APTA Awards Committee has announced that it will accept nominations through April 14 for the 2009 APTA Awards program. [More]

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