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February 10, 2012
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House, Senate Scheduled to Debate Surface Transportation Legislation Next Week; Important Amendment to Be Offered to Restore Dedicated Transit Funding

During the week of Feb. 6, the House and Senate continued work on their respective versions of surface transportation authorization law. This action is a major step forward toward ultimate enactment of a bill.

While the bills share many common traits, they still differ in the length of the authorization and in their treatment of public transportation. The Senate bill would continue to fund the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund while the House bill eliminates the account altogether. [More]

» Metra in Chicago is looking for a deputy executive director, administration. [More]
» Seattle's Sound Transit has an opening for a chief safety officer. [More]
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House Proposal Threatens Public Transportation; Eliminating the Mass Transit Account Means End of Dedicated Funding Source
BY CHAD CHITWOOD, Program Manager-Communications

Provisions of the surface transportation bill (H.R. 3847) advanced Feb. 3 by the House Ways and Means Committee (W&M) would jeopardize public transportation and American jobs. The committee seeks to end the traditional dedicated source of funding for public transportation, replacing it with a one-time appropriation. [More]

Technological Innovation: Driving the Industry
BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

 What effect has technology had on public transportation?

“I think the industry is dependent on technology now in a way it never was before,” said APTA Information Technology Committee Chair Angela K. Miller, chief technology and sustainability officer, North County Transit District, Oceanside, CA.

Not only in ways it never was, but—more to the point—in ways most non-technology people never envisioned. [More]


Providing Super Service in Indy

IndyGo in Indianapolis, IN, operated at capacity during the festivities surrounding Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5. The agency educated riders about route changes, Jan. 27-Feb. 5, with the “Know Before You Go” campaign and offered free rides Feb. 2-5, funded by a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant. [More]

Biden Visits American Seating Headquarters

American Seating welcomed Vice President Joe Biden to its transportation plant in Grand Rapids, MI, where the company manufactures bus and rail seats used in vehicles operated by more than 75 percent of North American public transportation systems. [More]

Touring a U.S.-Made Railcar

APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy and Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently toured a domestically manufactured railcar from US Railcar Company at the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail’s Metrorail Transfer Station in Hialeah, FL. [More]

LaHood in Grand Rapids for ‘Rapid’ Ribbon Cutting

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) joined representatives of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, for the recent ribbon-cutting ceremony at the public transportation agency’s new Wealthy Operations Center, located on Wealthy Street. [More]

DOT Grants for Veterans’ Access

DOT has announced that approximately $30 million is available to create or increase access to local and regional transportation resources that veterans and military families need to get to work, school, and other destinations. This funding would boost access to jobs and training for U.S. service members and their families. Proposals are due April 19, 2012. [More]

FTA Announces Available Funding

On Feb. 7, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the availability of $650 million in discretionary funding for State of Good Repair (SGR) and $125 million for the Bus Livability Initiative under the Bus and Bus Facilities capital program, subject to availability. The program makes grants to assist state and local governments in financing “capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities.” [More]


Sun Tran Opens Northwest Bus Maintenance and Storage Facility

Sun Tran in Tucson, AZ, joined the city of Tucson to celebrate the opening of its Northwest Bus Facility with ceremonies Jan. 26. The 25-acre facility will store and maintain the agency’s expanding fleet of buses while allowing the continued expansion of transit service in the region. [More]

COTA Renames Administrative Offices for Retired Head Lhota

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Board of Trustees has renamed its 10-story administrative headquarters building in downtown Columbus, OH, in honor of William J. Lhota, who recently retired as the agency’s president/chief executive officer. [More]

Cincinnati’s Access Rebrands Paratransit Vehicles

 Access, the paratransit service in the Cincinnati region, recently received a logo and design makeover to emphasize the service’s family resemblance to the vehicles providing Metro fixed route service. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority operates both Metro and Access. [More]

New York MTA Announces Winners of ‘App Quest’ Competition

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced the winners of its App Quest competition, selecting the best mobile phone app to help MTA customers from 42 contestants. [More]

Saying Goodbye

With head signs flashing the slogan “Paterno Proud,” the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), State College, PA, operated its fixed route service fare free on Jan. 26, the day of a public memorial service for Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who died Jan. 22. [More]

Foundation Connects Workers to Jobs
BY JOE CURRY, Executive Director, Everybody Rides Metro Foundation, Cincinnati, OH

Getting a job is great, but being able to get to the job is just as important.

The Everybody Rides Metro Foundation, administered by Metro in Cincinnati, provided more than a million free rides between May 2008 and the end of 2011 to help low-income workers get to and from jobs, job training, and related activities. [More]

WageWorks Acquires TransitChek

WageWorks, a provider of tax-advantaged programs for consumer-directed health, commuter, and other employee spending account benefits, has acquired the business operations of TransitCenter Inc., which offers commuter benefits to more than 10,000 small and mid-size clients across the nation. These benefit programs, known primarily under the name TransitChek®, will now become part of WageWorks’ commuter services. [More]


Responses to House Ways and Means Committee Proposal

Editor's Note: The action by the House Ways and Means Committee has provoked a fury of negative reaction nationwide--from DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to newspaper editorials coast-to-coast to an array of concerned associations and public transit agencies. Below are just a few examples of the responses. [More]


Meet Elizabeth Presutti!

This is the third in a series of columns showcasing APTA members. The subject of this profile is Elizabeth Presutti, general manager, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority-DART, Des Moines, IA. [More]


Meet Cheryl Pyatt!

This is the third in a series of stories showcasing members of the APTA staff. The subject of this profile is Cheryl Pyatt, program manager-educational services, Program Management and Educational Services Department. [More]


Strategic Planning for Improved Operations
BY JONATHAN H. McDONALD, Western Division, Rail Systems Director, HNTB Corporation, San Francisco, CA, and Chair, APTA Research and Technology Committee

On Jan. 30 and 31, the APTA Research and Technology Committee got together at its annual strategic planning session in Irvine, CA. Much was discussed about the state of the industry and the obvious benefits that transit provides, but also that public transportation provides only 1.9 percent of the 1.2 billion trips Americans take each day. [More]

ITS Provides New Answers for Public Transit Concerns
BY JOHN M. INGLISH, Chief Executive Officer, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT, and Chair, IVI Subcommittee, APTA ITS Public Transit Forum

In Salt Lake City, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is discovering how intelligent transportation systems (ITS) can provide new answers for existing public transportation concerns. UTA has set in motion some technological innovations that are beginning to pay off, including changes in its fare collection procedures, safety techniques, and fuel efficiency. [More]

The Bus as a Data Node: Bringing Systems Together
BY JOSEPH WRIGHT, Chief Architect, Harris Corporation, Washington, DC

 Today’s public transportation agencies enjoy the benefits of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems, Computer-Aided Design/Automatic Vehicle Location, on-board diagnostics, and other on-board systems. The data these technologies generate lead to more efficient operations and better use of assets—and address many issues in real time. [More]

Innovation Helps Optimize Energy Usage for Public Transit
BY JIM McDOWALL, Business Development Manager, Energy Storage Systems Business Unit, Saft, Cockeysville, MD

As U.S. public transportation systems struggle to stay afloat in the face of economic challenges worsened by rising energy costs, the demand for advancements in smart grid technology is growing rapidly. [More]

Metro Introduces Visa-TAP and Visa-TAP for Access: Pre-Paid Debit Cards for the Unbanked and ADA Paratransit Customers
BY JANE MATSUMOTO, Deputy Executive Officer, Regional TAP Operation, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA, and F SCOTT JEWELL, Deputy Executive Director, Administration, Access Services, El Monte, CA

Two major public transportation providers in southern California—the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Access Services (Access)—joined together last year to launch a revolutionary electronic payment card that provides a valuable financial services product to under-banked and paratransit customers. [More]

Technology: A Future Look
BY GREGORY COOK, General Manager, Veolia Transportation CCT, Marietta, GA

What does the future hold in the field of public transportation as technology continues to advance?

We look to safety to be the number one priority while real-time information to the customer moves forward. I think we will see connected vehicle information from all forms of vehicles moving through cities and on the highways. And we shall see more real-time information readily available to all the many wireless gizmos we carry with us. [More]

Customers Keep on Moving
BY NURIA FERNANDEZ, Chief Operating Officer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY

In New York, we’re continuing with both internal and external efforts to implement technologies that will help our customers move around. We develop new technologies in house for our customers, but we also make data available to third-party app developers; we want to encourage them to work with us to make additional apps quickly. [More]

APTA Members Speak Out on Technology's Value Today
Matthew Tucker

 Since I am chair of the APTA Safety Coordinating Committee, my first response about technology is the value of video analytics embedded in closed circuit television cameras—from a dummy camera that just records to having a camera that is “intelligent,” gathering information and helping you focus your resources. [More]

Kevin Desmond

 I see two primary areas of action in the public transportation technology field: the extent to which we can drive down our energy use—particularly regarding bus fleets—and customer information. [More]

Susannah Kerr Adler

At a very base level, technology is a terrific tool you can use to get information out and get information in. What we need to do in the industry is recognize how best to use this—and enhance what we’re doing through its use. [More]

Sue A. Stewart

We have a project at Seattle Metro—to take this issue of emerging technologies and figure out how to make everything work smarter and better. And in particular, how do we improve the work environment for the transit operator? [More]

Deborah Y. Chin

Technology is basically communications. My whole job is to implement the new model of giving people information before they get to the station—bringing all this information you would get standing on the platform to your mobile devices. [More]

Angela K. Miller

The transit industry is really opening up from a technology perspective—to work with crowd sourcing of applications. We’re making our data available and we’re finding that people are doing these wondrous things with us as a result—in ways that don’t cost us a lot of money and provide a lot of value to the community. [More]

John Smatlak

I’m the project manager for developing guidelines on modern streetcars—through APTA’s standards program.

One of the guidelines’ chapters deals with power supply. If you put enough energy storage in a streetcar, you can operate it without overhead wires, and that’s where it gets interesting. [More]

Reginald A. Mason

While pedestrian safety warning devices for buses are not new, there’s newer technology out there that’s pretty exciting. It’s an audible sound, a voice. While once it was just beeping, now it’s speech. [More]

Mary Ann Collier

One of the results of technology is that it’s raised the level of expertise and talent we need in our employees. [More]

Andrew J. Gillespie

We are going to install a half a megawatt lithium-ion battery in a traction power substation on SEPTA’s subway line. [More]


Transit CEOs Meet at Annual APTA Seminar in Orlando
BY PAMELA L. BOSWELL, APTA Vice President-Program Management and Educational Services

More than 130 public transportation agency executives, deputies, and other industry experts gathered in Orlando, FL, for the recent 2012 APTA Transit CEOs Seminar. This annual professional development event focuses on leadership and executive skills. [More]

APTA Members Share Expertise on Reducing Urban Congestion at the U.S.-China Transportation Forum in St. Louis
BY JULIA WALKER, APTA Program Manager-International Programs

The 4th Annual U.S./China Transportation Forum, held last month in St. Louis, concluded on a high note with the U.S. and China continuing to examine how to best tackle transportation challenges that both nations face. This year’s forum, led by DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari and Xu Zuyuan, vice minister, People’s Republic of China Ministry of Transport, provided an opportunity for the Chinese delegates to witness a city that is a major U.S. transport hub. [More]

APTF Task Force Hosts Delegation of 40 Young Industry Professionals

 The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) Scholar Task Force, comprising past scholarship recipients now working in the industry, recently hosted approximately 40 young industry professionals and interested individuals at APTA’s offices in Washington. The group—led by Task Force Chair Larry Duhon Jr., technology project manager, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority—discussed current initiatives and future plans during their visit. [More]

COMTO Honors, Celebrates Women Who Move the Nation

The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) will recognize women who have had the greatest influence and biggest impact on transportation at its inaugural awards ceremony, “Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation,” March 14 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. This morning event will be held in observance of Women’s History Month and is open to the public. [More]


Passenger Transport announces the following hirings and promotions in public transportation agencies and business members. Items appear in People on the Move in the order in which they are received. [More]

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