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APTA Awards Honor 18 Exemplary Agencies, Individuals
APTA is recognizing 18 outstanding public transportation professionals, agencies and supporters this year for their leadership, dedication and contributions at its annual award ceremony and luncheon on Sept. 13.
Information follows about each of the winners. In addition, please watch for a special commemorative section on the awards in the Sept. 12 Passenger Transport.
Hall of Fame
These five longtime APTA members have been named to the APTA Hall of Fame for their achievements in the industry:
John B. Catoe Jr. has worked in public transportation for more than three decades and received the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager honor in 2009. From 2007-2010, he was general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, overseeing Metro efforts for Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. Earlier he was deputy CEO for Los Angeles Metro and director of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus.
Frank Thomas Martin became interested in public transit as a master’s degree candidate at Fisk University. During a 40-year career, he has worked in planning, operations and executive management in cities from Gainesville, FL, to San Jose, CA, and rebuilding the public transit system in Birmingham, AL. He was the founder of the APTA International Rail Rodeo, which began in 1993 in Miami, and has worked with the APTA Board of Directors, Business Member Board of Governors and American Public Transportation Foundation.
Michael Scanlon spent 48 years in the public transit industry, beginning with 26 years at the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, then heading Broward County (FL) Transit and the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), from which he retired in 2015. Scanlon has served on the APTA Board of Directors for more than 15 years and is a past APTA chair.
William L. Volk was managing director of the Champaign-Urbana (IL) Mass Transit District from 1974 to 2014. He organized the first meeting of the Illinois Public Transportation Association in 1975 and became its first president. He served on the APTA Executive Committee as vice president-marketing and vice chair-small operations and received the 1991 Jesse Haugh Award (now the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager).
Alan C. Wulkan has held numerous APTA positions including three elected terms on the Executive Committee, BMBG chair and co-chair of two reauthorization task forces. With 43 years in both the public and private sectors, he received the Business Member Outstanding Transportation Award in 1999. During the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans, Wulkan led a task force of APTA business members to help the St. Bernard Project rebuild houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Outstanding Public Transit Systems
Three agencies are receiving this award, based on ridership: EMBARK, Oklahoma City, four million or fewer annual trips; Jacksonville (FL) Transportation Authority (JTA), more than four million and fewer than 20 million annual trips; and Metro Transit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, 20 million or more annual trips.
EMBARK faced a major challenge in providing public transit in Oklahoma City, which covers 620 square miles. Following a system-wide overhaul, the system has seen the number of service hours increase by 18 percent and a 15 percent increase in ridership over the past five years, with more than three million passenger trips in Fiscal Year 2015.
JTA’s modes of service include local buses, BRT and a 2.5-mile elevated downtown people mover. The system improved its on-time performance from 64.8 percent to 76 percent through a targeted on-time transit operations initiative, which was followed by a restructuring of the entire bus system called the Route Optimization Initiative to make service more direct, frequent and reliable. Safety improvements, vendor diversity and customer service outreach also have been part of the agency’s plans.
In 2015, Metro Transit reported its highest annual ridership in three generations, but growing ridership is only one of its successes. Safety efforts have included growth in its police department and enhanced operator training; new transit information tools and fare programs for students and low-income residents have made service more available to more people; and the agency is expanding its partnerships with the communities it serves.
Outstanding Public Transportation Manager
Gary Thomas, president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and a past APTA chair, is the award winner in this category.
During Thomas’ tenure, DART has doubled the size of its light rail system twice, to a total of 90 miles, converted the bus fleet to CNG and launched the city’s first modern streetcar system, among many other accomplishments.
Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member
This award recognizes Michael I. Schneider, senior vice president and director of professional services for HDR Inc. in Irvine, CA. His 40-year transportation career began with Los Angeles DOT and included 30 years with Parsons Brinckerhoff. He is a longtime member of the APTA Board of Directors and immediate past chair of the Committee on Public-Private Partnerships.
Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member
This honor is going to Shirley Harris, a member of the SamTrans Board of Directors, and Thomas Nolan, chair of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board.
Harris has served on the board since 1994, including three terms as its chair, and has been a member of the APTA Transit Board Members Committee since 2001. She was named an emeritus member of the APTA Leadership Committee following 12 years of service and was a member of a task force that made recommendations on changes to the APTA governance process.
Nolan has served on public transit boards throughout the San Francisco Bay Area over the past few decades, joining the SFMTA board in 2006 and chairing it since 2010. He oversaw the most expansive review of the Muni network in 30 years, advocated for the 1.7-mile Central Subway and worked to fulfill the city’s 1973 “Transit First” policy that balances public transit, walking and bicycling with automobile use.
Special Award for Extraordinary Leadership
Joni Earl, who retired this year as chief executive officer of Sound Transit in Seattle, will receive this special award from APTA. When Earl joined Sound Transit in 2000, four years after its founding, she implemented enhanced accountability and management reforms that made the agency a nationally recognized leader in public transit.
APTA is presenting two awards in this category, one to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the other to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) in Las Vegas.
CTA received recognition for its lead role in developing the Ventra mobile app, which allows users to pay for rides on all three Chicago area public transit systems (CTA, Metra and Pace Suburban Bus) from their mobile devices. With funding from the Regional Transportation Authority, the three systems worked with Cubic Transportation Systems to create a “one-stop shopping” experience with the Ventra fare payment system, owned by CTA.
RTC developed the Mobility Training Center, the only facility of its kind in the western U.S., which provides mobility training, paratransit assessment and certification and blindness skills training in a single location. The center offers two fully functional 40-foot fixed-route buses for hands-on boarding and farebox training, placed in a simulated streetscape with a transit shelter, street crossings and traffic simulations.
National Distinguished Service
APTA is recognizing three members of the House of Representatives, all members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I): Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman; Peter DeFazio (D-OR), ranking member; and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).
Shuster has been a member of T&I since he entered Congress in 2001 and is serving his second term as its chair. He oversaw passage of the FAST Act, which provides long-term public transit funding certainty and enhanced flexibility for states and local governments while emphasizing safety and enhancing the use of technology.
DeFazio, a member of the House since 1987, has served on T&I for his entire tenure and was elected ranking member in 2014. His efforts in support of the FAST Act included strengthening Buy America requirements.
Lipinski, in his sixth term, is co-chair and a founding member of the Congressional Public Transportation Caucus. He serves on three T&I subcommittees: Highways and Transit; Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials; and Aviation.