Passenger Transport - October 20, 2008
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Boxer Ties Public Transit to ‘Reinvigorated Economy’

By ROBERT BRADFORD, for Passenger Transport

Public transportation has an integral connection to the transformation of the American economy, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said during her Oct. 7 keynote address at the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego.

“I believe that highway and transportation are crucial to reinvigorating this economy. You really are in the business of economic development,” Boxer said.

“Right now, we have an economy based on paper. We’ve got to get back to a time where we’re building things in America. That’s what’s going to get us back on track—not an economy built on paper,” the three-term senator continued.

Boxer cited examples of the impact of public transit in communities from New Jersey to Texas and Oregon. “What we’re learning all across the country is, when you have transit in a community, it’s a big plus,” she said.

The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said she is focused on one on the most pressing issues facing Americans—global climate change. She argued that an expanded public transportation system is an essential part of the overarching strategy to address global climate change.

“We have to have a vision for the future,” Boxer said. “You’re part of that vision,” she told the audience.

APTA President William W. Millar noted that the U.S. produces almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, one-third of which come from the transportation sector. He emphasized that transit must be made available to increasing numbers of Americans so they can have choices about transportation and reduce their carbon emission levels.

“We must allow Americans to leave their cars behind without compromising their mobility,” Millar said. “We’re going to get out of this mess we’re in by millions of people making billions of decisions, and travel is going to be part of the answer.”

Warren George, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, emphasized that the transit workers who belong to ATU have a clear sense of the urgency of new investment in public transit.  “Our members understand that the increased use of transit is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases,” he said.

Calling for increased federal, state, and local support for transit authorities, George called for significant new approaches to encourage the use of public transit, from changing the tax code to give people incentives to ride to allowing transit systems to have more autonomy on how federal funds may be spent.

“We need to change the way we’re doing business,” he said. “We look forward to working with you to fill the great promise of public transit in North America.”

For Bruce Hamilton, deputy executive director of the Sierra Club, partnerships between unions, transit authorities, and environmentalists will be vital to concerted efforts to combat global warming.

According to Hamilton, the Sierra Club’s priority is clear: “The vast majority of our leaders said addressing climate change is our paramount issue. We’re talking about global survival and the moral obligation we have to the rest of humanity.”

Hamilton proposed collective efforts to encourage new investments and legislation supporting public transit. “If you can tell us the next big step we need to take to reduce emissions, we can get our troops there,” he said. “The Sierra Club is ready to fight for you.”

 

Perspectives Shared on Authorization

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Staff members from the federal Congressional committees overseeing surface transportation authorization spoke about the future of this legislation at an Oct. 6 session during the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego.

Amy Scarton and Joyce Rose represented the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the session; Aaron Klein and Shannon Hines represented the Senate Banking Committee. Scarton and Klein work for the Democratic majority of their committees, while Rose and Hines represent the Republican minority.

“While there may be a perception that we are lacking a federal vision,” Scarton noted, “[House T&I] Chairman [James] Oberstar [(D-MN)] and [Highways and Transit Subcommittee] Chairman [Peter] DeFazio [(D-OR)]have been attempting to bring the committee back to the level of hard work and deep insight on the issues that affect you every day….The themes we have hit include metro mobility and rural connectivity, as well as energy independence and planning for future population and economic growth.”

She also noted that legislation sponsored by Oberstar authorizing $1.7 billion of capital and operating funds over two years for public transit agencies passed overwhelmingly in the House, with U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) having introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

“The committee this year introduced H.R. 6052 because we understand that transit systems are struggling, the cost of fuel has gone up, ridership has gone up, and government has not caught up,” she said. “The bill passed the House with a veto-proof majority.”

She called for federal support of both transit capital and operating expenses, adding, “We need to support transit across the board,” and noted the committee’s support for the federal Public-Private Partnership Pilot Program (Penta-P).

Rose called U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL), ranking member of the T&I Committee, “the strongest friend to transit in the House Republican conference. He will be with Oberstar to make sure transit is adequately funded and has a program that will carry it into the future.”

She also spoke about H.R. 2095, a combined package of Amtrak and intercity passenger rail authorization and rail safety, which passed both houses and is expected to become law.

“Transit is a top priority of [Senate Banking] Chairman [Christopher] Dodd [(D-CT)],” Klein said, “but it was not the top priority in the last Congress…Going forward, transit will be at the top of his agenda.”

Klein commented on the changes in the world since SAFETEA-LU passed in 2005: “We’re seeing gas at $4 a gallon; we’re in a recession but transit ridership is increasing—people thought we were crazy believing that it would, but that’s the world we live in. Even if gas prices should fall, people’s mindset has changed.”

In contrast, Hines said she does not know if the changes in attitude necessarily translate into different legislative ideas. “When you say our ridership is the highest it’s ever been but we need more money, it’s difficult for people to understand,” she explained. “You need to give Congress some perspective: say that you want your system to be more efficient, it’s more advantageous for you to buy CNG buses, but you need to buy 50 buses and can only afford 25. That’s going to be our biggest challenge.”

She also spoke about the importance of implementing public-private partnerships, and called for more integrated, cross-modal transportation planning.

Stephanie Negriff, one of three co-chairs of the APTA Authorization Task Force and director of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, CA, presented an overview of the task force’s activities in the past year. She noted that APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., is continuing the efforts of Immediate Past Chair Michael S. Townes to place authorization as APTA’s number one priority.

“The APTA recommendations represent the diversity of those who helped us craft them,” she said. “We as an industry can come together with one voice and work collaboratively to craft a bill that stresses transit’s relevance in this time of climate change and sustainability. We understand that transit has a key role to play in these areas.”

Christopher P. Boylan, outgoing APTA vice chair-government affairs and deputy executive director, corporate affairs and communications, for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, moderated the session.

 

APTA Board of Directors Approves Authorization Recommendations

The APTA Board of Directors approved the Legislative Committee’s recommendations for the next federal public transportation authorizing law at its Oct. 5 meeting in San Diego. The new law will take effect after SAFETEA-LU expires on Sept. 30, 2009.
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The committee declared that authorization of federal surface transportation programs should be directed by the federal role and purpose in transportation, and a vision that can direct transportation policy for the coming decades.

In its final report, the committee urged that public transportation be viewed and understood for its vital contribution to the national goals of spurring economic development; enhancing global competition and reducing dependence on foreign oil; reducing greenhouse gases; providing critical responses in emergencies; and providing Americans with mobility choices, freedom, and opportunities.

Among the key recommendations in the plan are:

* Authorize $123 billion in federal funds over the next six years to meet 50 percent of estimated capital needs, an increase of $70.4 billion over the current six-year authorization.

* Maintain and strengthen the federal public transportation program funding guarantees.

* Streamline the project approval process for new starts, speed project delivery, and reduce costs; and convert the federal public transportation program from a “grant-based” program to a locally-driven, federally-assisted program.

* Continue to credit the Mass Transit Account (MTA) of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) with, at minimum, 20 percent of each future increase in the motor fuel (or successor) tax.

* Ensure that transit receives at least 20 percent of surface transportation investment.

* Restore the earning of interest income to the HTF/MTA.

* Examine the longer-term viability of innovative financing techniques, including public-private partnerships; federal loan guarantees; tax exempt/tax credit bonds; and tolling and congestion pricing.

* Create a new “Bus Formula Program” with funds distributed proportionately under the urban and rural formula programs.

* Create a discretionary “Bus Facilities” program to distribute grants for bus and bus facilities projects eligible under the current Section 5309 program.

* Provide up to 100 percent federal share for funding the incremental cost of purchasing alternative fuel buses.

* Create a new Bus Replacement Program that would direct funds to transit agencies to replace aging buses in their fleets with new, clean fuel vehicles.

* Simplify and make Fixed Guideway Modernization program needs-based and accountable.

* Create a simplified and streamlined rating process for all Small Starts.

* Re-establish an exempt project category as part of the New Starts/Small Starts Program.

* Streamline and simplify the New Starts review and approval process to expedite project delivery.

* Re-establish the Program of Interrelated Projects provision of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

* Authorize public transportation systems in urbanized areas of more than 200,000 population that operate less than 100 buses in peak operation to use FTA Section 5307 formula funds for operating purposes.

* Continue current training and create new training programs and initiatives to support public transportation/labor management workforce development in both the public and private sectors.

* Amend federal authorizing laws for human services transportation, including non-emergency medical transportation, to require coordination among and cost sharing for service delivery with public transportation providers.

* Develop and implement incentives that will facilitate the adoption of new clean fuel technologies, and enhancements to existing technologies to improve fuel economy and emission performance of public transportation equipment.

* Strengthen the public transportation role in regional decision making.

* Direct the Secretary of Transportation to expand the use of categorical exclusions for public transportation projects to the greatest extent allowed by law to help expedite project delivery.

* Include public transportation in congestion pricing plans.

* Increase investment in research and development programs that will enhance service delivery, promote “best practices” through technical standards, and increase the operational efficiency of transportation systems.

* Ensure that public-private partnerships supplement—not substitute—federal funding.

* Provide incentives for using public-private partnerships in the project development process.

* Equalize the federal tax benefits for public transportation and parking.

* Amend the federal tax code to provide a tax credit for employers who pay for the cost of public transportation passes, up to the authorized monthly limit, for employees.


 

Opening General Session for Annual and EXPO 2008 Convenes in San Diego

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor


More than 2,000 attendees from across the country and around the world converged at the San Diego Convention Center Oct. 6 for the Opening General Session of the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO.

At that session, APTA President William W. Millar welcomed attendees by saying: “Here at EXPO 2008, you’ll find solutions for every transportation problem or challenge.  And as you walk through aisle after aisle, you’ll see that we really are the ‘green’ industry.”

The session also included the passing of the gavel between outgoing APTA Chair Michael S. Townes and incoming Chair Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D. Townes summarized his year in office, citing significant milestones in both the transportation authorization and TransitVision 2050 processes.

In her remarks, Scott presented the three initiatives she will focus on this year:  workforce development, authorization, and APTA’s new strategic plan. She emphasized the need for APTA members to “leave our industry better than we found it.”

She continued: “These are in no way just ordinary times. There is a profound convergence of forces and events at work on every level: economic, demographic, environmental, and global. Bottom line, working together we are a lot stronger than we are apart.”

Simpson: U.S. Must Invest in Transit to Stay Competitive
The rest of the world is building and maintaining its infrastructure, including public transportation, and the U.S. must keep up if it wants to remain competitive and not fall behind.

That was the message Federal Transit Administrator James S. Simpson gave during the Opening General Session, when he called for new dedicated sources of federal funding in addition to the existing motor fuel tax.

“As Charles Dickens famously wrote: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’” Simpson said. “Our industry is now front-page news on a regular basis. Ridership is at its highest level in 50 years—up 11 percent in July 2008 over the prior year—and transit is on the Congressional radar. And yet, the richest nation on earth can’t find the capital to fix a transportation infrastructure that’s increasingly outmoded and in disrepair.”

He said that surface transportation must be viewed as a national priority, noting that “Infrastructure is the circulatory system of the economy.”

Change the Funding Paradigm
Simpson called for a change in “the financing paradigm for major transportation projects,” and termed the recent measure passed by Congress to bail out the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund “only a stopgap measure, not a solution.” He said: “It’s abysmal to let the infrastructure fall into disrepair.”

“The truth is,” he said, “that the gas-tax revenues that have traditionally funded the trust fund will not sustain federal commitments to transportation in the future.”

He described public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a promising tool and “a good way to attract private capital and innovation—and share some of the costs and risks. PPPs are not a substitute for public investments in infrastructure, but rather an approach to realizing complex projects that federal, state, and local governments may not be equipped to develop on their own.”

The administrator, a regular presenter at APTA conferences, noted that the San Diego meeting would be his last as administrator.

In summation, Simpson said: “We have to get green and show the world….Now more than ever, we need to explore bold and innovative approaches to financing, constructing, and operating new and expanded transportation systems.”

Also at the Session
Other speakers included California DOT Director Will Kempton; San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders; Harry Mathis, chairman of the board of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System; and MTS Chief Executive Officer—and meeting host—Paul Jablonski.

The session concluded with the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon to mark the opening of International Public Transportation EXPO 2008, the world’s largest public transportation exhibition. About 800 companies filled 282,400 square feet of exhibit space at 2,824 booths in the convention center.

 

APTA Elects Scott, Carter, Scanlon at Annual Business Meeting

Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., general manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, was elected APTA chair for 2008-2009 during the Oct. 5 Annual Business Meeting in San Diego, held during the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO.

The association also elected Mattie P. Carter, a commissioner of the Memphis Area Transit Authority, as first vice chair, and Michael Scanlon, general manager/chief executive officer of the San Mateo County Transit District and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) in San Carlos, Calif., to a third term as APTA secretary-treasurer. Each officer serves a one-year term.

Michael S. Townes, president/chief executive officer of Hampton Roads Transit in Hampton, Va., is the immediate past chair of APTA.
This is the first time in APTA’s history that both the chair and the first vice chair are women, as well as five of the 14 vice chairs on the Executive Committee.

Vice Chairs


The following people were elected to their first one-year terms as APTA vice chairs:

J. Barry Barker, executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY, vice chair-government affairs.

Doran J. Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, vice chair-human resources.

Sharon Greene, principal, Sharon Greene and Associates, Laguna Beach, CA, vice chair-business members.

Delon Hampton, Ph. D., P.E., chairman of the board, Delon Hampton & Associates, Chartered, Washington, DC, vice chair-business member-at-large.

APTA elected six vice chairs to second terms:

Linda Bohlinger, vice president, national director of management consulting, HNTB Corporation, Santa Ana, CA, vice chair-research and technology.

Flora M. Castillo, board member, New Jersey Transit Corporation, Newark, vice chair-transit board members.

Joyce Eleanor, CEO, Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, vice chair-bus and paratransit operations.

Angela Iannuzziello, president, ENTRA Consultants, Markham, ON, vice chair-Canadian members.

Gary C. Thomas, president, executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, vice chair-rail transit.

Matthew O. Tucker, director, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Richmond, VA, vice chair-state affairs.

These four people were elected to their third terms on the Executive Committee:

Richard J. Bacigalupo, federal relations manager, Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA, vice chair-management and finance.

Thomas J. Costello, assistant managing director, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL, vice chair-marketing.

Hugh Mose, general manager, Centre Area Transportation Authority, State College, PA, vice chair-small operations.

David Solow, chief executive officer, Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Los Angeles, vice chair-commuter and intercity rail.

Board of Directors
The following transit system representatives were elected to four-year terms as regional directors:

Region I (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island): Alfred J. Moscola, general manager, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, Providence.

Region II (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina): Mary Jo Morandini, general manager, Beaver County Transit Authority, Rochester, PA.

Region III (Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands): Full term, Joe Murray Rivers, executive director, Chatham Area Transit Authority, Savannah, GA; term expiring in 2010, Steven L. Myers, director, Lee County Transit, Fort Myers, FL.

Region IV (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota): Full term, Sandy Draggoo, CEO/executive director, Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI; term expiring in 2010, Mark Donaghy, executive director, Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, Dayton, OH.

Region V (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri): John L. Hendrickson, general manager, Waco Transit System, Waco, TX.

Region VI (Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam): Jeanne Krieg, CEO, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA.

Region VII (Canada): Gary McNeil, managing director and CEO, GO Transit, Toronto.

Business Member Directors
The APTA membership elected the following business members to two-year terms as business member directors:

Robert Brownstein, vice president, AECOM Consult, New York, NY.

David Hillock, president, Transit Associates Inc., Lisle, IL.

Rosa Macrito, president/CEO, Priority Manufacturing Inc., Schiller Park, IL.

Jeffrey Wharton, executive vice president/general manager, IMPulse NC Inc., Mount Olive, NC.

Also, Stanley J. Rosenbaum, division vice president for Jacobs Edwards and Kelcey in New York City, was named to fill a business member term ending in 2009 on the APTA board, representing Region I.

 

Public Transit Faces a ‘Perfect Storm’ of Challenges

By ROBERT BRADFORD, for Passenger Transport

The process began about three years ago, when U.S. gasoline prices began a steady and punishing ascent. Americans did the math, and more and more of them realized that riding public transportation would be far less expensive than driving a car. This led to unprecedented, record levels of transit ridership.

Transit systems are struggling to find ways to increase capacity. A recent APTA survey found that 85 percent of public transit systems report capacity problems and 91 percent say they are facing limitations in their ability to add service to meet increased ridership.

If capacity alone were the problem, perhaps this challenge would be manageable. But transit systems are experiencing what is called a “perfect storm,” since the rising fuel costs hitting Americans at the pumps also have a profound effect on transit system budgets. In addition, a faltering U.S. economy is having a direct impact on traditional funding sources for transit agencies, from sales tax revenue to support from federal, state, and local governments.

Participants in “The Perfect Storm: Impacts of Fuel, Ridership and a Turbulent Economy,” a two-part session at the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego, heard from transit system leaders sharing the implications and challenges of surging ridership and strained budgets.

A Dream and a Nightmare
“We face a problem with fuel that is probably unprecedented,” said Art Leahy, chief executive officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority in Orange, CA, who moderated the first part of the two-part session. “Fuel consumption is increasing around the world.”

Celia Kupersmith, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in San Francisco, said, “It truly is a perfect storm that we’re facing now. We’re seeing ridership increases that we literally dream about. But this is what we dreamed of in one way and our absolute worst nightmare in another way.”

William Mooney, chief operating officer of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the second largest public transit agency in the United States, is no stranger to pressure. He knows that his agency must take extraordinary measures to deal with capacity issues, and oversees CTA’s efforts to attack the challenges on a range of fronts.

Mooney explained that CTA is changing its fleet mix to include more 60-foot buses. The agency is removing seats to create more standing room on rail cars during rush hour, and is increasing the number of express buses to improve running time.

Still, he sees no relief in the immediate future: “Ridership throughout the city is up, and we’re going to see a huge surge in rail ridership over where it is today.”

Defying Trends
For Kevin Desmond, general manager of King County Metro Transit in Seattle, the perfect storm is defying trends of supply and demand. To deal with budget problems, the agency implemented its first fare increase in seven years.

Traditionally, raising fares has some effect on ridership, but that’s not the case in Seattle, according to Desmond: “The fare increase had no impact on ridership. We are still experiencing substantial increases in crowding.”

King County Metro is taking a comprehensive approach to deal with the budgetary pressures it faces, he said. Like other systems throughout the country, it is considering additional fare increases to cope with capacity issues. It also has gone into the fuel-hedging business in an attempt to stabilize fuel costs for coming years. Desmond said he is making cuts in non-essential capital projects, and he is taking the unprecedented step of spending down his agency’s reserves.

“This [situation] is being viewed as an emergency,” he stressed.

Public Perception
On paper, the surges in ridership should be good news for public transit. The inevitable question of customers and politicians is, “Isn’t this what public transit has been pushing for years?”

Sue Knapp, president of the KFH Group in Bethesda, MD, conducted the survey for APTA to drill down on the challenges facing transit systems. Public transit must convey that customers are indeed “riding on buses that are full, but it’s not covering the cost of fuel,” she said.

Transit authority leaders are taking that message to political leaders and the communities they serve. Many report that constituents are slowly starting to understand the pressures transit systems face.

Paul Ballard, chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Nashville, reported similar experiences. After he takes the time to discuss the realities of transit funding with public officials, he said, their response, all too often, is, “Nobody ever told me that.”

As pressures on transit systems continue, new partnerships must develop between public transit, customers, and funding agencies, he said.

John Lewis, chief executive officer of the GRTC Transit System in Richmond, VA, noted that he has been telling his system’s story to Rotary Clubs, local media, and county officials since 2005, when the agency had to deal with fuel shortages related to Hurricane Katrina. He said he explains the structural problems facing his system and uses clear language to explain the problems of capacity and rising fuel costs. At the end of the day, Lewis said, “People are beginning to understand the asset that public transit offers to a community.”

 

Transit Is Part of T4’s Five-Point Rebuilding Plan

The Transportation for America Campaign (T4) announced “Build for America: A Five Point Plan to Get Our Economy Moving” on Oct. 15. This proposal calls for a new 21st-century national transportation system that creates jobs, saves Americans money, reduces the nation’s dependence on oil, and revitalizes communities—and essentially does what America has always done in time of trouble: build confidently for the future.

“Americans are running on empty, with falling home values, rising gas prices, and a lagging economy,” said Shelley Poticha, co-chair of T4 and president and chief executive officer of Reconnecting America. Joined by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening on the eve of the plan’s release, Poticha added: “We’re here to say that we can start building a way out of this mess with a wise investment strategy.”

The five point plan asks the next President and Congress to work with the T4 non-profit coalition of housing, environmental, public health, and urban planning transportation officials to:

* Build to compete: meet and surpass competitors in China and Europe.

* Invest for a clean, green recovery: provide for cleaner vehicles, new fuels, modern public transit, walking, and biking.

* Fix what’s broken: restore crumbling highways, bridges, and transit systems before building new roads.

* Stop wasteful spending: re-evaluate current projects to eliminate those with little economic return that could deepen oil dependence.

* Save Americans money: provide more affordable and efficient travel and housing to help people avoid high gas prices and traffic congestion.

“We can’t just reauthorize SAFETEA-LU, we’ve got to spend time with the [next] President and with Congress to increase funding,” urged Rendell. “We can’t wait for this to be discussed next summer. Congress and the President-elect must undertake major investments in our infrastructure.”

Glendening, who currently heads the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, added: “Make sure that infrastructure really builds for the future. That’s about transit, that’s about walkability, that’s about ‘fix it first.’”

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, another key supporter of the T4 plan, told the Associated Press that vehicle miles traveled are declining and demand for transit is going up. “The key is to provide choices, so you invest in everything,” he said. “At the same time, good transportation infrastructure is key to emerging from the economic crisis.”

 

‘Green Guy’ Begley Shares Insights: Transit and Beyond

When Ed Begley Jr. talks about environmental awareness, people listen—and they did when the actor and green activist shared his decades of experience at the Oct. 5 General Session.

Begley’s connection with APTA dates back to 1990, when he appeared in a public service announcement with the tagline “America’s Future Rides on Transit.” But, as he told the audience, his commitment to the environment began many years before that.

“People are really drawn to public transportation now, and we need to be ready for them,” he said. Other ways Americans can improve their impact on the environment, he said, include growing their own food in community gardens and working toward the creation of new jobs in clean technologies.

“How did I get to be this green guy?” Begley asked rhetorically. “My biggest influence was growing up in smoggy L.A. in the 1950s and ’60s. We lived in the San Fernando Valley, and people would ask, how could it be a valley when there were no mountains around? There were mountains, but the air was so bad you couldn’t see them. Horrible, choking smog.”

Begley explained that he was a struggling actor when he decided to participate in the first Earth Day observance in 1970—a few days after the death of his father, Academy Award-winning actor Ed Begley Sr.

He noted that his father “was a conservative who liked to conserve,” and that his father inspired his interest in the outdoors.

“It was hard to be green and hip in 1970, when I started this,” Begley said, adding that his first “electric car” was actually a golf cart that cost him just $950. “Conserving felt good and also saved money. I started out cheap and easy, then moved up—to installing solar panels, for example.”

A questioner from the audience noted that portrayals of public transportation on television and in the movies tend toward the negative, such as showing subway stations as grimy and covered with graffiti. “I never really put it together,” Begley said. “Let’s see what we can do to improve that perception.”

Another audience member called for suggestions on how to make transit attractive to the public. “We must emphasize that there are so many pluses in taking transit,” Begley said. “Look at the daily commute: transit riders are relaxing while the drivers are stuck in traffic.”

He concluded: “When someone asks, ‘What can I do today?’, you can say, take public transportation.”

Begley said he only uses his electric car in circumstances where walking, bicycling, or taking public transit are not practical. He mentioned that he recently took a 60-mile bike ride from Ventura to Westwood, in southern California, and returned home by bus.

“I deliberately moved to a neighborhood where I could walk easily. We need more of them,” he added.

 

Success at the Ballot Box? Experts Explain How

By SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

Voters in municipalities across the United States continued their support for public transportation-related ballot measures in 2007, with approximately 67 percent of the measures succeeding during the year.

The “Successful Referendums—More Investment, More Ridership” workshop held Oct. 8 in San Diego featured Jeff Meilbeck, general manager, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA), and Keith T. Parker, chief executive officer, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), who reported on their ballot successes in Flagstaff, AZ, and Charlotte, NC, respectively. Another panelist, Bridget Hennessey, a program manager for the Washington-based Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE), discussed key trends in helping local leaders achieve success. Mark E. Huffer, general manager of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority in Kansas City, MO, whose agency has a light rail initiative on the upcoming November ballot, moderated the session.
 
Huffer described the six initiatives his city has faced in the last eight years, most of them promulgated by a transit advocate who lives in Virginia. “It’s been very interesting,” he said. “One thing all these elections have done—whether supported by us or not—has certainly been to raise the profile of transit and what we want the conversation in the community to be in terms of sustainability and livability.”

On May 20, 2008, voters in Flagstaff approved five measures on the ballot, which Meilbeck called the “Flagstaff Five.” In making his presentation, he noted dryly what one friend said to him in advance of the election: “I thought you were idealistic, I suspected you were naive, but I didn’t think you were stupid. What are you doing with five transit initiatives?”

The initiatives passed, he said, because of extensive communication information efforts. “I cannot praise good public opinion surveys enough,” he said. From focus groups to 100 community group presentations, Meilbeck said, he and others were “constantly going around town talking to groups.” They had a graphic artist who placed all the initiatives on one map, annotated to show what the initiatives would provide in terms of services and at what cost. The Rotary Club and the local Chamber of Commerce were very active, and NAIPTA set up a web page around this effort.

Another recent success took place in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, NC. Last November, 70 percent of voters stopped a proposed repeal of the half-cent sales tax that funds CATS—an even larger margin of victory than the vote in 1998 that approved the transit tax originally.

While the repeal did fail by a huge margin, Parker emphasized, that ending was hardly foreseen. In fact, there were cost overruns, burgeoning negative issues on the Internet, days and weeks of strong anti-tax rhetoric from talk radio, and a loss of confidence in Charlotte’s transportation system.

So what turned this around? By state law, transit and city employees could not advocate on the measure, so the effort relied on groups outside the transit system. What CATS could do, however, was provide information, so the system talked about the consequences of repealing the tax—the main one being a dramatic stop in bus service. This, Parker noted, would disproportionately harm minority and lower-income citizens.

The Chamber of Commerce raised more than $400,000 for yard signs and ads that successfully conveyed the essence of a potentially confusing ballot, namely: “If you want the sales tax to continue, you have to vote ‘no.’”

A major lesson learned, said Parker, was the need to spend more time communicating the value of what the transit system is doing. One way to quantify the value, he said, is to note the overwhelming success of its light rail system, with $1.8 billion worth of new development.

Hennessy explained that CFTE is a clearinghouse of information on transportation, and a key element of its efforts is to monitor transportation initiatives around the country, “to get the pulse and track the trend lines.” One of the center’s findings is that, over the past eight years, transportation measures have won at the polls at twice the approval rate (70 percent) of all the other ballot measures, even those pertaining to schools.

Her suggestions for achieving success in the voting booth included showing voters specifically what they will receive, such as maps showing where the new routes or rail lines will go, and providing public information all the time, not just in an election year. “Constantly market,” she said, “constantly put yourself in the campaign mode, so when you do have to go to the voters and ask for money, they’re going to know who you are and [want to] help you out.”

Campaign coalition building is the key to success, Hennessy said, with the community gaining ownership of the issues.

During the question-and-answer period of the session, Parker stressed the need for transit agencies and their supporters to “get out in the community and frame the conversation.” He said the first task should be to develop a group of stakeholders: “Get them involved, meet with them monthly, get them knowledgeable, so they can respond.” Parker noted that his agency made mistakes by not communicating as well as it should have, so “when the critics came in, they faced willing ears because we didn’t get the word out right.”

Meilbeck talked about the value of supportive letters to the editor, but said his agency’s most effective effort was to create a Citizen Review Commission, educating the public, for instance, on cost per trip. Such a group, he said, “inoculated us” by, among other things, convincing the Chamber of Commerce, which did not support the initiative, to remain silent.

 

Partnerships Keep Transit Moving Ahead in San Diego

Representatives of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and its public- and private-sector partners described their efforts to keep the San Diego region moving at the Host Forum on Oct. 5.

MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski explained that the agency serves an area of 3,240 square miles and 10 cities, and that the area hosts 180 special events a year. “We couldn’t do it without our partners,” he said.

Jablonski also reported on MTS’ commitment to alternative fuels: more than 65 percent of the fleet now operates on natural gas, and the agency plans to convert the entire fleet to natural gas operation by 2011.

Mark L. Joseph, chief executive officer and vice chair of Veolia Transportation, spoke about his company’s 150-year history and the services it provides in the San Diego region, including MTS commuter buses and the North County Transit District’s Sprinter rail line. “We look for a partner with vision for quality passenger service,” he explained, “to be a collaborator, an innovator, someone with integrity.”

Veolia also takes seriously its role in maintaining environmental quality, he said: “We measure our carbon footprint and work to reduce it while growing our ridership.”

Jerry Brand, chief executive officer of Fairfield Residential, reported on his company’s plans for transit-oriented development in La Mesa: apartments located near transit stations, with a garage located on top.

Brand warned that the current banking crisis will have a significant negative impact on development, but said he sees
leadership as key to continued success.

Ken Ramirez, vice president for Coca-Cola Enterprises, listed ways that partner organizations can help promote transit use, including Coca-Cola Customer Appreciation Day. The company’s other promotions in the San Diego area have included a student essay contest on transit topics, with laptop computers as prizes, and a giveaway of free MTS tickets in Coke bottles.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has participated in regional partnerships over the past 40 years, according to Executive Director Gary Gallegos.

“If we want a better transit system, we have to know how to pay for it,” Gallegos said. He noted that “public transit is in a perfect place to participate” in legislation requiring a decline in greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.

 

Transit Helps Communities Commit to Sustainability

By ROBERT BRADFORD, for Passenger Transport

Visitors to a college campus in southern California may see traditional lawns replaced by “smart landscapes” that require smaller amounts of precious water to maintain. 

Participants in a town hall meeting in Des Moines, IA, talk about how the city must reduce its carbon footprint. Legislators in Richmond, VA, insist that the commonwealth must be a national leader in reducing greenhouse gases.

Across the nation, state lawmakers, city councils, and university presidents are focusing on a common theme—sustainability. Transit authorities can play a pivotal role in fostering sustainable communities, according to a group of panelists who addressed the multifaceted issue at an Oct. 6 session during the APTA 2008 Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego.

“There is a focus on carbon, but this is a much broader issue,” according to Fred Hansen, chair of APTA’s Sustainability Task Force and general manager of the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon in Portland. “One of the key elements for public transit is to provide for livability—to be a part of the fabric of the community.”

Hansen said APTA’s commitment to sustainability has far-reaching goals, from improving the quality of life for communities to encouraging economic growth through solid transit systems, to addressing fundamental environmental issues connected to carbon emissions.

For John Inglish, general manger and executive director of the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City, the public now has an expectation that transit authorities should contribute to a sustainable future.

“The public is saying give me something new and it’s got to be sustainable,” said Inglish. “It’s a great time for transit, and I think transit has got to step up. Transit has been given a golden opportunity.”

Transit must use this opportunity to define itself as part of a broader choice to foster sustainability, said Diana Mendes, a senior vice president with AECOM, which provides transportation services to clients around the globe.

“We must reposition our product and how it can contribute to a green lifestyle choice,” Mendes said. “People are saying, ‘I’m not just taking the bus because it’s convenient—it’s part of a choice to improve the planet.’ ”

While public transit works externally to engage customers and become part of community-wide sustainability efforts, it also must look internally to find ways to improve efficiency and green practices, Inglish said. He described UTA’s consideration of a range of efficiency measures, including changing light bulbs with more energy-efficient light bulbs in stations, adding, “We’re saving an incredible amount of money.”

To create a framework for how transit authorities can commit to sustainable standards and best practices, APTA is developing a voluntary commitment to sustainability for member agencies. Scheduled to be distributed to members later this year, the text of the commitment will define common sustainability principles and an action plan for the transit industry.

PPPs: Funding Approaches in Difficult Fiscal Times

With a national fiscal crisis ongoing, the public transportation industry is examining how to advance new financing, project delivery, and contracting models. One such effort was discussed at an Oct. 7 workshop titled “Public-Private Partnerships: Three Steps Forward.”

Moderated by Michael I. Schneider, managing partner, InfraConsult, LLC, the panelists presented their experiences with public-private partnerships.

Robert Tucillo, Federal Transit Administration associate administrator for budget and policy, talked about how FTA is in the middle of a set of workshops on public-private partnerships that he termed “very successful.” He said the next step, working with APTA and others, is to understand international public-private partnership models and how they might be implemented in the U.S.

Sharon Greene, principal, Sharon Greene and Associates, said the dire circumstances of today’s economic crisis are “affecting project revenues that agencies were counting on.” Agencies and the private sector are having problems with access to credit—challenges, she said, that must be considered—but such challenges do not make success impossible. However, “the tools with which we work might have to be more flexible,” she said.

“Without public resources dedicated to public/private transportation, there can’t be a public-private partnership,” she said. She suggested trying to determine if these types of partnerships “are the best for your needs, and, if you determine that, how can you create an environment where all the multiple interest are assured?”

“What have we learned?” Greene asked. “Without public resources dedicated to public/private transportation, there can’t be a public-private partnership.” She suggested trying to determine if these partnerships “are the best for your needs and, if you determine that, how can you create an environment where all the multiple interest are assured?”

Cal Marsella, executive director and general manager of Denver’s Regional Transportation District, said his geographical area does not experience the “city vs. suburb” set of problems common to so many other transit properties. Because of that circumstance, he said, “We have been using public-private partnerships for a long time. The savings are very substantial and very immediate. You’ve got to be sure that it works well; they are going to have to be convinced that you’re committed and you’ll follow through on your end of the bargain.”

Another of the panelists, Stephanie Ailer, principal project manager from the United Arab Emirates’ Masdar Initiative, presented what she termed the “visionary” aspects of the planned transportation system: Encouragement of state and local investment as well as workforce development; continued emphasis on planning, increased investment in research and development, and strengthening transit’s role in environment/global warming—all going on simultaneously.

“From both sides of the public-private partnerships,” she said, “the benefits are improved quality and quantity, greater value of money, and transfer of risk from public to private. However, it also allows the public authority to maintain strategic control of the overall project and overall service.”

 

Donald: Helping Public Transit Create a ‘Tsunami of Good Will’

At the Oct. 8 Closing General Session of the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego, Jim Donald, a former chief executive officer of Starbucks and Albertsons, emphasized the necessity of public transit entities reaching out to the community.

He began his presentation by recounting a recent conversation with his young teenage son. Donald was in Europe and calling to check on him. When he found that his son was at a friend's house, he asked: "How did you get there?" His son then said: "Dad, have you ever heard of public transportation?"

Donald told APTA members about a simple strategy he often employed when competitors faltered during his years in the grocery and retail business: he would fix up stores that needed renovation and add capacity.

The lesson for public transportation providers is that “Your competitor--the car--is going,” Donald explained, pointing to the problems facing the major U.S. automobile manufacturers. He also urged transit authorities to be prepared to streamline their operations and add capacity.

The speaker defined a range of strategies APTA can use to achieve its long-range goals in a complex environment. He emphasized the importance of communicating “with everybody in the organization” as a way to create a common sense of mission. He said when he first worked for Pathmark, he made it a point to send a letter to every employee's spouse, asking if they would "share" their time with theri partners--to help the company get on its feet.

Recalling lessons he learned from his time working for Sam Walton to expand Wal-Mart’s role in the supermarket business, Donald said leaders of an organization should “never be bigger than the front-line employee.”

Throughout his career, Donald said, he tried to create an environment where risk-taking was accepted. He recounted stories of listening to employees who questioned him and his direction for the company, who offered radical new ways to approach retail. Many of those suggestions resulted in increased retail sales, he said, noting that he implemented a company-wide effort at the Pathmark retail grocery chain to encourage new ideas and risk-taking.

“You don’t need to budget for these strategies,” Donald said, “and you will create a tsunami of effort and good will.”

 The Closing General Session also included the introduction of the American Public Transportation Foundation’s 20th-anniversary class of scholarship recipients.

 

General Forum Covers International Developments in Public Transit

International developments in public transportation were the focus of an Oct. 7 General Forum at the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO, ranging from policy developments, financing, and expansion to innovative projects.

Laurence Jackson, International Association of Public Transport (UITP) vice president-North America and president and chief executive officer of Long Beach Transit in Long Beach, CA, moderated the session.

Claudio De Senna Frederico, former secretary of transport in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and vice president of the Brazilian National Association of Public Transit (ANTP), said transit provides 22.6 billion annual trips in the country and employs 700,000 people. However, he said, public transit suffers from an image problem despite its success.

Brazil’s greatest challenge is to keep those that are still taking transit taking transit. The “newly emerging middle class expect affordable transit, but they also want beauty,” he added.

Integration is key, he added. It’s very important to include planning, operations, promotion and pricing. He cautioned: “Do not wait for Godot, immediately organize what you have. Put to good use all types of transit with no hierarchy.”

Michael Roschlau, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, spoke about the goals of a national transit strategy: to increase transit ridership and reduce automobile dependency; improve the economic competitiveness of Canadian cities; enhance the quality of urban life; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. He said there is a need to bring together all stakeholders, create a common vision, and unite different orders of government and the private sector.

Roschlau quoted a recent public opinion poll that found that gas prices are hitting Canadians hard and are the number one household expense concern. In fact, Canadians are more concerned about the rising price of gas than they are by rent or mortgage payments. Most (60 percent) are rethinking transportation options and transit is the number one alternative, ahead of purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

The survey also shows more Canadians supporting a national plan that invests in public transit than a carbon tax, a cap and trade system, or carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Heather Webster, president, UITP-ANZ, and executive director, Department for Transport, energy and Infrastructure-Public Transport Division, Adelaide, Australia, spoke on the rapid growth and increase in travel demand in Melbourne. She described the challenges associated with rapid growth, including “people congestion on trains and platforms and train congestion on tracks.”

She cited a detailed study of 100 cities worldwide that showed Australian cities spending 12 to 13 percent of local Gross Domestic Product on passenger transport.

Webster noted the role of the “go card” in public transit in Brisbane, the “Bus Way City.” The long-life card, part of a new automatic fare collection system, is about the size of a credit card and can be topped up like a prepaid mobile phone.

Dr. Peter Hoeflinger, Dipl.-Kaufmann, director of finance, Stuttgarter Strassenbahnen AG (SSB), Stuttgart, Germany, spoke on the main trends in policy, financing, marketing, and technology. He said Germany, with about 65 public transport associations, has seen a ridership increase by 5 percent in the past decade, from just over than 7.2 billion passengers in 2000 to nearly 7.6 billion in 2006.

Former Nike Exec Shares Lessons Learned

“Take everything that you are passionate about seriously…except yourself.” This was just one of the lessons longtime Nike executive Darcy Stallings Winslow shared with the audience at the APTA/ Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) breakfast Oct. 8 in San Diego. The breakfast was sponsored by the Washington Division of URS, APTA’s business members, and WTS.
Winslow, who recently started her own company, talked about how she helped create the successful Nike women’s footwear line and, along the way, worked diligently to get the company to embrace sustainable practices. She said a commitment to ecological intelligence, an awareness of the impact of Nike products on the natural world, and a general responsibility as a global corporation were key to her efforts.

She also spoke about lessons she learned in her career, sharing personal and challenging experiences that helped shape her life. Winslow advised audience members to:

* Get out of their comfort zone; 

* Define success on their own terms;

* Travel, whether in person or virtually, and understand their connection to other people and cultures; and

* Own the choices they make in life.

Winslow is a senior advisor with the Nike Foundation, which seeks to empower disadvantaged girls ages 10 to 19 through poverty alleviation and creating economic livelihood opportunities. A former Amateur Athletic Union swimming and gymnastics coach, she began her career at Nike as an intern.

 

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.

Organization Awards
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.

 

APTA Honors AdWheel Grand Award Winners

After a dynamic band put everyone in the San Diego Convention Center ballroom in a rollicking mood, APTA announced the grand award winners in the 29th Annual AdWheel Awards competition Oct. 6 at the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego. APTA Vice Chair-Marketing and Communications Thomas J. Costello presided at the event. 

Eliciting cheers and laughter from the audience, Costello said that while people might have been hearing the word “maverick” a lot lately—whether in political debates or on Saturday Night Live—he believes the true mavericks are the marketing and communication professionals who were honored at this event.

Each year, the AdWheel Awards honor the best in public transportation marketing and communications, presenting the awards in five groups: four listing transit systems by size and the fifth for business members, and four categories: print media, electronic media, campaigns, and special events.

The Grand Award winners, selected from all first-place award recipients, are:

Group 1, covering public transportation systems with one million or fewer passenger trips annually: Print, Poster—Lake Erie Transit, Monroe, MI; Electronic, Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement—Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Portland, ME; Campaign, Promotional Campaign—Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority; Special Event, Public Relations/Awareness Special Event—Flatiron Improvement District, Louisville, CO.

Group 2, for public transportation systems with more than one million, but fewer than four million passenger trips annually: Print, Billboards/Outdoor Advertising—Mountain Metropolitan Transit, Colorado Springs, CO; Electronic, Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement—Citilink, Fort Wayne, IN; Campaign, Promotional Campaign—St. Cloud Metro Bus, St. Cloud, MN; Special Event, Public Relations/Awareness Special Event—Intercity Transit, Olympia, WA.

Group 3, representing public transportation systems with more than four million, but fewer than 30 million passenger trips annually: Print, Poster—Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA; Electronic, Video Presentation—Charlotte Area Transit System, Charlotte, NC; Campaign, Promotional Campaign—Sound Transit, Seattle; Special Event, Public Relations/Awareness Special Event—Central Ohio Transit Authority, Columbus.

Group 4, public transportation systems with more than 30 million passenger trips annually: Print, Direct Mail—Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, Portland; Electronic, Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement—Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston; Campaign, Promotional Campaign—Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX; Special Event, Promotion Special Event—Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City.

Group 5, business members: Print, Advertisement Promotion—Veolia Transportation; Electronic, Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement—Missouri DOT; Campaign, Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign—Bombardier Transportation; Special Event, Promotion Special Event—Motor Coach Industries.

In addition to the regular awards, the AdWheel judges recognized the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore’s first Earth Day celebration with the 2008 Niche Award, given to the entry that best showcased the creative and innovative approach of marketing and communicating transit as environmentally friendly or “green.” The event included a wide variety of activities, demonstrations, and giveaways at a two-hour celebration that received media coverage throughout the day.

The judges selected the AdWheel Grand Award recipients from among the larger list of first-prize winners.

 

Even more photos from the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO!

Here are more highlights of the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in San Diego.

Scenes from the EXPO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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