Passenger Transport - December 15, 2008
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Public Transit Ridership Surges in Third Quarter of 2008
Americans set public transportation ridership records in the third quarter of 2008, according to just-released APTA statistics. From July through September, despite the plummeting price of gas, riders took more than 2.8 billion trips: an increase of 6.5 percent, the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years. In the same time frame, according to the Federal Highway Administration, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on the nation’s highways declined by 4.6 percent. This marks the 11th consecutive month of decreased VMT.
“The record increase in public transportation trips demonstrates the exceptional value of public transportation in today’s economy,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “The fact that public transit ridership surged while gas prices and highway travel declined shows a growing demand for more bus and rail services.”
Last year, people took 10.3 billion trips on U.S. public transportation, the highest number in 50 years. In the first quarter of 2008, public transportation ridership rose by 3.4 percent. In the second quarter of the year, as gas prices skyrocketed to more than $4 a gallon, public transit ridership went up again, by 5.2 percent. This third-quarter increase continues the trend of more and more Americans turning to public transportation.
Calling for an economic stimulus package that includes federal public transportation investment, Millar said, “Investing in public transit will quickly create tens of thousands of American jobs and help get our economy back on track. In addition, increased public transit use reduces our dependence on foreign oil and lessens carbon emissions. To sum it up, public transportation is good for the economy, the environment, and for energy independence,” he said.
Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) had the highest percentage of ridership increase among all modes: 8.5 percent for the third quarter. Light rail systems showed double-digit increases in Baltimore, 19.6 percent; Minneapolis, 18.3 percent; Sacramento, 16.5 percent; New Jersey, 15.9 percent; Los Angeles, 15.3 percent; Dallas, 15.2 percent; Denver, 15 percent; Buffalo, 13.4 percent; and Memphis, 13.3 percent.
Overall bus ridership posted the second largest ridership increase for the quarter, 7.2 percent. Bus travel in all community sizes saw ridership increases; communities with a population of less than 100,000 had an 11.6 percent increase. The highest increases among the largest bus agencies occurred in Orange County, CA, 23.9 percent; Phoenix, 15.2 percent; St. Louis, 15 percent; San Diego, 14.4 percent; Atlanta, 13.8 percent; Portland, OR, 11.8 percent; Seattle, 11.5 percent; Denver, 11.5 percent; Baltimore, 11 percent; and Chicago, 10.1 percent.
Commuter rail ridership grew by 6.3 percent. The commuter rail systems with double-digit ridership growth were Albuquerque, 35.8 percent; Pompano Beach, FL, 32.9 percent; New Haven, 32.2 percent; Portland, ME, 29.6 percent; Oakland, CA, 26.1 percent; Stockton, CA, 22.5 percent; Seattle, 22.4 percent; Harrisburg, PA, 21.7 percent; Dallas, 18.8 percent; Los Angeles, 17 percent; and San Carlos, CA, 16.4 percent.
Ridership on heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) increased by 5.2 percent. The heavy rail systems with the highest increases in ridership for the 2008 third quarter were Los Angeles, 14.1 percent; San Juan, PR, 13.5 percent; Lindenwold, NJ, 13.3 percent; Miami, 12.1 percent; and Atlanta, 11.3 percent.
Senate Defeats Auto Bailout Bill with SILO/LILO Fix
The U.S. Senate voted late Dec. 11 to defeat an auto bailout bill that would have included a provision to help public transit agencies caught in the difficulties surrounding Sale-In/Lease-Out (SILO) and Lease-In/Lease-Out (LILO) transactions. The U.S. House earlier had approved the legislation.
It is believed that the auto bailout was the last legislative issue for the 110th Congress to address before adjournment. The draft bill had included language that would direct the president’s designee—likely the U.S. Treasury Department—to serve as guarantor for SILO/LILO transactions approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) prior to Jan. 1, 2006. The measure specified that any payments made by the federal government as a result of such guarantees be recouped from transit agencies. This language was added to ensure that there would be no cost to taxpayers or the federal government as a result of the federal guarantees.
APTA worked with Congress and the Administration to provide such guarantees on SILO/LILO transactions, many of which are in jeopardy of going into technical default as a result of the banking crisis and the loss of AAA ratings on securities that are used to make lease payments. No one has asserted that these securities are in danger of failing to meet lease payments under the transactions, but the loss of the AAA ratings has raised the possibility that transit agencies that entered into such transactions will be forced to pay banks and investors more than $2 billion in payments. Having to make such large payments could result in the agencies being forced to cut service or raise fares to cover potential costs at the very time that transit ridership is growing dramatically.
APTA also sought to modify language in the bill to ensure that it covers all such transit agency transactions, including those that were approved by states and not the FTA. In addition, APTA has discussed with congressional staff the possibility of imposing a 100 percent excise tax on proceeds that transit agencies would have to pay to investors, over and above the amounts in defeasance accounts.
Lastly, the bill included separate provisions that would direct auto manufacturers that receive assistance to analyze the potential use of excess capacity to make vehicles for public transportation.
Obama Transition Team Explores Possible Public Transit Options
By John R. Bell
APTA Program Manager - Communications
If his legislative history and public statements are any guide, President-elect Barack Obama will almost certainly push for increased funding for public transportation in his administration. But the legislative process must still be worked through, and specifics are still few and far between.
Obama and his advisors have made it clear, however, that an economic stimulus package will be his first order of business upon taking office. A key component of that package—which Obama has said will be the largest public works project since the Interstate Highway System—will be “green infrastructure,” according to his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
This idea is receiving widespread support. A recent Washington Post editorial, “Invest in Mass Transit,” noted that the continuing rise in public transit ridership should be a “call to action” for making infrastructure improvements a key component of the stimulus package.
APTA President William W. Millar cited the many benefits of public transportation in his congratulatory message to the President-elect. “In addition to helping our country’s economy, public transportation also plays a critical role in helping to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil and lower our nation’s carbon footprint, two national goals that President-elect Barack Obama supports,” Millar said.
Plans and Actions Concerning Public Transportation
Public transportation has surfaced repeatedly in Obama’s policy statements, both as a candidate and since the election. For example, addressing the National Governors Association, he said: “We’ll also invest in our ports, roads, and high-speed rails, because I don’t want to see the fastest train in the world built halfway around the world in Shanghai. I want to see it built right here in the United States of America.”
Equally important, though, were his actions since coming to the Senate, for he was consistently supportive of public transit in budget and appropriation votes, and he co-sponsored the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which President Bush signed into law in October.
Further, he did not forget his home state residents, partnering last year with Illinois’ other senator, Dick Durbin (D-IL), to increase funding for Metra commuter rail in Chicago by $3.75 million. They also obtained $300,000 for paratransit service to Chicago’s C.A.R.E. Foundation, which provides low-income communities with asthma-treatment vans. And, in 2005, the two senators secured $19 million in transportation funding for Springfield, IL, part of which was used to plan and design that city’s multi-modal transportation terminal.
Transportation Transition Team Meeting
Obama’s organized approach to examining how the federal agencies are operating includes extensive outreach to non-governmental professionals by subject matter expert transition teams.
As part of that process, therefore, APTA and the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) recently met with members of the transportation transition team, many of whom have close ties to public transportation and APTA. In those discussions, the new administration made clear its commitment to supporting public transportation, as well as noting the larger role public transit will have in the administration’s policies, such as energy policy and environment conservation. At this meeting, the APTA/CTAA team shared 42 ideas for improving the federal public transportation program. This list is available online at www.apta.com/about/policy_agenda/index.cfm.
In addition, APTA has already developed a list of critical public transportation projects that stimulus legislation could enable. This suggests a sum of $47.8 billion to invest over the course of two years, including $12.2 billion for 736 “ready-to-go projects” identified by APTA member agencies. These projects could be begun within 90 days of funding approval.
Falling Gas Prices Do NOT Translate into Decreases in Ridership
During the months when gas prices kept rising across the U.S. and ridership on public transportation nearly went off the charts, the experts asked: What will happen when the gas prices come down? Will ridership statistics fall as well?
While riders made clear choices during this tumultuous past few months, the jury was still out on whether those choices were temporary or permanent. Little by little, the jury is filing back in, and the verdict is: people are still choosing to take public transit.
Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail in Alexandria, VA, posted 998,329 passenger trips for the first three months of Fiscal Year 2009 (July, August, and September), 113,775 more than the same time last year. “It’s hard to argue with the numbers when you see ridership growing by 12.9 percent,” said VRE Operations Board Chairman John Jenkins. “We are proof positive that when you put a great product out there, people will embrace it. I think people today rely on VRE far more than in past years because it’s a viable alternative to the car, and our performance is such that people are very confident in the riding experience once they try us.”
The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) in Riverside, CA, saw a record surge in ridership during September, even as gas prices continued to plunge from their summertime highs. RTA buses recorded more than 757,000 boardings in September, a record-setting 28 percent increase compared to September of 2007, while ridership on the CommuterLink express routes showed a 97 percent jump compared with the previous year. “We are committed to keeping this momentum going and ensuring that our customers continue to receive the same high-quality service they have come to expect,” said RTA Chairman of the Board Karen Spiegel, who called the ridership increases “very exciting news.”
The Washington region continued to experience record ridership levels even as gas prices began dropping. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced that its September ridership was 8.1 percent higher than the previous September, and early data indicates that the numbers in November will also rise.
“The fact that ridership has remained strong despite lowering gas prices proves how vital public transportation is in the DC metropolitan area,” said WMATA spokesperson Steven Taubenkibel. “People have continued to rely on Metro because of the service we provide throughout the region—its ease of use and its convenience. Whether it’s rush hour or off-peak travel or sports events or late night evenings, people use mass transit in this region and the numbers speak for themselves. It’s great for mass transit, it’s great for transit in general.”
In Seattle, the increase for Sound Transit in Seattle was 22.2 percent. “Each time [riders] climb aboard Sounder [Sound Transit commuter rail], they wave goodbye to the costs and stress of driving, and they reduce greenhouse gases and the number of cars on the road,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.
If these ridership numbers are not confounding enough to experts, they can look at what’s taking place in Miami. To cope with the pressures of high diesel prices and a poor economy, Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) recently raised its fares for only the second time in 17 years. The response? No perceptible drop in ridership and nearly no complaints from passengers.
Before MDT implemented the new fare, however, the agency and county officials launched an extensive public relations campaign to explain why the increase was needed.
“We had rather an extensive public information campaign, including radio interviews, as well as flyers [in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole] we passed out at major transit stations to let people know why it was necessary. We were faced with raising fares or eliminating as many as 15 routes. And once people understood that, they were far more accepting of the fare increases,” said MDT spokesman John Labriola. He added: “High gas prices were an incentive for people to start using transit. But once started, they discovered it was better than being stuck in traffic and less stressful. So they stayed with us, even as gas prices started to fall.”
Historically, when the economy has gone into a downturn, ridership has decreased. And the economy has clearly not doing well. For instance, based on data issued by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation lost 284,000 jobs in September and 240,000 in October—and since the beginning of the year, a total of 1.2 million jobs. ADP, a payroll processor, estimated in its latest monthly employment report that private businesses trimmed 250,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, the largest drop in seven years.
So this rise in ridership while the economy falls is unchartered territory for public transit—but should these increases continue for the next several months, it will be a strong indicator that riders have committed to choosing transit over driving.
ATU Approves Four-Year Contract in Pittsburgh
Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have voted to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. The local represents more than 2,400 light rail and bus operators, mechanics, and clerical workers.
The agreement provides for changes in contract provisions relative to the provision of health care, pensions, and post-retirement healthcare benefits, reducing Port Authority’s legacy obligation costs by approximately $92.8 million over the four-year life of the contract.
“This contract is historic in that it takes unprecedented steps toward reducing Port Authority’s legacy costs, while at the same time maintaining a competitive wage and benefits package for Authority employees,” said Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland.
Looking Back on an Eventful Year in Transportation and Policy
By Art Guzzetti
APTA Vice President, Policy
As the year 2008 nears its end, we look back on the ever-shifting set of policy, political, and economic forces that affected public transportation.
In Congress, for example, the emphasis of the national policy agenda shifted abruptly from climate to energy to the economy. Throughout, transit had a remarkable year, seeing record levels of ridership and high levels of voter approval in transit elections.
The year began with the release of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission’s report, Transportation for Tomorrow. It recommended a major boost in surface transportation funding, including a large increase in the federal motor fuels tax and a long-term transition to other financing mechanisms such as a tax on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), as well as a major consolidation and reorientation of surface transpiration programs and an emphasis on performance outcomes to determine investment decisions.
Other groups also saw the need for a new long-term vision to set a new direction for federal surface transportation policy. National organizations including APTA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the new T4 America coalition, the Brookings Institution, and the America 2050 Coalition all produced vision documents. Much of this work called for a transition from the past 50 years of federal policy, which had as its core goal the need to connect the nation through a system of interstate roads. This vision was arguably right for its times, but times have changed, and the vision of 2008 must reflect the needs of today.
As highlighted in APTA’s TransitVision 2050 effort, the new vision is a transportation policy focused on keeping America’s economic engines mobile, efficient, and productive. It will become a standard that every urban area possess a top-notch, high-capacity, high-quality public transportation system, and that public transportation be an option in all parts of the country. The goal is that America’s energy-efficient, multi-modal, environmentally sustainable transportation system will be the envy of the world.
A Role in Climate Policy
This was the year when the major role of transportation policy in climate and energy policy was recognized. Until 2008, public transportation had largely been ignored in the national debate about greenhouse gas reductions. In fact, past models identified transit as a cause, equating the more public transportation a community had with the more tailpipe emissions that would result.
A series of research products released in 2008 quantified the net contributions of public transportation to greenhouse gas reduction, including savings from direct VMT displacement, land use efficiencies, and reduced congestion. A series of reports and policy forums highlighted these findings. Moreover, congestion pricing was not held as solely an American issue; in an Federal Transit Administration study mission to London in May, representatives from Transport for London shared their positive experiences from having implemented that plan in that city.
In the end, the main piece of climate legislation considered by Congress in 2008, the Warner-Lieberman Climate Security Act (S. 3036), included public transportation as a central strategy for reducing greenhouse gases. The legislation eventually would have provided transit 2.75 percent of all proceeds from greenhouse gas allowances. As the price of gasoline climbed and eventually topped $4 per gallon during the summer, the cost of driving began straining household budgets, and more people accepted public transportation as the best way to save money. Nationwide, public transportation ridership grew by 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2008, 5.2 percent in the second quarter, and a whopping 6.5 percent in the third quarter.
With ridership on public transportation surging, 85 percent of U.S. public transit systems reported capacity problems, according to an August 2008 APTA survey. Almost all agencies responding (91 percent) reported facing limitations in their ability to add service to meet the increased ridership demands, and more than half reported declining or stable local and state financial assistance over the last year, based on the economic downturn.
The financial disruption caused by the Wall Street failures in September affected public transportation as much as, if not more than, other sectors of the economy. Because failures in the insurance industry had an immediate effect on many rolling stock lease arrangements nationwide, APTA’s business members sponsored a study to review the impact of the weakened credit and financial markets on the way the business of public transportation is conducted in both the public and private sectors.
In addition, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (H.R. 1424), which allocated $700 billion to rescue the financial industry, also included a three-month extension of the compressed natural gas excise tax credit, which will now expire on Dec. 31, 2009. The bill also extends through 2009 the excise tax credit for alternative fuel and fuel mixtures, including biodiesel and ethanol.
President-elect Barack Obama and Congressional leaders appear to have made public transportation and other transportation infrastructure a centerpiece of their economic stimulus strategy. APTA has identified at least 736 public transportation projects that could be initiated within 90 days of approval of federal funding. Worth a total of $12.2 billion, these investments would create more than 340,000 green jobs for Americans and help transit systems meet the steadily growing demand for services. Over a period of two years, an estimated $32.4 billion in transit investment projects could be started, creating more that 900,000 jobs.
A Breakthrough for Rail
The year 2008 also will be seen as a breakthrough time for high-speed and intercity rail. In September, Congress approved its most ambitious rail bill ever: H.R. 2095 authorizes $12.9 billion for Amtrak and passenger rail over the next five years for capital improvements, operating expenses, and debt service. The bill, signed by President Bush in October, includes funding for a state grant program for intercity rail projects and development of high-speed rail corridors. On the other hand, the act also addresses critical issues involving railroad hours of service and positive train control.
Also this year, APTA released a major study demonstrating how tax-credit bonds could be an efficient and effective method for financing intercity and high-speed rail projects; several bills are pending along these lines. The combination of these actions has the potential to jump-start rail development and usher in a new era in American transportation. On Nov. 4, California voters approved a $10 billion bond to help finance a statewide high-speed rail system. This was just one of 25 ballot measures, out of a total of 33, approved by voters on Election Day. Earlier this year, 12 of 15 ballot measures were approved. In all, voters approved 77 percent of transit elections in 2008, making it the most successful year yet in terms of overall investment and percentage of approved measures.
PPPs and Politics
A dialogue with the Administration on congestion pricing and public-private partnerships brought forth some good ideas. APTA’s Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) Task Force saw great value in these approaches but concluded that they could not substitute for an ongoing federal-state-local partnership in financially supporting public transportation.
Dr. William Ankner, who served in top-level positions at state DOTs in New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Louisiana, probed the synergy that potentially exists between transit and toll roads in his report, Road Pricing, Tolling, Mega-Projects, and Other Multi-Modal Approaches: Strategically Positioning Public Transportation.
The issue of PPPs is nonetheless holding interest. Numerous U.S. public transit professionals traveled to France for the first French-American PPP, where they gained valuable information about what works best and what does not. This workshop was so successful a follow-up was held at the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Campaigns, Legislation, and Outcomes
The year was dominated by the presidential and Congressional elections. APTA joined with the Community Transportation Association of America and the American Bus Association to host events at both the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Following the presidential election, APTA met with the U.S. DOT transition team for President-elect Obama and presented them with a list of 42 Great Ideas to Move America Forward.
APTA’s 2008 Annual Meeting in San Diego was a busy place. Three Executive Committee task forces—TransitVision 2050, Authorization, and Framework for the Future—presented their reports at the meeting. These reports will prove invaluable in providing a guiding light for the growth of the transit industry; the APTA Executive Committee continued the discussion of these topics at its November retreat.
Our industry built a common agenda with the environmental community, with a continuous stream of meetings, conference calls, forums, and joint research throughout the year keeping all partners in close contact. APTA even hosted an international webinar on sustainability, featuring speakers from the U.S., Canada, Brussels, and Hong Kong. Further, the environmental community’s “Transition to Green” agenda presented to the environmental transition team included public transportation.
Securing funding for transit investments is always a key issue. At this writing, both the House and Senate appropriations committees have advanced transportation appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2009 that would fund transit at or near the full $10.3 billion amount authorized by SAFETEA-LU (a continuing resolution was passed funding federal programs through March 2009). Legislation was also approved to plug an $8 billion shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, thus foregoing any borrowing from the Mass Transit Account.
Moreover, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 6947) appropriates more than $49 million for surface transportation security and $400 million in transit security grants. It also prevents the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from imposing a match requirement and instructs DHS to award such grants directly to public transit agencies. The bill has cleared the applicable committees in the House, where it awaits a vote.
There will be much to watch in the coming year. The National Surface Transportation Finance Commission will release its report in early 2009. The current surface transportation authorization bill is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2009, so the clock is already ticking in the 111th Congress. This is further complicated by the Highway Account of the Trust Fund continuing to run close to its margins.
Finally, for the first time in 14 years, Democrats will control both chambers of Congress, as well as the White House. There’s a feeling of promise in the air, particularly looking at the Obama administration. Expectations are high concerning a public transportation agenda—an agenda that was not in the forefront on recent years. No doubt, then, the review of the 2009 year will be strikingly different—but not less interesting—than this year’s.
Rulemaking: A Look Back - and a Look Forward
By James LaRusch
APTA Chief Counsel
As we near 2009, looking toward the transition to the Obama administration and the final nine months of SAFETEA-LU, there are a number of regulatory issues that could well make dramatic changes in our industry. Here are some of them and why they may be critical to your company or agency.
What is left pending for the new administration? Plenty!
In February 2006, U.S. DOT published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) titled Transportation for Individuals with Disabilities. The proposed rule continued months of controversy over “guidance” documents issued by U.S. DOT in September 2005 as “the official views of the Department” on just what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transit agencies to do to accommodate their riders with disabilities—requirements far beyond anything the industry had seen in the entire history of the ADA.
The 2005 guidance and 2006 NPRM dictated full-length level boarding for commuter and intercity trains, modification of paratransit practices that had been rejected by the federal courts, and allowance of Segway devices on buses and trains, with no regard for the staggering costs and dangerous conditions these proposals would require. APTA and the industry responded, filing hundreds of comments detailing transit’s extensive accommodation of riders with disabilities, safety concerns, and the practical effects of unfunded mandates to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make these changes.
Although U.S. DOT officials have repeatedly hinted that final resolution of the rulemaking was near, we have seen no final rule or revocation of the NPRM in the almost two-and-a-half years since the close of the comment period. APTA will be watching closely as the new administration reviews and considers how best to resolve these issues.
Tripper service in support of schools came to the forefront of the regulatory scene this past spring when, contrary to 30 years of Federal Transit Administration practice and federal court decisions, FTA proposed (and, in September, issued) a new interpretation of its long-standing regulation on school service. This new interpretation threatens to abandon tens of thousands of students in districts that have relied on public transportation tripper service for decades and have no means of obtaining yellow school bus service.
Compounding the problem (the topic of our last column), FTA issued an NPRM that would enshrine these notions of what is “exclusive” service for schools and the meaning of legitimate tripper service under federal transit law. Published in the Nov. 18 Federal Register, the NPRM is open for public comment until Feb. 17, 2009, so the final decision on the proposal will rest with the next administration.
Along with the U.S. DOT ADA proposal, APTA has highlighted this as a high priority regulatory issue with President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team.
FTA published a proposed revision of its New Starts regulation on Aug. 3, 2007. APTA, its members, and even influential Members of Congress found serious shortcomings in the proposal, including FTA’s insistence that no project could be recommended for funding without a “medium” cost-effectiveness rating.
While some may think this is a reasonable requirement, the mischief of the proposed requirement is hidden in the narrow definition of “cost-effectiveness” in FTA’s New Starts language. The multiple measures of project evaluation directed in SAFETEA-LU would be set aside in favor of a single-minded focus on travel time. Land use and economic development benefits of transit projects would be almost ignored and, with FTA proposing to include relative weights of evaluation factors in the regulation itself, there would be little hope of elevating their importance without a major regulatory action.
Additionally, the proposal would offer little or no means of streamlining the process for Small Starts projects, plus it includes various provisions that would favor High Occupancy Toll lane projects.
The proposed regulation prompted strong action. APTA’s comments on the proposal stretched to 33 pages of highly technical text. The comments were the most extensive APTA has filed in any of the dozens of rulemakings that flowed from SAFETEA-LU; they were quickly followed by decisive action by Congress, which forbade FTA from implementing the proposed regulation within Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations legislation.
As we enter the new administration and the end of the Continuing Resolution that has funded FTA and U.S. DOT since Oct. 1, this proposal will require a fresh look by the incoming FTA leadership. APTA also included this on its list of high priority regulatory issues reported to Obama’s transition team.
What Else Can We Expect?
Transit agencies throughout the country have been wrestling with the confusion and internal inconsistency of FTA’s new Charter Service regulation since it took effect in the spring. Intended to clarify the definition of charter service and simplify the analysis of proposed services for transit agencies, the rule has instead further muddied the situation with declarations that service that occurs 90 days per year is “irregular,” varying interpretations of how an agency should determine if a fare is “premium” for purposes of the regulation, and one Advisory Opinion that concluded a service is and is not charter when analyzed under different subsections of the rule.
The concept of Advisory Opinions has provided an end run to the formal complaint process that allows a small minority of private operators to force both FTA and transit agencies to spend thousands of dollars answering ill-defined grievances while compiling decisions that cannot be searched or reviewed without undertaking a time-consuming review of individual documents. Clearly, the field of charter service regulation will require timely, decisive action as the new FTA leadership team takes the reins.
Several rulemakings undertaken this year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may also be reviewed. A proposal to allow states “flexibility” to drop transportation benefits for entire classes of Medicaid beneficiaries, another that would severely limit reimbursement of transit agencies that provide transportation services for the remaining beneficiaries, and a third that cuts school transportation funding for children covered by Medicaid (and that could well push thousands of those children into paratransit systems) are just a few of the non-transportation rulemakings APTA will be tracking.
The APTA web site, www.apta.com, will provide updates on these and other regulatory issues. Be sure to check the site for upgrades, including the ability to obtain RSS feeds that will alert you to new postings on the SAFETEA-LU Rulemaking and Notices page.
Communications Efforts Spread the Word About Public Transit
APTA’s communications and marketing efforts during the past year covered a very wide spectrum.
The most noticeable action was the launch of a redesigned Passenger Transport in September. In addition to changing the publication schedule from weekly to biweekly, APTA added an online edition and Passenger Transport EXPRESS, an electronic publication highlighting legislative issues and breaking news, which appears in the weeks between issues of Passenger Transport.
Dump the Pump, APTA’s initiative to increase awareness of transit as the quickest way to beat high fuel prices, continued to expand its outreach efforts. On June 19, more than 125 public transportation agencies nationwide joined 20 businesses to mark the third annual event. To bring attention to public transit, more than 30 systems offered free or discounted rides on that day; others conducted on-board radio promotions, distributed appreciation gifts to riders, and invited the public to share transit-related stories.
APTA partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on Earth Day, April 22, distributing 2,300 specially labeled candy bars outside two Metrorail stations on Capitol Hill used by legislators and Congressional staff. The labels noted the “sweet” benefit of taking public transit: daily riders save 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.
As gas prices rose to and past $4 a gallon, contributing to record transit ridership beyond the 10.3 billion rides provided in 2007, APTA and transit agency public information officers disseminated ridership numbers to the media and draw the connection between more transit use, energy independence, and climate change. Broadcast media outlets picking up the story included the evening newscasts on NBC, CBS, and ABC, as well as the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox Business. Major publications that referred to APTA included The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Business Week, Associated Press, and Bloomberg.
More than 50 public transportation agencies throughout North America, Asia, and the United Kingdom have provided transit information to Google Transit, allowing travelers to receive fare, schedule, and route information in advance of their trips to these locations. APTA President William W. Millar gave a live presentation of the Google Transit application as part of this summer’s APTA Youth Summit in Washington.
In its second annual Green Transit Forecast, APTA survey results showed that 35 percent of travelers to major American cities in the summer were more likely to use local buses and rail transit during their visits than in previous years. That percentage was 7 percent higher than the comparable figure in 2007.
New York City—the nation's top destination for transit use by visitors—led the urban areas at 53 percent, a 5 percent increase over last year, followed by Boston with 48 percent; Washington, 47 percent; San Francisco, 40 percent; Philadelphia, 38 percent; Chicago, 35 percent; Seattle, 32 percent; Los Angeles, 31 percent; Las Vegas, 30 percent; and Atlanta, 25 percent.
To encourage interest in transit promotion by college students, APTA held its first “Green Means Go” campaign this year. The teams representing 12 U.S. colleges and universities served as “advertising agencies” for APTA and local transit providers as part of their for-credit coursework in advertising, graphic design, communications, or other related fields.
Each team developed an advertising and communications plan and products with an environmental message for use by transit systems around the country, including bus and rail transit ads for print media and radio; video design for social networking sites; earned media through public relations; television storyboards for possible execution; and other promotional tactics, all targeted to college students and individuals ages 18 to 25. Missouri State University took first place in the program.
Another innovation this year was APTA’s monthly Transit Savings Report. To calculate how much money a two-person household could save by using transit instead of using two cars, APTA first determined the average amount of the monthly transit pass of local transit agencies across the country, then compared the average monthly transit fare to the average cost of driving according to AAA’s 2008 driving formula.
In addition to releasing the new Transit Savings Report figure at the beginning of each month, readers can also use a calculator to figure their own savings, with or without car ownership. This calculator is available online at www.publictransportation.org.
The State of Rail in 2008: Good and Growing
North American rail transit systems saw extensive growth during the past year – both in hardware and riders. Total ridership for all rail systems reached nearly four billion in 2007, with that number well on the way to increasing this year.
In the third quarter of 2008, total light rail ridership grew 8.5 percent over the same period in the previous year; commuter rail was up 6.3 percent, and heavy rail up 5.2 percent.
The newest of North America’s 23 commuter railroads now in operation is the Utah Transit Authority’s FrontRunner, which entered service in April to seven stations between Ogden and Salt Lake Central at the Intermodal Hub. UTA also broke ground in August for the second phase of the line, which will connect Salt Lake City with Provo.
In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority opened its 18-mile commuter rail line from South Station to Greenbush in October 2007.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority welcomed back the complete St. Charles Streetcar Line on June 28, almost three years after Hurricane Katrina disrupted service on the line. The last 1.2 miles of the historic route reopened that day, resuming service on a route dating back 165 years.
New light rail projects that came on board in the past year included the North County Transit District’s 22-mile Sprinter line in Oceanside, CA, and Seattle’s South Lake Union Streetcar, which has spurred more than four million square feet of commercial development.
UTA’s FrontLines 2015 project, which includes the FrontRunner expansion, also encompasses the construction of four new TRAX light rail lines, three of which broke ground during 2008. The authority began construction in May on the Mid-Jordan Line, in June on the West Valley Line, and in October on the Airport Line.
While not yet a reality, several public transit agencies will either begin service or continue construction until nearly the close of 2008. For example, Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix will launch its light rail service on Dec. 27, holding celebrations at all nine stations on the 20-mile METRO line. Already, new development totaling $1.6 billion has occurred adjacent to the line in anticipation of the ridership that transit will bring to that area.
Sound Transit in Seattle is working to complete its Central Link light rail line, including service to the airport, by next year.
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, TX, marked a milestone in its Capital MetroRail project Nov. 26 by completing construction of the Downtown Station in Austin—one of nine that will enter service on the Red Line, between downtown Austin and Leander, in the spring of 2009.
Construction is underway on Hampton Roads Transit’s light rail line in Norfolk, VA. When The Tide opens in 2010, it will cover 7.4 miles with 11 stations.
Major Trends for Buses: Hybrids, Eye Appeal, BRT
While the biggest trend for buses this year was hybrids, transit systems also tried innovative approaches of varying the appearance of their vehicles to appeal to riders, and smaller and mid-size agencies implemented Bus Rapid Transit.
Hybrids accounted for 27 percent of all new bus purchases in 2008. The reasons for this were two-fold: prices for the high-tech vehicles began to come down as public transit agencies became increasingly comfortable with the technology.
While New York City and Seattle were the pioneers in operating fleets of hybrid buses, other cities—including San Francisco and Toronto—joined the effort in earnest during this year. These cities are finding that hybrid propulsion not only helps the environment, providing 25 percent better mileage than diesel engines, it is also cleaner and more comfortable for the rider, and more responsive to the driver than traditional buses.
The wider introduction of hybrid-electric buses, as well as the use of other alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, is just one way bus agencies looked to the future this past year. Another focus for systems was to find bus models with advanced, unusual visual appeal. These choices were manifested in varied ways: the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas and Community Transit in Snohomish County, WA, operate double-decker vehicles, while other systems invested in trolley-replica buses and rail-like vehicles used for Bus Rapid Transit.
BRT service became increasingly popular among smaller and mid-size bus agencies. Two such examples: the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority introduced its HealthLine BRT line on Euclid Avenue in late October, on budget and more than a year ahead of schedule, and Salt Lake City’s Utah Transit Authority launched its MAX line, which serves the 10 miles between the Millcreek TRAX light rail station and Magna, UT.
Also during 2008, the cities of Los Alamos, NM, and Arlington, TX, welcomed new fixed route bus service. Atomic City Transit in Los Alamos operates on five fixed routes, along with dial-a-ride paratransit service and an additional after-school service.
On Sept. 2, Arlington was no longer the largest U.S. city without public transportation when the Fort Worth Transportation Authority began operating non-stop commuter bus service to and from Arlington. This is a pilot project, currently scheduled to operate for one year.
Lastly, U.S. bus agencies in 2008 took steps to prepare for additional emissions devices, which will become mandatory in 2010, with bus and engine manufactures working to meet the deadline and perfect the required technology.
APTA Standards Help Improve System Performance
A critical part of APTA’s work is its coordinated efforts with public transit systems, key suppliers, consultants, and representatives of the federal government to produce a number of significant standards designed to help improve the performance, reliability, efficiency, and safety of transit systems. Funding for the various standards programs comes from sources including federal grants and APTA dues.
In the last year, the APTA standards development program worked in these 10 specific areas:
* Commuter Rail
* Rail Transit
* Universal Transit Fares
* IEEE Transit Vehicle Interface
* Information Technology
* Sustainability/Urban Form Design
Standards development and implementation were also part of international efforts last year, including discussions with a delegation from the China Road Transport Association and an Intelligent Transportation Systems workshop in Miami that focused on ITS standards and featured speakers from Japan, Germany, and South Africa.
While every standard covered in the APTA program is critical to the well-being of the industry and the people and passengers who make the industry run, several of them stand out as key efforts of the past year. They are:
Hours of Service for Rail Transit Train Operators. Much like the practice for medical interns, there are currently no limits for how many consecutive hours a rail train operator can work. Because several of the major accidents in recent years have been attributed to operator fatigue, the Operating Practices Committee wrote this standard to formalize safe operating practices as they pertain to the amount of off-duty time a rail transit system provides to train operators between shifts to allow for rest and limitations for on-duty time.
As Passenger Transport went to press, the standard had nearly achieved a quorum, which would then move the standard to the 2009 Rail Transit CEOs Seminar, during which the Rail Transit Standards Policy and Planning Committee will take a final vote.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a recommendation to the Federal Transit Administration and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority that they both address this problem and regulate it. A final affirmative vote on this standard will not only improve the safety and security of rail operators, but will also satisfy the recommendation of the NTSB.
Roadway Worker Protection. The number of rail transit roadway worker fatalities has increased, and the FTA has urged decisive action to reduce these events. The main problem behind this provision is not a lack of procedures in place, but rather a lack of following those procedures, with no sanctions for supervisors who failed to follow them. This standard will ensure that supervisors adhere to these rules and regularly monitor right-of-way safety compliance. This standard is also designed to introduce a consistent approach to such programs throughout the rail transit industry.
Procuring a Light Rail Vehicle. An effort is underway—currently more than half-done—to write a standard specification for procuring a light rail vehicle. The purpose is to standardize the specification in such a way that manufacturers and systems can still make vehicles that differ from each other. Efforts in past years to force a standard vehicle design have failed because agencies’ needs include vastly differing operating environments and issues. One very basic difference is weather: the design of a car for a consistently hot climate will obviously differ from that for a consistently rainy climate, for example. Other issues are the need to brake or accelerate rapidly: an agency with many stations spaced closely together will need that capability, while stations in a rural area will not. Another variability is tightness of curves, which in turn will dictate the length of a vehicle.
Commuter Rail Positive Train Control. This proposed standard would stop a train automatically at a red/danger light if the train operator failed to heed the warning. While there are “pockets” of this kind of technology scattered throughout systems across the country, it is not uniform. Congress, in passing the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the Amtrak authorization bill, called for uniformity in this piece of equipment on the locomotive that receives signals. Further, freight and passengers trains use different systems; the lack of interoperability becomes critical where commuter rail systems operate on the freight rail tracks. So the standard will call for uniform implementation as well as interoperability.
Transit Security. This past year saw the implementation of more than 10 transit security standards that focus on physical security of infrastructure. These included how to place cameras strategically on and off vehicles so they obtain the correct view; the most effective use of lighting and fencing; and an array of issues pertaining to trash containers, such as where to put them, where to make them explosion-resistant, and when to provide see-through containers. More than 25 standards relating to security were also developed in the last year, including a focus on emergency preparedness planning.
Procurement Guidelines for Buses. This effort will update guidelines for technical specifications for all types of buses, including multiple lengths and multiple fuels. The updated standards will assist transit agencies of all sizes in defining a bus for their operating environment and will help minimize the differences between vehicles to gain cost efficiencies, at the least for performance requirements. The new guidelines will also define deliverables, testing, and performance requirements and provide a basis for evaluation. New procurement terms and conditions are also being developed to provide updated guidance to warranty, bonding, and other issues that can be major issues in bus procurements. Several agencies are already beta-testing these standards, and system-wide release is expected by May 2009.
Driver Distraction. In light of the purported cause of a recent commuter rail crash in southern California, another effort in the bus program is to develop standards to address driver distraction. This new effort will provide guidance for operators of transit-owned vehicles regarding the use of personal electronics that take away the driver’s attention from his or her primary concern—operating a vehicle. A draft of this standard, which was requested at the 2008 APTA Annual Meeting, should be completed by January 2009.
Bus Maintenance Facilities Calculation. Standards in development that will calculate precisely how much maintenance space will be needed for a specific number of vehicles will enable agencies to achieve peak maintenance efficiency. This standard is nearly ready to be posted for industry review.
Accessibility Consensus. Since its first meeting in 2006, the APTA Accessibility Consensus Standards Program has worked to improve mobility options and access for all. Currently the program has three working groups—Rail Gap Safety Management, Paratransit Call Centers, and Fixed Route Stop Announcement and Route Identification—which have created several recommended practices and one standard developed with the support of transit agencies, product manufacturers, the disability community, labor, and others. The broad representation present on the working groups and the Policy and Planning Committee has helped ensure the inclusion of parties with a vested interest in accessibility standards in the standards development process.
These are only a few of the dozens of standards completed this year; another 150 are in the standards “pipeline.” It took all year for 1,500 people involved with many working groups meeting every two to four months to achieve these results, which are four-fold: They make transit systems run better, they increase safety for all concerned, they reduce liability, and they increase the likelihood of compliance.
Workforce Development: Thinking Creatively, Encouraging Participation
What will the next generation of workforce need? What should be its priorities, programs, products? How can labor and management partner to develop a systems approach for transit training?
These questions are part of a focused effort—and a key initiative of new APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott—on workforce development. Scott convened a blue-ribbon panel that held its first meeting in New York at the beginning of December, using as its baseline an internal New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority report titled “Engaging, Recognizing, and Developing the MTA Workforce.”
Workforce development took several paths in the last year, including supporting the Leadership APTA Class of 2008. The members of this class undertook an array of projects, including “Finding Public Transportation’s Green Voice,” “Making TransitVision 2050 a Reality,” analyzing the policy issues surrounding passage of a new federal transportation authorization bill, and building labor relations for today and tomorrow.
APTA also launched its first Youth Summit to Advance Public Transportation, “Teening Up for a Greener World.” Almost 50 high school juniors and seniors from across the U.S. came to Washington in June to participate, staying on the campus of the Catholic University of America.
Activities during the three-day event included visits to Capitol Hill and sessions introducing participants to a broader understanding of public transportation and the environment, and helping them to learn how they can promote a healthier environment by being strong advocates for public transportation.
Part of engaging the next generation of industry professionals is to think innovatively, which is why APTA launched its first online course for the rail industry, a joint collaboration of public, private, and labor efforts. This course, which resulted from a request by the Rail CEOs Committee, will be the first of many.
In addition to making training available online, APTA increasingly leveraged the Internet to save members both time and travel dollars, holding committee, task force, and subcommittee meetings online as well.
A Busy Year for TCRP
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) had a busy 2008, publishing nine research reports, five legal research digests, two research results documents, and six syntheses. These 22 reports covered topical industry subjects including the effects of transit-oriented development on housing, parking, and travel; alternative fuels; and emergency preparedness.
In October, TCRP approved six new research projects for 2009: transit advertising revenues; rail and bus transit operating rule compliance; emergency preparedness and recovery outreach and communications; an update on light rail track design; fuel purchasing; and the environmental benefits of transit projects. As a result of this approval, TCRP is seeking individuals to serve on panels to oversee the research process of these projects.
One component of TCRP’s dissemination program, managed by APTA, focuses on a variety of distribution venues to promote and deliver TCRP reports and products to the industry. In addition to communiqué and website dissemination, the program uses major industry events, state-sponsored workshops and seminars, and transit-related events to deliver new released reports.
Another important part of the dissemination process is the Ambassador Program. This year, a cadre of volunteer transit professionals represented the program at more than 40 industry events, helping to maintain a high level of industry awareness for TCRP. The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials manages this program.
Industry Says Goodbye to Transit Leaders, Advocates
Over the past year, the public transportation industry said goodbye to sitting and former general managers of transit agencies; longtime transit employees; and members of the APTA Hall of Fame, as well as the innovator behind fuel cell technology. Here’s how they were remembered in the pages of Passenger Transport.
Geoffrey Ballard, 76, developer of the hydrogen fuel cell, died Aug. 2 in Vancouver, BC. Ballard participated in the 1993 launch in Vancouver of the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered, zero-emission bus.
David R. Gionet, 50, general manager of the Fort Wayne Public Transportation Corporation (Citilink) in Fort Wayne, IN, since 1998, died July 12 following a long battle with cancer. Gionet served Citilink for McDonald Transit Associates Inc., where he was a senior vice president. He was McDonald's general manager for the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation in Bloomington, IN, for 13 years before going to Fort Wayne.
Jerome Lilly, 53, general manager of CityLink in Peoria, IL, since September 2007, died Dec. 8, 2007, in a St. Louis hospital following heart surgery earlier in the year. Lilly joined the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District in 1986, progressing from part-time to full-time bus operator, then to part-time and full-time supervisor, and was named assistant general manager by First Transit in 2000.
George D. Warrington, 55, executive director of New Jersey Transit Corporation from 2002 to 2007 and earlier the corporate president and chief executive officer of Amtrak, died Dec. 24, 2007, following an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. During his transportation career of more than 30 years, Warrington worked on the creation of NJ Transit in the 1970s, and also served as executive director of the Delaware River Port Authority. In 2007, he co-founded the strategic consulting firm Warrington Fox Shuffler.
William H. (Bill) Hurd, 93, chairman of the Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) Board of Directors in Alexandria, VA, for 23 years and a member of the APTA Hall of Fame, died Oct. 25. Even before the creation of the DASH system in 1984, Hurd was a transit leader in Alexandria. He retired from the DASH board in 2006.
Joseph C. Kelly, 85, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston from 1970 to 1975 and a member of the APTA Hall of Fame, died June 2 in Boston. Kelly spent his entire career with the MBTA and its predecessor organizations, beginning in 1947 and ending with his retirement in 1975. He subsequently formed a transportation consulting company with Henry Sears Lodge, a former MBTA board chair, and worked with other consulting firms.
George Heinle, 84, of Tuckerton, NJ, a member of the APTA Hall of Fame whose public transportation career spanned more than half a century, died April 5. Heinle joined New Jersey Transit Corporation at its founding in 1981 and retired in 1991; he also served the transit industry in Pennsylvania, New York City, and southern California.
Jim Donaghy, 84, a longtime public transportation professional and member of the APTA Hall of Fame, died Feb. 19. His transit career began in 1950 with the Southern Pennsylvania Bus Company in Chester, PA, and he retired in 1988 as a senior vice president of ATE Management & Service Company (now First Transit). His legacy continues into the next generation: one of his sons, Mark Donaghy, is executive director of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority in Dayton, OH.
Clifford P. Hayden Jr., a founder of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, and former deputy director of Palm Tran in West Palm Beach, FL, died Aug. 11 in Hayesville, NC. Hayden worked in the public transportation industry for more than 30 years.
Wayne Michael Cook, 65, one of the founders of the Texas Transit Association and the South West Transit Association, died June 30 in Galveston, TX. He also served as general manager of the transit agencies in San Antonio and Galveston.
James Thomas Whitaker Jr., 56, chief press officer for Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for the past 26 years, died May 6 of complications from a liver transplant. Whitaker joined the SEPTA Public Affairs Department in 1982, after five years working in public relations for Conrail.
Leonard Diamond Jr., 54, a consultant to the transit security industry and a longtime employee of New Jersey Transit Corporation, died Jan. 24. In addition to his service to NJ Transit, he was the first senior security and emergency management specialist for the Federal Transit Administration in Washington in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, coordinating the FTA "Connecting Communities" national program with transit agencies and first responders.
APTA Launches ‘Transportation Tuesdays’
“Transportation Tuesdays,” a new series of after-work transportation discussions to be held at the APTA offices in Washington the first Tuesday of the month, began on Dec. 2 and featured Robert Puentes, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative. He spoke about how public transportation infrastructure investment can have an important impact as part of both short-term stimulus legislation and an ongoing legislative agenda.
Although transportation plays a major role in the national economy—it represents 11 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and helps other parts function—Puentes said the lack of a federal framework has caused construction and maintenance to suffer. “We must connect transportation to the legislative agenda and look to the future and new ideas,” he said.
“The national transportation plan needs a makeover,” said Puentes. He stated that improved transportation infrastructure could benefit several kinds of “broad negative economic impact” such as traffic congestion, greenhouse gas buildup, and increased household spending levels. He cited statistics showing the sharp decline in transportation investment levels from the 1950s through 1973 – the era of the Interstate Highway System – to just 1 percent of the federal budget in the 1990s.
Puentes noted the “perfect storm” of economic, energy, and environmental challenges currently affecting transportation and the “rapidly, massively changing economy.” To create “a new way for transportation,” he offered several necessary components:
* Fix what’s broken and build out green infrastructure.
* Ensure that local municipalities have a role in programming transportation funds, including direct operating support.
* Keep the process transparent and accessible, allowing the public to know how the funds are being spent.
* Send the right signals regarding the legislative agenda. He called on the federal government to be a “strong, deliberate partner” in the process; to set strict criteria to ensure that high-return areas receive the greatest investment; and to target investments to the needs of critical sites.
* Create a 21st-Century Infrastructure Agenda, including the appointment of an infrastructure czar; reform of the federal surface transportation program; and a re-evaluation of metrics and performance measures.
Regarding the condition of U.S. transportation infrastructure, Puentes emphasized: “We can’t stop traveling, but we can change how we travel. It’s critical for the stimulus to chart a new way for transportation to operate.”
This presentation had close to 100 in attendance, from such varied agencies and organizations as the Federal Transit Administration, U.S. DOT, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, World Bank, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Federal Maritime Commission, and area law and consulting firms.
APTA to Welcome Transit CEOs in Santa Monica
Jim Austin, MPA/MURP, director of executive education at Decision Strategies International Inc., and Stephen Van Beek, Ph.D., president/chief executive officer of the Eno Transportation Foundation, will be among the keynote speakers at the 2009 APTA Transit CEOs Seminar, Jan. 24 to 27 at the Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, CA.
APTA has designed this unique forum to meet the professional development needs of public transportation agency chief executives and their deputies.
Austin will lead discussions about decision-making patterns, leadership and strategy, and creating a local vision for the future. He has more than 25 years in executive development programs on strategy, communications, organizational change, and helping organizations grow across industry segments.
Van Beek will provide a political and strategic overview of the effort to prepare a new federal transportation authorization bill. The current law, SAFETEA-LU, expires Sept. 30, 2009.
The seminar schedule also will include discussions of trends in labor relations, workforce development, CEOs’ compensation packages, sustainability, and more. One session will feature presentations by CEOs on their organizations’ best practices, new programs, and initiatives, such as successful November ballot issues and the light rail service beginning operation later this month in Phoenix.
While most of the sessions will involve the entire group, a set of concurrent sessions will focus on engaging legal counsel and working with an executive coach, respectively. Lunchtime discussions about diversity and strategic processes, as well as individual system updates, will be organized by system size so the emphasis will be on solutions and challenges in similar population and service situations.
The Eno Transportation Foundation’s Center for Transportation Leadership will provide additional training on changing the way organizations do business and overall business models. The discussions and case study reviews will include technology, health care and other benefits, financing, policy, and thinking across modes and jurisdictions.
Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, host system for the seminar, will offer a Sustainability City Tour and will show its video, The Bus of the Future, depicting bus designs centered on quality customer service.
The preliminary program and registration/hotel forms are available at www.apta.com. For information, contact Lynne Morsen at (202) 496-4853 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.