Passenger Transport - March 16, 2009
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Sec. LaHood, Scott Testify on Transit at Senate Banking Committee Hearing

By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

In a hearing March 12 before the Senate Banking Committee, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood reaffirmed his commitment to public transportation and assured committee members he will work with Congress to resolve concerns about proposed changes to public transit financing and other issues.

Public transportation “is vital to enhancing the nation’s productivity and effectiveness,” LaHood told the committee, chaired by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

The secretary emphasized the importance of the upcoming surface transportation authorization legislation to the nation. "We need an innovative and forward-looking transportation package to keep the economic recovery going,” he said.

He listed five elements the new bill should include: safety improvements on all modes; the promotion of livable communities; an emphasis on “expanding travel choices, including transit, wherever possible” to address carbon emissions and climate change; elements to ensure transparency in the ways the investments are used; and technological innovations.

The former congressman from Illinois assured the committee of the President’s commitment to public transportation. “President Obama is from Chicago,” he noted. “And I can tell you he’s ridden a lot of buses and trains.”

During the hearing, Dodd noted concerns about proposed rule changes included in President Obama's recent budget outline that, according to APTA, "would alter the current budgetary treatment of contract authority and the 'firewalls' that have been a critical component to the multi-year planning and finance needs of recipients of transit funding." Dodd called the proposal “a fundamental alteration” to the transit’s financing system that could deal a “significant blow” to systems’ ability to make needed improvements. The secretary vowed to work with the committee.

The chairman, joined by Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL), also raised concerns about the process for New Starts project approval, which Dodd called “an incredibly burdensome path.” The secretary said streamlining is possible, citing the quick and efficient disbursement of transportation funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Shelby asked if public transit might someday rely more on the General Fund than the Highway Trust Fund. LaHood said that, while “the Highway Trust Fund was adequate for building the Interstate Highway System,” it is “antiquated” with “not enough resources…to do all the things you want to do.” He mentioned as potential additional funding mechanisms public-private partnerships, lane tolling, and a National Infrastructure Bank — an idea espoused by Dodd.

In answer to Sen. Jack Reed’s (D-RI) inquiry about what systems could expect regarding operational assistance, LaHood offered what he called his “own personal view.” He said “it’s common sense” that something must be done if buses or trains sit idle because of a dearth of operational funding.

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) voiced concern regarding a Federal Transit Administration Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would curtail public transit systems’ ability to support student transportation. The secretary said his department would “evaluate all the elements. We know that this is a very serious problem” in many states.

Scott: A Need for More Investment
Dr. Beverly Scott, general manager and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and chair of APTA, told the committee in her testimony: “We desperately need a significantly greater investment in all aspects of our nation’s public transportation infrastructure.”

She pointed to recent progress but added: “We are still largely suited up in 20th-century armor for a 21st-century world—from how we fund public transportation to how we organize public transportation, to how we manage public transportation and deliver all of the various programs.”

While much recent discussion focuses on public transportation needs and funding formulas, Scott said more focus should be given to strategic issues such as national goals, mode-neutral resource allocation, outcomes, standards, performance metrics, and the future of the nation’s public transit system. She called the committee’s attention to APTA’s TransitVision 2050 report.

“Getting from here to there will definitely require a significant shift in thinking, planning, funding, organizing, managing, and a broader range of tools,” Scott said, such as “alternative business models, public-private partnerships, funding strategies including tolls, usage fees, a national infrastructure bank, and innovative project delivery methods like design-build/operate-maintain approaches where it makes sense.”

She also gave her support to Dodd’s call for the establishment of a White House Office of Sustainability.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper discussed public transit’s contributions to energy independence in his testimony before the committee. “Oil independence starts with giving people good alternatives,” he explained. Going forward, “all federally assisted transportation investments must address energy and climate concerns in addition to mobility.”

Hickenlooper noted that last year the U.S. Conference of Mayors called for a metropolitan mobility program that would emphasize economic development and sustainability.

Joseph Marie, commissioner of Connecticut DOT, also testified at the hearing. The funding crisis facing transit systems is due in great part to two factors, he said: “Our operating costs are growing … And at the same time, we have infrastructure that is requiring of more tender loving care. So we have these big capital needs colliding with big operating needs, and we’re all struggling around the country.”

Marie--chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Standing Committee on Public Transportation--echoed the call for a streamlining of the New Starts process, noting that his state is planning a new Bus Rapid Transit busway between New Britain and Hartford.

10.7 Billion Trips Taken on Public Transit in 2008 Marks 52-Year High

The last time North Americans took as many rides on public transportation as they did in 2008, Dwight Eisenhower was running for his second term as president; Around the World in 80 Days won the Academy Award for Best Picture; My Fair Lady opened on Broadway; and Congress gave approval for the Interstate Highway System.

The total U.S. ridership on public transportation during 2008, 10.7 billion rides, is the highest in 52 years, APTA President William W. Millar announced at the March 9 Opening General Session of the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington. These figures remained high despite falling gas prices and an economic recession: the total for the fourth quarter of the year was 1.7 percent above the same quarter in 2007.

“For all of 2008, we saw total U.S. ridership for all modes increase more than 4 percent over 2007! Which was a record over 2006, which was a record over 2005, etc.,” Millar said. “High gas prices got people onto public transit; they decided they liked saving money and stress, so they’ve stuck with it, and even more continue to get on board…Many Americans tried transit to beat the high cost of gas and stayed because it met their needs.”

The 4 percent total increase in U.S. transit ridership comes at the same time as a 3.6 percent decrease in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) reported by U.S. DOT.

Public transportation use has expanded by 38 percent since 1995, a figure almost triple the growth rate of the population (14 percent) and substantially higher than the growth rate for VMT on the nation’s highways (21 percent) for the same period.

For the second year in a row, all modes of public transportation saw increases in every quarter. Light rail (modern streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) showed the highest percentage of annual ridership increase among all modes, with 8.3 percent, followed by almost 5 percent for commuter rail; 3.5 percent for heavy rail; and almost 4 percent for all bus agencies.

The LYNX Blue Line in Charlotte, NC, which opened in November 2007, led the light rail sector with an annual increase of 862 percent. Ridership on the streetcars in New Orleans, which have been returning to service gradually since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rose 218 percent in 2008. Other light rail systems reporting double-digit increases include Buffalo (23.9 percent); Philadelphia (23.3 percent); Sacramento (14.4 percent); Baltimore (13.7 percent); Minneapolis (12.3 percent); Salt Lake City (12.3 percent); the state of New Jersey (10.9 percent); Denver (10.5 percent); and Dallas (10.2 percent).

Commuter rail ridership increased in 2008 by 4.7 percent. The highest levels of growth occurred in Albuquerque (35.1 percent); Portland, ME (26.5 percent); Seattle (23.8 percent); Pompano Beach, FL (22.9 percent); Harrisburg-Philadelphia (17.7 percent); New Haven (17.5 percent); Oakland (16.1 percent); Stockton, CA (14.7 percent); Dallas-Fort Worth (14.1 percent); and San Carlos, CA (12.5 percent).

Heavy rail (subway) saw a 3.5 percent increase in 2008, with these cities showing the largest growth: San Juan, PR (13.3 percent); Lindenwold, NJ (9.9 percent); Atlanta (8.6 percent); Miami (8.2 percent); Boston (7.9 percent); and Los Angeles (7.7 percent).

Bus service saw an overall increase of 3.9 percent for the year, but the figure for communities with a population of less than 100,000 was 9.3 percent. Major increases by large bus agencies occurred in the following cities: Phoenix (11.5 percent); San Antonio (10.2 percent); San Diego (10.0 percent); St. Louis (8.9 percent); Baltimore (8.7 percent); and Denver (8.6 percent).

The complete APTA ridership report is available online. Information on public transportation’s role in climate change and energy independence can be found here.

Sec. LaHood Addresses Legislative Conference

By SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

In his first speech before APTA members as the U.S. DOT secretary, during the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington, Ray LaHood told a packed audience: “The Obama administration gets it.”

Tom Lucek, general manager of CityLink in LaHood’s hometown of Peoria, IL, introduced the secretary, saying he “truly understands how transit stimulates the economy, how we can conserve energy, and how we can improve the environment, and how we can affect the quality of our lives.”

LaHood reminded attendees that President Obama routinely traveled by bus growing up in Hawaii and Vice President Joe Biden commuted by Amtrak between Washington and his home in Delaware for over 30 years. “We don’t have to educate them on the value of public transportation,” he said.

In noting the $8 billion for high speed rail through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, the secretary emphasized that this amount is more than DOT has ever had before, and that he has assembled a team of DOT officials to track and monitor the money. “This money was put in by the president personally because he believes in it,” he said, adding: “The president sees this as an investment that will be part of his legacy to reduce our carbon footprint, and all these funds will be 100% fully federally funded—a “win-win.” With ARRA containing both the high speed rail money and $8 billion for public transit, the secretary urged APTA members to thank their respective members of Congress for their work in crafting this legislation.

Among other topics covered in his remarks was transit-oriented development: “We know that healthy transportation systems are essential to getting our economy running. Livable communities will be an area we’ll work on very extensively. People want to live in areas where they don’t have to hop in a car to get where they’re going—and you’ll be a part of that.” The audience applauded that last comment.

During the question and answer segment that focused on applications for ARRA funding (for example, do we start thinking about filling out applications now – or wait?), La Hood’s response was: “Stay tuned. I want to be open-minded of going into authorization with the right idea about operational money – and we’ll try to make the case.” This response also elicited sustained applause.

Another question focused on whether to raise the gasoline tax. “The Highway Trust Fund is a 20th century funding mechanism,” he said, “so we need to think outside of the box, with new and creative ways” to aid public transportation, including public-private partnerships.

LaHood closed by discussing the forthcoming transportation authorization bill. “We’re going to meet with smart people in our department and develop principles for authorization,” he said, “and then send them to the president.” He added: “We will be full partners at DOT with all of you with your efforts to continue the progress that we already started and are continuing, and we look forward to working with you.”

$10.2 Billion for Transit in FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

President Barack Obama signed the long-awaited $410 billion Fiscal Year 2009 omnibus appropriations bill on March 11, one day after the Senate passed the legislation. The omnibus provides funding to 12 Cabinet departments including U.S. DOT.

The legislation—which was passed by voice vote after the majority Democrats invoked a procedure to prevent a filibuster—contained no changes from the House version of the bill. It provides $71.5 billion for U.S. DOT, including $10.2 billion for public transportation: $740 million more than the FY 2008 budget, a 7.8 percent increase and an all-time high for transit.

All departments of the executive branch other than Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security had been operating under continuing resolutions.

 

Range of Grant Programs Covered in FTA ARRA Workshop

By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

The Federal Transit Administration, continuing its pledge to provide the latest information to public transportation professionals, conducted a workshop following APTA’s 2009 Legislative Conference on programs made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Presenters at the workshop—who included Susan Borinsky, FTA assistant administrator for planning and environment, and Susan Schruth, FTA assistant administrator for program management—discussed the programs’ many components and requirements.

Sherry Riklin of FTA’s Office of Transportation Policy Development gave an ARRA funding overview, noting that the funding does not waive any FTA program requirements; regular processes and NEPA both apply. All programs other than New Starts are funded 100 percent by the federal government.

She stressed that transit systems must act now to ensure they meet the ARRA-specified deadlines: On Sept. 1, 2009, at 180 days after FTA’s publication of apportionments in the Federal Register, FTA will determine if systems have obligated 50 percent of received ARRA funding; unobligated funds from this 50 percent will be reallocated to other applicants. FTA will again review the funding at 365 days, on March 5, 2010, the second deadline for obligation of funds. On Sept. 30, 2010, any money not obligated goes back to the Treasury. Pre-award authority is applicable from October 1, 2008.

Riklin also emphasized that grantees may not mix ARRA funds with other FTA grant funds. However, she noted, this does not mean a system cannot use several sources of funds for a project—only that it must submit several different grant applications, as with New Starts.

FTA will probably hire additional staff to handle ARRA disbursement, she said.

Discussion of Specific Programs
Specific programs were also discussed in the workshop, including the Multimodal Discretionary Program, a $1.5 billion competitive grant program for capital investment. Projects must have a “significant impact” on the nation, local metro area, or local region. Grant awards will be $20 million-$300 million and will receive a 100 percent federal share.

New Starts and Small Starts
Eligible public transportation projects include New Starts and Small Starts. Considerations will include equitable geographic distribution of funds; inclusion of urban and rural projects; and up to $200 million to pay federal credit assistance subsidy costs. Priority projects are those that need federal funds to complete their financing package— “gap funding”— and those to be completed in three years.

Riklin stated that agencies will have 90 days after publication in the Federal Register to apply. FTA anticipates it will announce selected projects before its own 360-day deadline for doing so. Details for this program are still in development, she said.

Urban Area Formula Grants
Henrika Buchanan-Smith, of FTA’s Office of Program Management, discussed Urban Area Formula Grants, comprising $5.7 billion allocated to urbanized areas using Section 5307 formula. This includes Section 5340 but not transit intensive cities. The same deadlines listed above apply for these funds.

Eligible recipients for Urban Formula grants include all public transit providers. Capital expenses must be consistent with FTA Section 5302(a)(1) and can include preventive maintenance; engineering and design; ADA compliance (up to 10 percent); and crime prevention and security, excluding operational activities unless they are associated with emergency response drills and security training. Program requirements of Section 5307 apply, including the rule that cities with more than 200,000 residents must spend 10 percent for transit enhancement.

Non-Urbanized Area Formula Grants
Buchanan-Smith also discussed the nonurbanized area formula grants (NAFGs), per FTA Section 5311: $760 million, allocated to states through the 5311 formula. Each state sub-awards the funds to sub-recipients; the state is responsible for applying to FTA for these funds. This program has the same eligible activities as those for Urban Formula grants. Each recipient must spend 15 percent for inner-city bus service or certify exemption; FY 2009 certifications are sufficient, she noted.

Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment Program
The Fixed Guideway Infrastructure Investment program consists of $750 million to modernize, maintain, or improve existing fixed guideway systems. The same deadlines apply—50 percent by September 1, 2009 and the remainder by March 5, 2010. Fixed Guideway systems must be 7 years old or older and must have threshold of at least one mile. Allocations will be made under tiers 1,2,3, and partially tier 4, with the exception of Morgantown, WV, which was specified in the statute.

Tribal Transit Program
Mary Martha Churchman, also of the FTA, reviewed grants disbursed under the Tribal Transit Program, which comprises $17 million (2.5 percent of the total for non-urbanized areas).

Capital Investment Grants
Capital Investment Grants (New Starts and Small Starts) were discussed by Sherry Riklin. Priority will be given to projects in construction and those eligible to obligate funds within 150 days of Feb. 17, 2009. One benefit of ARRA funding is that it creates $750 million to $1.5 billion in commitment authority, depending on the allocation approach.

This process will begin with a project management office review of existing and soon-to-be-executed contracts. Cash flow needs will be based on contract payables, and FTA will look at different allocation scenarios based on need, equity, and completion of existing agreements. FTA hopes to announce allocations in the Federal Register this month.

Churchman reviewed reporting and certifications under ARRA. She noted a high degree of oversight and public interest from Congress and online. The president himself has noted that ARRA funds will be subject to “unprecedented transparency,” she said, and so systems should expect new reporting requirements. These will likely include the name of every contractor to whom grant funds are used to compensate, as well as the amount and purpose of each contract.

Greenhouse Gas Grant Program Explained

How can an agency increase its chances of successfully obtaining funding from two new programs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)?  Become thoroughly familiar with several parameters of those programs, advised a Federal Transit Administration representative at a March 11 workshop that followed the 2009 APTA Legislative Conference. This portion of the packed workshop generated a significant number of questions.

According to Bruce Robinson, FTA deputy director of research, demonstration, and innovation, the new Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program will allow transit systems to apply for capital funding based on projected savings of either greenhouse gases or projected energy reduction, but not both.

Under TIGGER, transit agencies rather than state DOTs or Metropolitan Planning Organizations would be the ultimate fund recipients. FTA plans to set the range of funds from $2 million to $25 million. Agencies could pool their projects to qualify for the $2 million threshold, though each applicant would still have to explain how its individual project meets program criteria.

In calculating their energy or greenhouse gas savings, systems must include data not listed in Table 17 of the National Transit Database (NTD), which collects only the energy usage of directly operated revenue vehicles. Applicants also will need to include the purchase of energy such as fuels (liquid or gas) and electricity. However, energy generated by the agency itself would be exempt.

For example, Robinson said, for a diesel-powered generator, the applying system would report the diesel fuel as consumed energy but not the electricity produced by that generator. The same is true for solar panels, wind turbines, and any other energy source that consumes no energy.

One important aspect is that the program will tally only energy purchased directly by the transit system and will exclude the energy used by contract service providers—or from power plants or manufacturers servicing the transit system.

Robinson said FTA would consider the question of whether a contractor’s energy consumption would be reportable if the transit system owns the capital used by the contractor. Likewise, one audience member asked if his system—which currently imports compressed natural gas (CNG) from two states away—were to build its own liquefaction and compressing station, would it qualify based on the associated energy savings. Right now, Robinson said, FTA says no. “Part of the reason was to make it easier for agencies to calculate their total usage,” he explained, so transit systems need not reach out to all of their contractors.

FTA will also make a decision as to whether a transit system could use ARRA formula funds to make a capital purchase, such as a hybrid bus, then apply for a TIGGER energy or greenhouse gas grant to pay the additional costs associated with the green technology.

The decision not to allow systems to apply for funding through both programs for purchases that would save both energy and greenhouse gas emissions raised some concern in the audience. Robinson said FTA’s intent is to comply with the wording of the ARRA legislation, which uses the word “or” rather than “and” in mandating that the funds be used to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions or energy consumption.” However, some in the audience countered that allowing application for both programs would simplify the process and be more fair to rural systems, because of the requirement that the energy or gas emissions saved be at least a certain portion of the system’s projected total.

Likewise, the greenhouse gas savings and energy savings programs have different selection criteria. For energy savings, prospective grantees should include the projected total energy reduction of the project alone for life of the investment—in addition to the total energy reduction of the project as a percentage of total energy usage of the transit agency. Robinson recommended the latter be calculated using NTD data in addition to energy used by bus garages, nonrevenue vehicles, stations, and the like. More specific guidance on this will be forthcoming, he said. Once total energy consumption has been calculated, the percentage can be determined.

The criteria for the greenhouse gas emissions program are still in development, he said. But a major difference from the energy savings program will be that the greenhouse gas program requires only the total projected reduction of emissions resulting from the project, but not the percentage of total emissions produced by the entire transit system.

Both programs will also consider as criteria each project’s cost-effectiveness, readiness for action, applicant eligibility, technical capacity, national applicability, and innovativeness.

Robinson said FTA hopes to issue its notice of funding availability, as well as application guidance, for TIGGER by March 19 in the Federal Register and on its web site.

A Case for Regional Transit Funds

By STAN ROSENBERG and DANIEL BOSLEY

 This story originally appeared in The Boston Globe on Feb. 7, 2009. Reprinted by permission of the authors.

 

 

 Stan Rosenberg

 Daniel Bosley


“Remember the Regional Transportation Authorities!” Admittedly, as rallying cries go, that one is somewhat less inspiring than, say, “Remember the Alamo” or “Remember the Maine.” But as Beacon Hill begins to address the needs of the transportation system, the members of the Legislature’s Regional Transportation Caucus will be sounding that message relentlessly.

And why the concern? There are 15 regional transportation authorities in the state. They serve 231 of the state’s 351 communities, and they provide approximately 25 million rides a year. Yet as various ideas about reorganizing the state’s transportation systems and addressing transportation needs have been floated, there has been little talk about the authorities. There’s been talk of increasing some tolls and raising the gas tax, but that’s been done only in the context of how it might benefit the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, the Big Dig, and other transportation needs of the urban center inside I-95.

That’s fine. No one is disputing the importance of the MBTA, an organization that received $768 million in taxpayer support last year, compared with the $58 million for RTAs, or the need to finish paying off the Big Dig. Those issues must be addressed, but so must the public transportation needs of areas outside of metropolitan Boston.

The state needs a comprehensive plan that not only helps urban professionals get to their jobs in Boston, but also helps elderly rural residents get to their medical appointments. It’s no exaggeration to say that the lives and livelihoods of a lot of people, especially in rural and suburban areas, depend on safe, reliable public transportation, the very service that regional transportation authorities provide.

The Regional Transportation Caucus will propose doubling operating funding for the authorities over a five- to seven-year period in order to expand services, improve reliability, and create more flexibility in routes. In addition, it will call for increased capital funding to modernize fleets and facilities, and insist on management reforms to improve the administration of the 15 authorities.

The inclusion of these elements in a comprehensive transportation plan would build on the success of the Regional Transportation Caucus last year when the Patrick administration moved aggressively on a proposal in the Transportation Bond Bill to place regional transportation authorities on a “forward funding” system. Forward funding eliminates the borrowing required by the “lag funding” system and will save state taxpayers $2 million to $5 million in interest payments each year.

The issue of transportation policy is likely to take center stage in Washington and in state houses across the country as tens of billions of dollars may be earmarked for transportation infrastructure nationwide as part of the economic stimulus package. What will make the coming discussions especially important is the fact that transportation policies will have direct impacts on the economy and the environment. All the more reason to remember the regional transportation authorities.

For example, a car is often a necessity in rural areas. And although gasoline prices are currently at a five-year low, it is unreasonable to believe they will stay that way as oil reserves dwindle. Moreover, it seems to make good sense to give rural residents public transportation options so that they can leave their cars at home whenever possible, thereby saving money and gas and protecting the environment. Again, adequately funded regional transportation authorities can play a key role in this dynamic by providing quality mass transit services now and by helping to lay the groundwork for more commuter rail systems in the future, a development that would have enormous economic impact outside Greater Boston.

We need to rethink the ways we get around. We need new ideas and a comprehensive plan that includes everyone in this state, from the daily MBTA rider to the person who has never been to Boston and relies on a bus in Fall River or Chatham.

We need to remember the regional transportation authorities.

Editor’s Note: Rosenberg is president pro tem of the Massachusetts State Senate and Bosley, a member of the Massachusetts State House, chairs the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. They co-chair the legislature’s Regional Transportation Caucus.

Members of Congress Share Views on Sustainability, Economic Stimulus, and Authorization

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor, and JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

The two primary Congressional authors of the upcoming transportation authorization bill—Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. James. L. Oberstar (D-MN)—were joined by three House Members who spoke about environmental sustainability, fiscal responsibility, and the role of public transportation in these efforts when they addressed separate sessions at APTA’s Legislative Conference.

Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was the keynote speaker at the Opening General Session. “You must enjoy what you’re doing,” he told the transit professionals regarding the record 10.7 billion rides they provided last year. “You’re doing your job and laying the groundwork for even better things to come.”

He suggested that “OPEC did us a favor” by raising gasoline prices to more than $4 a gallon during 2008. “People found options—such as transit,” he said, “but now that the prices have come down again, if people stop there and go back to driving, we won’t be serving the public well.”

The Congressman enthused over the $8 billion for high-speed rail included in the ARRA legislation, offering examples of the “civilized” high-speed service in Europe. He also stressed the positive “rippling” effect of federal transit funds on the U.S. economy, where a transit agency in one state may order buses or railcars manufactured in another—boosting ridership in one place and creating jobs in another.

“A new bill is coming,” Oberstar said of the next transportation authorization bill, which will follow the expiration of SAFETEA-LU on Sept. 30. “You just help us write it.” Together, he said: “We can make the 21st century the bright age of transit.”

The following morning, Sen. Dodd, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, led off the General Session. Appearing at the conference for the first time, Dodd has called for the bill to include a vision; funding; transit-oriented development; and a national infrastructure bank.

“Obviously, we meet at a very transformative moment in our nation’s history,” Dodd said, with “the very future of our planet” at stake with the new authorization. With the U.S. population expected to grow another 50 percent in the first half of this century, he noted that this will require millions of new homes and office space—and a dramatic increase in America’s carbon emissions unless bold measures are undertaken.

Dodd also emphasized public transportation’s significant economic benefits. He compared the current economic crisis not to the Great Depression, but to the nearly forgotten Great Panic of 1873 that continued for six years, and was initially caused by a transportation crisis: horse influenza caused the shutdown of horse-drawn street railways and stopped freight delivery.

Major investment is needed to prevent a similar situation now, he said, calling the current overall U.S. transportation system “inefficient, deteriorating, and responsible for a third of our carbon footprint.”

Dodd said he hopes public transit will be “the bedrock of climate change and energy efforts. “We shouldn’t confuse a down payment with a new policy,” he added, “and we shouldn’t confuse ‘shovel ready’ with ‘future ready.’ And we need future-ready projects.”

Also speaking were Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and John Mica (R-FL). Blumenauer cited his sponsorship of the Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Equity Act (CLEAN-TEA). That bill calls for cap-and-trade (via auction) of greenhouse gas emissions, with 10 percent of the resulting revenues devoted to “greening” public transportation.

In contrast, DeFazio said he regards reliance on the market to regulate carbon emissions as a threat, rather than a solution, and that such a system would be dictated by derivatives traders on Wall Street and by hedge funds.

Mica, ranking member of the T&I, emphasized that the transportation authorization bill is “not just a highway bill, but a transportation bill for the United States,” and that it needs “strong components for public transit and for rail, both freight and passenger.” He continued: “I strongly advocate that, in the document we produce to replace SAFETEA-LU, that we have a strategic plan based on intermodal components and include all modes. It’s essential that we do that.”

He noted that he and Oberstar worked together in just 437 days to pass a proposal to replace the highway bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed in August 2007. “Normally that process takes seven or eight years,” he said, so “nothing should stop us from moving forward now with some of the transit projects we have.”

During the session, conference participants offered questions and comments to the speakers before going to Capitol Hill to meet with their respective representatives and senators.

APTA Launches ‘Public Transportation Takes Us There’ Campaign

At the opening session of its Legislative Conference on March 9, APTA announced the launch of a new advocacy campaign aimed at building congressional support for increased federal investment in public transportation through the authorization of the transportation bill up for a vote next fall.

“Public Transportation Takes Us There,” the name of the new campaign, will highlight the need for increased investment in public transportation to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, reduce dependence on foreign oil, protect the environment, and enhance quality of life for all Americans.

“In the grand scheme of things, we are a public investment with a ‘multiplier effect’ that definitely packs a wallop,” said APTA Chair Beverly Scott in her opening session remarks. “Remember:  three Es and a Q!  That stands for economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability, energy independence, and overall quality of life.”

APTA leveraged the announcement of the ridership report at the legislative conference to launch the campaign. This resulted in a strong national presence in the media garnering stories in such outlets as The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Local media also picked up on the story. Local radio stations and print outlets conducted more than 30 interviews with transit chief executive officers attending the APTA Legislative Conference in Washington. In addition, APTA ran print, online and radio advocacy advertisements in the Beltway market to complement the media outreach and the direct contact APTA members made on Capitol Hill. 

“In these tough times, Americans are looking for solutions to address the many problems we face—a struggling economy, polluted planet, and dependence on foreign oil,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “APTA wants to ensure that Congress recognizes the significant role public transportation can play in finding solutions to these challenges.”

Through this program, APTA will continue to develop an integrated communications and outreach program to pursue an increased media presence in the Washington market and will work with the members reaching out on the local and state level. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, APTA will aggressively pitch relevant news stories, including Ridership Reports and job creation reports tied to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and will meet with the editorial boards of influential publications to push for increased investment. The effort will also include targeted advertising on the national level and around the DC market.

APTA also launched a campaign microsite that contains a toolkit with advocacy materials that can be downloaded and customized, including posters/flyers, media materials (press releases, op-eds, sample letters to the editor), and ads.

More information on APTA’s new campaign, and the downloadable toolkit, are available here.

Expert Tips on Lobbying from . . . Experts

By SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

Christopher P. Boylan, deputy executive director, corporate affairs and communications, with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, termed the March 9 workshop he moderated—“Effective Legislative Advocacy: Tips, Techniques, and Best Practices”—the “how-to” session through which attendees could learn how to communicate with people on Capitol Hill.

“The first secret to good lobbying,” he said, “unless you have a huge ego, the most important person to see in the room is really the staff folks, because they are the ones who influence the member. So keep the staffer or member informed on what you’re doing throughout the year.” He added: “Don’t always go with an ‘ask,’ go with a ‘tell,’” meaning that anyone lobbying or advocating for a particular cause should try to provide information, not just ask for something.

Further, suggested Boylan, always leave something behind—a card, note, APTA package—“so they’ll remember you were there.”

Successful Advocacy Techniques
Four panelists participated in the workshop. Sarah Kline, director of policy and governmental relations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, gave this advice for how and when to provide input on new legislation: “Right now, if not yesterday.” The best time to put forth an issue or perspective is in that development process, she said, “before that bill even sees the light of day.”

As to how to compel members of Congress or staffers to pay attention to an issue, she stressed: “Create a compelling policy argument. What’s the real-life consequence? Just make the case.”

Jason Tai, legislative director and chief of staff in the office of Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), focused on what he called the “three Ps”: policy, politics, and projects. “The politics of the personal office is very focused on the next election,” he said. While the staff members keep an eye on policy, “as the chief adviser to the member,” he added, “I’m more concerned about politics—how it plays back home.”

Tai’s advice was certainly to talk about the subject being advocated, but to keep in mind that “the relationship game is a big part of this: having people skills, and understanding how policies and policy are intertwined.”

Tai added a fourth “P,” for “pretty nice,” meaning that visitors to a Congressional office should be nice, be pleasant when approaching with a request, policy, or project.

Tim Lovain, chair, APTA Washington Area Transit Industry Representatives Group, and vice president and general counsel, Denny Miller Associates of Washington, DC, distilled his suggestions initially to three words: time, reelection, and comity.

“Time is maybe the most important—it’s the scarcest commodity on Capitol Hill,” Lovain said, “so be respectful of the time pressures they are under.” Make the point right away (“with a member, you’ve got maybe 15 seconds”), unless, he added, the staffer “wants to talk about college basketball.” This concern about time, he said, also applies to any materials left behind, which generally should be only one or two pages.

Because House members in particular are always looking toward their next election, he advised that visitors, for example, when talking about ridership, stress how many of the member’s constituents will use a park-and-ride lot. He also advised scheduling ground breakings and ribbon cuttings during Congressional recesses, and inviting the members to attend and participate.

On the subject of comity, he said: “The ‘my esteemed colleague’ is the lubricant; it’s part of the ethic here. So don’t be sarcastic or angry or condescending.”

Good lobbyists, Lovain pointed out, “are translators between their clients and members of Congress.” Since information is always valuable, he added, those who lobby from agencies might make only one or two visits to Washington a year, while a hired lobbyist could be a frequent presence on the Hill.

The last presenter was Kathy Ruffalo, a member of the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission and president of Ruffalo and Associations LLC, Washington, DC. She provided short but pointed advice, including: “Know your message (ask how much time you have and be ready to adjust your message to that time frame); be gracious and don’t ever get into arguments; follow up and follow through (send a thank-you note, by mail or e-mail); and don’t be afraid to talk to members, even if publicly they seem not to support you (they want to find a way to say ‘yes,’ so say: I know you can’t support ‘x,’ but can you support ‘y’?).”

In addition, she said: “I am a firm believer that if a person came in to see me and had a compelling policy reason—how public transportation impacts me and my neighborhood—that meant more than a high-powered lobbyist.”

Last Set of Helpful Hints
Near the end of the session, panelists provided a few more pointers: don’t make staffers work (one panelist cited a “citizen” advocate who said, “I brought only one copy, could you Xerox it for me?”); be credible; and understand that what people say is not always reliable (in other words, quoting Ronald Reagan, trust but verify).

Board of Directors Convenes March 8

Rail Financing Agenda Passes
At its meeting March 8, the APTA Board of Directors approved a four-point advocacy agenda for the finance of intercity and high-speed rail, including:

* Full funding for the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008;

* Tax-credit bonds;

* Revenues generated through climate strategies, such as cap-and-trade mechanisms and carbon taxes; and

* Additional funding opportunities, which could include public-private partnership options and private activity tax-exempt bonds.

Authorization Recommendation Amended, Approved
The board also approved an amendment of APTA’s authorization recommendation, which reads as follows:

“To more equitably reflect the needs of rapidly growing communities, densely populated communities, and others, the APTA Board of Directors amends APTA’s authorization recommendation to advocate modification or elimination of the distribution formula under the Section 5340 program.”

New Vice Chair-State Affairs
Also at the meeting, the board appointed Loren “Ben” Herr, executive director of the Texas Transit Association (TTA), as the new APTA vice chair-state affairs. He succeeds Matthew Tucker, who stepped down as director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to become executive director of the North County Transit District in Oceanside, CA.

Before joining TTA in 2005, Herr worked in the Public Transportation Division of Texas DOT. Earlier, he was a project manager/department manager for the U.S. Army at Fort Hood, TX, and an executive officer for United States Forces in Seoul, Korea.

Herr’s term ends at the APTA Annual Meeting in October.

U.S. High-Speed Rail: Time is Right?

The Obama Administration’s inclusion of $8 billion in funding for intercity and high-speed rail in the ARRA legislation means that, after years of preparation, the time is finally right for America to join the rest of the world.

Those were the sentiments of Rod Diridon, executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, CA, and chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee, at a session entitled “Commuter and High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Issues” held during APTA’s Legislative Conference.  

“High-speed rail fights global warming, puts people to work, and makes us globally competitive,” Diridon said. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point; now, with the stars aligned and the right people in office, it’s being given to us on a silver platter. We need to put the money to work immediately.”

“High-speed rail has been my top priority since my first day,” said Mike Meenan, minority counsel to the House T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. “Last year we reauthorized Amtrak and passed the rail safety bill; now it’s time to move forward with the high-speed rail agenda.”

He cited two sections of the Amtrak reauthorization legislation that relate to high-speed rail. Section 502 requires the Federal Railroad Administration to receive proposals for 10 high-speed rail corridors as well as the Northeast Corridor, with trains operating 25 percent faster than they do currently. Section 501 provides $1.5 billion for high-speed rail development in federally designated corridors. He noted that FRA has received more than 95 statements of interest regarding high-speed rail projects.

Jennifer Esposito, majority staff director with the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, provided an overview of rail safety and development measures, including the provisions in ARRA. She noted a rail safety bill that provides $1.6 billion through Fiscal Year 2013, and emphasized that Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the full T&I Committee, “is focused on transparency and accountability” with regard to making sure transit agencies are receiving ARRA funds and creating jobs.

Melissa Porter, transportation counsel with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, cited reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Board and rail competition issues as “the top” of the committee’s agenda. She also said the committee chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), is interested in establishing objectives and goals for surface transportation improvements.

“What you’re going to see coming out of FRA is fully supported by the Obama Administration,” said acting FRA Deputy Administrator Jo Strang. “I can’t think of a more exciting time to work for FRA.”

Environmental Concerns Include Cap-and-Trade, FTA Green Grants

By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

A large consensus on Capitol Hill realizes that public transit use reduces the nation’s emissions of greenhouse gases. However, as demonstrated at a March 9 session during the APTA Legislative Conference, there is debate over how best to regulate those emissions.

David Gardiner, a sustainability consultant and former director of President Clinton’s Climate Change Task Force, noted that the Obama Administration has estimated that such a system would raise $80 billion between 2012 and 2019. “There’s going to be a big tussle over what to do with this money,” he said.

Several prominent members and supporters of public transit advocate a cap for greenhouse gas emissions and the trade, via sale and/or auction, of those caps among entities subject to emissions limits, including public transit systems, fuel producers, and other suppliers of the industry. For example, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has cosponsored the Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Equity Act (CLEAN-TEA), which calls for cap and trade (via auction) of greenhouse gas emissions. Ten percent of the resulting revenues would be devoted to “greening” public transportation.

A co-sponsor of CLEAN-TEA on the Senate side is Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). A member of his legislative staff, Matthew Kelly, said Specter expects the bill might come up for a vote before surface transportation authorization does and, according to Kelly, might “possibly be the only transportation revenue-raiser to come this year.”

FTA Preparing Grant Notices
Matt Welbes, executive director of the Federal Transit Administration, announced March 9 that FTA planned to have grant notices “in a few days” regarding the ARRA law’s $100 million in grants for greenhouse gas emission reduction. Such grants could be used for hybrid vehicle purchases, energy recapture, green buildings, renewable energy generation and other green investment, he noted, and applications will likely be due in mid-May.

Welbes, as part of the panel of experts discussing climate change and sustainability issues, also shared his general views. “I think we all know that we are in the sustainability business,” he said, noting that fully one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas and 10 percent of global emissions are from the transportation sector.

Advocating for Urban Development
Blair Anderson, legislative director for Rep.  John Olver (D-MA), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), said Olver has been advocating greater involvement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in planning transit-oriented communities, working with U.S. DOT.

In addition, according to Anderson, Olver believes that federally funded projects, including some transportation structures, should meet basic requirements for green buildings. He noted that the federal government spends billions of dollars to subsidize utilities for grantees, so green buildings would in the long run save taxpayer money.

The Green Transit Act, H.R. 803, would require any transit facility or maintenance facility receiving money through FTA Sections 5407, 5409, or 5411, to meet minimum green-building standards. This requirement would be similar to the language passed in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Successful adoption of these practices would lead a grantee to basic LEED standard certification, Anderson said. He emphasized that the green standards are minimum standards.

Hill Staffers: A Lot to Do on Transit Issues, Ready to Do It

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

The 111th Congress is facing a lot of transportation-related issues in the coming months—implementation of ARRA, completion of the Fiscal Year 2009 omnibus appropriations bill, development of the FY 2010 budget, and creation and passage of the transportation authorization bill—and key Congressional committees are ready to jump in. That was the message shared by House and Senate staffers at the March 9 “View from the Hill” session during the APTA Legislative Conference.

For example: “We’re enthusiastic about doing the authorization bill this year,” said Mitch Warren, majority professional staff member for the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. He also described the importance of public transit to a nation looking at a projected 50 percent increase in population by 2050, largely consisting of the elderly, immigrants, and single-person households.

Warren also called for more parity between transit and highway policies and streamlining the design and construction process. He noted that his committee will hear testimony from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at a March 12 hearing.

Shannon Hines, minority professional staff member for the same committee, noted that the Senate is running behind the House in preparing for the authorization bill. “The big hill we have to climb is, how do we finance this bill long-term and maintain the piece of the pie?” she said.

Hines cited past underfunding of U.S. infrastructure and said Congress often “pour[s] money into new investments and building new things but not [into] funding long-term maintenance requirements. We must ensure that, whatever we’re funding, we continue to pay for over the long haul.”

“The next authorization bill will have some deep and challenging financing issues,” said Peter Rogoff, majority clerk to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. He also described the process of either getting the FY 2009 omnibus appropriations bill through the Senate or passing another continuing resolution (CR) before the current CR expires, and said the Transportation Trust Fund may face another shortfall before the end of the fiscal year.

Joyce Rose, minority staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, said the next authorization bill must be “transformative” and could set transportation funding levels at $500 billion over six years. “I hope it will be generous; the need is there in the highway, transit, and highway safety community,” she added.

She noted the importance of fiscal predictability to a state DOT or agency, noting that flexibility brings “great promise but [also] risk because you don’t know how much [money] your program is going to receive.”

Amy Scarton, majority counsel for the T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, said the chair of the full committee, Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), hopes to mark up the authorization bill by Memorial Day, then get it to the House floor in June or July. “We need time to let the other body and the Administration put their stamp on it,” she said.

She also said the subcommittee is looking for positive environmental outcomes, asking, “Why are not all programs intermodal, or green in some way?”

McCrory: Transit Planning an Ongoing Process

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

The planning process for public transportation is not a line with a finite beginning and end; it’s a circle that “constantly goes around,” according to Patrick McCrory, seven-term mayor of Charlotte, NC, who spoke March 9 at the seventh annual breakfast session sponsored by APTA’s business members. “You can never stop this process; you must continue to go forward,” he added.

Sharon Greene, APTA vice chair-business members, introduced the mayor.

McCrory, in his 14th year as mayor, spoke from his experience with the Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) LYNX Blue Line light rail, which entered service late in 2007. The project was controversial enough during construction that area residents placed a measure on the November 2007 ballot to eliminate the dedicated sales tax that supports CATS, but voters affirmed the tax by a margin greater than the earlier vote to enact the tax originally.

The mayor said he was concerned that LYNX ridership would fall short of expectations, but in fact the light rail line is reporting numbers at twice the projected amount: “Now there are critics who say we didn’t build it big enough.”

McCrory laid out the planning process for a public transit project in 10 steps:

Consensus. The transit agency must present its objective in a 25-second sound bite or, better, with photographs. (He showed a photo of a highway overrun by sprawl and a mockup of how the same corridor would look in 50 years with wise land investment.) Now that jobs are by far the greatest concern of the American public, he said, transit agencies should emphasize the economic, environmental, and transportation-related jobs that transit programs will create.

Urbanism. McCrory used this term to refer to the integration of transportation with housing, roads and economic development as components of a metropolitan plan.

Mobility. This general term includes all the ways that residents in an area can get around. As described by McCrory, a mobility plan should include sidewalks and bike paths as well as transit and roads.

Economic development. “I wanted the developers in my area to make money from the LYNX Blue Line,” McCrory explained, noting that economic development is as important a consideration in good economic times as in a slowdown. “Investment along a transit route leads to higher property taxes and rising land prices. It’s important to get the business community to buy into the project at the beginning.”

Governance. The planning process must take into account who’s making the decisions in a regional effort. McCrory formed a Metropolitan Transit Commission to accommodate the seven jurisdictions in the county that oversee transit, along with the Charlotte City Council’s control of the bus system,

A decision-making model. The basis of this model is the criteria set at the beginning of the project.

Finance. The way to ensure available funding for a major public transit project, McCrory said, is to create bipartisan coalitions at all levels of government.

Communication. The project is an ongoing campaign, McCrory noted, so the partners must keep their message before the public.

Making it work: design, construction, and operations. Every transit has its “major potholes and bumps,” the mayor said, and ensuring safety must be a priority.

Commitment. The stakeholders must demonstrate passion and leadership and prove how everyone is in this project together.

Partner Groups Push for More Investment, Discuss Authorization

By JOHN R. BELL, Program Manager-Communications

Environmental, labor, and community planning leaders discussed their roles in molding the upcoming transportation authorization bill at an APTA Legislative Conference session.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) transportation committee, said many programs newly supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are long-term priorities of his organization. “We need to make sure that we are modernizing our transportation systems—that [the funding] goes to places where it can do the most benefit,” he explained.

Hickenlooper said USCM supports place-based and economic measurements as criteria for federal funding: “We should stop going back to feudal and futile systems of looking at cities versus suburbs, and get past that to a dynamic whereby they work together, with incentives to make that transition,” he said.

For example, Denver’s Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks program covers the entire metropolitan area, with 2.8 million residents, rather than just Denver County, with 600,000. He pointed to the involvement and coordination of mayors with transit officials, focusing on economic development and land use planning as well as mobility.

Warren George, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, agreed that “this year is the year” for public transit, which offers green jobs that cannot be exported. “If we don’t grab it this year, it won’t come around for another 20, 30 years,” he said.

John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), noted that members of his association “consider ourselves close, strong partners” with APTA and its coalition partners. “We want transit ridership in this country to double in the next 20 years,” he said. “And once we do that, we want it to double again. We want to see 80 percent more spent on [public] transit.”

He was frank about the reasons highway planners would support public transit: “We need you to succeed because we can’t keep up” as Vehicle Miles Traveled continue to decrease.”

Dale Marsico, executive director of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), supported the view that public transit is at a watershed moment in its history. “We have come out of the political wilderness that we’ve been wandering around in for past 20-25 years,” he said. “We have been rediscovered for what we said we were all along: a way to solve a host of programs that affect the American people, regardless of where they live—urban or rural.”

He praised collaboration among APTA and partner groups on ARRA: “We must be more than patches on a quilt. We must be connected together. What good is it to have high-speed rail that connects two cities without good public transit? We need a seamless way that our customers can leave homes and get to destinations and not need to fly on an airplane.”

James Corless, campaign director for Transportation for America, a coalition of housing, development, social justice, environmental, and transit advocates, declared that the time is right for a transformational bill. But he added: “Before we ask for new money, we need a new vision.”

He called for the federal government to support transit operations and suggested that agencies “need to be a lot smarter about how we run transportation networks.” Corless’ other priorities included better land use and making driving “a choice, not a necessity.”

The diverse voices at this session made clear that public transportation does not stand alone as it faces the creation process for a new multi-year authorization bill.

Ornstein Calls for Consensus Between Left and Right

By SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

“In the area of public transportation," said Norman Ornstein, a veteran Washington, DC, political observer, “I don’t see anything ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’—you’ve got to find common ground.”

Kicking off APTA’s 2009 Legislative Conference, Ornstein—introduced by Doran Barnes, APTA vice chair-human resources, and Ed Mortimer of URS—shared insights and comments on the state of politics and policy in Washington.

He noted that, despite “one dramatic election and an overwhelming desire for change—and one charismatic president—this doesn’t erase sharp ideological differences between the parties.”

Ornstein continued: “If we had gotten broad bipartisan support [in the ARRA legislation], we would have seen an impact on the economy already. People would have said, ‘See, they are working together.’” Instead, he said, there is dysfunction, which is why he called for finding “a better way to make all of this synergistic, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that our economic problem is a global one.”

He repeated what is fast becoming an administration mantra: You should never waste a crisis. “It’s an opportunity,” he said. “Do what is necessary to deal with the crisis, but in a way to ensure long-term growth.” He then told the audience: “This is where you come in—to use this as an occasion to provide incentives to move to mass transit. This is a great opportunity!”

Ornstein cautioned, however, that agencies should ensure that the money they receive is spent appropriately, and that tight turn-around times not be used as “an excuse to evade checks and balances in the system.”

This is the year, he said, “to lay the foundation—at a time when the need to spend is greater than it’s been. This gives us opportunities for dramatic changes in our social fabric—and how we operate in society.”

The BBR: How a Bus Provides the Smallest, Busiest Sales Office

As part of its overhaul of fare policies and installation of a new smart card system, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO) has introduced new technology that allows its customers to perform fare transactions while on board the bus: the Banknote on Board Reloader (BBR).

METRO previously offered more than 65 fare payment methods with a variety of discounts ranging from 5 percent to 50 percent, based solely on the size of value of the revenue instrument rather than on the frequency of transit use. However, one fare instrument was especially popular: the $2 Daypass, which patrons could purchase upon boarding the bus and use for an entire day. Unfortunately, this instrument had been shown on review to be the source of much misuse and fraud, with METRO losing more than $2 million per year.

The agency determined that patrons liked the Daypass because of the convenience of purchasing a low-value instrument on board the bus during their trip. In crafting new fare transaction processes, METRO insisted on providing the same level of convenience to the patrons along with new benefits associated with the new Q Card.

METRO wanted the new smart card system to provide discount benefits to its patrons and created the “5 for 50” frequent rider reward program, which provides five free trips to patrons who use the Q Card to pay for 50 trips. The free rides are available equally to all patrons regardless of how much value they place on their farecard.

Because only Q Card users can participate in the program, METRO understood the importance of making the new fare media readily available. The smart card provider, ACS Transport Systems, responded by designing a new sales device—the BBR—that would allow patrons to reload their cards on board the bus by inserting currency (bills from $1 to $20) into the unit. METRO installed the device on its entire fleet of local buses.

The BBR monitors and manages fare transactions on board the bus while connected wirelessly to the central smart card control systems. It downloads data related to transactions, cash held by the unit, and the types of transactions processed upon the bus’s entry to the garage area.

Historically, pre-paid discount instruments represented only 35 percent of the transactions processed by METRO; in contrast, the Q Card was used for more than 70 percent of transactions within eight weeks of its introduction. Further, more than 80 percent of Q Card reload transactions use the BBR device.

METRO’s simplified fare policy has improved the farebox recovery ratio to above 20 percent, while use of the Q Card has reduced processing costs and attracted riders to pre-paid fares. Throughout these improvements, the BBR has proven to be an important component of the agency’s success.

Loyalty Marketing: Added Value for Fare Media

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

As the financial market tightens, consumers understand that every dollar counts. They are looking for ways to make their money work harder. On the other side of the transaction, public transportation agencies are discovering that they can make the best of difficult economic times by motivating loyalty among their riders—encouraging use of a branded smart card that gives back to the user.

Consultant Andrew Morris of Morris Advisors Inc. in Johns Creek, GA, compared a transit-specific smart card to the “loyalty card” offered by Starbucks. The cardholder has the advantage of pre-loading a dollar value; the card issuer benefits from its “enrolled relationship” with the customer. This connection between company and customer allows for benefits to the card user, such as special offers and gifts, while allowing the business to save money on processing payment.

“One of the key measures of a successful loyalty program,” said Morris, “is that it’s viable. What is a transit agency’s objective for a loyalty program—increasing ridership, encouraging more people to use smart cards?”

Phil Rubin of rDialogue, a loyalty marketing consultant, noted similarities between transit loyalty programs and similar promotions conducted by airlines. He called loyalty marketing by transit agencies “a great opportunity” that can personalize results at a local level. Where an airline might offer a hotel or a restaurant discount for a frequent traveler to a specific city, he said, a transit agency could tie in with services located near a specific rail station or bus stop. “Wouldn’t you be willing to pay more for this opportunity if you’re that business?” he asked.

The transit agency could also use loyalty to encourage its riders to fund their cards in less expensive ways, such as providing free trips in exchange for a specific level of funding. ATM debit cards provide substantially lower processing fees for fare purchases and farecard reloads than major credit cards, according to Morris, so this shift can mean real savings for a transit system.

A rewards program can offer its customers more than the hard benefits of points, discounts, or cash back; it also can provide such “soft” benefits as customized communication by cell phone or text message, or other forms of preferential treatment.

Moving Forward with Mobile Phones
Mobile phones represent a significant new potential revenue source for transit agencies—from coupons to offers sent through text messages. Experts call this a high-response program because people can opt-in (vs. a generic spam outreach) and sign up for offers—and, it is very attractive to advertisers. For agencies to take advantage of this revenue stream, they could solicit a cardholder’s mobile phone number as part of setting up the automatic reload function.

“Transit agencies have information about their customers with smart cards—when they get on board and off, where they go,” Morris said. “They can use that information to send a message to a cardholder: the train is on time, and here’s a free coupon for a cup of coffee at a convenient location.”

Changing technologies also may allow mobile phones themselves to be used to pay transit fares in place of smart cards. This approach, called Near Field Communications (NFC), has two major aspects.

First is the payment token, which refers to the fare medium (smart card, credit card, cash—in essence, how people use the phone to make a payment).

“For example,” he said, “it could be a bar code on the face of the phone, to be read with a bar code reader, but we don’t have bar code readers in transit; we have contactless fare readers. A phone equipped with an NFC chip would give the phone the same kind of application as a farecard: the holder can just tap the phone and enter the system.”

The second component concerns how riders can fund their transit fare account. They can make a direct payment at the gate using a bank credit card—either a card with a chip or a phone with the bank’s credit card on its chip—or use prepaid accounts into which they could load value in several ways.

The basics behind the NFC operation:  The phone needs a chip with a little radio antenna, which can be read by the reader for bus or rail. “The challenge,” said Morris, “comes from getting the chip into the phone, because that depends on the manufacturers of phone devices and cell phone carriers.”  After that, there is a need for a software application in the phone to activate the chip, but since every phone also has other channels—such as text messaging and a browser—they could also be used.

People appreciate recognition and rewards, and transit agencies want to keep their regular riders happy. The growing integration of electronic technologies into fare collection, experts note, will allow the two sides to meet each other’s needs.

Breaking Down the ‘Silos’ That Isolate Ridership Data

By CURTIS PIERCE, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, San Francisco, CA

As multiple elements of public transit operations become more technically sophisticated, transit agencies have access to more and more operational data. As separate data streams, these elements are useful, providing data for planning, reporting, and analysis.

Some common examples are:

* Farebox data including fares paid and revenue collected;

* Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) and Point of Sale (POS) system data including ticket and pass sales by time and location;

* Automatic People Counter (APC) data that shows boardings and alightings, usually encoded for location; and

* CAD/AVL and SCADA data streams that show vehicle location, route assignments, and timing.

However, too often the data streams exist in functional silos, used only within the departments that generate them. Thus the farebox data never makes it beyond the revenue department, the CAD/AVL and SCADA data is only used by operations, and the APC data is only used by planning.

Fare collection data provides a good example. A recent survey by Booz Allen Hamilton of 20 top operators in the U.S. revealed that, for ridership reporting, half of the operators use farebox data alone.

Keeping data in silos means simply that not all parts of the organization have access to all available data. Integrating data from different sources can actually greatly increase the value of the data. Here are a few examples of current best practices.

By merging CAD/AVL data with farebox data, a large bus operator can eliminate the problem of revenue that could not be assigned to a specific route because of login errors. Additionally, the geocoding in the CAD/AVL stream means that the system’s farebox data is now geocoded, providing much richer data for planning and reporting.

For operators that don’t have APCs on all vehicles, an integration of farebox data with APC data allows for the farebox data to extend and reinforce the APC data.

Several operators are moving toward the principle of having a single source for all data. In other words, planners would use the same numbers that are reported to the board, which would be identical to the numbers filed in the National Transit Database. One operator has consolidated this data mart under its Information Technology department, which has the responsibility of eliminating any alternate data sources—internally called “spreadmarts” because they usually take the form of spreadsheets.

Immediate Steps
Transit operators looking to improve the integration of their data can take some immediate steps as well as some important considerations for future planning.

The first step for any operator is to inventory all of the available data and map its use. Where is the data generated? In what form? Who manipulates it and how? Where is it ultimately used? This type of survey almost always yields surprises and can often improve operations simply by improving communications between previously separate functions.

To build a good foundation for further integration, operators need to guarantee that the plan for future data integration is part of any procurements of systems that generate data. The key element of this is avoiding any proprietary systems that cannot be accessed from a centralized application or merged with other data streams. Specifying that data be held in an open database with a published schema is an important safeguard against these concerns.

A final best practice to be considered is the incremental integration of data. By breaking the data integration into manageable pieces, operators have been able to provide immediate benefit with relatively moderate cost while building a platform for the future.

By taking stock of how data is currently used and developing an incremental and forward looking plan to integrate the disparate sources, an operator can get significantly more value out of the operational data that already exists within their organization.

L.A. TAP Card: A Useful Tool for Ridership Analysis

By JANE MATSUMOTO, Deputy Executive Officer, TAP Operation, and KELLY HINES, Systems Project Manager, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The introduction of the TAP smart card at Los Angeles Metro is providing new insights into the use of prepaid fare media, such as Metro monthly and weekly passes.

In the paper, pre-TAP environment, paper passes were sold throughout Los Angeles County by retailers, including chain check cashing outlets and grocery stores. As TAP smart cards have been replacing paper products, Metro is seeing new pass utilization data that were previously unavailable.

Prior to the introduction of TAP, measurement of pass usage on bus was dependent on bus operator classification that grouped all forms of passes (monthly, weekly, employee) together as one category, “Metro passes.” This raw data relied on further refinement by the incorporation of statistical data provided by fare checkers and passenger surveys. Still, the actual utilization of prepaid passes, by type, was an estimate. Further, fluctuations, such as seasonal variations in pass utilization were less obvious.

As these paper products transitioned to TAP, Metro’s monthly and weekly pass utilization data began to be measured on a monthly and weekly basis in February 2008. Over the past year, two significant trends became evident:

Weekly pass users have a higher rate of pass utilization (i.e., taps per pass) than monthly pass users. At $17, the weekly pass is relatively more expensive than the $62 monthly pass, yet the revenue per pass boarding of the weekly pass is less than that of the monthly pass. Riders who buy weekly passes ride more than monthly pass riders; and

Seasonal fluctuations in pass utilization are readily apparent, as can be seen in the weekly taps per pass during the Thanksgiving and holiday seasons (Weeks 48, 49, 52, and 53). Not only did the number of passes purchased trend downward during these periods, but the taps per pass also declined.

Eighty percent of Metro’s patrons are bus riders; 20 percent are rail riders. With a barrier-free rail system, counts of pass utilization on Metro Rail depend on voluntary tapping of a TAP pass, whereas bus operators monitor tapping compliance on board buses.

For customers used to having a paper pass in possession that they only had to produce if asked by a fare inspector, the requirement to tap for every boarding has necessitated customer education on the rail system. A rider is subject to citation for failure to “tap.” The improvement in tapping compliance can be seen over the past year as the taps per Monthly pass increased from 55.2 in February to 69.8 in January, peaking at 74.2 in October.

The shift in rail fare policy from a barrier-free, proof of payment system to a gated system and the installation of new fare gates in all of the subway’s Metro Red Line system, and the grade separated Green Line system, plus at other strategic light rail stations on the Metro Blue and Gold lines beginning this June, should further increase the reliability of TAP pass utilization data.

The implications for setting fares are significant. The availability of pass utilization by pass type provides an opportunity to examine previously established relationships between base fare and the various period passes provided by Metro, essentially a re-evaluation of pass multiples in setting product prices. Metro is preparing for transition of paper day passes in mid-March. Paper Day Pass utilization data, again dependent on bus operator tally, can be better refined with transactions captured automatically on TAP smart cards.

Metro will have better data to evaluate usage volumes and patterns, and the actual number of boardings per Day Pass will be known so Day Pass prices can then be evaluated relative to the base cash fare.

The opportunities to perform analysis of other fare product utilization and pricing continues to grow as Metro converts its reduced fare (i.e., Senior, Disabled, College/Vocational, and Student) monthly passes to TAP over the coming months.

Q Card: The State of the Art

Where better to hold a fare collection workshop than Houston, where—when you’re talking about public transportation—it’s all about the METRO Q Fare Card. The introduction of this state-of-the-art, contactless smart card-based fare collection system by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO) has changed the way transit passengers ride; it has also changed the method for collecting fares and processing data—both of which have never been easier.

With this new technology in place, METRO has reduced its previous 65 fare media payment options to just two: the Q Fare Card or cash.

The Q Card offers customers such new benefits as a bonus of five free trips for every 50 paid fares. Cardholders have the option of registering their card to protect the balance in case the card is lost or stolen.

In addition, riders can reload their cards in a variety of places, such as independent retailers, METRO’s RideStore in downtown Houston, the customer information center, and social agencies; they can also use METRO’s web site.

METRO’s retail network includes 303 stores in the greater Houston area, all of which sell the Q Cards under contract with METRO and process reloads through the use of the agency’s Retail Point of Sell equipment.

Another avenue of revenue from the METRO Q Fare Card is the RideSponsor program. A RideSponsor is a company that subsidizes its employees’ transportation fare; the 132 companies now participating in the program include Chevron, the city of Houston, Methodist Hospital, El Paso Corporation, and Kellogg Brown & Root.

RideSponsors use METRO’s web site to manage and reload employee cards through automatic subscriptions or directed loads. Customers can access the web system at any time to reload money on their METRO Q Fare Cards, using either credit or debit payment media.

To support this new fare collection system, METRO installed approximately 2,600 pieces of revenue equipment, which maintains a 95 percent up-time service level.

Frank Wilson, METRO’s president and chief executive officer, called the introduction of the METRO Q Card program “an unprecedented success.” He also pointed to the positive results of the transit agency’s simplified fare structure.

Integrating Systems and Services to Enable Next-Generation Fare Payment

By DAVID deKOZAN, Vice President, Business Development, Cubic Transportation Systems

Fare collection practices for public transit have evolved from collecting cash to accepting tokens to validating magnetic tickets to processing contactless smart cards. With each step, and in response to this evolution, the operating models that support the management of patron flows, capital assets, fare media distribution, enforcement, and revenues have changed. These changes also reflect the significant advancements in multi-modal, inter-agency ticketing strategies and the technologies that enable them.

It’s a theme we have seen over the last 10 years as regional operators have made greater strides toward allowing patrons to connect seamlessly between independent operators. The result in linked journeys across subway, bus, and commuter rail is both more convenient and more practical, and for the patron this convenience comes in the form of the contactless smart card.

In metropolitan areas such as Washington, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Boston, passengers are tapping their cards as they access transit services while, invisible to them, the calculation of fares and distribution of revenues are happening automatically behind the scenes. In 14 U.S. cities, contactless fare systems are either operational or nearing launch with more than 40,000 terminals installed at entrances to stations, buses, and parking facilities. These accomplishments have established the transit industry as a leader in a growing trend across various market segments that have adopted contactless payment technology.

With transit leading the way, international standards bodies have published open specifications, and other business categories such as banking, access control, vending, security, and identification have adopted technologies compatible with that now used for transit fares. Perhaps the most noteworthy is the banking sector, which is now issuing tens of millions of contactless credit and debit cards and is steadily upgrading its retail base with the terminals needed for processing them.

For transit, the implications are that riders may not need to buy a separate farecard or ticket, and instead may be able to use a credit card or other open payment system card or device that allows them to tap on to any properly equipped transit service. This convenience will likely yield an uptick in impulse transit trips and drive down the costs associated with transit card procurement and distribution.

Several agencies are speaking of a shift from “ticketing” to “acceptance.” In this context, transit operators begin to more closely emulate big retailers in their payments practice. Such retailers employ a variety of techniques to manage their customers’ payment behavior and drive them toward the products that are least costly to process while preserving the benefits of impulse purchases enabled by branded payment cards.

Merchant branded prepaid cards, co-branded credit cards, PIN prompting, and electronic check acceptance are all used to control the incidence and fees associated with credit and debit usage, while point-of-sale solutions are constantly updated to support the latest offerings from the “big four” payment brands (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover). With this approach, sophisticated retailers are establishing a “best of all worlds” environment where fees are controlled and sales lift is maximized.

In transit, strategies like these will require an integrated approach to systems and operational services while embracing the open standards necessary to accept the broadest possible range of card and payment products. Patrons entering stations or boarding buses may or may not have a bank account, may or may not have a university ID, may or may not participate in transit employee benefit programs, and may or may not be regular users of the service. As such, the user may have no access to a smart card outside of the transit network or may have any one of a number of card products that could be used. Even mobile phones are being introduced that can support contactless ticketing and payment functions.

Accordingly, the system must be extremely flexible, both in what products it supports and in having a back office capable of processing and routing the transactions derived from the products used. Customer service models also must be designed to deal with the fact that the first call may not come to the transit authority but to the issuer or carrier sponsoring the payment product.

As a merchant class, transit is unique in its processing demands, with a wide variety of fare products and policies applied in a very demanding physical environment. Terminals not only must support tremendous transaction volumes, but equipment specifications frequently are more challenging than what is required in a commercial retail environment. These factors are compounded by the extremely high availability rates demanded of transit terminals that must perform a variety of access control, flow management, and informational functions.

What is needed is an integrated solution that incorporates highly robust purpose-built equipment and an asset management/maintenance regime designed to meet the availability needs. Next-generation fare systems are designed to support these requirements, to integrate with electronic payment networks, and to provide a broad range of customer service and financial tools that enable those operating the system to efficiently manage the data and provide responsive support to the various user groups including patrons, agencies, and commercial partners.

Increasingly, agencies are coming to the conclusion that these duties fall outside their core business focus as network standards, data protection requirements, customer service demands, and overall marketing and support activities are far more comprehensive in scope and create new risks and liabilities. As a result, outsourcing models that emulate the financial card industry are taking shape whereby back office processing, customer support, and field services are contracted to consortiums comprised of best-in-class service providers. Such consortiums will see innovative partnering relationships between the core suppliers to the transit market and those serving the electronic payments industry.

As these models proliferate, agencies will benefit from an expanded focus on transportation service provision and fare schemes that provide more options for patrons, better accessibility, new sources of revenue, and lower operating costs.

Virtual Sales Outlets Optimize, Simplify Fare Value Loading Process

New virtual sales technologies that allow public transportation users to load value onto their fare media without leaving their homes are a win-win for both the individual and the transit agency.

According to Sanford Weinberg, vice president, public transport fare collection, for ACS Transport Solutions Inc.: “This process reduces costs for distribution, and the cardholder can load the new value immediately—in your living room instead of having to go to a store. It works at a lower cost to the transit agency, which can operate with less equipment in the field.”

ACS introduced the virtual sales outlet concept in Lyon, France, in 2001. “Lyon wanted to provide more and better access to customers, better service at more locations,” Weinberg explained. “They considered expanding their ticket sales outlets, or expanding Internet access. They chose the latter.”

Travelers on the Lyon transit network can use this system to renew their season tickets without having to visit a sales office, completing the transaction in the office or at home, at any time of day or night.

The card updating process works like this. The first gate controller over which the card is swiped following the electronic transaction will transmit the new data to it—contactlessly, in the space of a few milliseconds. The cardholder no longer needs to present the card at a terminal or automatic distributor.

Since 2001, other transit agencies have adopted the same fare reloading principle as found in Lyon. In Venice, the cards update when holders pass the validators as they board a vehicle: a bus, trolley car, or vaporetto (water bus). Marseille, France, is preparing to introduce public online ticket sale terminals, which ACS will use on the city’s Metro system.

In Houston, where the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) adopted the ACS technology in 2006, employers participating in the RideSponsor program can use virtual sales for the benefit of the employees whose commutes they support. Employers access the online card recharging service on their employees’ behalf; the cards update when their holders pass the validators as they board Houston METRO vehicles.

“The virtual technology makes it easier for RideSponsors to participate and cuts down on their administrative costs,” Weinberg said. He added that this technology was responsible for 5 percent of Houston METRO reload transactions in 2008, but that those transactions accounted for 47 percent of total dollar value.

Plan Now for APTA Bus Conference: May 1-6 Event in Seattle Includes Annual Roadeo

Spring is just around the corner, which means it’s time for the 2009 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference & International Bus Roadeo/Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Conference, the largest such event in the bus and paratransit industry. The May 3-6 conference, hosted by Seattle’s King County Metro Transit, will feature an exciting array of speakers and events.

Featured highlights will be nationally recognized, award-winning comedian Kathy Buckley, who will “explain” how to overcome today’s adversities for a better tomorrow; National Transit Institute training sessions on “Understanding the ADA” and “Mobility Management”; new sessions on sustainability; technical tours; and much more.

This year also features the BRT Conference, presented every three years and co-sponsored with the Transportation Research Board.

For those looking for a little competition, there is the annual International Bus Roadeo. Watch as mechanics and operators from across North America compete in various areas to take home the top honors. The winners will be recognized at the annual awards banquet.

Everything you ever wanted to know about buses you will find at the annual Bus Display and the Bus Products & Services Showcase—both of which offer the newest products for the bus and paratransit industry. Experts representing a variety of products and services will be on hand to answer your questions.

APTA’s small operators will want to take advantage of the session/tour geared specifically toward small transit systems, which features a visit to Kitsap Transit in Bremerton, WA, led by Executive Director Richard Hayes. Attendees will travel to Bremerton via Washington State Ferry.

So don’t miss out. Register now! Early bird registration ends March 20. Contact Heidi Salati at hsalati@apta.com for more information.

MARTA’s Jeoffroy Wins Call Center Challenge

Robyn Jeoffroy, an employee of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), was crowned the 2009 Call Center Challenge champion at the Feb. 24 competition held during the 2009 APTA Marketing and Communications Workshop in San Francisco.

APTA sponsors the challenge to spotlight the importance of customer service within public transportation call centers and to recognize individuals who excel in this area.

The judging process began with a preliminary round in January. From there, seven finalists were selected to compete in front of a live audience in San Francisco. The other finalists were Robert Hodges, Coast Mountain Bus Company, Surrey, BC; Betty Brown, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Agency, St. Petersburg, FL; Shelly Johnson, Corridor Transportation Corporation, Laurel, MD; Shannon Lefler, Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, Rochester, NY; Lashon Johnson, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Pompano Beach; and Mary Villanueva, Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

The live event consisted of the finalists receiving three random customer service scenarios; they were judged on their ability to resolve each inquiry. The contestant with the highest score was named the winner.

“Congratulation to Robyn Jeoffroy,” said APTA President William W. Millar. “Customer service is a vital skill in the public transportation industry, and Ms. Jeoffroy has shown her skills in handling customer relations are exemplary and a model for others.”

APTA’s Marketing and Communications Committee also hosts the Customer Service Challenge for bus operators held in conjunction with the International Bus Roadeo. Additionally, new this year, a customer service challenge will be held for rail transit station managers at the International Rail Rodeo in June in Chicago. For more information, contact Jack Gonzalez.

TCRP Releases Three Publications

The Transportation Research Board recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program publications:

TCRP Synthesis 77: Passenger Counting Systems. This report documents the state of the practice in terms of analytical tools and technologies for measuring transit ridership and other subsidiary data. Survey results include transit agency assessments of the effectiveness and reliability of their methodologies and of desired improvements. The survey was designed to emphasize automatic passenger counter systems, but agencies using manual systems were also surveyed to gain an understanding of why new technologies have not been adopted.

TCRP Synthesis 79: Light Rail Vehicle Collisions with Vehicles at Signalized Intersections. This report presents the mitigation methods tested and used by transit agencies to reduce collisions between light rail vehicles (LRVs) and motor vehicles where light rail transit runs through or adjacent to highway intersections controlled by conventional traffic signals. A particular focus is placed on collisions occurring between LRVs and vehicles making left-hand turns at these intersections.

TCRP Research Results Digest 92: Synthesis of Information Related Transit Problems. This report is a staff digest, which serves as an index to studies in progress and to the full list of TCRP Syntheses.

These reports are available for order or download through the TCRP web site.

Announcing Local Transit Coalition Grants

APTA will accept applications through April 10 for the Local Transit Coalition Grant Program. The program funds activities including both public education programs and advocacy efforts, which have proven extremely helpful in promoting transit in communities around the country. The experience has been that a small amount of funding can often go a long way in boosting local grassroots efforts.

As the nation continues to address traffic congestion, mobility challenges, and energy conservation, the promotion of public transportation funding at all levels of government remains important.

Grants awarded to successful applicants generally will not exceed $5,000. APTA will announce the recipients by May 10. Information is available from Kylah Hynes.