Passenger Transport - August 31, 2009
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Alan Kiepper Dies; Past APTA Chair, Hall of Famer

Alan F. Kiepper, 81, of Annapolis, MD, APTA chair in 1990-91 and a member of the APTA Hall of Fame, died Aug. 26.

During his long career, Kiepper served as general manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, general manager of Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, and president of MTA New York City Transit. He joined Parsons Brinckerhoff in 1996 as executive vice president and, after moving to Annapolis in 2002, was a consultant to ARINC.

APTA also recognized Kiepper in 1985 with the Jesse H. Haugh Award, given to an outstanding public transportation manager. In 1986, he received the National Public Service Award from the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Society of Public Administration.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 14 at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 1 Church Circle, Annapolis, MD.

Governance Changes Endorsed by APTA Executive Committee

At a special meeting held Aug. 2 in Salt Lake City, the APTA Executive Committee endorsed in concept a proposal to change APTA’s governance structure. The changes, proposed to enhance APTA’s governance and ability to support the objectives of TransitVision 2050, will expand opportunities for participation in the organization’s governance process.

“From TransitVision 2050 we learned that APTA will need a broader perspective if we are going to successfully lead our industry in the years ahead,” said APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., general manager/chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. “Our view needs to be one that is outcome-based, multi-modal, and regional, supportive of alternative business models, and embracing the technological and advanced information systems—and innovation—that our next generations of riders and employees will expect from our industry.”

“To me,” Scott said, “one of the most important elements of the changes that have been proposed is to help bring the next generation of our industry’s leaders to the governance table and get them ready to lead APTA and the transit industry in the future. As I look around our table today, I see very few faces that will be leading our industry in five or 10 years. We need to make sure that we provide our industry’s next generation of leaders with the experiences and exposure that will help give them the confidence that is key to effective leadership. Getting them engaged in APTA’s governance today will help ensure that our 2050 vision becomes a reality.”

In developing the proposed changes, the Governance and Committee Structure Task Force—chaired by Michael Townes, APTA immediate past chair and president/chief executive officer of Hampton Roads Transit in Hampton, VA, and Sharon Greene, vice chair-business members and principal of Sharon Greene and Associates—placed an emphasis on five key principles: encouraging wider participation in governance from APTA’s members; strengthening the role of APTA’s committees in the governance process; providing greater clarity in the pathways to leadership positions; improving the way to recognize and promote talent for the future; and ensuring balance among transit board members, transit professionals, and business members. Subgroups of the 25-member task force working on proposed revisions to the APTA bylaws were led by Les White, general manager, Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, Santa Cruz, CA, and working on committee structure issues by John Bartosiewicz, executive vice president/chief operating officer, McDonald Transit Associates, Inc.

The APTA Executive Committee was scheduled to formally approve the proposal and the accompanying changes to the bylaws in a conference call meeting on Aug. 28. Following that action, the proposal would then be forwarded to the APTA Board of Directors. Consideration by the board is anticipated at its meeting Oct. 4 in Orlando, FL, during the APTA Annual Meeting. Since the recommendations, if approved by the board, would involve changes to APTA’s bylaws, a vote by the APTA membership will be required.

The major changes in the proposal include:
* Executive Committee: Changing the vice chair seats on the executive committee to at-large member seats. Currently, the executive committee includes 14 vice chairs for specific areas or disciplines such as rail, small operations, government affairs, human resources, transit board members or business members. The proposal recommends eliminating the specific portfolios and making all of them at-large seats. All members would be nominated by the APTA Nominating Committee (business members and small operators are currently nominated by APTA committees); the secretary-treasurer and 14 at-large member positions would be filled by five business members and 10 transit board members and transit professionals. The proposal also includes changing the term of office for the 14 at-large members and the secretary-treasurer from three one-year terms to one three-year term. No changes have been proposed for the positions of chair, first vice chair or immediate past chair.
* Board of Directors: The proposal recommends significant changes to board membership by expanding the number of voting members from 82 to more than 100. It would eliminate the current non-voting seats, which can number up to 48. The highest dues-paying transit systems and businesses would have seats, while there would be an opportunity for agencies and businesses of all sizes to run for at-large seats. In addition, the recommendation would bring the expertise of APTA’s committees to the board and reflect the desire to provide balance among APTA’s various constituencies on the board. Making the chairs of designated committees members of the board of directors and other changes in the makeup of the board are intended to make the board have a more substantive role—both in content and succession planning for higher office in the association.
* APTA Committees: A total of 22 current APTA committees would be designated to have their committee chairs serve on the board of directors, along with the chairs of the four new committees that have been proposed through the TransitVision 2050 process. Committee “clusters” would be formed around the designated committees to provide a structured way for the related non-designated committees to report on their activities and accomplishments and bring issues to the board of directors. Recognizing that many current issues are cross-cutting and require participation across the APTA membership, four new policy committees are recommended to address wide-ranging topics such as sustainability, new partners, mobility management, and intermodal issues. A list of the designated committees and committee clusters is included in the sidebar accompanying this article.
* Nominating Committee: Recognizing that the proposal places major new responsibilities on the nominating committee to ensure balance in the governance structure, the proposal calls for changes to the APTA bylaws to provide direction in these issues to the nominating committee. Changes to simplify the configuration of the nominating committee have also been proposed.

“We believe that these changes will significantly increase opportunities for individual APTA members to participate in APTA’s governance, bringing in new perspectives and helping develop our industry’s future leaders,” Townes said. Greene noted that “getting our leaders out of their current silos will enhance APTA’s ability to tap into their skills and expertise and will strengthen our decision-making process. We will improve our effectiveness in dealing with current issues and better engage all our members.”

Scott added: “I want to acknowledge the hard work of the entire task force, which brought together people with long experience in, and a commitment to, APTA.” The panel included Townes, the immediate APTA past chair; incoming Chair M.P. Carter, commissioner,Memphis Area Transit Authority; and past Chairs Les White; John Bartosiewicz; George F. Dixon III, president, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board; Celia G. Kupersmith, general manager, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District in San Francisco; Howard Silver, vice chair, Golden Empire Transit District, Bakersfield, CA; and Richard A. White, executive vice president, AECOM.

Additional information on the governance proposal can be found on the APTA web site and questions and comments on the proposal can be submitted here.

Proposed Committee Structure
The designated committees and the associated committee clusters included in the governance proposal are:
1. Public/Private Partnerships (new)
2. Intermodal Issues (new)
   a. Waterborne Operations
3. Sustainability (new)
4. Mobility Management (new)
5. Access Committee
6. Business Members 
   a. International EXPO Advisory Committee
7. Transit CEOs
a. All modal CEO committees
8. Bus and Paratransit Operations
   a. Bus Technical Maintenance 
   b. Bus Standards Policy and Planning
   c. International Bus Roadeo
9. Public Safety Committee
   a. Bus Safety
   b. Committee on Public Safety
   c. Security Standards Policy and Planning
   d. Risk Management
   e. Security Affairs Steering Committee
10. Commuter Rail
11. Financial Management
   a. Fare Systems and Programs
   b. Internal Audit
12. High Speed and Intercity Rail
13. Human Resources
14. Leadership APTA
15. Legal Affairs
16. Legislative
17. Marketing and Communications
   a. Meeting Site Selection
   b. Conference Program Planning
18. Member Services
19. Planning and Policy
20. Procurement Steering Committee
   a. Procurement and Materials Management
21. Rail Transit
   a. Rail Standards Policy and Planning
22. Research and Technology
   a. Information Technology
   b. Clean Propulsion and Support
23. Small Operations
24. Standards Development Oversight Council
25. State Affairs
26. Transit Board Members

ARRA Funds Continue to Support Transit

What agencies do public transportation American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds go to? And how do the agencies use those funds? The answer to both questions is: it depends.

For example, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) in Chattanooga, TN, will use its $4.7 million grant to refurbish its Incline Railway, which provides passengers with a scenic ride up the side of Lookout Mountain. 

Veronica Peebles, CARTA manager of communications, explained that while the Incline Railway dates to 1895, the authority has operated it since its creation. As the railway travels up the mountain, it eventually operates at a 72.7 percent grade, making it the steepest passenger railway in the world.

The Incline Railway operates between two stations, the lower within the Chattanooga city limits and the other above in the city of Lookout Mountain. It has been designated both as a National Historic Site and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and, according to Peebles, the railway itself “serves as one of the attractions for the Lookout Mountain area.”

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City is using part of an ARRA grant for another unusual form of public transportation—six two-wheeled Segway electronic scooters, which UTA police can use to patrol TRAX light rail platforms and FrontRunner commuter rail platforms.  Gerald Carpenter, senior media relations specialist with UTA, called the deployment of Segways “a very quick and easy way for officers to move around downtown and also patrol the parking lots and FrontRunner.” The authority purchased six of the vehicles at a cost of $7,900 each.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District will use $3.2 million in ARRA funds for improvements to Golden Gate Ferry’s Sausalito Ferry Landing. Components of the project include replacement of passenger access ramps, vessel docking float, and ferry vessel boarding gangways to improve passenger access.  The agency reported that the ferry landing renovation will result in approximately 100 new jobs.

Lastly, a different kind of ferry—a “foot ferry” that carries only passengers and no vehicles—received ARRA funding as part of a $2.9 million grant to Kitsap Transit in Bremerton, WA.  Cathie Knox-Browning, executive assistant/clerk of the board for Kitsap Transit, explained that the ferry service between Bremerton and Port Orchard is a demonstration project and its continued operation depends on available funding.

“We applied for the stimulus money because the ferry project seemed an appropriate use of the funds,” she said.

Grant Funding Deadline Nears; Applications Due by Sept. 15 for TIGER Program

The Federal Transit Administration reminds American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) recipients that Sept. 15 is the application deadline for a $1.5 billion multi-modal discretionary program for major capital transportation infrastructure investments. The interim notice on funding availability, which appeared in the May 18, 2009, Federal Register, included criteria for selection under this program—Grants for Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery—or TIGER Discretionary Grants.

In addition, the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has made available the text of its seven webinars on ARRA topics at the White House web site.  OMB held the webinars in July to inform federal agencies and recipients of ARRA funding of their data reporting requirements under the law.

The components of the webinar series, “Implementing Guidance for the Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009,” are as follows:
* General Overview, summarizing the reporting requirements and setting the stage for the rest of the series;
* Basic Principles and Requirements of Recovery Act Recipient Reporting, including the calculation and reporting of job creation estimates;
* Recipient Reporting Process Overview, covering technical solutions and required data elements for reporting on ARRA funds;
* Federal Agency Report Review, explaining the technical solutions, data elements, and key aspects of ARRA reporting from the perspective of a federal agency;
* Prime Recipient Reporting, examining the technical solutions, data elements, and key aspects of ARRA reporting from the perspective of a prime recipient;
* Sub-Recipient Reporting, presenting the perspective of a sub-recipient on the required technical solutions, data elements, and key aspects of ARRA reporting; and
* Data Quality Requirements, demonstrating the procedures that ensure all submitted data is accurate.

The information is available online in both mp3 audio and PDF text formats.

U.S. DOT Summit Scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in DC

U.S. DOT has announced that Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 are the dates of its summit to determine the best ways to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving—including on public transportation.

“Safety is our number one priority,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As we become a more mobile and wireless nation, we can’t afford to ignore new technology’s impact on roadway safety.”

The event will bring together senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives, private sector representatives, and academicians to address a range of issues related to reducing accidents through enforcement, public awareness and education. Interactive sessions will examine topics including the extent and impact of distracted driving, current research, regulations, and best practices.

The second day will offer a panel of state and local officials to discuss solutions from their perspectives.

“This summit will not only bring leaders in transportation safety together to talk about this issue,” said LaHood, “It will also give people from all over the country—and world—the opportunity to be a part of this historic dialogue.”

To accommodate the strong response, the summit will be available live by webcast and members of the public will have an opportunity to submit questions online for each individual panel discussion.

Information and updates on the summit are available online.

 

Canada Line: A New Portal to Vancouver

As Vancouver, BC, prepares to welcome the world to the 2010 Winter Olympics, TransLink, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, introduced service Aug. 17—three and a half months ahead of schedule—on its newest rapid transit line. With a total of 16 new stations, the 19-kilometer SkyTrain Canada Line connects downtown Vancouver to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport.

“The Canada Line is an important piece of the region’s overall transit network,” TransLink Chief Executive Officer Tom Prendergast said to mark the opening. “By connecting to other transit services that operate out of Waterfront Station and other Canada Line stations, Canada Line makes our transit network more integrated and provides faster and more convenient service. It also will make a significant contribution toward our greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) goals and all of the efforts going into keeping Metro Vancouver’s standing as one of the most livable places on earth.”

The new rapid transit line is Canada’s first to connect directly with a major airport, according to Larry Berg, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Airport Authority.

Participants in the dedication ceremonies included Stockwell Day, Canada’s minister of international trade and minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Gordon Campbell, premier of British Columbia. In his remarks, Day cited the Canada Line as “an example of what is achieved when all levels of government work together,” which will lead to “cleaner air, fewer GHG emissions, and shorter commute times for Vancouver residents and tourists.”

“We had 85,000 boardings in the eight hours we were open—1 to 9 p.m.—for our fare-free opening day,” said TransLink spokesperson Judy Rudin. “It was a beautiful day in Vancouver, and people didn't mind lining up for up to two hours for their chance to be ‘first.’”  The first day of revenue service, Aug. 18, reported 83,000 boardings; the new line operates between 4:50 a.m. and 12:15 a.m., the same hours as the existing Expo and Millennium lines.

Interestingly, Rudin noted, plans for the line predated the area’s Olympic ambitions by more than a decade. The Transport 2021 planning document adopted in 1996 included light rail serving Richmond and the airport.

As part of opening-day festivities for the Canada Line, TransLink distributed 40,000 souvenir “passports” that visitors could have stamped at 11 of the new stations. “People were required to get at least eight stamps in order to enter a contest with prizes,” Rudin explained. “We used this marketing device to get people off the trains and to free up more capacity for those waiting in lines at each of the stations.” Stations hosted live entertainment including singers, magicians, and giveaways, and Paralympic athletes presented exhibitions of curling and half-court basketball at stations near the Olympic venues.

Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc., a subsidiary of TransLink, oversaw the project. Funding came from Translink, the Canadian and British Columbia governments, the Vancouver Airport Authority, and InTransitBC, with support from the cities of Vancouver and Richmond. InTransitBC—which designed and built the line and will operate and maintain it under a 35-year contract—is a limited partnership company owned by SNC-Lavalin Inc., the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, and the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec.

Public Transit vs. Cars? Mineta Institute Examines Trends

Which benefits welfare recipients more when it comes to obtaining and keeping jobs—public transportation or owning a car?  According to a new report from the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, CA, Public Versus Private Mobility for the Poor: Transit Improvements Versus Increased Car Ownership in the Sacramento Region, the answer is: public transit.

The study tested two scenarios—promotion of car ownership versus transit improvements on job accessibility, work trips, and traveler benefits (calculated as the cost of each trip) using a model adopted by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

“Surveys and empirical studies demonstrate that, besides job skills and child care, lack of reliable transportation is a key factor preventing many welfare recipients from finding and retaining jobs,” said Robert A. Johnston, a major researcher on the study and emeritus professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis. “The solution is either to provide the means for welfare recipients to obtain a car, to provide improved public transit, or to do both.”

The purpose of the study was to follow up on empirical reports suggesting that welfare recipients who own cars have a high probability of moving from welfare to work. While all participants in the study benefited from the travel mode provided, overall the families that relied on public transit saw greater benefits.

The study demonstrated that assigning a car to households that did not have a vehicle led to minor negative impacts in vehicle miles traveled, traffic volumes, and congestion. On the other hand, car ownership would substantially reduce mode-shared trips (those that involved more than one means of transportation, such as walking, cycling, or taking the bus).  In contrast, an improved transit system would make jobs—particularly entry-level positions in suburban areas—more accessible to families residing in inner cities while also providing an alternative mode for all travelers.

Johnston explained that while this study focused specifically on the Sacramento region—which has both bus and light rail transit options—“Our methods could be used by most medium-sized and large [Metropolitan Planning Organizations], as they have the same kind of mode choice model as we used. We think doing this kind of analysis would be very useful…Many regions would come up with similar results, I believe.”

Shengyi Gao, research scientist in the university’s Information Center for the Environment, joined Johnston on the project.

The full text of the study is available here by clicking on the Research tab, then Publications, and scrolling down.

COTA Breaks Ground for Paratransit Facility

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) began construction of its new paratransit facility at ceremonies July 29 attended by COTA officials, community leaders, and users of Mainstream, the agency’s demand-response service for persons with disabilities.

The 100,000-square-foot facility on COTA’s Fields Avenue Campus will house administrative, eligibility, and customer care functions, as well as operations and maintenance for up to 104 paratransit vehicles. The $23.8 million project is receiving $13.6 million in federal funds, $4.2 million of which comes from an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant. The facility is scheduled for completion in November 2010.

In accordance with its commitment to sustainability, COTA is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the structure.

According to COTA President/Chief Executive Officer Bill Lhota: “Construction of a state-of-the-art, stand-alone facility for Mainstream demonstrates our commitment to providing mobility to everyone in our community and positions COTA to expand mobility options in the future.”

The paratransit service, operating with 58 vehicles, provided nearly 180,000 trips to persons with disabilities in 2008, and nearly 100,000 trips so far this year.

Gibson Heads Reno’s RTC

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) in Reno, NV, has named Lee Gibson as the agency’s executive director. He succeeds Greg Krause, who retired in February.

Gibson comes to RTC from Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), where he was vice president and national technical director for planning. Earlier he served the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas as assistant general manager from 1999 to 2002 and as its director of planning from 1989 to 1999.

While at PB, Gibson helped Guam deliver more than $160 million in transportation projects. During his tenure in Las Vegas, he planned the area’s first Bus Rapid Transit line and worked extensively on metropolitan planning.

He serves on the APTA Policy and Planning Committee and Major Capital Investment Planning Subcommittee, and is a member of the Urban Land Institute and the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Transit Council.

TRANSED 2010 Conference Scheduled for Hong Kong

The 12th International Conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons (TRANSED 2010) will be held in Hong Kong, China, from June 2-4, 2010. The Transportation Research Board is co-sponsor of this event, to be hosted by the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation. Michael Winter, a transportation program analyst with the Federal Transit Administration, serves on the TRANSED Steering Committee.

TRANSED hosts conferences every three years that concentrate on accessible transportation. The theme for the upcoming conference is “Sustainable Transport and Travel for All,” with special emphasis on affordability and accessibility, environmental concerns, and new technological development in accessible transport, accessibility concerns and solutions for those with cognitive and sensory impairments, and tourism.

More information about the Hong Kong conference is available online.

Maintaining Public Transit Safety Requires a Comprehensive Approach

BY DONNA AGGAZIO YOUNG, Special to Passenger Transport

Aristotle once said: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” The same can be said for the commitment required to keep public transportation systems safe for their passengers and employees.

What follows is an overview of the array of “parts” involved in a system-wide approach that most effectively ensures the continued safety and reliability of public transportation.

Investing in a Safety Culture
Since January 2008, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has undertaken a major initiative to change its corporate culture and spread ownership of safety throughout the organization. Called Work Safe/Home Safe, the $10 million (Cdn.) program seeks to improve productivity and morale by making employee safety the center of attention by TTC’s management. This three-year program plans to succeed by:
* Improving leadership skills by providing tools to self-assess and allow for external feedback;
* Promoting better engagement with employees through team building and observing each other, as part of the work routine, to work safely; and
* Reviewing and revamping safety management processes to take risks out of the system.

According to TTC Chief Safety Officer John O’Grady, Work Safe/Home Safe has already shown results in its first 18 months, with employee injuries reduced by 26 percent. TTC targets a 60 percent reduction if the program becomes permanent.

Doing it Right
The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in Urbana, IL, takes a system-wide approach to safety. In operation since 1971, this bus system had not experienced a fatality until 2004, when two occurred in the same year. In response—according to Managing Director William Volk, who also chairs the APTA Legislative Committee—agency officials scrutinized procedures and operator training.

One ingredient to system safety for Champaign-Urbana has been the practice of using in-service operators to assist as trainers. Another, Volk said, is placing a 30-year employee in charge of the training function. In addition, the agency’s provision of annual refresher training for its 230 full- and part-time operators helps maintain a level of consistency and intensity for its operator workforce.

“Making safety a high priority takes a lot of work,” he said, “and one chief way we keep safe is to teach operators uniformly to drive defensively.”

Bus and Rail Simulators
Bus and rail simulators, which have been available as training tools for less than 20 years, offer a unique advantage: they can put operators in real world situations so they can learn how to avoid potentially risky behavior, and they offer a safe opportunity to make life-threatening mistakes.

“Operators and trainers can ‘jump back into time’ and talk about what can be done differently,” said David Bouwkamp, executive director of business development for FAAC, a major provider of vehicle simulators to the public safety and defense industries as well as public transportation.

FAAC reported that using simulators for rail transit training can reduce occurrences of accidents by 30 to 45 percent. Bouwkamp cautioned, however, that simulators are only one part of a training program and that, despite their showing results, they are not a panacea. Simulators can also be used to recreate scenarios of accidents to teach operators to avoid them in the future.

The company plans to launch a new line of bus simulators soon that will include denser streets, more pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Partnership-Based Training
Driver training is only one of the many types of training necessary for public transit systems to address critical skill challenges resulting from changing technologies, shifting workforce demographics, and growing ridership.

APTA—with support from the Transportation Learning Center (TLC), transit systems, and unions including the Amalgamated Transit Union, Transport Workers Union, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—has developed a national system approach to support transit training partnerships. Designed to close gaps in skill shortages, this approach promotes cost-effective and high-quality regional training programs that expand the resources of individual agencies.

Embraced by employees and supervisors alike, the longest-running and largest training partnership program—the Keystone Transit Career Ladder Partnership in Pennsylvania—has increased maintenance employee skills, leading to measurable improvements in employee knowledge. In particular, smaller transit systems in the state have benefited from this labor-management training partnership by experiencing fewer mechanical failures, longer-lasting repairs, and a decrease in customer complaints.

“The process of working together between management and labor is a very detailed one and everyone inside the organization is responsible to make it succeed,” said TLC Executive Director Brian Turner.

A similar training program for MTA New York City Transit’s front-line personnel has resulted in improved labor-management relationships, increased worker morale and job satisfaction, and enhanced trust between supervisors and workers as a result of the partnership.

Turner said partnerships such as the New York one “create a culture of safety and do away with a culture of blame. Joint safety programs make incidents as unlikely as possible and build internal recognition that everyone has a safety responsibility.”

TLC has also been at the forefront in developing industry training guidelines in bus maintenance, transit rail signals, traction power, rail vehicles, and elevator/escalator occupations. Using an inventory of skills needed and learning objectives as defined by national experts in each area of expertise, these guidelines have been developed to facilitate shared coursework between transit systems and regional training partnerships that would otherwise be costly, even out of reach, for smaller agencies.

Implementing Innovative Technologies
Developing and applying innovative bus and rail equipment and services represents an integral part of the whole in the public transit industry’s approach to safety. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) continue to grow in safety uses among transit bus systems; safety-related applications for bus transit include collision avoidance systems, on-board cameras, computer-aided dispatching, and signal prioritization.

Bus Safety
U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is conducting a major safety initiative to enhance drivers’ skills and knowledge, and to transform regional highway travel with clear implications for public transportation. The IntelliDriveSM initiative, in the prototype phase, combines leading edge technologies such as advanced wireless communications, on-board computer processing, advanced vehicle sensors, real-time information, and Global Positioning Satellite system navigation to provide the capability for vehicles—including transit buses—to avoid hazards on the road, and to issue warnings to drivers/operators to monitor speed and overall operation performance.

“The number one area we want to advance in transportation is roadway safety,” said RITA Administrator Peter Appel. “IntelliDriveSM offers an unprecedented level of roadway awareness to drivers, and bus drivers are certainly a very, very important part of that mix.”

Appel cited some specific areas where the program can benefit public transit: “It will give bus drivers a 360-degree view of their vehicle, warning them that a pedestrian is out of view but not out of danger. It will also warn drivers of immediate hazards on the road, such as traffic suddenly braking ahead.” Other potential safety applications for transit include Driver Condition Monitoring (an on-board system that monitors driver fatigue, sounding an alarm if the driver shows signs of drifting off to sleep) and Curve Speed Warning (telling the driver to slow down if the vehicle’s speed is higher than recommended for a curve).

This program is a product of the ITS Joint Programs Office of RITA. The office recently formed a transit stakeholder group to develop a road map for how the transit community could receive the most utility from the program, and to refine what areas of research to explore more fully.

Rail Safety
Assessing track and vehicle conditions requires a comprehensive measurement of the infrastructure, including the third rail, rail wear and track geometry, and monitoring of the track signal circuitry system. ENSCO Inc., a provider of railway safety technology and a long-time partner in research and development with the Federal Railroad Administration, has several track safety projects underway, such as developing a real-time predictor of temperature; automated machine vision to inspect track components; and unilateral track geometry measurement.

“Frequent visits to rail transit systems to learn more about their problems and needs, coupled with active research and development, helps technology providers such as ENSCO stay ahead to find solutions and solve safety needs,” said Jeff Stevens, director of commercial business operations for the company’s Rail Division.

Creating Safety Standards
Since 1996, APTA has convened a wide range of experts in transit system operation, car manufacturers, vehicle operations management, and safety professionals to create and implement 170 consensus-based standards in rail transit alone. Recognized as a Standards Development Organization by U.S. DOT and the Department of Homeland Security, APTA adheres to policies specified by the American National Standards Institute and partners with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Rail Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association. Standards currently in development include driver distraction and crashworthiness.

Ultimately, once standards are implemented industry-wide, the cost of training will decrease, the quality will rise, and the rate of acceptance for standards will go up, said TLC’s Turner.

Currently, TLC has a central role in expanding partnership-based training. Five such programs exist now and seven new ones are planned.

As stated in the beginning of this story, the safe operation of public transportation encompasses the sum of many parts: ongoing investment in technology by private companies and the federal government, consensus-based training guidelines and labor/management training partnerships, and comprehensive industry safety standards. Not a single part of the whole stands alone in keeping public transportation safe.


Transit Safety Resources

* William Volk, Managing Director, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL
* John O'Grady, Chief Safety Officer, Toronto Transit Commission
* More information on national training standards for public transportation’s maintenance occupations and career ladder partnerships
* Brian Turner, Director, Transportation Learning Center
* David Bouwkamp, Executive Director for Business Development, FAAC Inc.
* Jeff Stevens, Director of Commercial Business Operations, Rail Division, ENSCO Inc.
* Bill Petit, independent consultant
* Also, information on APTA’s safety programs, committees, working groups and training initiatives

 

More Sessions, Speakers Confirmed for 2009 Annual Meeting

Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, will address “The Future of Transit in a Green Economy” at an Oct. 7 General Forum during the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting, Oct. 4-7 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, FL. The session will examine the impact of a “greener” new economy on the public transportation industry.

APTA also has announced other session topics and speakers during the meeting, resulting in a program designed to meet the needs of public transit professionals coping with the current volatile business environment.

Leaders of public transit agencies will conduct a roundtable discussion Oct. 5, describing the extraordinary measures they have taken in turbulent times to position their organizations for a bright future. Scheduled panelists include Gary C. Thomas, APTA vice chair-rail transit and president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Mark R. Aesch, chief executive officer with the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority in Rochester, NY; and Stephen G. Bland, chief executive officer of Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County.

An Oct. 6 General Forum will highlight the largest transit public works projects in North America, including Access to the Region’s Core for the New York/New Jersey region; the Toronto Transit Commission’s comprehensive expansion plans, which incorporate subway and light rail extensions and rehabilitation of current service; and Sound Transit’s Central Link Light Rail line, which opened in July in Seattle.

APTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development, chaired by Doran Barnes, vice chair-human resources and executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, will present its key recommendations—including hot issues in proposed legislation, higher education, industry image, collaborations, youth outreach, and metrics—on Oct. 6.

LYNX Tour: Operations
LYNX, host system for the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting, will open its new Operations Center to visitors at a technical tour Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 6.

The LYNX Operations Center (LOC) houses one of the first U.S. biodiesel blending facilities built and operated by a transit company, giving LYNX the means to convert its entire fleet of 290 vehicles to biodiesel fuel. The 159,925-square-foot facility, situated on 24.1 total acres, houses 24 maintenance bays and 16 lifts; teaching facilities that include computer classrooms; tire, paint, and electronic repair shops; and a wash and fuel facility.

The agency will also showcase a micro-particle disinfectant machine that LYNX purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, using technology originally created for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The “Dri-Mist” technology—created by Zimek of Sarasota, FL—kills dangerous bacteria, viruses, and toxic mold that may cause severe health problems on the agency’s buses, passenger terminal, and work and public spaces.

For more information on additional sessions at the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting, visit the APTA web site.

‘Virtual Trade Mission’ Highlights Opportunities in Brazil

Public transit agencies and businesses interested in expanding their opportunities into Brazil can participate in an hour-long “Virtual Trade Mission” Sept. 17, hosted by APTA, the Federal Transit Administration, and U.S. Commercial Service. The program begins at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

During the webinar, representatives of the local Brazilian government and U.S. Commercial Service officers in Brazil will give presentations on current and upcoming tenders, how to access and successfully compete in this very large market, and how to obtain the necessary trade assistance.

David Fulton, U.S. Commercial Service liaison at the World Bank, an expert on tracking international projects, will discuss the best sources of information on international tenders and export assistance available to all U.S. companies. The webinar program will also cover legal language and cultural challenges to doing business in Brazil and how participants can overcome them.

Brazil is working quickly to improve its transportation infrastructure in anticipation of hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with the Brazilian government pledging billions of dollars to enhance the urban transit system in the 12 host cities. A major part of this investment will include integrated bus corridors, subway lines, and light rail systems. U.S. companies will be competitive in providing goods and services related to traffic control, safety, maintenance, and a broad range of wireless and wire line communications-based information and electronics technologies.

To register for the webinar, log in here. For more information, contact Jessica Bechir.

Amy Coggin Dies; Longtime Former APTA Employee

Amy Allison Coggin, 53, an employee of APTA from 1988 to 2003, passed away Aug. 15 at her home in Mt. Vernon, VA, following a brief illness.

While at APTA, Coggin served in positions including executive director, policy/intergovernmental relations, and director of communications. She left the association to pursue a career as a private investigator, and in 2005 became president and owner of Wellington Investigations Inc. She also represented the Fairfax County Federation of Civic Associations on the Criminal Justice Advisory Board in Fairfax County, VA.

During the past six years, she investigated felonies for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Indigent Defense Commission and the Federal Public Defender. She left Virginia Indigent Defense as senior investigator.

Coggin is survived by her husband, James R. Davis of Mt. Vernon; sisters Vicky Coggin Long and Lee Geier of Woodstock, NH; and her father and stepmother, Dr. James D. and Maude Y. Coggin of Danville, VA. She was preceded in death by her mother, Margaret Fales Coggin.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 3 in the Fairfax County Courthouse, 4110 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA. The family suggests donations to Friends of Homeless Animals; the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, VA; or VITAS Hospice of Vienna, VA.

In Cleveland, Going Green Inside—and Out

BY DANIELLE WILLIS, Planning Team Leader/Sustainability Coordinator, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland, OH

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) knows what it takes to become a more sustainable organization: it has been recycling paper, fuel, antifreeze, metal, tires, fluorescent bulbs, and other products over the years.

As part of its long-range planning efforts, GCRTA has supported more livable communities with transit-oriented development projects and the creation of its HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit system, which has led to a substantial reduction in emissions since its launch in the fall of 2008. However, internal studies have shown that the agency needed to reduce more of its in-house consumption, prompting GCRTA to introduce its first sustainability initiative.

More than 2,600 agency employees will participate in the campaign, “Destination Sustainability: Know Your Impact—Campaign to Change,” which describes how they can become more environmentally responsible at every business level.

The purpose of the campaign is to help GCRTA employees look more closely at what they purchase and use, as well as the waste and emissions they produce, in an effort to reduce consumption and costs. The agency will integrate sustainability efforts developed under this initiative, which includes “green tips” and environmental policies, into its day-to-day management decisions and operations to fully recognize efficiencies and cost savings.

The project helps employees analyze their carbon footprint, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy efficiencies, recycling, waste disposal, and renewable energy solutions, among other sustainability benchmarks. It’s an overall conscious approach to get employees to use less and waste less.

The ultimate goal is to involve the entire organization while aligning structures with strategies to measure success and performances through these efforts.

Along with establishing environmental policies to support this program, GCRTA created 15 working groups to help guide and capture baseline and benchmark measurements of sustainable practices including energy/carbon reduction; GHG emissions; green technology; water conservation; materials flow; recycling; waste reduction, and renewable energy sources. Each working group received objectives, goals, and performance indicators to illustrate the level of commitment and achievement with implementing sustainable practices.

To motivate and keep employees aware of all these efforts, GCRTA launched its sustainability web site to report all information. This interactive site offers both the latest news and information on the agency’s sustainability initiatives and ways that employees can play an active role in moving toward economic stability and environmental preservation.

At the heart of the effort is an active educational forum where all GCRTA employees can learn how to apply environmental principles at every business level while on their journey to sustainability.

The agency is currently developing several environmentally conscious projects, including renovations to bring the University/Cedar, East 116th Street, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones/East Side transit facilities into compliance with LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Platinum status; solar shelters; and a waste recycling program at GCRTA’s popular Tower City Station, which serves both heavy and light rail lines. Other internal projects include Lug a Mug (reusable mugs and no paper or plastic cups at meetings), Paperless Environment Project, Reusable Bag Luncheon Speaker Bureau Series, Be an Energy Star! Conservation Project, and Health & Wellness-Sustainability Initiative.

Pending grant funding approval, GCRTA hopes to implement a lighting retrofit at eight operating facilities and construct a fuel cell technologies/hydrogen fueling station.

Specter Visits Lancaster's Red Rose Transit Authority

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) recently visited the Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) in Lancaster, PA, to announce a $5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant to support renovation of the authority’s 30-year-old administrative, maintenance, and fleet storage facility. The remaining $3 million cost of the project will come from other federal transit formula programs and state-issued bonds.

The overhaul, scheduled to begin in September, will include such green initiatives as a geothermal system for heating and cooling; a green roof; skylights; a waste oil burner to use in heating; and solar panels. RRTA plans to expand the bus storage area to allow indoor storage for the entire 45-bus fleet at the end of service each day. The agency estimated that the green enhancements will reduce energy usage by 75 percent.

RRTA Executive Director Dave Kilmer cited the senator’s help in securing the ARRA funds, adding: “Sen. Specter’s help allowed RRTA to start work now on the project and help provide jobs for the community, ultimately helping boost the economy.”

First Transit Agency Receives Environmental Honor in Louisiana

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality recently honored a First Transit property, the City of Monroe Transit System, with its 2009 Environmental Leadership Program Municipality Achievement Award in pollution prevention.

The award recognized the public transit agency’s use of biodiesel, introduction of buses with particulate filters and low emission vehicle ratings, and promotion of the benefits of transit ridership, leading to significantly improved air quality in the region and increased awareness of the environment.

“I am extremely proud of the work Monroe Transit has put into their operations and happy to be recognized for our contributions,” said Brad Thomas, president of First Transit. “By using innovative technology to improve the impact on the environment, we can ultimately contribute to keeping our planet clean while continuing to provide efficient and reliable service.”

Transit Art in Grand Rapids

The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI, recently dedicated the final art installation at Rapid Central Station: a sculpture called Journey Home, by internationally renowned sculptor Dennis Oppenheim. Shown with the work—approximately 20 feet tall and made of an aluminum/zinc-coated steel frame, colored Lexan sheets, and perforated aluminum mesh—are, from left, Peter Varga, chief executive officer of The Rapid; Oppenheim; and Rapid Art Committee members Carol Sheets and Dirk Hoffius. The artist says his intention is to depict travel as a flowing movement through space, made simply to arrive at a place.

Doug Eadie on Leadership: The Board Chair’s Perspective: Talking with CTA’s Carole Brown

BY DOUG EADIE

High-impact governing is a team sport if there ever was one, and the best-governed public transportation organizations I’ve come across over the past couple of decades have been led by a really cohesive “Strategic Governing Team” consisting of the governing board, CEO, and senior executives. These governing teams tend to function best, in my experience, when they are co-led by a board chair and CEO working in close partnership.

However, CEOs are typically the focus of lots of attention in their communities, while board chairs tend to do their important work behind the scenes, except when they chair the monthly board meeting or occasionally address a public forum.

On a recent trip to Chicago, I spent a delightful couple of hours chatting with Carole Brown, who has chaired the Board of Directors of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for almost six years. Believe me, I felt very fortunate that our schedules meshed since Carole is one very busy person, serving as Senior Managing Director, Public Finance, and member of the Executive Committee of Mesirow Financial, while also serving on the boards of the Chicago Children’s Museum, the Mercy Foundation, and the Chicago Network in addition to her CTA leadership role. CTA, by the way, is the nation’s second largest public transportation system. A regional system serving 40 suburbs in addition to the City of Chicago, CTA carries almost two million passengers on an average weekday.

Doug: How did you get involved in public transportation generally and CTA in particular?

Carole: Back in 2001, when I was working with Lehman Brothers as an investment banker, I was asked to participate in a program called Leadership Greater Chicago, whose primary purpose is to get future Chicagoland leaders educated on—and engaged in—community issues. Mayor Daley asked me to chair a special sub-group of my LGC class that was created to brainstorm solutions to community issues, and that activity not only introduced me to the public transportation arena, but also involved me intensely with the Mayor’s staff. In September 2003, the Mayor asked me to serve as Chair of the CTA Board. I knew that it would be a lot of work in addition to my very demanding responsibilities at Lehman Brothers, but I never considered turning down the appointment. For one thing, I totally buy into Mayor Daley’s philosophy that business people are obligated to contribute substantial time to community affairs. For another, my work with the Mayor and his staff had taught me that they were strongly committed to building a top-quality public transportation system in Chicago. Mayor Daley, by the way, is great to work with. He does his homework on complex issues, paying close attention to detail. But he isn’t even close to being a micromanager. He lets the people around him run with the ball while providing thoughtful guidance and feedback.  

Doug: What have you found most satisfying in your governing work at CTA, Carole?

Carole: Three things have made chairing the CTA Board an incredibly positive experience for me: results; education; and people. First and foremost, making a significant difference in Greater Chicago—contributing to a higher quality of life—is my primary reason for \being on the Board, and I’m satisfied that CTA is making Chicago and its suburbs a better place to live. If I thought otherwise, I wouldn’t be on the CTA Board! To me, Doug, learning is a lifelong endeavor, and chairing the CTA Board for almost six years has been a growthful experience, to put it mildly. Technically speaking, I feel privileged to have learned what it takes to keep a huge, complex system—with its 2,200 buses, 1,190 rail cars and almost 2 million riders daily—running, not to speak of all of the other matters that we deal with as a Board of Directors. And serving on this Board this has been a very rewarding experience from a human perspective. For one thing, CTA Board members are highly engaged in their governing work; they do their homework, come well prepared to meetings, and are avid questioners. And the positive culture on the Board makes for a really enjoyable governing experience. We truly like and respect each other, we keep our discourse civil, and there’s not an obstructionist among us. That doesn’t mean we always agree on particular issues, but we know how to disagree without impugning motives or personalizing issues.

Doug: So let’s flip the coin over. Tell me what’s less satisfying about your work on the CTA Board.

Carole: I’d say what’s caused me the most frustration over my six years with CTA is how difficult it is to build widespread public understanding of, and support for, what we do at CTA and for adequate funding of our operations. Getting our message across is a never-ending challenge, especially in the face of apparently deep-seated public skepticism these days about all public institutions. I’m not sure we’ve mastered how to get ahead of the game, to proactively get our message out there, and I’m occasionally wearied by the effort it takes not to be thrown on the defensive. Let me say, though, that I think one of the preeminent responsibilities of Board members is external communication and public education, so we’ve got to keep plugging away at this aspect of the job.

Doug:  What have you learned about keeping the Board-CEO partnership close, positive and productive during your almost six years at the helm of the CTA Board, Carole?

Carole: The foundation of a really solid partnership, in my opinion, is a clear understanding of – and agreement on—the fundamental division of labor: The Board Chair leads the Board itself in carrying out its strategic direction setting and performance oversight functions. The CEO runs all day-to-day operations, including supervising senior executives. Now, we do share one function: speaking for CTA and representing it in external forums; together, we’re the “face” of CTA to the wider world. The precise balance changes as the cast changes, of course. A CEO who relishes the diplomatic role and loves being out in the community will seek a larger role, with my blessing. The Board Chair will play a more active external role when partnering with a CEO whose focus is more internal. In addition to understanding our respective roles, regular, full communication is key to a successful partnership. I’ve always met weekly with the CEOs I’ve worked with, to go over important issues, and we’ve stayed in close touch via phone and email.
 
Doug Eadie is president & CEO of Doug Eadie & Company. You can reach Doug here.