Passenger Transport - October 12, 2009
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Sec. LaHood Tells APTA Annual Meeting: Transit Has a ‘Partner at DOT’

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

“You have a partner at DOT to do anything that needs to be done,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to the more than 1400 attendees at the Opening General Session Oct. 5 at the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando.  The Secretary also noted that President Barack Obama and his administration understand the importance of reliable, modern public transit systems for all areas of the U.S.

“In my first nine months at DOT, I’ve seen the impact transit has on the quality of life throughout America,” LaHood said, citing Los Angeles Metro’s Gold Line extension, which serves African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods in East Los Angeles; an intermodal facility under construction in Miami, which will connect the airport to bus and rail; New York
City, where the five boroughs are joining together with the suburbs to modernize one of the nation’s oldest heavy rail systems; and transit-oriented neighborhoods in Chicago, Detroit, and Dubuque, IA.

With $8 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as a “down payment” for U.S. high-speed rail, he said: “People who visit Europe don’t understand why we in America don’t have high-speed rail service. We’re in the ballpark with this, and with your help it will be America’s vision as well.”

He also reported on the Distracted Driving Summit he convened Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C. He called for a clampdown on distracted drivers—including transit personnel who could potentially endanger their passengers—and proposed permanent restrictions on the use of cell phones for calling and texting while driving: for example, bus operators who text while working should lose their commercial driving license.

ARRA mandated that agencies obligate 50 percent of their funding by September 1, 2009.  Millar recognized LaHood’s efforts of nearly doubling that amount by a margin of almost two to one, having disbursed over 90 percent.  He noted that the $8.4 billion invested in public transit through ARRA will support and create 252,000 jobs.

“We want to thank you for the oil we won’t have to import; for the carbon that won’t go into the air; and, most of all, for the jobs that have been created,” he said.  At that point in the session, 12 LYNX employees took the stage and held up signs in large bold letters that read “252,000 JOBS!”

“These are the proverbial shovel-ready jobs,” Millar said, presenting LaHood and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff with commemorative shovels. "These shovels represent the ‘gold standard’ you delivered on the promise, and we thank you very much,” he said as the audience gave the officials a standing ovation.  Added Millar:  “You “dig” us!”

In his introduction of LaHood, Rogoff pointed to the secretary’s tenure as a member of Congress from Illinois and as a former chief planner for a Metropolitan Planning Organization. “In Ray LaHood, we have a no-nonsense public service who’s interested in results. He’s looking for benefits to communities of all sizes … He is a great friend of public transportation,” said Rogoff.

Reps. Brown, Mica Speak
Reps. Corrine Brown (D-FL) and John Mica (R-FL) also addressed the attendees.



“Transportation is bipartisan,” said Brown, who chairs the Railroads and Pipelines Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I). “We work across the line as far as transportation is concerned….What moves the economy? Transportation”  She noted that the requirement in ARRA that funding go to transit agencies rather than state governments has helped with the timely disbursement of the grants.

Mica, ranking member of the full T&I Committee, echoed Brown’s comments. “There aren’t any real partisan issues when it comes to transportation, although there may be some disagreements,” he said.  He described working with T&I Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) toward a six-year, or 72-month, transportation authorization bill rather than the 18-month bill championed by the administration: “We need a solid federal commitment to put forth a long-term effort, develop a finance plan, then execute it. I think that situation will improve; we’ll work together and see what we come up with.”

In addition, the session  featured comments on the status of the authorization legislation from Mitch Warren, majority professional staff, Senate Banking Committee; Shannon Hynes, minority professional staff of the same committee; and Joyce Rose, minority professional staff of House T&I.

AECOM sponsored the session.

FTA Announces New Site for Bus Safety, Security

Rural and small urban bus systems have a new tool for developing and strengthening their safety and security programs with the Oct. 6 introduction of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Bus Safety web site. FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff spoke about the site during the APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando.

“I am pleased that today, FTA launched a new web site designed to help rural and small urban transit providers build and implement effective safety, security, and emergency preparedness programs,” the administrator said.

“What does this web site mean to the thousands of rural and small urban transit providers across the nation?” Rogoff continued. “It means having quick and easy access to practical and relevant information resources. It means having a tool to help you assess your program's strengths and weaknesses. It means having the ability to ask questions and receive answers from peers on critical safety matters. The site will give users quick and easy access to a comprehensive resource library that houses over 1,000 technical assistance documents.”

In addition to the resource library, the site provides a self-assessment tool, community forum, and sections on management, equipment operation and maintenance, human resources safety activities, security activities, and emergency/all-hazards management, along with a list of upcoming events around the nation.

“Getting this important information to small transit agencies supports [Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood’s drive to improve safety across the board in transportation," Rogoff said. “This site provides practical safety and security solutions in the most efficient manner possible and allows transit agencies to share their ideas and successes with each other to promote a higher level of transit safety and security throughout the nation.”

The site, along with the overall Transit Bus Safety and Security Program, was developed in partnership with APTA, as well as the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), state DOTs, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and other departments of the federal government.

APTA Board of Directors Unanimous in Passing Governance Proposal at Annual Meeting

The APTA Board of Directors has unanimously approved a set of proposed changes to the association’s governance and committee structure. The vote took place Oct. 4 at the APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando.

Because the proposal requires changes to the APTA bylaws, it must go to a vote of the full membership. Later this month, the designated correspondent for each APTA member will receive a ballot to vote on these changes.

If the proposal is passed, the first slate of members of the new Executive Committee will be elected under this format at the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.

The proposal was developed over the past nine months under the direction of the Governance and Committee Structure Task Force, chaired by Michael S. Townes, APTA chair in 2007-2008 and president/chief executive officer of Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton, VA, and Sharon Greene of Sharon Greene & Associates, Laguna Beach, CA.

APTA Chair M.P. Carter added: “The recommended proposals were designed to support TransitVision 2050 and to broaden opportunities for leadership, better engage the board of directors in the governance of our organization, strengthen and empower our committees, and cultivate the next generation of industry leadership.”

The proposal would alter the structure of the Executive Committee in that the 14 vice chairs would serve without portfolio; previously, each has focused on a particular subject area or mode. The secretary-treasurer and the 14 vice chairs would serve for one three-year term instead of three one-year terms. The Executive Committee would continue to be composed of 18 members, with the positions of chair, first vice chair, and immediate past chair unchanged, although the title “first vice chair” will change to “vice chair.”

Other changes are intended to provide greater balance in the number of public and private members. For the secretary-treasurer and 14 at-large member seats, 10 members would be selected from the public sector and five from the private sector. Among the public members, transit professionals and transit board members would be balanced.

In addition, the plan would alter the makeup of the APTA Board of Directors. A total of 105 potential seats would be available, to include the 20 highest-dues-paying transit members, the 10 highest-dues-paying business members, 30 at-large members (to include at least 10 business members), 26 committee chairs, and the APTA president. The current 25 regional seats would be eliminated.

All at-large board members would serve three-year terms and be expected to attend all board meetings.

Further details of the proposal can be viewed on the APTA web site. Questions can be submitted.

Past Chairs Participate
“Past chairs of APTA have been very active in the governance proposal process,” said Greene at the Oct. 5 APTA Governance Roundtable session, which she moderated.

Three past chairs spoke at the program: John P. Bartosiewicz, 1999-2000, now executive vice president/chief operating officer, McDonald Transit Associates, Inc. and formerly president/executive director of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority; Celia G. Kupersmith, 2002-2003, general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District in San Francisco and chair of the APTA Waterborne Transit Operations Committee; and Richard A. White, 2003-2004, now executive vice president, AECOM, Arlington, VA, and then general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Also instrumental were past Chairs Leslie White, general manager of Santa Cruz (CA) Metropolitan Transit District; George F. Dixon III, board president, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; and past APTA Chair Howard Silver, vice board chair of Golden Empire Transit District, Bakersfield, CA.

A Canadian Effort
In Canada, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) is learning from APTA’s governance and TransitVision 2050 efforts to create its own forward-looking initiative. CUTA Executive Director Michael Roschlau reported on “Transit Vision 2040” at the Oct. 5 governance session.

“The purpose of Transit Vision 2040 is to show that the future has to be shaped, not simply reacted to. We must be proactive, not reactive,” Roschlau said. He explained that CUTA set 2040 as its target year, not 2050 as APTA did, because the organization used a single generation as its benchmark.

The 70-page document “defines a future in which public transit maximizes its contributions to quality of life with benefits that support a vibrant and equitable society, complete and compact community form, dynamic and efficient economy, and a healthy natural environment,” Roschlau said.

He explained that “Canadian society will look very different by 2040,” pointing to larger cities and fewer residents of smaller communities and rural areas; an aging population; increased immigration; and changing lifestyle expectations. “Mobility, or the lack of it, will be a major issue in competitiveness … major metropolitan areas will look for seamlessly integrated transit service, while smaller cities will need to improve their service.”

Information on CUTA’s Transit Vision 2040 is available online.

Resolutions Adopted by APTA Board

The APTA Board of Directors adopted two new resolutions during APTA’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL. The first affirms APTA’s support for a high-speed passenger rail title in the next surface transportation authorization.

Specifically, the resolution states: “Consistent with the ‘APTA Four-Point Advocacy Agenda for Finance of Intercity and High-Speed Rail,’ adopted by the APTA Board of Directors March 8, 2009, APTA endorses inclusion of a separate high-speed passenger rail title in the next authorization of federal surface transportation laws, funded by other than Trust Fund revenues. APTA also supports the $50 billion amount proposed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar in the Committee print of the Surface Transportation Act of 2009, while reaffirming its commitment to a separate transit title of no less than $123 billion. APTA also wishes to clarify, consistent with principles adopted by the APTA Executive Committee on May 2, 2009, that the Northeast Corridor should be eligible for high-speed and intercity rail investments. In addition, common and/or peripheral benefits afforded commuter rail systems as a result of high-speed rail investments should be eligible for such funding.”

The second resolution adopted by the Board of Directors focuses on positive train control (PTC). APTA supports the safety necessity of PTC but calls for the adequate funding of PTC for publicly-operated passenger rail systems. The federal government has required the highly expedited implementation of PTC by Dec. 31, 2015.

Comments Sought on Cyber Security Standard

The APTA Control and Communications Work Group has issued for public comment the first part of a recommended practice on rail system control room and communications security (cyber security). Comments are due by Nov. 15.

Part I is an assessment tool that addresses the importance of control and communications security within a transit agency, providing a road map to develop a successful program including risk assessment and risk management. Part II, which is to follow, will define specific implementation steps necessary to establish security countermeasures, a security plan, and many other facets of security control.

The announcement and comment document can be found on the APTA standards web site.

TCRP Names New Ambassadors to Two-Year Terms

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Dissemination Program recently selected 15 new individuals to serve as Ambassadors for the program during the 2009-2011 term. These industry professionals will travel throughout the country to enhance the understanding, acceptance, and utilization of TCRP-sponsored research products.

The class of new ambassadors, selected from a competitive pool of candidates across the U.S., includes Jessie Baginski, Laketran; India Birdsong, Chicago Transit Authority; Lisa Collins, Delaware Transit Corporation; S. Renee Edwards-Current, Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Warren Foster, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; Roberto Galvez, Broward County Transit; B. Moore Gwynn, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; Mark Hairr, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Michael Horsting, Lee County Board of County Commissioners; Yvonne Lyon, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon; Andrew Mikkelson, Gold Coast Transit; Tonya Saxon, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; Samuel Snead, Transportation Systems; Circe Torruellas, District of Columbia DOT; and Christopher Wightman, New Jersey Transit Corporation.

Each Ambassador is expected to volunteer for at least two to three different industry-related venues a year to promote and disseminate TCRP reports and products.

TCRP was established in 1992 to serve as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative, near-term solutions to industry needs and demands. The dissemination effort of TCRP ensures that program-related reports and products reach appropriate industry audiences and interested individuals. The TCRP Ambassador Program—a joint effort among APTA, TCRP, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), and the Federal Transit Administration—was developed to expand outreach efforts.

COMTO manages the ambassador program and provides information on the program on its web site. More information about the TCRP Dissemination Program is available online.

Jim Ditch Dies; Retired from Long Beach Transit

James A. (Jim) Ditch, 62, former executive director of maintenance and facilities with Long Beach Transit (LBT) in Long Beach, CA, died Sept. 24 after fighting cancer.

Ditch was a 19-year employee of LBT who retired in 2008. Earlier this year, the agency honored him by dedicating the James A. Ditch Maintenance Facility and Learning Center.

He received two U.S. patents for wheelchair securement devices; his interest in mobility issues stemmed from observing the problems faced by his brother, a paraplegic.

Ditch also had a strong interest in transportation training. He was one of the founders of the Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium, which supports improved training availability and standards in the industry.

He also implemented a mentoring program for students of heavy-duty mechanical and automotive repair at community colleges in the region.

“He saw himself as this ordinary guy just doing ordinary things, but he was an extraordinary person. He was bigger than life,” LBT President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Jackson told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Opening General Session: Transit Stays Strong

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

More than 1,400 transportation professionals gathered on Oct. 5 for the Opening General Session of the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL. APTA President William Millar greeted the participants; thanked the host system, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) and its executive director, Linda S. Watson, for their hard work; and, in an unusual twist, urged them to turn their cell phones on! He then related how they could text APTA09 to 79649 to register themselves for automatic news alerts and updates on the meeting they were attending, following which, he asked them to turn their phones off!

Millar noted that the industry was not immune to the recession, and yet stayed strong, with a long-term trend showing Americans continuing to ride transit more often. He talked about American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for both public transportation and high-speed rail, citing, for example, how host system LYNX had received $32 million to work on various projects.

“Key to our efforts in convincing legislators and the public of the benefits of public transportation has been a new campaign we introduced in March,” said Millar. He discussed the “Public Transportation Takes Us There” campaign’s focus on “Three Es and a Q,” meaning that transit’s impact on the economy, energy, and the environment contribute to an improved quality of life.

He also mentioned two “firsts”: the Annual Meeting’s Products and Services showcase and a high-speed rail practicum next February, hosted by APTA and the International Union of Railways.

At the conclusion of his speech, he introduced outgoing APTA Chair Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D. She gave a brief overview of her initiatives and talked about her 30-year career in the industry.

She also spoke movingly of what being chair has meant to her. “Last year, when I became APTA chair, it was not lost on me that it was the first time that our Association’s leadership passed from one leader of color to another. Today, our Association marks another significant milestone as I proudly and enthusiastically pass this gavel to Memphis Area Transit Board Member—M.P. Carter—another female executive—and our new APTA Chair.”

After a video depicting Carter’s career, Scott passed the gavel to Carter, and Millar then gave a short introduction, citing her many years of service to public transportation.

In her first formal speech as APTA’s new chair—after expressing her heartfelt thanks to both her family and colleagues, Carter said: “Maybe you’re wondering what you can do to move our industry forward—beyond, I hasten to add, what you do already!” said Carter. “Well,” she continued, “I’ll tell you! You can go out and tell our story of the benefits of public transportation. And the way we tell our story is for you to tell your story.”

This proactive effort holds such importance that she stressed it will be her signature initiative. She then announced a task force to lead that effort, to be co-chaired by Alice Wiggins-Tolbert, the incoming vice chair-marketing and communications, and Tom Costello, the outgoing vice chair.

She called on all APTA members to share their successes in marketing, communications, outreach, and advocacy.

“In terms of climate change, pollution, congestion—we really are part of the solution,” Carter said. “And our best solution is to talk about our industry, make legislators invested, convince ‘choice’ riders that transit, indeed, is the only way to go.”

Carter spoke of the coming year as “a time of both opportunity and challenge for our industry…a time of a national focus on public transportation as a linchpin for decreasing carbon emissions, for making the best use of land, for reducing our dependency on foreign oil.” She noted the importance of creating a new five-year APTA Strategic Plan; instituting changes in the APTA governance structure; continuing the Workforce Development Initiative begun by Scott; and promoting passage of a federal transportation authorization bill.

The program included comments from Buddy Dyer, mayor of the city of Orlando and vice chairman of the LYNX Board of Directors; Watson; Richard Crotty, mayor of Orange County, FL; and Jean-Marc Janaillac, CEO of RATP Development, which sponsored the session.

Carter New APTA Chair; Scanlon, Ford Also Elected

M.P. Carter, a commissioner of the Memphis Area Transit Authority in Memphis, TN, was elected chair of APTA at the Oct. 4 Annual Business Meeting in Orlando, FL, during the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting.

The association also elected Michael J. Scanlon, general manager/CEO of the San Mateo County Transit District and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) in San Carlos, CA, first vice chair, and Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., executive director/CEO of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in San Francisco, CA, secretary-treasurer position.

Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., general manager/CEO, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, is the immediate past chair.

The following new members were elected to their first one-year terms as vice chairs on the APTA Executive Committee:

Christopher P. Boylan, deputy executive director, corporate affairs and communications, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY, vice chair-management and finance.

Joseph Giulietti, executive director, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Pompano Beach, FL, vice chair-commuter and intercity rail.

Michael A. Sanders, transit administrator, transit and ridesharing, Connecticut DOT, Newington, CT, vice chair-state affairs.

Peter Varga, CEO, Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), Grand Rapids, MI, vice chair-small operations.

Alice Wiggins-Tolbert, director, project development, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Atlanta, GA, vice chair-marketing.

Elected to their second one-year terms as vice chairs are:

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

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

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

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

These vice chairs are serving their third one-year terms:

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

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

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

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

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

Board of Directors
The following transit system representatives and business members have been elected to four-year terms as regional directors:

* Region I (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island): Ronald J. Kilcoyne, CEO, Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority, Bridgeport, CT; business member, Stanley J. Rosenblum, division vice president, Jacobs, New York, NY.

* Region II (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina, South Carolina): Paul E. Davis, general manager and CEO, Tri-State Transit Authority, Huntington, WV; business member, Larry Yermack, president, Telvent USA, Rockville, MD.

* Region III (Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands): Paul J. Ballard, CEO, Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority, Nashville, TN; business member, Hakan Eksi, general manager-transit products, L.B. Foster Company Inc. Transit Products Division, Suwanee, GA.

* Region IV (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota): Joseph A. Calabrese, CEO, general manager/secretary-treasurer, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland, OH; business member, Robert Andress, vice president, general manager, Global Transit Brake Group, Vapor Bus International-A Wabtec Company, Buffalo Grove, IL.

* Region V (Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri): John L. Wilson, general manager, Citibus, Lubbock, TX; business member, Dan Kelleher, business area director, bus and rail, Mark IV Luminator, Plano, TX.

* Region VI (Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam): Timothy J. Fredrickson, general manager, Ben Franklin Transit, Richland, WA; business member, John A. Somers, director, transit business development, Clean Energy, Seal Beach, CA.

* Region VII (Canada): Joel Gauthier, president and CEO, AMT Montreal (Agence Metropolitaine de transport), Montreal, PQ; business member, Jean-Pierre Baracat, vice president, business development, Nova Bus, St. Eustache, PQ.

The following business members were elected to two-year terms as business member directors-at-large:
* Albrecht P. Engel, vice president and U.S. high-speed rail director, AECOM, Philadelphia, PA.
* Ghassan Salameh, senior vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, VA.
* Enrique Washington, partner, Generator Group LLC, Beaverton, OR.
* Alan C. Wulkan, managing partner, InfraConsult LLC, Scottsdale, AZ.

New APTA Chair Encourages All: ‘Telling Our Story’



To new APTA Chair M.P. Carter, public transportation agencies have a responsibility to spread the word about their successes in sustaining the economy, saving energy, benefiting the environment, and contributing to an improved quality of life. To that end, she has set “Public Transportation: Telling Our Story” as her signature initiative.

At an Oct. 6 General Session in Orlando, Carter brought together four transit marketing and public relations professionals to share their stories of how “Public Transportation Takes Us There.”

“We need to find new ways to tell our story and reach out to our customers and critics, both young and old,” she said “We need to use word of mouth, as well as social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. We also want to ask our customers to tell our story.”

Matthew Raymond, chief communications officer with Los Angeles Metro, shared a major success story: the November 2008 passage of Measure R, a half-cent fuel tax to support transit projects in Los Angeles County. He described how Metro—an agency with past difficulties—worked with its customers and learned from other industries to build a consistent image and move forward. Voters supported the initiative with 67.93 percent of the vote (tax measures in California need a two-thirds margin rather than a simple majority to pass) and, according to Raymond, their support remains strong.

“What we learned is to focus on your customers, find out what they want, then give it to them,” he said.

Thomas J. Costello, past APTA vice chair-marketing and communications and assistant managing director of the Champaign-Urbana (IL) Mass Transit District (CUMTD), also described an agency rebuilding a positive image after several negative events. The major problem, he said, was that media presented the agency in a not so positive light, which fed public opinion.

CUMTD began, therefore, by making safety its top priority: “It was important not only that our service would be safe, but that it would always be perceived as safe,” Costello said.  Measures taken included installing audible turning signals and strobe lights on buses and integrating defensive driving instruction into operator training.

“We knew that the people who rode knew what we were doing,” he continued. “We invited our employees to speak out in an ad campaign. Then community leaders joined in, followed by the riders—including one who won a Nobel Prize in physics! As a result, the positive perceptions bounced back.”

Aaron Weinstein, outgoing chair of the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee and department manager, marketing and research, for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), discussed how his system is using social networking web sites to spread the word. BART originally used Twitter for service alerts and information in case of an employee strike, but has since spread out to more conversational tweets.

“We also use Facebook, which is a great way to literally show the face of transit,” Weinstein added. He explained that BART posts rider photos and comments on its site.

Alice Wiggins-Tolbert, the newly elected APTA vice chair-marketing and communications, and director, project development, Parsons Brinckerhoff, presented an overview of the association’s resources for the “Telling Our Story” initiative.

“We need to increase federal funding under the next authorization bill and the climate change bill,” she explained. “We’re providing APTA members with tools for use in their local organizations.”

The APTA web site offers a single, unified platform for all modes of communication. Materials available at the site include op-eds; fact sheets and brochures; ads; social media applications; the Transit Savings Report; and the “Go Green, Go Public” public service announcement campaign.

Wiggins-Tolbert also announced a Capitol Hill event and national outreach on Oct. 22, connected to the release of a nationwide study on the job impacts of public transit investment.

“We’re all in this together, and we’d all like to get there together. We greatly appreciate your help,” she added. “We’ve got to do this; this is our industry, this is our survival, and the stories have to be there.”

The Vision and the Blueprint: High-Speed Rail in the U.S.

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER,Senior Managing Editor

It was standing room only at the Oct. 6 session on high-speed rail session during the APTA Annual Meeting. “That’s a declaration of interest by the people of APTA—and it’s the same as it is across the nation,” said moderator Rod Diridon, chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee, and executive director, Mineta Transportation Institute.

Diridon gave a brief history of high-speed rail, noting how these systems have carried billions of riders without fatalities, a fact he contrasted with the 43,000 deaths on U.S. highways last year. Why hasn’t America implemented high-speed rail by now, he asked rhetorically? “Because,” he said, “the U.S. was held back by our addiction to petroleum and the car industry.”

But, he cautioned, the $8 billion for high-speed rail in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created a situation where new organizations are being formed to represent or work on behalf of high-speed rail advocates. He argued that it is in the best interest of those advocates to look to APTA and other established groups instead.

He stressed that the purpose of the session was to talk about the objectives of APTA and the state of passenger rail: “We need to focus the energy on the long-standing consortiums that are working not on their profit, or on advocacy that is antagonist vs. cooperative—to allow the program to be successful for users.” Borrowing a labor term, he urged that the attendees “do not patronize” these groups.

The first speaker was Karen J. Rae, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), of whom Diridon said: “She knows what she’s talking about, and she’s our champion.”

Rae reported on the steps FRA is taking to ensure the best chance of high-speed rail success. “In three weeks, we spoke with 1,200 people to find out what it would take to implement this agenda,” she said. “We are not going to build ‘rails to nowhere,’” she emphasized. “They have to connect locally.”

She added that FRA is looking to design “a network that uses the right speed for the right environment.”

FRA’s evaluation process for this program goes beyond increasing ridership, Rae said; it will consider how much energy will be saved, the timeliness of completion, regional allocation, and safety. Calling the last element “critically important,” she said the agency will look at end safety performance as it applies to passenger, employees, and equipment.

“How do we maintain and improve our safety standards, and can we do it in ways that are smarter?” she asked. Other questions that should be addressed in a successful application include: Do you have a state rail plan? Is it multimodal? Do you have partners? How does the design of that network fit into the national goal?

The applications, she said, are “technology-neutral. It’s what you can deliver and how you can deliver it.”

Rae closed her presentation by saying: “This will not happen if we don’t all work together in partnership. I look forward to doing that with my state partners and all of you in the room.”

The next speaker, Frank J. Busalacchi, secretary, Wisconsin DOT, was described by Diridon as “a mix of teamster and intellect that makes you want to do what he suggests, one way or another.”

“We all know that building a high-speed rail system in this country won’t be cheap,” said Busalacchi, “and we’re doing our best to convince [federal officials] that high-speed rail is a good investment in America.” He called the national highway system model “critical” for high-speed rail. “We can’t afford a bureaucratic procedure that will be unwieldy to follow and [difficult] to implement,” he said, urging that FRA use the “80-20 model.”

Busalacchi also made the point that no high-speed rail project will be successful “unless we recognize that we must be full partners with the freight rail industry, because much of the track is theirs.”

“We can no longer be satisfied with the status quo,” he stated, “and we are ready to move ahead right now.”

The last presenter was Eugene A. Conti Jr., chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Rail Transportation and secretary of North Carolina DOT.

Conti began by citing two North Carolina editorials published that morning, quoting from the Charlotte Observer: “There is nothing small minded about the [state’s high-speed rail] pitch … the North Carolina application is brash—it ought to be.”

In discussing the AASHTO committee, Conti said: “We have an active membership. We will establish intercity passenger rail and high-speed rail as a vital component of AASHTO’s vision.”

While he said his team looked forward to building the system in North Carolina and working with Virginia and South Carolina and “our other neighbors as well,” Conti added: “This is not just about a high-speed rail network, but connecting our cities throughout the northeast—and the key element is, we need to be building those connections seamlessly, so when we get folks on the trains into the center cities, they can then complete their journey.”

HDR ENGINEERING, INC. sponsored the session.

Launching High-Speed Rail Nationwide


An afternoon session Oct. 6 in Orlando titled “Launching High-Speed Rail in the U.S.” attracted a packed audience, prompting APTA President William Millar to comment that the standing-room-only crowd proved that interest in high-speed rail “runs high and runs deep within APTA.”

Millar continued: “It’s not just this notion of fast trains, as romantic as that might be—it’s the connectivity of the system; it’s making sure there are good transit systems to get people to the high-speed service.” He added, “This is an exciting time as dreams become reality.”

Jolene M. Molitoris, vice chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and director of Ohio DOT’s Office of Transit, moderated the session. Noting that the program would build on another session held that morning (see other story on this page), she said the focus would be on the vision of high-speed rail with solid examples of “what we can do in the United States.” She added: “We’re talking about real projects that last Friday were submitted with the wonders of electronics to the [Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)].”

“We built our way to today,” Molitoris said. “As I look at this audience at those who have given, who have visioned, who have worked, I think someday we need to gather your stories.”

She acknowledged the vision of President Barack Obama and the members of the House and Senate who voted for the inclusion of $8 billion for high-speed rail in ARRA. “If not for them,” she said, “we would not be here. This is high-speed rail’s time.”

Molitoris added that much work remains and it will take “all of us working together to make sure we have a system that is the best in the world.”

Nazih K. Haddad, executive director of the Florida High-Speed Rail Authority and intercity passenger rail manager, Office of Public Transportation, Florida DOT, gave an overview of factors that he said make Florida “ideal for the development of high-speed rail.” It is the country’s fourth largest state; as a tourist destination, it hosts millions of visitors annually, many from overseas who are accustomed to train travel and will most likely take it when it is available. Haddad said the state’s flat terrain makes it conducive to building rail, adding that there is limited room for additional highways. He also noted that the state has an aging population that prefers taking the train to driving or sitting in traffic.

“High-speed rail will help with economic development and environmental concerns,” he said, adding: “There is excitement also about the potential for transit-oriented development in Tampa.”

Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association in Chicago, stressed the need for increased investment in high-speed rail and spoke about upgrading existing routes to achieve maximum speed in the Midwest. He said his job is to talk to groups across the country to tell them: “Yes, it is possible to get better train service—and here are the steps your organization needs to take.”

Harnish spoke excitedly about the Chicago-to-St. Louis project, which would establish a high-speed rail corridor linking the two cities. It is currently in Phase One, scheduled for completion by 2015, with plans to establish 220-mph service throughout the nation by 2030.

Development of high-speed rail in this region makes sense, he said, because “one-third of the population of the U.S. lives within 500 miles of Chicago.”

William A. Jones III, vice chair of the Texas High-Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation and mayor of Temple, TX, mentioned the many economic development opportunities that come from transportation. Calling high-speed rail “the dawn of a new era in passenger rail in the United States,” he noted that in Texas, “we share in that excitement.”
 Jones said he is looking to develop a “sustainable and attainable” system in Texas that would be applicable to all and would “address environmental concerns, economics, create jobs, and improve safety.” He pointed to the Texas T-Bone High Speed Rail Corridor, which would connect the state’s four largest population centers—Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio—with only 440 miles of rail. It would position the 16 million Texans currently living in the corridor’s service area within 90 minutes of the state’s economic and population centers.

Rod Diridon, executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute and chair of the APTA High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee, noted that California’s large population and broad geographic area make new transportation options critical to the state.

“We simply must have this kind of transportation mobility—clean and quick,” he said. “Otherwise, California will founder, and we just can’t allow that to happen to the sixth largest economy in the world.”

California has currently invested $200 million in state funds for high-speed rail this year, including an environmental review, certification, corridor and station location selection, and selection of motive power, business plan, and implementation plan. The new grade-separated, fully electric system will run at 220 mph. Projections from outside consulting firms estimate ridership to be 94 million riders per year when the system is complete.

The session was sponsored by HDR ENGINEERING, INC.

APTA Releases Brochure
APTA unveiled an extensive four-color brochure on high-speed and intercity rail at both Annual Meeting sessions convened on this subject. The purpose of the publication is to make clear and direct the association between APTA and this issue.

The brochure, created by members of the APTA High-Speed Rail Committee, notes APTA’s vigorous advocacy, urges specific principles, and provides a manifest for an evolving national program for high-speed and incrementally higher-speed rail.

Economic Stimulus: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

J. Barry Barker, APTA vice chair-government affairs and executive director of the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, KY, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) “a program that is working” when he moderated an Oct. 5 session at the APTA Annual Meeting on the positive effects of the economic stimulus legislation.

Barker termed the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) efforts in obligating the money “remarkable,” and said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is doing “a great job in building their process from scratch,” adding: “I think we should be here to celebrate.” He noted that ARRA funding forestalls fare increases and service cuts and has enabled agencies to take care of deferred maintenance. By using ARRA funds on a 30-year-old roof on one of his facilities, he reported, he replaced a roof “before it replaced itself.”

Susan Schruth, associate administrator of FTA’s Office of Program Management, provided an overview of ARRA because, she said, “some people are a lot less familiar with the Recovery Act than others.” The purpose of the legislation’s recovery aspect was to maintain and create jobs, and to infuse cash into cash-strapped state and local economies. Its reinvestment approach was to build and repair infrastructure.

To ensure that transportation agencies were implementing the streamlined processes developed at the federal level, Schruth said FTA trained its employees and “really stepped up our stakeholder outreach”—employing such efforts as webinars, conferences, the FTA web site, an FAQ section, links to other documents, and an automatic notification feature.

“I’m really excited that we met our statutory deadlines [to obligate funds],” she added.

All remaining formula funds must be obligated by March 5, 2010, and all obligated funds must be drawn down by Sept. 30, 2015. Further, said Schruth, “the White House wants to know how fast you’re spending the funds, so now we’re tracking disbursements.” She also discussed ARRA obligations by project type as well as the discretionary programs.

Henrika Buchanan-Smith, director of the Office of Transit Programs at FTA, discussed specifics of ARRA reporting. “If you’re having trouble,” she said, “just know that you can call 1-800-884-9190 and someone from FTA will be there to give you real-time assistance.” She stressed the importance of reporting, adding, to laughter, that “we call it progressively watching; you may call it harassment.”

Because FTA is being held accountable, Buchanan-Smith said, “we’re making sure that everybody who can report does report. By going to a detailed level of reporting information, we’re able to tell our story that ARRA funds are worthy for transportation and we’re putting people to work.” She told the audience that they could find the specifics of her presentation online.

FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae spoke about the elements put in place for reviewing applications for high-speed rail. “We needed to look strategically. As we advanced the program, it needed to be merit-based,” she said, adding: “We were quite clear that we were talking about a network.”

Instead of remaining in Washington, she noted, “We went to seven states where the partners might be. While it was a great intense process, it was worth every minute because we’re going to be partners and we want to make this work.”

Rae then quoted President Dwight Eisenhower, who said in 1958: “Our real problem is not our strength today ... it is the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow.” She reiterated: “Success is our focus; failure is not an option—we [at FRA] all pledged that we could make this work.”

The two main keys to a successful high-speed rail model, she said, are user benefits and cost-effectiveness. She and other officials will also take into account how the agency (or agencies) will mitigate risks (for example, in their project implementation approaches).

“We will not leave one penny of these dollars on the table,” she said emphatically, but cautioned: “We cannot afford to pledge money and not have it work.”

The session was sponsored by GJB Consulting LLC.

At WTS Breakfast, Germer Stresses Self-Acceptance

By SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

“Bet on the greatest asset you have—you,” writer Fawn Germer told the crowd attending the 14th annual APTA/Women’s Transportation Seminar Breakfast, Oct. 7 in Orlando.

Germer, the author of five books and a journalist nominated four times for the Pulitzer Prize, described how self-acceptance, “the value of feeling comfortable in my own skin,” is the most powerful lesson anyone can learn, but that too many people don’t appreciate themselves for what they are. She described interviewing accomplished women who expressed doubts about their own success, saying that “people will say meaner things to themselves than they would to strangers or to people they hate.”

As far as dealing with adversity, Germer cited a Chinese proverb: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” A person can succeed and move forward, she said, by “knowing you’re strong enough to get through anything” and reaching out to others. “You’ve got what you’ve got; leverage it,” she added.

The point of her presentation, she said, was to recognize the often underappreciated work of women and inspire more women to take risks. “Your purpose in life is to live your life with intention. I almost wasted my time by not paying attention,” she said.

The breakfast session also included an invitation to the 2010 Annual Meeting, Oct. 3-6 in San Antonio, TX, by representatives of VIA Metropolitan Transit, the host system: President/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker and Henry R. Munoz III, chair of the board of trustees.

The breakfast was sponsored by URS Corporation.

APTA Honors ‘Best of the Best’ at Awards Luncheon

The public transportation industry honored its top leaders and agencies in North America on Oct. 6 at the APTA Awards Luncheon during the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando. Awards Committee Chair Alfred Harf, executive director of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, Woodbridge, VA, presided at the event.

Organizational Awards
The Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake City, UT, received APTA’s Innovation Award for its electronic fare collection system, which accepts personal credit and debit cards in addition to passes issued by the agency. The fare system has a built-in validation feature: when the rider taps a transit pass or credit/debit card on the bus, the operator instantly receives a validation message on the on-board computer and allows the individual to board. UTA inspectors on board the system’s trains have a small inspection device that registers the “tap” a customer made on a platform reader prior to boarding.

The Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award went to systems in three different ridership categories.

The Greater Lynchburg Transit Company (GLTC), serving the city of Lynchburg and Madison Heights, VA, received the honor as Outstanding Public Transportation System providing more than one million and fewer than four million annual trips. The agency has seen its service increase from 15 to 28 peak fixed route buses over the past three years. Other GLTC innovations include the introduction of certified transit operator safety training, transfer center security, automatic video surveillance on buses, and a computerized maintenance and inventory program.

The award for Outstanding Public Transportation System providing more than four million and fewer than 30 million annual trips went to Intercity Transit in Olympia, the capital of Washington State. In addition to its fixed routes, which saw a 50 percent growth in ridership in the past three years, and Dial-A-Lift paratransit, the agency operates more than 190 vanpool groups that provided 700,000 trips last year alone. Intercity Transit also provides such specialized services as Community Vans, offering retired vanpool vans by reservation, at a low cost, to support group travel for non-profit and public sector agencies; the Van Grant Program, which awards retired vanpool vans to local nonprofit groups; and Village Vans, a federal Job Access Reverse Commute program operated with South Puget Sound Community College and 19 other community partners, providing fare-free transportation of low-income individuals in pursuing employment and skills training as well as job training opportunities for its volunteer drivers.

San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) was honored as Outstanding Public Transportation System providing more than 30 million annual trips. MTS provided a record number of trips, about 91 million, while simultaneously effecting significant cost savings. In addition, MTS has introduced 224 new buses into its fleet over the last three years and redesigned its entire network of service to increase operational efficiencies—at a time when the state totally eliminated state transit assistance funding.

Individual Awards
The Outstanding Business Executive of the Year Award went to Tim Solso, president and chief executive officer of Cummins Inc., to recognize his company’s support of environmental practices and partnerships. Solso has overseen Cummins’ efforts in improving its product—creating diesel engines with very low carbon dioxide emissions levels and very high efficiency—and supporting public transit while also improving the environment and increasing energy usage efficiency. Cummins is a participant in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders Program and has been named to the Dow Jones World Sustainability Index each of the last four years in recognition of its economic, environmental, and social leadership.

Delon Hampton, chairman of Delon Hampton and Associates in Washington, DC, received the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award. Hampton has been active in APTA since the 1970s, serving as chair and/or member of nearly every major standing committee of APTA; he is the current vice chair-business member-at-large and a former vice chair-research and technology and chair of the Business Member Board of Governors. He served on task committees such as the one that developed the Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow program, the last two APTA Strategic Planning Committees, and the TransitVision 2050 Task Force.

APTA presented the Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award to two recipients: Gregory J. Nickels, board chair of Sound Transit in Seattle, and David M. Stackrow, board chairman of the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) in Albany, NY

Nickels, also the mayor of Seattle since 2002, is a founding member of the Sound Transit board, serving continuously since 1993. His support of transit included co-sponsoring a 1988 advisory ballot that resulted in 70 percent of voters supporting construction of a light rail system. Nickels also led the creation of an ambitious transit system expansion plan supported by an additional half-cent in retail sales tax—which voters approved last year despite a down economy.

Stackrow was appointed to the CDTA board in 1995 and was elected its chairman in 2001. He launched a restructure of the board of directors that then developed a strategic business plan for employees and stakeholders. Stackrow’s other efforts include simplifying the fare structure to eliminate transfers and zone and express surcharges, adding hybrid buses to the fleet, and securing funding to complete the Rensselaer Rail Station.

John B. Catoe Jr., general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), was recognized as APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Manager. Catoe oversaw record service during the inauguration of President Barack Obama, which included an unprecedented 17 hours of rush-hour rail availability. In the fall of 2008, Catoe rallied the industry to leverage its collective power on the courts and on Capitol Hill to resolve transit leasing agreements—heavily at risk. Catoe has shifted WMATA’s 30-year focus from construction to operations and customer service. His APTA activities have included chairing Leadership APTA and serving as co-chair of the Legislative Committee’s Reauthorization Task Force.

Hall of Fame
APTA welcomed Bernard J. Ford to the APTA Hall of Fame during the award ceremony, bringing the total number of Hall of Fame members to 116.

Ford—the only APTA member to have served both as the association’s president (now chair) and chairman of the Business Member Board of Governors—has spent more than 50 years in the public transportation industry: more than 30 years with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Northeastern Illinois Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and over 20 years as a transportation consultant. He joined the private sector in 1985 and became principal for public transportation projects at McDonough Associates in 1988. A highlight there was serving as a project principal on developing Chicago’s Millennium Park—a multi-modal transportation facility. Ford continues to promote public transit in Chicago as chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee.



 Tom Hodek, general manager, world wide bus business, for Cummins Inc., right, accepts the Outstanding Business Executive of the Year Award on behalf of Tim Solso from James G. Srygley of S&A Systems Inc.

 Delon Hampton, left, receives the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award from presenter Z. Wayne Johnson of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District.



 Deborah Wathen Finn of The Wathen Group LLC presents the first of two Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Awards to Michael Williams, project development officer at Sound Transit, accepting on behalf of the system’s board chair, Gregory J. Nickels.

 The second Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member—David Stackrow, left—receives the award from Frank Kobliski of the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority.



 John B. Catoe Jr., left, the 2009 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, accepts the honor from Alfred Harf of the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.

 Bernard Ford became the newest member of the APTA Hall of Fame. Dr. David Hillock, president of Transit Associates, accepts the honor on Ford’s behalf from Stephanie Pinson of Gilbert Tweed Associates.

APTA Honors AdWheel Grand Award Winners

The APTA Marketing and Communications Committee presented its 2009 AdWheel Grand Awards at ceremonies Oct. 5 at the APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

APTA presented the awards in five groups—four listing transit systems by size and the fifth for business members—and four categories—print media, electronic media, campaigns, and special events.

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

Group 1, covering public transportation systems with one million or fewer passenger trips annually: print, Butler Transit Authority, Butler, PA, direct mail, student discount passes direct mailer; electronic, City and County of Honolulu, HI, video presentation, draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project; campaign, Northern New England Passenger Rail, Portland, ME, promotional campaign, “Train to Maine”; special event, Monroe County Transit Authority, Scotrun, PA, promotion special event, “Dump the Pump” Fuel Your Wallet Special.

Group 2, for public transportation systems with more than one million, but fewer than four million passenger trips annually: print, Knoxville Area Transit, Knoxville, TN, passes and tickets, Ride for Change Fare Media; electronic, Red Rose Transit Authority, Lancaster, PA, television advertisement or public service announcement, Go Ahead TV Spot; campaign, York County Transportation Authority dba rabbittransit, York, PA, shoestring campaign, rabbittransit Green Campaign; special event, Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO, promotion special event, 2009 Mountain Metro Transit Earth Day.

Group 3, representing public transportation systems with more than four million, but fewer than 30 million passenger trips annually: print, Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA, transit card, More Reasons to Ride Bus Ad Series; electronic, San Joaquin Regional Transit District, San Joaquin, CA, radio advertisement or public service announcement, Fare Increase Radio Ad; campaign, Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Corpus Christi, TX, public relations/awareness or educational campaign, Major Route Changes; special event, Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority, Bridgeport, CT, public relations/awareness special event, GBT Earth Day 2009.

Group 4, public transportation systems with more than 30 million passenger trips annually: print, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA, direct mail, “New. Sleek.” Door Hanger/Direct Mailers; electronic, TransLink, Burnaby, BC, Internet homepage; campaign, TransLink, public relations/awareness or educational campaign, Transit Secure; special event, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, public relations/awareness special event, PATH Office of Emergency Management Drill.

Group 5,  business members: print, Parsons Brinckerhoff, newsletter, NOTES; electronic, Bombardier Transportation, video presentation, Bombardier’s EC04 Video and Interactive; campaign, Motor Coach Industries, public relations/awareness or educational campaign, Stimulus Funding Primer; special event, New Flyer Industries, public relations/awareness special event, New Flyer Earth Day Campaign.

In addition, Sound Transit in Seattle received a special award, the 2009 AdWheel Niche Award, for its “Transit Saves” campaign. APTA members were encouraged to submit entries for this award that best showcased the cost savings benefit and economic value of public transportation.

2009 AdWheel Awards: First-Place Winners


Here is the complete list of first-place winners in the 2009 AdWheel Awards competition. Grand Award winners are listed in bold italic.

Group 1: Public transportation systems with one million or fewer passenger trips annually
* Advertisement Promotion: Go Green…Purchases bus tokens and passes (Butler Transit Authority, Butler, PA)
* Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: Briefcase/Beachbag (Northern New England Passenger Rail, Portland, ME)
* Direct Mail: Student Discount Passes Direct Mailer (Butler Transit Authority, Butler, PA)
* Passes & Tickets: 2009 Summer Youth Bus Pass (Jackson Public Transportation Co. Inc., Jackson, MS)
* Promotional Materials: “Dump the Pump” Fuel Your Wallet Promotional (Monroe County Transit Authority, Scotrun, PA)
* Schedule Notice/Timetable: JATRAN 2009 Bus Schedule (Jackson Public Transportation Co. Inc., Jackson, MS)

* Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: JATRAN: “Got Gas…Didn’t Think So” (Jackson Public Transportation Co. Inc., Jackson, MS)
* Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round (Los Alamos County, Atomic City Transit, Los Alamos, NM)
* Video Presentation: Draft EIS for the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation, Honolulu, HI)

* Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: Pocono Pony (Monroe County Transit Authority, Scotrun, PA)
* Promotional Campaign: “Train to Maine” (Northern New England Passenger Rail, Portland, ME)
* Shoestring Campaign: Seniors…Save Money…Ride Free (Butler Transit Authority, Butler, PA)

Special Event
* Promotion Special Event: “Dump the Pump” Fuel Your Wallet Special (Monroe County Transit Authority, Scotrun, PA)

Group 2: Public transportation systems with more than one million but fewer than four million passenger trips annually
* Advertisement Advocacy/Awareness: Project SafePlace (SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA)
* Advertisement Promotion: CARTA Christmas Elves Gift Pass Promotion (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, Charleston, SC)
* Annual Report: Access Paratransit Annual Report (Access Services, Los Angeles, CA)
* Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: Mountain Metropolitan Transit 2009 Summer Haul (Mountain Metropolitan Transit, Colorado Springs, CO)
* Brochure: It’s Your Ride (Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, Moline, IL)
* Direct Mail: Ute Pass Express Direct Mail (Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO)
* Map: Mountain Metropolitan Transit Z-Card (Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO)
* Newsletter: CMRTA Commuter Connection (Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority, Columbia, SC)
* Passes & Tickets: Ride for Change Fare Media (Knoxville Area Transit, Knoxville, TN)
* Poster: Mountain Metropolitan Transit 2009 Earth Day (Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO)
* Promotional Materials: CATA Holiday Card and Ornament Promotion (Centre Area Transportation Authority, State College, PA)
* Schedule Notice/Timetable: Ute Pass Express Schedule (Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO)
* Transit Card: Mountain Metropolitan Transit 2009 Summer Haul Pass (Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO)
* Illustrated Vehicle: Emalee Buses Save Something Green (Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, Moline, IL)

* Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Elves Are Talking Radio Spot (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, Charleston, SC)
* Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Go Ahead TV Spot (Red Rose Transit Authority, Lancaster, PA)
* Video Presentation: TRANSPO – Simple, Easy, Smart (South Bend Public Transportation Corp., South Bend, IN)
* Internet Home Page: gogreenmetro (Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, Moline, IL)

* Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: Save Something Green PR Campaign MetroLink (Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District, Moline, IL)
* Promotional Campaign: Maryland rabbitExpress (York County Transportation Authority dba rabbittransit, York, PA)
* Shoestring Campaign: rabbittransit Green Campaign (York County Transportation Authority dba rabbittransit, York, PA)

Special Event
* Public Relations/Awareness Special Event: ART Takes a Bus Ride – Go Green, Go Sam Trans (San Mateo County Transit District, San Mateo, CA)
* Promotion Special Event: Mountain Metro Transit 2009 Earth Day (Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO)

Group 3: Public transportation systems with more than four million but less than 40 million passenger trips annually
* Advertisement Advocacy/Awareness: Print (GRTC Transit System, Richmond, VA)
* Advertisement Promotion: Career and Safety (Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Corpus Christi, TX)
* Annual Report: GRTC Transit System 2008 Annual Report (GRTC Transit System, Richmond, VA)
* Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: Cheap and Easy (Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA)
* Brochure: FAX Bus Rapid Transit Brochure (City of Fresno Department of Transportation, Fresno, CA)
* Direct Mail: “Time to Decide on Expanding Mass Transit” (Sound Transit, Seattle, WA)
* Map: University of Washington & Downtown Tacoma (Pierce Transit, Lakewood, WA)
* Newsletter: Connections Stakeholder Newsletter (Fort Worth Transportation Authority (Fort Worth, TX)
* Passes & Tickets: Passes (Greater Dayton RTA, Dayton, OH)
* Poster: “Go Hawks” (Sound Transit, Seattle, WA)
* Promotional Materials: Tie: Hybrid Bus Education Direct Marketing (CityBus of Greater Lafayette, Lafayette, IN) and OxyGene Trading Cards (Community Transit, Everett, WA)
* Transit Card: More Reasons to Ride Bus Ad Series (Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA)
* Illustrated Vehicle: The T 25th Anniversary Bus Wrap (Fort Worth Transportation Authority, , Fort Worth, TX)

* Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Fare Increase Radio Ad (San Joaquin Regional Transit District, San Joaquin, CA)
* Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Tie: Long Beach Transit TV Commercial (Long Beach Transit, Long Beach, CA) and 2008-2009 Seahawks (Sound Transit, Seattle, WA)
* Video Presentation: viral video (GRTC Transit System, Richmond, VA)
* Internet Home Page: (Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Fort Worth, TX)

* Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: Tie: Major Route Changes (Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, Corpus Christi, TX) and Metrolink K-9 Campaign (Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Los Angeles, CA)
* Promotional Campaign: Gas Relief Campaign (York Regional Transit/Viva, Richmond Hills, ON)
* Shoestring Campaign: GA$P! (C-TRAN, Vancouver, WA)

Special Event
* Public Relations/Awareness Special Event: GBT Earth Day 2009 (Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority, Bridgeport, CT)
* Promotion Special Event: 2008 TECO Line Streetcar Fest (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa, FL)

Group 4: Public transportation systems with more than 30 million passenger trips annually
* Advertisement Advocacy/Awareness: Good People. Tough Jobs (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco, CA)
* Advertisement Promotion: San Diego This Week (San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA)
* Annual Report: We Move People - 2008 Annual Report (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC)
* Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: Opposites Campaign (Los Angeles County Metro, Los Angeles, CA)
* Brochure: Pocket Guides (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA)
* Direct Mail: New. Sleek. Door Hanger/Direct Mailers (San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA)
* Map: Go Metro Map (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA)
* Newsletter: GO Life – Winter 2009 (GO Transit, Toronto, ON)
* Passes & Tickets: Tie: Green Pass Series (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA) and EASY Card fare media - Easy Card and Easy (Miami-Dade Transit, Miami FL)
* Poster: Clean Up Your Act poster (Capital Metro, Austin, TX)
* Promotional Materials: Tie: Bike Bonanza (Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT) and Weathering the Storm Together (Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX)
* Schedule Notice/Timetable: RTC Transit Guide (Regional Transportation Commission, Las Vegas, NV)
* Transit Card: MTA - Arts for Transit (Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY)
* Illustrated Vehicle: i-Ride Bus Wraps (Capital Metro, Austin, TX)

* Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Houston Texans Gameday (Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX)
* Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Healthier Planet. Healthier You. (Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA)
* Video Presentation: Quickline Coming Soon Teaser (Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX)
* Internet Home Page: (TransLink, Burnaby, BC)

* Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: Transit Secure (TransLink, Burnaby, BC)
* Promotional Campaign: BART…and you’re there (San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco, CA)
* Shoestring Campaign: Tie: Downtown the Easy Way (TriMet, Portland, OR) and Valley Metro Find Your Match Campaign (Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ)

Special Event
* Public Relations/Awareness Special Event: PATH Office of Emergency Management Drill (Port Authority of NY/NJ, New York, NY)
* Promotion Special Event: Culture Campaign (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco, CA)

Group 5: Business members (manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, consultants, associations, transportation management organizations)
* Advertisement Promotion: Tie: Michivan Commuter Vanpools: edible WOW (VPSI, Inc., Troy, MI) and Metro NY and AM NY Cover Wrap (Transit Center Inc., New York, NY)
* Brochure: Street Cars Brochure (Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York, NY)
* Newsletter: NOTES (Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York, NY)

* Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: Nothing Could Be Finer (SR Concepts, Charleston, SC)
* Video Presentation: Bombardier’s EC04 video and interactive (Bombardier Transportation, Montreal, QC)
* Internet Home Page: Tie: (Nova Bus, Saint-Eustache, QC) and (TransitCenter Inc., New York, NY)

* Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: Stimulus Funding Primer (Motor Coach Industries, Schaumburg, IL)
* Promotional Campaign: Talk about a great economic stimulus package (SR Concepts, Charleston, SC)

Special Event
* Public Relations/Awareness Special Event: New Flyer Earth Day Campaign (New Flyer Industries, Winnipeg, MB)
* Promotion Special Event: MCI Customer First Program (Motor Coach Industries, Schaumburg, IL)

Disney Institute: Continuous Improvement Is the Key

BY JAY HAMBURG, Special to Passenger Transport

Exceed customer expectations. That’s one of the guiding principals of the Walt Disney Company, and it’s equally applicable to those in the public transportation field.

That was the message Jeff Soluri, business programs facilitator and content specialist at the Disney Institute in Lake Buena Vista, FL, shared with participants in two Oct. 7 sessions at the APTA Annual Meeting in Orlando. The titles of the 90-minute sessions were “Disney’s Approach to Quality Service” and “Leading Through Turbulent Times.”

Soluri explained that if a public transportation agency wants to establish itself as a success and maintain its reputation as a leader, it must find ways to continually improve—even during turbulent economic times.

While managing change can be frightening, he said, those who want to lead must find a way to calmly use their organization’s core values as a guide to reinventing or, at least, modifying their operations.

He asked transportation leaders to examine the way they manage both their customers and their employees. Soluri used as an example a company that sees its workers as “units” who “service” their “users.” Disney, by contrast, sees that same transaction as cast members helping their guests.

Changing the employer-employee dynamic also means a shift in the way workers view themselves while reinforcing a shared mission for everyone in the company, from longtime managers to brand-new maintenance workers.

Because many guests ask janitorial employees at Disney properties for help and directions, Soluri noted, the company trains those workers in customer relations. In keeping with the company’s vision, janitors are known as “custodial hosts” and maids are “housekeeping hostesses.”

As part of the Disney commitment to continually exceed expectations, cast members at the company’s theme parks also learn to spot guests who seem confused or unsure of where they’re headed. The employees are taught to offer help before being asked.

Disney prides itself on providing feel-good service to its visitors, which means that there are no “stupid” questions, only helpful responses. For example, he said, instead of poking fun at someone who asks: “When does the 3 o’clock parade start?”, cast members are expected not only to confirm the correct time, but also to tell the guests when and where they should show up to catch the best, shady spots for viewing the parade.

Part of Disney’s theme park success, Soluri said, has been its willingness to confront negative stereotypes about its business. When the original Disneyland opened in 1955, the company knew it had to overcome and redefine the nature of what many expected to be something like a carnival experience. On opening day the park was plagued with problems, but guests wanted to return because of the friendly and helpful way they were treated during the difficulties.

From the start, Disney knew it wanted to provide good memories for guests. Good memories are more than having fun on the rides, Soluri stressed; they also include astonishing visitors with the lengths to which cast members would go to help out other guests.

Applying Disney Practices to the Transit Industry
Soluri, who has worked at Disney for 30 years, challenged transit operators to face and even list the negative stereotypes that exist about their own industry. That’s the only way, he said, to start to find ways to overcome these perceptions though improving service, which will lead to a more favorable impression.

He listed a number of severe challenges that have faced Disney’s theme parks during their history, including a takeover attempt, the slump in tourism following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and several hurricanes at the Florida parks.

Organizations should have contingency plans to deal with potential troubles, Soluri stressed. Finding those solutions may be difficult, but proactive planning will create a confident set of leaders who are more likely to remain calm during a crisis and stay true to their organizations’ core values when faced with that crisis.

Soluri also emphasized that improvement and change are not the exclusive province of managers and the top brass. Disney, he said, encourages ideas from frontline workers and from the thousands of customers who e-mail, phone, and write every day with feedback, compliments, or complaints.

Every person associated with the company, he said, is a consultant.

Scenes from the Annual Meeting

All Annual Meeting photography by Herman Sandoval/LYNX.

The exhibit floor hosted the Welcome Reception on Oct. 4 and lunch on Oct. 5, giving conference attendees an opportunity to socialize while learning about new and innovative ideas in public transportation equipment and services.



The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) raised more than $12,000 for scholarships at its Oct. 5 Gala Reception in Orlando, with more than 200 people in attendance. From left are From left are outgoing APTF Chair Robert H. Prince Jr. of AECOM Transportation; APTA President William Millar; basketball Hall of Famer Sam “Mr. Clutch” Jones, special guest at the event; and incoming APTF Chair Linda J. Bohlinger of HNTB.

Paul Weyrich’s Soft Spot for Public Transit: The late conservative leader debunks the free-market case against transit.


This article appeared in the September 2009 issue of Governing magazine. Reprinted by permission of the author

When it comes to transit, national free-market ideologists have been attacking the idea so long it is hard for them to notice what is actually going on around them. Whether it is the continuing growth of light-rail ridership throughout the country, the economic regeneration of transit corridors such as those in Washington, D.C., Denver and Portland, Oregon, or the continuing voter support for new systems in seemingly unlikely places such as Phoenix and Albuquerque, organizations such as the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation produce the same answer: Those numbers are misleading. This can’t be happening because theory tells us it is impossible. Only the free market—and especially automobiles—can do a good job moving people from place to place.

The libertarian noise machine against public transportation has been so loud in recent years that it would be easy to conclude all conservatives must agree with it. That is why it is so interesting to come across the new book Moving Minds, the contrarian work that Paul M. Weyrich wrote before his untimely death last year. By any standard, Weyrich was one of the most important conservative figures of the past generation. In the book, released jointly by the conservative Free Congress Foundation and the smart-growth group Reconnecting America, Weyrich and co-author William Lind, a national security specialist by training and a prominent cultural conservative in his own right, argue in blunt terms that the free-market case against public transportation essentially is a fraud.

Some of Weyrich’s ideas about transportation are so sensible that one wonders whether they might have become commonly accepted among conservatives long ago if the libertarians hadn’t been so ubiquitous and so well-funded as to make serious discussion on the right impossible.

Weyrich, along with Lind, believed the U.S. economy worked best with as few federal subsidies as possible and as much private investment as could be encouraged. The two of them looked around and saw that tax-supported aid to highways was astronomically higher than any comparable aid to subways, light-rail systems and buses. In 1980, for example, the comparative figures were $39.7 billion to $5.8 billion. Over the next two decades, federal transit funding never amounted to more than a fraction of highway funding. “The current division of market share between the automobile and mass transit,” Weyrich wrote, “is in no way the product of a free market. It reflects massive and sustained government intervention in favor of automobiles.” Weyrich never saw anything conservative about a traffic jam.

Late in his life, and in his posthumously published book, Weyrich emphasized another point. He often said that he cared about freedom from another overseas attack more than perhaps any other federal issue. And he realized that dependence on foreign oil could be the greatest single threat to security. “As conservatives,” he and Lind wrote in Moving Minds, “we are not environmentalists. More important to us is the fact that people who switch from their car to an electrified railway help reduce our dependence on oil imports, which in turn improves our national security.”

Compelling as their theoretical case is, Weyrich and Lind are most persuasive—and most amusing—when they begin taking on the shibboleths of the free-market anti-transit movement one-by-one.

The single most striking piece of evidence usually offered against public transportation is the number of personal trips in the country made by public conveyance as compared to those made by private automobiles. This number always has been very small, rarely above 5 percent and in some studies less than 2 percent. It suggests, at least at first, that investing in transit is a bad use of resources.

Weyrich and Lind make a simple but rarely considered observation: These studies count all trips—even those where the traveler would have no plausible opportunity to use public transportation if he wanted to. There are countless situations like this, even within individual metropolitan areas. As Weyrich liked to say, “If you don’t build it, they can’t come.”

Rather than taking an indiscriminate count of travel in the United States, Weyrich and Lind suggest a measurement that has been proposed by others, one based on “transit-competitive” trips. In other words, how often do consumers use public transportation when it is genuinely available to them? This is not an easy measurement to agree upon.

The indisputable fact is that transit ridership has been increasing in America for the past 15 years. Between 1995 and 2007, public-transit use in the United States increased by almost 30 percent—considerably more than the increase in the number of vehicle-miles traveled altogether. That increase corresponded rather closely with the construction of light-rail systems in cities such as St. Louis, Denver and San Diego, ones that replaced obsolete and lightly used bus lines. In 2008, Americans made 10.7 billion transit trips, the highest number in 52 years and a 4 percent increase over 2007. In the first quarter of this year, transit use remained essentially level—and if buses are excluded from the count, actually rose modestly, despite declining gas prices and a severe recession.

Paul Weyrich spent two decades of his life trying to persuade fellow conservatives that ideas such as those made sense. At the time he died, last December, I don’t know if he felt he had been successful. But to a great extent, I think he had. Former Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, no liberal by anybody’s standard, read Weyrich’s work and was convinced. “Why do academic conservatives seem to believe that all transit is bad,” Thompson once asked, “when as a real-world conservative, I know it isn’t?”

Weyrich himself put it a little more colorfully. The anti-transit zealots, he said, “can’t even see what everyone else sees, probably their own grandmothers, namely, that driving a car in rush hour in the city is a pain-in-the-you-know what.” That would seem to be a truth that transcends ideology.

Alan Ehrenhalt is Governing’s editor.