Passenger Transport - March 1, 2010
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Federal Transit, Highway Programs Set to Lapse March 1; Congressional Leaders Hope to Complete Long-Term Extension During the Week

The House and Senate adjourned for the weekend on Feb. 26 without passing a further extension of the authorizing law for federal surface transportation programs. As the current extension of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) expires at midnight Feb. 28, most Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs, Federal Highway Administration programs, and other programs funded by the Federal Highway Trust Fund will lapse beginning March 1.

FTA employees will be able to continue working this week because they are paid out of the General Fund, but FTA will be unable to process most grant applications. FTA has indicated that it will continue to process American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants, which are funded from the General Fund. All FHWA employees are expected to face a temporary furlough.

The House and Senate attempted to pass a short-term extension of the transportation program by Feb. 26, but that attempt failed when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) blocked efforts on the Senate floor by threatening a filibuster.

Congressional staff have advised APTA that House and Senate leaders have reached agreement on all issues related to the year-long extension of programs contained in the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, informally referred to as the “jobs” bill; a House vote on this bill was delayed. The Senate passed the HIRE Act by a 70-28 vote on Feb. 24.

Both chambers are expected to work during the week of March 1 to enact the extension of transportation programs through Dec. 31, 2010.

House Panel Reviews ARRA’s First Year

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing Feb. 23 to review the success of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in funding transportation projects to support and create jobs in the year since its passage.

Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN) noted that ARRA has made possible 10,348 transportation projects around the nation. “These projects have created or sustained nearly 300,000 direct, on-project jobs. Total employment from these highway, transit, and wastewater infrastructure projects, which includes direct, indirect, and induced jobs, reaches over 938,000,” he said.

In turn, he continued, these jobs contributed to the nation’s tax rolls—amounting to $310 million in payroll taxes paid and $254 million in unemployment compensation saved.

“Those are real accomplishments,” Oberstar said, because they “translate into lives restored, home mortgages being paid, kids being sent to school ... health insurance being restored. But we need to go on from there.”

Oberstar stressed that the Senate must expedite its passage of a jobs bill, and Congress must approve a long-term surface transportation authorization bill to ensure that these jobs remain in place.

The chairman noted that ARRA has enabled public transportation to move its infrastructure closer to a state of good repair. According to the Federal Transit Administration, ARRA has enabled the purchase and rehabilitation of 10,561 public transit vehicles, 613 railcars or locomotives, and rehabilitation of 2,325 passenger and 202 maintenance facilities.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari was among those testifying at the hearing. “These projects represent more than just infrastructure improvements; these projects are helping communities throughout the nation,” he said, citing the public transportation vehicle purchases made possible by ARRA. “These purchases support domestic manufacturing jobs right here in America,” he said.

Porcari added: “The high-speed rail capability is one of the most exciting portions of the Recovery Act for us. That $8 billion provided to the Federal Railroad Administration is a substantial down payment on a large high-speed rail corridor network across the country.”

Senate Committee Examines DOT FY 2011 Budget

On Feb. 24, the Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), held a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget request for DOT.

In his testimony, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood pointed to the various projects around the nation that have been made possible through investment from the department. “That money has been well spent, and a lot of people have gone to good-paying jobs around the country,” he said.

He noted that DOT is compiling a list of projects from the states that will be considered in the forthcoming authorization bill.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) praised the inclusion of high-speed rail in the budget request. “Beyond the thousands of jobs that should be created, there should be numerous additional benefits,” he said, ranging from reduced congestion to improved livability. When Feingold asked the secretary how DOT will ensure that local small businesses can compete for contracts, LaHood responded that DOT will ensure the role of small businesses in this process when the department undertakes negotiations with states regarding grant agreements.

Streetcars were cited as a popular investment in many states. “Streetcars are taking off all over America,” LaHood said. “A lot of communities around America are getting into the streetcar business, and many of them are going to be built in your home states.”

He added, however, that between $80 billion and $100 billion of federal investment will be required to address the backlog of infrastructure projects, because infrastructure has been “ignored” for a decade.

Oberstar Introduces Transit Safety Bill

At the request of DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, on Feb. 22 Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, introduced H.R. 4643, the “Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2010,” which would give the federal government jurisdiction over transit-rail safety.

Co-sponsored by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)—who chairs the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of T&I—and Donna Edwards (D-MD), H.R. 4643 would establish a national public transportation safety program. Currently, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) oversees a State Safety Oversight (SSO) program that places safety oversight and enforcement responsibility for rail transit systems on states, rather than the federal government. The problems connected to oversight exist because most of these SSO programs have extremely small staffs. Further, the legal authorities of the various state oversight agencies are both limited and widely varied.

“I commend the Obama administration for acknowledging the shortfalls of the current state-based safety system and I believe that [DOT’s] proposal represents much-needed improvements,” Oberstar said. “It will assure that each state has an adequate number of fully trained staff, that it has sufficient authority granted by the state legislature and governor, that it can compel compliance by the transit agencies, and that the state oversight entity has financial independence from the transit systems it oversees. I think those are reasonable propositions. Safety is our number one responsibility in transportation.”

Rail transit—currently one of the safest modes of passenger travel—has in the last two years experienced record-setting ridership.

The growth in transit ridership is almost triple the growth rate of the population, and substantially more than the growth rate for vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s highways. This increased use highlights the importance of transit safety while also spotlighting an issue that is inextricably linked to safety—the state of good repair of public transit systems.

Because of a variety of factors, including a lack of available finances, many transit systems use railcars, tracks, and electrical equipment long after their projected “useful” lifespan. According to FTA, more than one-third of the assets at many transit systems in the country need to be improved to meet a state of good repair standard.

In addition, according to DOT’s “2008 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance,” an average of $21.1 billion in annual capital investment is needed to bring all transit assets to a good condition by 2026. This level of investment represents an annual increase of $8.3 billion—an increase of 64.8 percent—above current capital investment levels.

In addition to addressing this maintenance backlog, Oberstar added that he looks forward to working with DOT during consideration of the comprehensive, long-term surface transportation authorization bill.

Once the bill is voted out of committee, the full House will vote on it, and then the Senate will consider its version.

Coping with a Surprise Snowfall

 

 

Dallas—a city not used to severe winter weather—had to cope with more than a foot of snow in a February storm, but Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) continued to operate its buses and light rail vehicles—such as this train arriving at the Hampton Station—despite the inconvenience. DART spokesperson Mark Ball explained that the agency maintained operations throughout the night and ran its light rail “ice train” to clear ice from the catenary.

 

Public Transportation on Agenda of Governors' and Mayors' 2010 Winter Meetings: U.S. Conference of Mayors

At the recent Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood was among the featured speakers, discussing a variety of issues affecting public transportation.

He described how, through DOT’s discretionary Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, cities could apply directly to DOT for federal highway funds to support innovative transportation projects “to improve highways, railways, transit, and more.” He added: “We’re excited about the impact these projects will have on cities that have been clamoring for resources to address a wide variety of residential and commercial transportation needs.”

LaHood also discussed new livability factors for major transit capital projects, saying: “This will open the door to federal assistance for the kinds of transit projects so many of you [mayors] want downtown—like streetcars and trolleys.” He also spoke about the $8 billion made available by the administration for high-speed rail planning and development, explaining that “the high-speed rail program … is going to help us revitalize domestic manufacturing in this country.”

Another speaker at the conference was USCM Transportation and Communications Committee Chair Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who convened a panel to discuss livable cities. “Are federal policy-makers going to get it right,” he asked, “and reverse decades of underinvestment in our nation’s cities and their metro areas by rebuilding the infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emission and fuel consumption, utilize cleaner and alternative fuels, and increase the movement of people and goods by more energy-efficient vehicles and systems?”

National Governors Association

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood discussed “The Future of Surface Transportation” Feb. 21 during the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, at a session convened by the NGA Economic Development and Commerce Committee.

He described the ways states can shape national surface transportation policy and the consequences and opportunities for states from the delay in passing federal transportation authorization legislation.

LaHood reported on the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on its first anniversary. Citing news reports from across the nation, he said: “The stimulus is working. It is employing good people across the country who would otherwise be out of work. And it is getting our nation's infrastructure back into the condition it ought to be in. And it shows that sometimes this great federal government of ours—despite its critics—gets it right.”

He added: “Happy birthday, Recovery Act. And thank you, America's governors, for helping us administer this historic stimulus in record time with record transparency.”

“To have a 21st-century economy, we must have a 21st-century transportation system,” said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, chair of the committee. “Federal laws for surface transportation programs and policies have expired and, while extensions help, long-term reform is needed to ensure projects employing Americans across the nation can move forward. America's future economic growth depends on transportation planning and investment—and the time for action is now.”

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who also serves as committee vice chair, added: “Unfortunately for states, the extensions create planning and funding uncertainty. The spring construction season is almost here. Without long-term certainty about federal funding, state surface transportation projects are at risk. Not only does this have a negative effect on our transportation system, it also significantly limits the construction industry's ability to create new jobs.”

PB’s Kuesel Dies; Tunnel, Subway Expert

Thomas R. Kuesel, 83, an authority on tunnel and bridge engineering and former partner at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), died Feb. 17. During a 43-year career with PB, from 1947 until his retirement in 1990, he contributed to the design of more than 130 bridges and more than 140 tunnels in 36 states and on six continents.

Kuesel also worked extensively with subway projects, For the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, he led the design of an innovative method of mining the Peachtree Center Station from below ground, using the rock itself as a structural reinforcement. He also spent four years as assistant manager of engineering for a joint venture of PB, Tudor, and Bechtel that served as general engineering consultant to the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, directing the design of 20 miles of subways, 25 miles of aerial structures, two hard-rock tunnels, and a 3.6-mile immersed tube tunnel under San Francisco Bay linking San Francisco and Oakland.

He also worked with subway projects in Boston; New York; Baltimore; Washington; Pittsburgh; Los Angeles; Caracas, Venezuela; Singapore; and Taipei, Taiwan.

Supporting the Effort to Manage Mobility

BY ROBERT G. STANLEY, Former Principal, Cambridge Systematics Inc., Washington, DC

Several years ago, the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) endeavored to describe how the transit agency of the future might be organized and how it might function—to craft a new paradigm for public transportation service design and delivery. The project asked three questions:

* Why is fundamental change in the industry necessary?
* What should be the nature and direction of change?
* How will fundamental change be carried out?

The answers revealed a clear operational definition of “mobility management” as a new, overarching responsibility—one that requires fundamental changes in the organization and business practices of transit and allied organizations.

Rather than focusing on the use of a single agency’s assets—such as vehicles, facilities, personnel, and funding streams—mobility management shifts the strategic focus to ensuring the quality of the travel experience, regardless of which assets are used.

Fundamental changes in other industries provide lessons for shouldering the responsibility for managing mobility. Many have been documented in a series of TCRP reports, concluding with Report 97, Emerging New Paradigms: A Guide to Fundamental Change in Local Public Transportation Organizations.

In 2008, APTA embraced the concept of mobility management in its TransitVision 2050 document, noting that the industry must evolve to meet critical national goals and the needs of individual travelers. The APTA vision saw the evolution of transit agencies as they assume the role of “integrating the full range of mobility services.”

Today this vision is coming into sharper focus. Mobility management is emerging as a critical, strategic public responsibility that transit agencies are adapting to take—presenting challenges of managing mobility for the regions they serve.

Through a joint effort, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and APTA are seeking to advance mobility management as a core public responsibility in today’s transportation arena. The effort will provide a variety of resources, including descriptions of where breakthroughs are occurring and the practical steps being taken to shoulder the responsibility for managing mobility.

Collaborating Outside the Traditional Transit Arena:
Sharing the Responsibility for Managing Mobility

Collaboration and integration of assets, services, and resources at the provider level lie at the heart of efforts to better manage mobility. Indeed, collaborative arrangements among transit agencies, providers, and health and human services agencies responsible for client transportation are leading to considerable progress.

The efforts to partner among service providers can be frustrating, however, and success can be limited by the actions—or inaction—of other agencies, organizations, and interests outside the provider/operator community. As a result, the FTA/APTA joint effort is reaching out to audiences and actors outside the transit provider community to explore how to better manage mobility.

Following is a brief summary of areas and participants that can be central in this effort. In virtually all cases, the outreach effort should be targeted to both elected policy makers and professionals, public and private, charged with carrying out relevant policies.

Decisions about Transportation Infrastructure
Historically, we have assigned responsibility for various portions of the transportation network to different agencies at different levels of government, and often they act relatively independently. Managing mobility more effectively will require more aggressive outreach and collaboration on planning, policy, investment, and funding decisions affecting construction, maintenance, management, and related standards for streets and highways, parking, rail and airport access, intermodal facilities, and pedestrian and other non-motorized infrastructure.

Emerging information technologies provide the capability to navigate the transportation network to heighten the quality of the travel experience while taking advantage of the characteristics of each component. Processes and procedures that frustrate travelers should be examined continuously by responsible agencies.
 
Decisions about Economic Development, Land Use and Growth Management
Mobility needs result not only from trip origins and destinations, but also from development regulations. The land use-transportation linkage is broadly recognized today, and there is an ever-growing catalogue of policies, projects, regulatory breakthroughs, and management techniques that can serve to expand mobility and make more effective use of our transportation network while enhancing our communities environmentally and economically.

Despite obvious and well-documented relationships, we continue to struggle to ensure that community development, land use, and transportation decisions are mutually beneficial. The roles of private developers acting under the authority of local governments and the requirements applied by financial and lending agencies should be explored.

Decisions by Funding and Financing Institutions
The battle for public (and private) resources to support private sector investment and enhanced public services is increasingly competitive. Managing mobility more effectively will require that transit professionals understand the shifting conditions for use of limited resources and the procedures that guide the availability and flow of funds.

Eligibility for and emerging flexibility in government funding programs is followed closely, but constraints remain, including flows of public funds across such broad program categories as health, housing, and transportation. Financial institutions often dictate transportation-related requirements, e.g., parking, as conditions for development and mortgage loans. Insurance companies restrict coverage for service providers, such as volunteer drivers, which represents a significant potential resource in managing mobility. Each of these institutions and related agencies should be part of the dialogue on how to do this better.

Decisions in Provision of Utility Infrastructure
Availability, standards, and costs in the provision of infrastructure other than transportation affect land use patterns and, as a consequence, access and mobility. Yet public and private utilities maintain policies and procedures largely independent from transportation policymaking.

The organizations responsible for policies, standards, and pricing for provision of water, sewer, gas, and electric services ideally should begin acting in support of enhanced access and mobility, except where overt public safety concerns might dictate otherwise.

Environmental Management Decisions
Beyond management of water resources and waste water, policy, investment, and management of air and other natural resources in the public sector has an obvious direct impact on the provision of transportation infrastructure and services, most often through enforcement and oversight of overlapping local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

A sustainable future, including sustainable mobility, will depend on ensuring that mobility managers and their partners have a comprehensive understanding of measures that protect the environment, including options that can maintain the balance between environmental protection and enhanced mobility. The agencies, institutions, and interests that serve to protect the environment should be advocates for better management of mobility.

Decisions in Other Public Service Sectors
There are also other arenas in which policy, law, and regulation might better reinforce the goals of mobility management. Among the most important are pricing, taxation, and labor relations.

Conclusion
Full value from the efforts of transportation service providers to manage mobility—transit agencies, health and human service providers (for-profit and non-profit), taxis, volunteer organizations—is not likely to be achieved without mutually reinforcing actions by a host of agencies and organizations outside the provider community.

As the role and responsibility for mobility management in a region becomes better defined, collaboration with agencies and organizations may help systems exceed initial goals and serve as a model for mobility management efforts elsewhere.

To share examples of how your organization works with other mobility partners in your region, contact Kylah Hynes.

APTA’s PSA Wins Gold

APTA’s Go Green Go Public public service announcement (PSA) campaign recently received the association industry’s highest award for its “superior quality and excellent creativity.” For the first time, APTA was recognized in the PSA category with the “Gold Award” by the Association Trends All Media Contest at a Feb. 23 ceremony in Washington, DC.

The contest generated 441 entries from 153 organizations nationwide, which Association Trends said is the largest number of participants in the 30-plus years of its history.

The APTA campaign featured print, radio, and television PSAs promoting the environmental benefits of taking public transportation. The ads are targeted to young adults and approach the subject in a humorous way.

The campaign gives advice to young people who are depicted going to humorous extremes to help the environment, such as not taking a shower for two weeks; shaving and reading in the dark; or going without air conditioning during the hot summer months. The ad campaign tagline gives the simple advice: “There is an easier way to save energy—take public transportation.”

APTA member transit agencies also embraced the campaign by placing the radio, print, and television ads in rotation on local stations, resulting in more than $3.7 million in donated media thus far.

Copies of the ads are available for local distribution by contacting Mantill Williams or Mark Neuville.

Launch of APTA Sustainability Commitment

APTA has formally launched its sustainability commitment following a successful pilot phase in 2009 with 44 members.

All APTA members can sign on, committing to a core set of actions promoting sustainability in their organizations. Members can also obtain further recognition for their actions by signing on to the higher levels of the commitment.

More information is available online.


Views from the 2010 APTA Calendar

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), the public transportation operator for 10 communities in a 70-mile service area between Aspen and Rifle, CO, is telling its story with the February photo of the 2010 APTA Calendar. The photo shows one of RFTA’s hybrid vehicles parked across the street from the Rubey Park Transit Center in Aspen—demonstrating how public transportation “takes us there” in an environmentally sensitive way.

All RFTA buses use a blend of biodiesel fuel and its gasoline vehicles use an ethanol blend. In the future, the agency plans to upgrade its 30-year-old maintenance facility by incorporating solar and geothermal technologies.

The authority’s other green operations include providing bike racks on its buses and owning and managing the 42-mile Rio Grande Trail. RFTA also partners with the U.S. Forest Service to provide bus service to Maroon Bells wilderness area during the summer months, in an effort to keep the fragile ecosystem from being overrun by automobiles.

The APTA calendar is available online at the discounted rate of $4 for APTA members and $6 for non-members, with no additional fee for shipping.

Photo by Dawn Mullally Chase, Marketing Manager, RFTA

Years Ahead of the Curve on High-Speed Rail

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Thanks to the Obama administration and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, high-speed rail is suddenly a prominent part of the American transportation landscape. But California was examining this option long before it hit the nation’s headlines: in November 2008, the state’s voters approved Proposition 1A, which authorized $9.95 billion in state bonds to finance high-speed rail.

Mehdi Morshed, the retiring executive director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, talked about his 11 years preparing for a high-speed rail corridor from Sacramento through San Francisco, all the way south to San Diego—which could extend 800 miles.

“The voters approved the general obligation bonds in 2008, the same election when Obama was elected [president]. Those two things were the best things that happened to the concept of high-speed rail as a whole,” he said. “In California, with the economy in the tank, people still voted to support this project. Then, the new president started articulating his vision of high-speed rail for the entire nation. We could not have a better combination of events to put high-speed rail on the national scene.”

Morshed then described how each year his authority “had to make the case before the [state] legislature and governor that this project was essential for the future of California—that was not an easy sale….The challenge has been to show that high-speed rail is an essential need of the state while also doing preliminary work like environmental studies and determining station locations.”

He explained that he was a board member of the California High-Speed Rail Commission before taking on the top job. However, his consideration of high-speed rail as an appropriate alternative for California began earlier, in the mid-1990s, when he served as chief of staff for the California Senate Transportation Committee.

“I had responsibility for providing analytical and professional support to the committee that covered transportation mobility,” he said. “As we studied the issue, we began to see that California’s ability to meet its future growth and economic viability was getting further and further compromised by its lack of ability to provide the necessary transportation infrastructure to deal with the state’s growing population. We just didn’t have the ability to expand our airports and highways to accommodate the additional 15-million-plus people we saw coming to California in the next two decades.” He explained that some parts of California were already so built up that finding space for new freeways or airports would be difficult.

The state needed a new transportation strategy; Morshed found it in Europe and Japan, where high-speed rail was already an alternative for intercity travel. He served on the commission that created an economic feasibility study and recommended the creation of the authority to oversee future high-speed rail efforts.

“We weren’t selling technology to the public; we were documenting and providing information to the public that would suit the facts,” he explained. “California’s population is growing and will continue to grow; the state’s economy and lifestyle depend on high levels of mobility; and we can’t meet those needs simply with highways and airports, so we need to build this.”

Looking ahead, Morshed estimated that the state could begin work on some segments of the high-speed rail line in about two years. If funding is available, he said, the project could be complete in eight to 10 years.


Proposition 1A and California’s Plans
When voters approved California’s Proposition 1A in November 2008, Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, said: “History will remember this night, when Californians demanded a new transportation system for California’s 21st-century travel needs. Thanks to tonight’s vote, a state-of-the-art, new transportation choice will link every major city in the state and move people and products like never before. The citizens of California have put the 21st-century ‘golden spike’ in the ground with a clear affirmation of high-speed trains.”

The authority noted that when the line is complete, the full trip from Sacramento to San Diego—about 588 miles—will take about three and a half hours.

The high-speed rail system will operate at 220 mph, according to the authority, and will cost less than half what building more freeway lanes and airport runways would require. This system will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ease traffic congestion. Officials estimate that the system could transport up to 117 million passengers annually by 2030, with the capacity to carry high-value, lightweight freight as well.

Houston Metro Police Dog Undergoes Surgery

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County in Houston has announced that a notable member of its transit police force will have many more years of service thanks to a local veterinary surgeon.

Vigo, a police dog who has partnered with Metro Officer John Wiggins since 2004, was suffering from a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament with degenerative joint disease and underwent his second operation to stabilize the joints. Without repair, Vigo would have suffered painful arthritis, ending his police career.

Dr. Brian Beale of Gulf Coast Veterinarian Specialists stabilized the knee for the second surgery using a state-of-the art technique called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO). He used arthroscopy to make the procedure minimally invasive and increase the chance of success—and he did the procedure for a discounted price. The surgery has a very high success rate.

“Vigo is a very strong dog,” Beale said. “This surgery will give him a strong chance at continuing his career for many years to come. TPLO surgery is the most common surgery at our hospital.”

Vigo and his handler won three medals at the Texas Police Games in July 2009. Wiggins called Vigo “an awesome dog … a competitor,” adding: “I want him to feel better. I feel confident that we’ll have more years together.”

Vigo will take about four months off the job to recover from both surgeries. The champ will then be eased back into his routine weekly training.

‘Helping Hearts’ Campaign Provides Bus Rides in Redding, CA

The Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) in Redding, CA, announced the success of its first Helping Hearts campaign for Valentine’s Day. RABA invited local businesses to give cash to cover the cost of discounted bus fare tickets, which the agency then donated to nonprofit agencies serving populations in need of transportation.

RABA said local companies purchased 25 of the Helping Hearts at $100. Each gift covered the cost of 100 RABA tickets, a 30 percent discount from the regular fare of $1.50. Participating businesses and nonprofits received recognition with a 24-inch “Helping Heart” placed on the exterior of a RABA bus window, where it stayed through March 1, and on the agency’s web site.

RABA explained that organizations that help people find jobs; receive food, housing, and medical attention; transition to a better living situation; and provide other human services support have an ongoing need to move people from one place to another. “Often transportation is the missing link, and your gift can make the difference to a person receiving help,” said Chuck Aukland, RABA transportation manager.

LaHood Inspects Paratransit Vans During Visit Home to Peoria

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, formerly a member of Congress representing Peoria, IL, took time out during a recent visit to the city to inspect the first of 20 paratransit vans purchased by the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (CityLink) with part of a $4.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant.

The secretary was in Peoria to speak at the 102nd Lincoln Memorial Banquet sponsored by the Peoria County Bar Association.

According to CityLink, the new CityLift vans are among the first paratransit vehicles in Illinois to be purchased with ARRA funds. The agency is also in the process of using ARRA money to purchase eight 35-foot low floor transit coaches from Gillig, with delivery scheduled to begin in the spring of 2011.

 

As Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, left, watches, Rick Tieken, assistant general manager of CityLink, demonstrates how seating in the Peoria agency’s new paratransit vans can convert from ambulatory to wheelchair status.

 

 

Oberstar Visits St. Paul Office of Global Traffic Technologies

 

Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), center, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, toured the St. Paul headquarters of Global Traffic Technologies (GTT) on Feb. 17. During his visit, he met with employees to discuss federal transportation funding and other issues facing the industry. Joining Oberstar are GTT Chief Executive Officer Doug Roberts, left, and GTT President Rick Sachse.

 

Vancouver transit posts record-breaking ridership

BY FRANCES BULA

The following article appeared in the Feb. 18, 2010, issue of The Globe and Mail, Toronto, ON. Reprinted by permission of the author.

VANCOUVER – Vancouver’s Olympics might be bombing in events like chain-link fences or snow on mountains.

But when it comes to running a transit system, it appears to be headed for gold.

Records have been broken night after night for the number of people carried on the city’s rapid-transit lines, bus routes, trains, and SeaBuses, with almost double normal volumes. And pedestrian traffic on bridges into downtown has soared far beyond the numbers on the best summer day in Vancouver.

That’s because the city has hit the target set by VANOC [Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games] of reducing car traffic by 30 percent just as the number of people streaming through the city has increased enormously.

On Sunday—a day on which no one expected a surge—more than 1.5 million people used the system, with volumes up anywhere from 25 percent to more than 100 percent on different lines. That includes 700,000 riders for the day on Expo, Millennium and Canada lines, more than 800,000 on the buses, and 40,000 on the SeaBus.

Numbers haven’t been crunched yet for Day 5, which had three hockey games and a victory ceremony, but they’re expected to be higher.

TransLink officials had said before the Games that they were expecting only about a 20-percent increase in transit ridership, to about 960,000 riders a day from 800,000.

Those kinds of statistics have transportation planners at TransLink and the city giddy with excitement, because it proves their case that people will get out of their cars if they feel they have attractive options.

“We’re learning if we provide high-quality service, people will use it. They’re saying, ‘Hey, you’ve given me a good choice. You’re not just asking me to get out of my car,’” said a happy Dale Bracewell, the Vancouver engineer overseeing traffic management during the Games.

Doug Kelsey, the SkyTrain CEO and sports-talking manager of the Olympics transit system, who is running his team like a hockey coach in the finals, is beaming too.

Not only is the system coping with high volumes, but also it has adapted well to sudden changes, like the city’s decision after the third day of the Games that it was too difficult to keep buses running along a lane of pedestrian-only Robson Street as planned.

And complaints are relatively few. To keep people entertained in line-ups, Mr. Kelsey brought in buskers and people from the Salvation Army to hand out hot chocolate.

Simon Fraser University and Whitecaps athletes help manage traffic flows, so that if an unexpectedly big load of 2,000 West Coast Express commuters show up, they can quickly be guided along.

Mr. Kelsey’s team communicates constantly to figure out if shuttles are needed to get around gridlock or deal with a problem.

Although some long-time transit users are not thrilled at the Hong Kong-like conditions on some routes, the improved service has attracted and impressed people who aren’t regulars.

“It’s great,” said Derek Longmuir who, with partner Lois Chadburn, has been commuting from Chilliwack, parking and taking transit. “There are hardly any line-ups at all and the drivers help us out.”

The biggest gripe, said Mr. Kelsey, is about the lack of washrooms at the Waterfront Station. He’s working to put some in, even though that’s not strictly his bailiwick.

But he’s not relaxing.

“You can go from headed for gold to not being on the podium very quickly. We’re a heartbeat away from having problems.”

What’s he worried about?

“Late-night partiers who get out of control. I was here at midnight last night and there were lots of drunks coming in.” The weekend forecast is for spectacular weather, which means tens of thousands of heavy-drinking revellers are likely.

He is also trying to prepare for staff burning out or a serious breakdown on one of the rapid-transit lines.

Neither Mr. Kelsey nor Mr. Bracewell will say that all of this makes a good case to show the province that with more money—like the $17 million VANOC provided—TransLink could get more passengers and take the region’s transit system to a whole new level. But they have to be thinking it.

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 30, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink) announced that an average of more than 1.6 million people a day used the agency’s bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express services during the first week of the Winter Olympics, Feb. 12-19. According to preliminary figures, the SkyTrain Expo/Millennium Line set a single-day record of 488,000 rides on Feb. 14—more than three times the average for a Sunday.

People on the Move

Stephen E. Schlickman
CHICAGO, IL—Stephen E. Schlickman, executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), has announced that he will step down from the post after his five-year anniversary in October.

Following his departure, Schlickman plans to resume the transportation policy and finance consulting practice he operated before coming to the RTA.





Aaron Reardon, Claudia Thomas, Fred Butler
SEATTLE, WA--The Sound Transit Board of Directors elected Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon as its chair for a two-year term beginning in 2010. He succeeds Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.

Reardon began his second four-year term as Snohomish County executive in January 2008. Prior to his taking office in 2004, he served five years in the Washington State Legislature, most recently in the Senate and prior to that in the House of Representatives, representing the 38th Legislative District.

The board also elected Lakewood City Council Member Claudia Thomas and Issaquah City Council Deputy President Fred Butler as vice chairs.


Michael W. Tyler, JoAnn Godfrey McClinton, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Barbara Babbit Kaufman
ATLANTA, GA—Michael W. Tyler, an attorney with Kilpatrick Stockton, has been elected chair of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Board of Directors for 2010. He represents Fulton County.

The new vice chair is JoAnn Godfrey McClinton of DeKalb County, a retired state legislator; secretary, Juanita Jones Abernathy of Atlanta, a former educator and retired sales director; and treasurer, Barbara Babbit Kaufman of Fulton County, entrepreneur.


Gary Gillespie, Ed Necker
EUGENE, OR—Gary Gillespie has joined the Lane Transit District (LTD) Board of Directors, appointed by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

Gillespie is a library assistant for the city of Eugene and president of Council 75, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Ed Necker was appointed to the LTD board for a second term.

Michael Johnson, Shana Ellis, Ron Aames, Lyn Truitt
PHOENIX, AZ—Phoenix Councilmember Michael Johnson has been elected to a one-year term as chair of the 2010 Valley Metro Board of Directors.

Tempe Vice Mayor Shana Ellis is vice chair; Peoria Vice Mayor Ron Aames, treasurer; and Surprise Mayor Lyn Truitt, secretary.

Howard Silver, Kathleen Ashland
BAKERSFIELD, CA—Howard Silver, APTA chair from 2005 to 2007, has been elected to his third term as chair of the Golden Empire Transit District Board of Directors. Silver has served on the board since 1984, when he was appointed by the Bakersfield City Council.

Kathleen Ashland, a 23-year board member, was named to her third term as board vice chair.





Michael J. Sweeney
KANSAS CITY, MO—Michael J. Sweeney, P.E., has joined the New York City office of TranSystems as national transit market sector leader/vice president in support of the firm’s passenger rail and transit group.

Sweeney is a longtime employee of AECOM, serving most recently as vice president for all transit activity in the eastern U.S. and Canada. His major projects include managing the infrastructure rehabilitation of Grand Central Terminal for MTA Metro-North Railroad and the restoration of MTA New York City Transit’s Times Square Station for the New York City Transit and serving as chief engineer for MTA Capital Construction’s new terminal station as part of the East Side Access project.


Arnfred Kulenkampff
ELYRIA, OH—Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC announced the appointment of Arnfred Kulenkampff as its chief financial officer and vice president of finance and information technology.

Kulenkampff joins Bendix after serving as vice president of finance at Alcoa Electrical and Electronic Solutions in Farmington Hills, MI, and president of Reum Corporation in Waukegan, IL.




Ken McDonald
ATLANTA, GA—Ken McDonald has been named senior engineering manager at Parsons Brinckerhoff, based in the Atlanta office. He will oversee major transit projects throughout the U.S.

McDonald has more than 25 years of experience in the transit industry, serving most recently as chief operating officer of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Previously, he spent 20 years with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority in senior management positions including director of capital programs (rolling stock) and senior director of operations maintenance, culminating with assistant general manager of operations.



Louwana Oliva

STATE COLLEGE, PA—Louwana Oliva has joined the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) as its new assistant general manager. She comes to State College from Akron, OH, where she was director of communications and then assistant executive director for the METRO Regional Transit Authority for more than 15 years.

Oliva is a graduate of the 2008-2009 class of Leadership APTA and serves APTA as a member of the Human Resources Committee, Leadership APTA Committee, and Workforce Development Subcommittee.

Apolonio (Polo) Del Toro, Mannie Thomas
THOUSAND PALMS, CA—SunLine Transit Agency announced the appointments of Apolonio (Polo) Del Toro as director of operations and Mannie Thomas as operations manager.

Del Toro began his SunLine career as a bus mechanic in 1992. He worked his way up to alternative fuels manager and played a key role in the creation of SunFuels, the agency-owned fueling station that provides alternative fuel for the system’s fleet, as well as residents and businesses.

Thomas worked at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Orange, CA, for 25 years, beginning as a coach operator and working his way up to section manager in the Operations Department. Following his retirement from OCTA, he spent five years as an operations manager with the city of Montebello, CA.

Kini Knudson
PHOENIX, AZ—The City of Phoenix Public Transit Department has hired Kini Knudson as deputy director for facilities. His more than 13 years of public-sector experience includes six years as an engineer/project manager in Phoenix Public Transit’s Facilities Division.

He returns to the public transportation department from the Phoenix Engineering and Architectural Services Department, where as an engineering supervisor he oversaw procurement of contracts for capital projects citywide.




Shlomo Shyovitz
AMHERST, NY—Architect Shlomo Shyovitz has joined the Wendel Companies as director of design. Wendel is a nationally recognized design firm composed of three companies: Wendel Duchscherer Architects and Engineers, PC; Wendel Energy Services, LLC; and Wendel Construction Inc.

Shyovitz is a former senior architect with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, where he supervised transit station and facility design and collaborated with state and local jurisdictions to develop urban design studies and long-range planning for system expansion. More recently he was director of planning and design for Marriott International and vice president at the Friedmutter Group, a Las Vegas-based architecture and design firm specializing in hotels and casinos.

Deborah DeVoe
CINCINNATI, OH—First Transit and First Services announced the hiring of Deborah DeVoe as senior vice president of sales.

DeVoe has 27 years of work experience, serving most recently as vice president of sales for ARAMARK, one of the nation’s top professional services and facilities management companies.





Harry Brown
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Harry Brown, PMP, LEED® AP, has joined Urban Engineers Inc. as manager-federal services. He is a Project Management Professional with nearly 25 years of experience in construction and engineering.

Most recently, Brown worked as a project manager for KBR/BE&K, Inc. He earlier worked for VT Griffin and JA Jones Management Services and served in the Public Works Department for the U.S. Navy.


Eugene Skoropowski
KANSAS CITY, MO—HNTB Corporation has named Eugene Skoropowski as passenger rail services director for the South East Division, based in the firm’s Lake Mary, FL, office.

Most recently, Skoropowski served as managing director of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority in Oakland, CA, retiring in September. He has more than 40 years of experience, including 10 years as director of rail projects for Fluor Corporation and tenures with public transit agencies in Philadelphia and Boston.

He is a longtime member of the APTA Commuter Rail Committee and High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee.

James M. Dougherty
ITASCA, IL—The National Safety Council awarded its 2009 Distinguished Service to Safety Award to James M. Dougherty, chief safety officer and director of safety, security, and enforcement with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

Dougherty has more than 25 years of experience in transportation safety, occupational safety and health, industrial hygiene, and environmental protection. He oversees all functions of the Safety, Security and Enforcement Division for SFMTA and helps develop safety training and education programs.


Robert H. Glines
CANANDAIGUA, NY—Robert H. Glines has joined Eta Phi Systems Inc. as director, business development, in the company’s Canandaigua office.

Glines has 31 years in the high-tech transit industry, serving companies including General Railway Signaling, ALSTOM Signaling, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Gannett Fleming, and Rail Transit Systems Inc.

He is a member of the APTA Power, Signals, and Communications Technical Forum and formerly served as a member of the APTA Board of Directors and Business Member Board of Governors.

Guy Chertock, William S. Rhea Jr.
AMBLER, PA—LTK Engineering Services announced the appointments of Guy Chertock as a project consultant in the company’s Vehicle Engineering Practice and William S. Rhea Jr. as a senior vehicle consultant based in Pittsburgh.

Chertock has worked on complex communications engineering assignments for MTA New York City Transit and Amtrak. He also is an eight-year veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, where he had served as a signal and communications officer.

Rhea joins LTK after 16 years with Union Switch & Signal/Ansaldo STS, where he was a senior consulting engineer. His background is in car-borne system design and analysis, including automatic train control, positive train control, communications-based train control, and their associated cab signal interfaces.

Jannet Walker-Thoms
ATLANTA, GA—First Data announced that Jannet Walker-Thoms has joined the company as vice president and transportation practice lead for the company’s government services line of business.

Walker-Thoms previously was a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton. Her career spans more than 20 years, including service to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority as deputy general manager/executive vice president, chief information officer, and assistant general manager of technology.


Ted Hikel, Jon Nehring, Dianne White, Tom Hamilton, Chris Raezer
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA—Ted Hikel, a member of the Community Transit Board of Directors from 2006 to 2008 and more recently a board alternate, has been reappointed to the board. He is a city councilmember in Lynnwood, WA.

New members of the board are Marysville City Councilmember Jon Nehring and Stanwood Mayor Dianne White.

Two new board alternates also were selected: Snohomish City Councilmember Tom Hamilton and Arlington City Councilmember Chris Raezer.