Passenger Transport - August 2, 2010
NFTA bus driver Richard Lucas, second from right, receives recognition for rescuing 10 people from a house fire from agency representatives, from left, Executive Director Lawrence M. Meckler; Eunice A. Lewin, chair of the Surface Transportation Committee; and acting Chairman Henry M. Sloma.
Dr. Beverly Scott, center, MARTA general manager and CEO, introduces Samuel White Jr. and Ayana Dunlap-Bell, who worked together to rescue a woman who fell from a station platform onto the tracks.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is accepting grant applications through Aug. 16 for a program addressing post-traumatic interventions for train crews following grade crossing and trespasser incidents. Information on the program appears in the July 2, 2010, Federal Register.
FRA’s Office of Research and Development has $50,000 available in Fiscal Year 2010 to fund a grant for the initial development of an intervention plan for reducing the effects of traumatic exposure to grade crossing and trespasser incidents in particular.
Additional funding may be available in future years for expansion and implementation of the intervention.
This office, along with the FRA Office of Railroad Safety, explained that witnessing such traumatic events may trigger severe emotional and psychological distress, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the more immediate Acute Distress Disorder.
The grant recipient will assess the applicability of current knowledge about post-traumatic interventions and advance evidence-based recommendations for controlling the risks associated with these situations.
Applicants must submit their applications electronically, following the procedures in the application package online. Technical inquiries should be directed to Michael Coplen, and non-technical inquiries to Jennifer Capps.
The Western High Speed Rail Alliance (WHSRA) invites public transportation and municipal leaders from across the globe to participate in its first annual conference, “The Rail Ahead,” Oct. 13-15 in Las Vegas.
“The time is now to build a cohesive, national rail network, but this can only happen if we work together and create the necessary partnerships to share resources and collaborate every step of the way to cost-effectively build the kind of infrastructure Americans want,” said APTA President William Millar.
Formed in 2009 in response to the Obama administration’s inclusion of $8 billion for high-speed rail in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, WHSRA seeks to develop and promote a high-speed rail network among cities not yet included in the national plan. The WHSRA is working to connect Pacific Coast cities already selected by DOT for new rail corridors with additional transit hubs and population centers in the western U.S.—with the goal of building a more comprehensive transportation grid.
Cities included in the alliance are Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Reno; APTA is one of the sponsors, and Millar will be speaking.
More information about the conference is available online.
BY NATHANIEL P. FORD SR., Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco, CA
With the tenacity of prizefighters, public transit agencies throughout the country have found themselves on the ropes, deflecting blows delivered by battle-weary constituents, punch-drunk by a one-two combination of diminished service and across-the-board fare and fee hikes.
A recent APTA survey shows that 84 percent of U.S. public transportation agencies polled have raised their fares, cut their service, or considered either of these actions since January 2009. The relentless pounding our agencies must endure as the result of actions forced upon us by a lingering economic downturn should not discourage us, but instead reaffirm our end goal. At the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), that goal can be assessed by two key metrics: the safe transport of our customers and keeping the systems entrusted to us in a state of good repair.
It is a foregone conclusion that the common industry practice of transferring money allocated for capital projects to cover mounting operational deficits—54 percent of systems polled, according to the APTA survey—only aggravates service issues important to customers and makes our already precarious situation worse. The shifting of monies earmarked for future growth as a means of addressing the financial crisis of the moment foreshadows dire consequences for those forced to continually revisit the practice—the equivalent of putting an adhesive bandage on a bullet wound.
With that in mind, the SFMTA has moved forward to advance numerous capital projects that adhere to our vision of investing in system infrastructure to improve the safety and reliability of service for our customers.
Rail Renewal Program
Emphasizing infrastructure improvement as a key element to improving San Francisco’s quality of life, the SFMTA is aggressively pursuing a $141 million Rail Renewal Program consisting of 10 key projects that cover major track work on Muni Metro lines. The Miscellaneous Rail Replacement Project, which began in fall 2009 and will be finished later this year, includes upgrading 70 miles of track on the N Judah, J Church, and L Taraval lines that is more than 30 years old. Upgrading these rail lines will ensure safe, reliable Muni service for generations to come.
Improvements beyond new trackways include streetscape enhancements, upgraded water lines, new overhead wire poles, curb ramps, and updated Muni train signal priority devices.
Light Rail Vehicle and Motor Coach Rehabilitation
The SFMTA has used 93 percent of $71 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) funding to significantly advance its state of good repair. The agency used $15 million in allocated ARRA funding to restore 143 light rail vehicles (LRVs) to their original operating specifications, improving vehicle reliability and ensuring the fleet’s ability to reach its expected life cycle of 25 years. The majority of these funds was allocated for door and step reconditioning, which account for 36 percent of total LRV chargeable failures—work falling outside normal maintenance and requiring overtime.
Upcoming Rail Renewal Projects
The SFMTA continues to protect the public’s investment in the city’s surface transportation network with the launch of the St. Francis Circle Rail Renewal Project on May 17, to be followed by the Duboce and Church Rail Renewal Project this summer.
Perhaps our most comprehensive and large-scale rail renewal effort in some time will take place this fall, when the SFMTA begins major construction on the California Cable Car Infrastructure Improvement Project. This year-long project will also replace aging underground components and repave the roadway along a 17-block area of California Street from Drumm Street west to Van Ness Avenue. The California Cable Car Line, one of the city’s three iconic cable car lines, will be removed from revenue service for approximately six months in 2011 to allow for construction.
We cannot and should not lose sight of our priorities, despite the prevailing state of the economy. This is not the time to be intimidated by the roar of the crowd or to lie back on the ropes. Our responsibilities are not limited to the next fiscal year, but also to the generations that will follow. The true measure of success—in the ring or in the boardroom—is the ability to go the distance.
The Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System (BNPTS) in Bloomington, IL, has named Jeffrey F. Logan as its next general manager. He succeeds Pete Weber, who retired in December 2009.
Former McLean County Administrator John Zeunik has held the post on an interim basis during the past several months.
Logan comes to Bloomington from Marietta, GA, where he has served since 2006 as general manager for Cobb Community Transit as an employee of Veolia Transportation. Earlier, he was public transit system director for the city of Gainesville, FL.
For APTA, Logan is a member of the Small Operations Committee.
“We are extremely pleased to have been able to attract such an experienced and accomplished transit system manager to our organization and to our community,” said BNPTS Board Chair Mary Caisley. “The board of directors is extremely confident that Mr. Logan will effectively lead this organization into a new era … We are also confident that Mr. Logan will be successful in leading the outstanding men and women employed by our transit system in accomplishing all of the goals and objectives that are contained in the transit system’s new Strategic Plan.”
Peter S. Behrman is the new executive director of the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority in Birmingham, AL.
Behrman comes to the agency from Pittsburgh, where he was assistant general manager of planning and development for the Port Authority of Allegheny County. He was previously director for Veolia Transportation in Las Vegas; director of the City of Albuquerque Transit Department in Albuquerque, NM; and general manager of the El Metro Transit System in Laredo, TX. He has also worked in transit positions in northern Virginia and Van Nuys, CA.
Gregory J. Cooper, ARM, AAI, 48, risk manager for Pace Suburban Bus in Arlington Heights, IL, from 2005 to 2010, suffered a fatal heart attack July 3 at his home in Lakewood, IL. At the time of his death, Cooper was the incoming secretary of the APTA Risk Management Committee.
During his tenure at Pace, Cooper oversaw implementation of a new risk management information system and helped to coordinate the APTA Peer Safety Review process. He also served on the Regional Loss Financing Committee, which included the Regional Transportation Authority, Chicago Transit Authority, and Metra as well as Pace.
Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross said: “Greg shared his extensive knowledge of risk management with staff, our vendors, and other agencies through APTA. He was well liked and respected by everyone he worked with. This is truly a great loss to Pace and the transit industry.” Cooper’s wife Sue added: “Greg truly loved his job at Pace and the people he worked with.”
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor, AND JOHN R. BELL, APTA Program Manager-Communications
In these very challenging economic times, public transportation agencies are compelled to make difficult choices—primarily, whether to raise fares or cut operations to cover their expense—despite an increased need for their service. In fact, a recent APTA survey found that 84 percent of U.S. transit agencies have either done or considered these actions since Jan. 1, 2009.
Transit agencies, however, are reframing the issue, finding ways to work smarter through innovative technologies and more efficient use of their employees. Here are a few examples of how these systems are doing more with less.
Boosting Existing Ad Revenues
Sometimes a public transit agency can gain additional benefits and revenues from an underused existing asset. Allvision, a company based in New York City, is working with New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) to increase billboard revenues while simultaneously decreasing overall signage.
NJ Transit had two specific goals when it signed on with Allvision in 2004: reduce the number of billboard faces throughout the system—more than 300 at the time—and increase revenue. The company’s plan has led to a $100 million increase in future projected revenues to the transit agency, including $30 million in upfront lump sum payments, along with a 65 percent reduction in overall outdoor advertising inventory.
Allvision began by reviewing and auditing NJ Transit’s existing contracts and identifying revenue opportunities, then worked closely with agency staff to create a strategic plan designed to meet specific objectives. The process also included Allvision standardizing NJ Transit’s outdoor advertising license agreements, restructuring all outdoor advertising location permits, and working through the environmental regulatory process regarding new and existing signs on system property.
Allvision Chief Executive Officer Greg Smith explained that his firm does not own or operate any form of outdoor advertising: “We guide clients in making the best decisions based on a number of customer-specific criteria.”
Another way of working smarter is to operate more efficiently. Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) has implemented its Service Efficiency and Restructuring Initiative (SERI), one of the largest bus system restructuring efforts in its history.
Introduced in December 2009, SERI eliminated route duplication and improved overall efficiency of the bus network by reconfiguring the operation into a modified grid pattern, feeding routes into major trunks or corridors. According to MDT Director Harpal S. Kapoor, this change saved millions of dollars in operational costs for the agency.
“The success of SERI is attributed to the rider data the department used from its new automated fare collection system, which came online in October 2009—a first for Florida,” he said. MDT recognized that the restructuring initiative forced more passengers to transfer, so it eliminated the transfer fee to mitigate some passenger inconvenience. Said Kapoor: “The restructuring of the bus system is estimated to save $12 million by the end of the fiscal year without any major impact to the riders.”
That isn’t the only form of working smarter underway at MDT, however. The agency uses proven business practices—Six Sigma processes and balanced Scorecard Reporting of Key Performance Indicators—to identify and correct gaps in its operations with a systematic approach for root cause analysis.
These techniques also have internal applications, he said, such as improving the percentage of on-time payment (within 30 days) to MDT’s vendors and improving the cycle time to recover claims and parts availability, thus reducing the number of buses down for parts.
“While major transit systems across the country have faced steep cutbacks as a result of the national economic downturn, we have been able to avoid major service reductions by using performance-based management, working more efficiently, and utilizing the latest technology to better allocate our resources,” Kapoor added.
Putting Data to Work
The term data management refers to finding new methods of using available information for the benefit of an organization—which can also lead to more efficiency and lower costs.
Since January 2008, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) has been using TransitStat, a data management process. TransitStat uses information to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control critical operations—and, according to Jerome Masek, media relations and public manager, it “has cut millions out of our overtime budget.”
The program refers to a structured continuous management process that requires the frequent gathering, reviewing, and analysis of day-to-day government performance. The predecessors to TransitStat are the New York Police Department’s CompStat, which uses computer mapping and statistical data to capture crime trends, and CitiStat, designed by the city of Baltimore to track components of municipal government such as waste collection, road repairs, and housing enforcement.
At the core of the Stat process are ongoing biweekly performance monitoring forums, with results measured weekly. Transit department directors and their support staffs present graphs and charts to the general manager and deputies. The process can target areas that have had problems with underperformance, such as the various components of multi-year projects; inventory; maintenance productivity; and bus incidents, collisions, and crime.
Listening to Employees
Of course, public transit agencies must remember that their employees observe how things work (or don’t work) and are likely to have suggestions for management improvements. Community Transit in Snohomish County, WA, invited its employees to submit cost-cutting ideas as part of a “contest” called “Dollars & Sense.”
“We got some great ideas, most saving hundreds or thousands of dollars, but they added up,” said spokesperson Martin Munguia. These included:
* Publishing schedule books on newsprint rather than sturdier paper and limiting the press run, telling customers to hold onto their copy throughout the service change period. These actions saved about $30,000;
* Printing only the bus stop signs on routes that have changes instead of all signs; and
* Buying a milling machine to repair some bus parts in house rather than buying replacements.
In addition, since Community Transit had already cut its regular advertising budget, it turned to non-traditional media: explanatory videos uploaded to YouTube and linked from its web site and Facebook page, as well as a blog to discuss the changes. The agency also hopes to save money by referring passengers to its web site rather than publishing a service change booklet and incorporating local and commuter schedules into a single publication.
A more immediate problem for the system’s riders, Munguia said, was the suspension of Sunday and holiday service. “To help mitigate that for our customers, our board allocated $50,000 that will be used to set up a transportation assistance program operated through community service agencies,” he continued. “The point is to allow those people who have a trip they must take on Sundays and have no other options to call for assistance and get that trip filled. So, for a fraction of the cost of bus service in Sunday, we’ll be helping those most in need continue to get around.”
Sampling More than a Ride
Sometimes, working smarter means seeking out unexpected sources of revenue. Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), among other transit systems, is bringing in a steady stream of revenue--$80,000-$90,000 a year—by leasing its facilities to marketers who want to distribute product samples to the public.
MBTA has discovered the monetary benefits available through the distribution of product samples—or “sampling,” according to Peter Swan, manager of special projects. Sampling requires no extra services or staff, he added: “All we do is lease out the area they’re in—no police and no vehicles used. Station police keep an eye on the sampling crew to ensure the safety of both them and our passengers.”
MBTA began its sampling program about 10 years ago, and its clients since then have included Stonyfield Yogurt, Microsoft, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks. Dr. Oetker’s, a frozen pizza company from Germany, distributed 35,000 free frozen pizzas to MBTA riders.
The process of sampling is not restricted to product giveaways, Swan noted. To promote its flights to England, Virgin Atlantic installed red telephone booths in an MBTA subway station, attended by company staff dressed in certain clothes, from a Beefeater [Queen’s] guard to a Bobbie [police officer]. In a similar vein, Axe Body Spray conducted an in-station mini-drama in which a man sprays himself with the product and is immediately chased through the station by a throng of women!
Such activities require good communication at all levels, Swan emphasized. Sampling staff must ensure they do not impede traffic; MBTA customer service personnel and supervisors are present; and advisories sent throughout the system alert police and everyone from top to bottom.
“Once someone sees the value of what their clients are going to get, they keep bringing clients year in, year out,” he said. The latest effort? MBTA has begun advertising in an event-marketing magazine, which should, he said, easily double the number of clients.
The Name of the Game
More recently, naming rights have become a source of income for public transportation agencies. Just as sports and entertainment venues sell their naming rights to third parties, transit systems are finding revenue opportunities in branding stations and individual lines.
For example, in Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has entered into a five-year contract with AT&T, valued at more than $5 million, under which SEPTA’s Pattison Station will change its name to AT&T Station. The agreement also provides for station beautification efforts and improved communications tools such as new digital displays and signage.
Where did the idea come from? Rich Dilullo, SEPTA director of marketing and advertising, credited its outdoor display advertising firm. Pattison Station, he said, was a good fit for the naming program because its location—surrounded by sports facilities in South Philadelphia—is both heavily traveled and not part of an established residential neighborhood with its own name recognition.
“AT&T has a facility in one of the stadiums already and a sponsorship with the Phillies, so it already has a brand presence in that area,” Dilullo noted. In addition, AT&T is currently the only wireless carrier providing coverage underground along SEPTA’s Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines. The station is located at the south end of the Broad Street Line.
General Manager Joseph M. Casey called the naming “an exciting new step in SEPTA’s ongoing effort to help defray costs to customers and taxpayers by creating new advertising and sponsorship opportunities throughout the transit system.”
In Brooklyn, NY, station naming rights are just one component of a larger development package. Through a 20-year, $4 million deal with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Barclays, an international financial firm, will add its name to MTA New York City Transit’s Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street subway station.
MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz explained that Barclays is purchasing the station naming rights along with a more major commitment to the Atlantic Yards site: naming rights for a new sports arena that ultimately will house the New Jersey Nets pro basketball team. Forest City Ratner has begun construction at the site, which will include construction of a new rail yard for MTA Long Island Rail Road as well as 336,000 square feet of office space, 6.36 million square feet of residential space, 247,000 square feet of retail space, and a 180-room hotel.
Individual stations are not the only targets for sponsorship. In Cleveland, two hospitals located on the bus rapid transit (BRT) route in the Euclid Corridor, originally designated the Silver Line, decided to partner and sponsor the new service, which opened in late 2008 as the HealthLine.
At the time that University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic agreed to the joint partnership with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joseph A. Calabrese cited the importance of naming rights. “In Cleveland we have Quicken Loans Arena and the newly renamed Progressive Field, both world-class infrastructures and important to the city,” he said. “Without a doubt, the Euclid Corridor project falls in those categories, so I think that allowed us to get something like this done.”
The two medical facilities—both of which have major hospitals located on the BRT line—entered into a 25-year deal to pay $6.25 million. Additional funds may come from GCRTA’s plans to sell sponsorships for individual stations along the seven-mile line.
“Many people have associated this project with the health of the city, the health of the economy, and the health of the environment,” Calabrese said in 2008. “So the name is fitting.”
In addition, three sponsors have entered into 10-year contracts, at $30,000 each per year, for the right to put their names on specific HealthLine stations.
Challenge Drives Innovation
Necessity is the mother of invention, and public transportation systems are showing the nation how ingenuity can help the industry succeed, even with a difficult economy. Are there other innovative revenue-enhancing strategies currently in use? Based on this sample, the answer is likely a very strong “yes.”
Sidebar: Benefits of TransitStat
Leaders of GCRTA described the benefits of TransitStat—including shorter waits for phone callers, more miles between bus breakdowns, and less overtime—during the Host Forum at the 2010 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Cleveland.
Gale Fisk, executive director of GCRTA’s Office of Management and Budget, described how the TransitStat process has saved the agency $15 million over a two-year period while also improving service. “People used to give the same tried and true urban legends for reasons,” Fisk said. “That doesn’t work anymore. Now you’ve got to back up what you say with real data.”
For example, the TransitStat team developed a way to save $2.3 million from the current year’s overtime budget by analyzing each situation by the workers, work type, and cause, then moving schedules and making other changes.
Also, by shifting employees to late evening and early morning hours and making other changes, GCRTA reduced its backlog of work orders by 65 percent, cut towing costs by $150,000 a year, and increased average miles between service interruptions to more than 8,000.
We’re Telling Our Story to Congress and we need you to sign Public Transportation’s Petition to Congress. It’s easy. Just go to APTA’s new Telling Our Story web site and in seconds you’ll be able to complete the petition letting our legislators know why transit is important to you. Next, encourage your employees, riders, and advocates also to sign the petition, which asks Congress to act now to support public transportation.
Then we’ll deliver the petition to Congress in September. This is all part of APTA Chair M.P. Carter’s signature Telling Our Story initiative.
“Over the last year, we have told our story far and wide—including through District Days, Earth Day, Older Americans Outreach, and our Fifth National Dump the Pump Day,” Carter said. “Now, we urgently need your involvement as our industry’s ‘storytellers’ as all these efforts come together.”
This summer, member organizations are busy developing testimonials (video, photos, and print) about the benefits of public transportation for both individuals and communities.
More information is available from Telling Our Story Task Force Co-Chair Alice Wiggins-Tolbert or Jack Gonzalez.
BY JOHN LAIRD
John Laird is editorial page editor of The Columbian, Vancouver, WA, where this article was originally published July 18, 2010.
Travel typically serves up the wonders of comparison and discovery. Having been born a couple of centuries too late to fully accommodate my wanderlust, I settle instead for leisure reading about the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark. My travels yield nowhere near the sense of awe that those pioneers experienced, but on the positive side, I’m less likely to become trapped in a blizzard, die of dysentery or ensnare myself in the nasty politics of a wagon train election.
Earlier this month I was able to compare two great cities—Denver and Seattle—with the place where I live: Hazel Dell But The Good Part. In the Mile High City on Sunday evening, July 4, I rediscovered the advantages of public fireworks displays over the private, amateur efforts. Downtown Denver was ablaze that evening with smoothly orchestrated, professional pyrotechnics. Back home in HDBTGP, I knew the tenderfoot technicians were doing their best to keep the term “blowing up the neighborhood” merely hyperbolic and not literal.
Denver also provided a learning opportunity on another explosive issue: light rail. For those of you who bothered to read beyond that previous sentence, here are a couple of boilerplate reminders that I usually proffer when this subject is broached:
Think long-term. Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be glad we planted the seeds of mass transit. I’m sure that, back when tax dollars were first spent on paving roads, the ankle-biters’ outrage must have been cacophonous. Today, looking back, that seems like a pretty good investment.
Public transportation is meant to be only an option. You will continue to board a rail car or a bus on your own volition. No one is forcing you out of your car. In fact, your car-driving experience will be enhanced when we get more people—especially texters, tailgaters, left-lane slowpokes and clueless navigators—herded onto trains and buses.
Big plans in Denver
With a population of about 2.8 million, the Denver area can be compared to the Portland area (about 2.2 million people). Both are firmly committed to light rail and other forms of mass transit. Denver’s light-rail system extends 35 miles; Portland’s covers 52 miles. Both cities’ light-rail systems are growing at rates that infuriate the unimaginative but will surely gratify our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Denver’s Regional Transportation District has a 12-year plan to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service, and 21,000 new parking spaces at rail and bus stations in eight counties. Total projected cost, which fluctuates with the economy, is $6.9 billion (with a “b”), funded by a regional sales tax, federal funds and local contributions.
Mass transit will provide more than just transportation options for a Denver-area population expected to reach 4.2 million residents by 2035. Construction projects will generate more than 10,000 jobs. Every $1 pumped into mass transit is projected to add $6 to the local economy.
Projected travel times are compelling. In 2019, a 41-mile commute from Longmont to downtown Denver is expected to take 61 minutes on a new “heavy-rail” line but more than two hours in a car. A commute downtown from the southwest through Littleton and Englewood will take 31 minutes by light rail, 97 minutes by car.
In Seattle, an interesting report comes from David Parker Brown, a blogger who recently rode public transportation from Sea-Tac Airport to his home in north Seattle. The new light-rail line from the airport to downtown cost $2.50, compared with $32 for a shuttle and more than $50 for a taxi. Total cost of the public-transportation trip to his house was $6, compared with $45 for a shuttle and $80 for a cab.
Of course, nothing comes free, and light-rail detractors carry satchels bulging with data disputing the value of this gift to our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Indeed, the volatile mass-transit debate will continue for years. But if you want to stop light rail in Denver or Seattle, it appears that train has already left the station.
Here are a few excerpts from the July 5, 2010, blog post by David Parker Brown referenced in Laird’s op-ed. Reprinted with permission of AirlineReporter.com.
For those of you in many other parts of the world, talking about public transportation options from the airport is not news. For us in Seattle, finally getting a public transportation option, other than the bus, is huge. In many regards Seattle (my home town) is a very progressive city, except when it comes to public transportation. We have tried many different times, but seem to get blocked at every turn….
In December 2009, Link Light Rail finally connected SEA [Seattle-Tacoma International Airport] to downtown Seattle and provided a new, environmentally friendly and cheap option for passengers. During my recent flight with Virgin America I decided to check out getting from the airport to my house in north Seattle using only public transportation (ok, I didn’t really decide, but no one could pick me up, so I “decided” to take the light rail). I have never done this before and was excited to see how it works….
Since I haven’t had too much experience riding the new train system, I talked to a Seattle native, Shannon (@SEAsundodger) who has ridden the train about once per month since it opened and she loves it. “I love everything about the light rail, I live in Seattle proper (Interbay/Magnolia to be exact) and I don’t own a car. So public transportation is near and dear to my heart,” she told me. She hasn’t had any issues with riding the light rail and is very much looking forward to the expansion. When I asked how it feels flying by people stuck in Seattle traffic while going to the airport, she said, “It is sweet when it’s rush hour while you’re headed to the airport, and there you are, zipping along on the train.” I could easily see it being quicker taking the train when traffic really gets backed up.
I love Seattle and the majority of people in Seattle, but there have always been people complaining anytime we have tried to move forward with public transportation and the light rail is no exception. But this time, I think the positives are outweighing the negatives and the light rail will continue to grow to the north and to the east. Hopefully some day it will reach where I live and I can easily hop on the light rail to the airport. Until then I have a feeling I might be taking the bus and train more often!
It’s time, once again, for public transportation industry professionals to take advantage of the many informational sessions and networking opportunities planned for APTA’s 2010 Annual Meeting, to be held this year in San Antonio, Oct. 3-6. With the understanding that these are challenging times for transit, APTA has designed a varied program to help all types of transit professionals cope with today’s ever-changing business environment.
APTA committees will meet during the weekend of Oct. 2-3, including the election of officers on Sunday morning, Oct. 3. The festivities kick off that evening with the Welcome Reception and Products & Services Showcase, which will provide an opportunity for attendees to mix and mingle while examining what’s new and innovative in the transit field.
Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will address the Oct. 4 Opening General Session, joining representatives from APTA, San Antonio, and VIA Metropolitan Transit, host system for the Annual Meeting.
A General Forum, “Crystal Ball vs. Harsh Reality: The Future of Financing Public Transportation,” will follow the opening session. This program will present industry experts who will discuss proposed funding changes for transit agencies and suppliers, as well as other issues related to establishing a dedicated funding source for public transportation. The Products & Services Showcase will reopen during the lunch hour.
The rest of Monday will be devoted to concurrent educational sessions on critical and timely topics including safety regulations, accessibility, and high-speed rail. Other sessions will include presentation of the AdWheel Awards for the best in transit marketing efforts; recognition of this year’s American Public Transportation Foundation scholarship winners; and the Host Forum, which will focus on VIA’s Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan for 2035. This plan, once completed, will guide the agency in developing an integrated regional system of high-capacity multimodal transit corridors.
New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell will keynote the Tuesday, Oct. 5, General Session, sponsored by the APTA Business Members. Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers: The Story of Success, has earned recognition for interpreting new ideas in the social sciences and making them understandable, practical, and valuable to business and general audiences alike.
APTA will honor “the best of the best” at the Tuesday Awards Luncheon, this year recognizing the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, Board Member, and Business Member; Local Distinguished Service Award; and Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Awards in three size categories.
The day’s schedule also features more sets of educational sessions—covering such issues as marketing and communications, technology, workforce development, and best practices for small operators—and an afternoon technical tour of VIA’s Maintenance Facility. VIA is the largest U.S. transit agency to use a single facility for all of its vehicle maintenance needs. The 31-acre maintenance site, which dates back to 1948, is currently being expanded and refurbished.
For the 15th year, APTA will join WTS to present a speaker breakfast on Wednesday morning, Oct. 6. The keynote speaker for this annual event will provide attendees with the innovative strategies for addressing challenges and opportunities within our industry, as well as daily life.
Educational sessions will continue through the morning on such subjects as sustainability and state of good repair, and will include an update on APTA’s standards efforts. The Annual Meeting will conclude with a General Session examining the 2010 General Election and its likely impact on public transportation.
Additional educational opportunities are on the schedule for Wednesday afternoon following the Closing General Session. APTA will present a customer service training session geared toward preparing the industry for the future and improving the knowledge, professional skills, and business practices of individuals and organizations. Also planned are the FTA New Starts/Small Starts Workshop and a summit on “Forging Transit-Bicycle Partnerships.”
To learn more about the 2010 Annual Meeting, including the conference program and registration, travel discount, and hotel information, click here.
The Grand Hyatt San Antonio, headquarters hotel for the 2010 APTA Annuel Meeting.
BY ANDY SCHEIDT, Public Information Coordinator, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX
San Antonio—the seventh largest city in the United States—also has the distinction of being the biggest metropolitan area with a bus-only transit system. But VIA Metropolitan Transit is looking to change that with its efforts to develop the Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
This structure of this plan will provide a comprehensive transportation vision for the community, outlining a network of integrated high-capacity transit corridors with a range of transit mode alternatives. The plan will guide VIA in developing these future corridors, positioning the agency to become a truly regional and multimodal transit agency.
The development of the Long Range Plan is being fostered by an intensive public outreach effort called “SmartWaySA,” which began in September 2009 with a series of workshops designed to introduce the plan concept and solicit input from the citizens. In November 2009, VIA held a series of meetings across the city to gather additional input and to update the community on the plan’s progress. Another set of workshops followed in June of this year as VIA prepared the plan for its final development.
VIA’s Board of Trustees will also be involved with its own workshop, and the agency is developing funding mechanisms and strategies in cooperation with its financial advisors. When the process is complete, San Antonio will have a guide for a new transit system incorporating different types of transit technologies selected to serve the unique needs of each transit corridor.
But VIA is not waiting for the completion of the Long Range Plan for the opportunity to introduce new transit modes. For the past few years, VIA has been working to introduce bus rapid transit (BRT) to the busiest transit corridor in the city.
BRT and Other Innovations
VIA’s plans for BRT will connect the area’s two largest employment centers—the central business district and the South Texas Medical Center—along a state-owned roadway called Fredericksburg Road. This project will provide high-capacity transit service that will enhance the mobility of workers, patients, and other citizens through the use of stylized vehicles and station-boarding along the corridor.
As it progresses, this project has also stimulated dialogue among local governments and agencies concerning land use, transportation needs, and local environmental policies.
The draft environmental assessment (EA) document for the project is nearing completion. The public comment period for the EA document concluded in June, and the final draft will include these comments along with the official responses. Advanced preliminary engineering is underway for two new transit facilities to anchor the BRT alignment, and the project is well on its way toward completion and inception of service in 2012.
In addition to the special vehicles that will be secured for the BRT project, VIA is also adding innovative revenue vehicles that run on alternative power sources. The agency introduced the first of these buses—four buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)—in May.
VIA makes the CNG buses especially visible with a green exterior paint scheme accented by a new, green-leaf logo. They operate on the Yellow Streetcar route to help reduce fleet emissions and maximize exposure in the downtown area.
VIA is also taking delivery of 30 new diesel-electric hybrid buses built by New Flyer, which will operate on express routes to help daily commuters reduce the city’s overall fuel consumption while cutting back on emissions. Amenities on these buses include reclining seats, overhead storage, and individual lighting.
In addition to the CNG and hybrid buses, VIA is preparing to take delivery of three new vehicles powered by electricity from on-board batteries; these emissions-free, 35-foot buses will operate on the Yellow Streetcar route along with the CNG buses, and will be recharged at VIA’s Robert Thompson Transit Station at the Alamodome. The batteries will be charged with energy generated either by solar panels installed as part of the project or by wind turbines in West Texas as part of the Windtricity program undertaken by CPS Energy, San Antonio’s energy utility.
Here’s a brief rundown on the concurrent sessions scheduled during the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
Accessibility for All: A Visioning Process. In the 20th-anniversary year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, explore the direction and growth that public transportation, community planning, and universal design may undergo in the next 20 years.
AdWheel Awards. An entertaining event honoring the best in transit marketing and communications.
Creating a Safety First Culture. An interactive peer exchange on instilling, maintaining, and developing a safety culture in an organization.
High-Speed Rail Alternative Delivery Methods. It’s no secret that the president’s vision of U.S. high-speed rail will cost much more than the $8 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Elsewhere in the world, alternative financing methods are becoming increasingly important to building high-speed rail lines. High-speed rail in Europe, South Africa, and Eurasia can provide lessons to the U.S.
Host Forum. This session, led by VIA Metropolitan Transit President/Chief Executive Officer Keith Parker, will outline the progress the agency has made in crafting its Long Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan for 2035.
State of the Industry—Where Do We Go from Here? This roundtable session, comprising leaders representing all sectors and modes of public transportation, will focus on the current and future economic health of the industry, how various sectors have been affected, how they are coping with these challenges, and collective actions we can take for the future.
American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) 2010 Scholarship Awards Ceremony: “Growing the Next Wave of Leaders.” Following the presentation of the APTF scholarship recipients, veteran transit leaders will share their stories in an interactive session.
Connecting the Dots—Energy, Environment, Transportation, Housing, Livability. How will a far more integrated approach to planning affect mobility goals in urban, suburban, and rural communities across America? Hear from key experts about how this is already happening and what the future holds.
DBE 2010: Challenges and Changes—Are You Ready? This session will present the latest information on Disadvantaged Business Enterprise issues and best practices, as well as new resources.
Forging Transit-MPO Partnerships for Livable and Sustainable Communities. This roundtable discussion will focus on the institutional arrangements, transit-oriented development, street design, economic development, urban circulators, and financing that support livable communities and other sustainable outcomes.
Best Practices for Small Operators. Attendees will hear presentations on an innovative windmill project, a cutting-edge safety program, a downtown child development center, ultra-fast-charge electric bus project, and the use of social media.
General Forum: High-Speed Rail in the U.S.—A Status Update. This session will allow grant recipients to tell how they intend to change the face of the American landscape while they turn dollars into real jobs in Florida, California, and the Midwest.
Technology Strategies for Organizations. Innovative and effective means of doing just that: institutionalizing the process of technology implementation to achieve the organization’s goals.
Using Social Media to Make the Case for Transit. Hear from transit industry professionals on how they have embraced the use of social media and “moved the needle” in support of public transportation.
Workforce Development: Building a Sustainable Workforce for Public Transportation. Participants will learn more about APTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development Final Report and its recommendations and implementation plan.
Achieving Success Through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). This session will focus on methods to use PPPs for transit infrastructure and will include a discussion on how to manage PPP transactions for accelerated project delivery. It also offers an update of some of the breakthrough PPPs now underway in North America and internationally.
General Forum: Transit and the State DOT Commissioner—The Future is Multimodal. Hear some of the nation’s top state leaders in transportation talk about how state DOTs serve so many constituencies.
The Letter and Spirit of ADA. The program offers a summary of the key public transportation tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act and related regulations, ADA’s historical civil rights context, federal oversight, and a discussion of providing service beyond ADA.
Title VI/Environmental Justice Peer Exchange. A lively and informative peer exchange discussion on best practices, compliance guidelines, Limited English Proficiency policies, and using information technology tools to ensure that service is provided in a non-discriminatory manner.
Making Energy Efficiency Work. Energy efficiency technologies, energy storage devices, renewable energy sources, alternative fuels, bus route design optimization, and vehicle design enhancements are components of energy plans designed to reduce operating costs and carbon emissions. Participants will learn to determine the useful life of equipment and associated overhaul intervals.
Strategies for Implementing a State of Good Repair. Hear how public transportation agencies are targeting their resources and leveraging technology to keep their public transportation systems in good order.
Successful Transit Agency-Business Partnerships in Tight Times. How are transit agencies and their business partners working in creative and smart ways to make the best of the current economic environment? Hear real industry examples of successful agency-business partnerships.
Sustainable Mobility. A discussion on agencies that have taken the first leaps to integrate transit with other modes, especially bicycles and taxis, and neighboring transit agencies.
The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) has scheduled a variety of activities during the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, beginning with the presentation of the 2010 APTF Scholarship Awards recipients on Monday afternoon, Oct. 4.
Immediately following the award recognition, APTF will present an interactive session titled “Growing the Next Wave of Leaders,” with veteran leaders sharing their experiences in the public transportation industry. Since classroom knowledge is only a fraction of what new transit professionals will need to succeed, seasoned industry professionals will offer their support as mentors, coaches, and teachers.
On Monday evening, APTF will celebrate its scholarship program with GALA 2010, an event showcasing food, music, dancing, networking, and more. Tickets, at $85 each, benefit the APTF scholarship fund, and are available through its web site. APTF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and payments are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
The 18th Annual APTF Benefit Golf Tournament will follow Wednesday morning, Oct. 6, at the Republic Golf Club in San Antonio. The day’s activities begin with breakfast and conclude with awards and a barbeque. New and exciting this year—a sponsor is offering $10,000 cash to any golfer who makes a hole-in-one on the third hole! The fee is $200 for an individual player or $750 for a foursome, and the barbeque is open to other Annual Meeting guests for $40 each.
APTF’s activities rely on support from its sponsors. Earl sponsors this year are AECOM, Bombardier, Cubic, GFI Genfare, Gilbert Tweed Associates Inc., Hatch Mott MacDonald, Herzog, HNTB Corporation, LTK Engineering Services, Mineta Transportation Institute, Motor Coach International, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sumitomo Corporation of America, and URS.
Sponsorship opportunities remain available for both GALA 2010 and the golf tournament. Interested? Contact Yvonne Conley.
APTA will honor the best and most imaginative in public transportation marketing and promotional campaigns at the 31st annual AdWheel ceremony, Monday afternoon, Oct. 4.
APTA received almost 650 entries in this year’s competition. Judging is currently underway; the first-place award recipients should be notified by mid-August. The Grand Awards, selected from among the first-place honorees, will be made public at the Oct. 4 event.
Each year, public transit systems and APTA business members compete to determine the “best of the best” in public transit. The APTA Marketing and Communications Committee presents awards in four sizes for transit agencies and a fifth for business members.
For the first time, this year’s AdWheel competition includes Social Media, joining the four existing award categories: Print Media, Electronic Media, Campaign, and Special Event. The competition also features a niche category, which will honor the best entry showcasing APTA Chair M.P. Carter’s signature initiative, “Telling Our Story.”
The APTA Annual Meeting will offer an online display of all winning AdWheel materials.
Building on the success of last year’s Annual Meeting Products and Services Showcase, APTA will again hold a showcase event at the 2010 Annual Meeting: at the site of the Oct. 3 Welcome Reception and during the lunch hour on Oct. 4.
To ensure that business members and transit agency leaders can take advantage of this unique opportunity to make contacts and learn about what’s new and special in the industry, APTA has dedicated ample time for meeting participants to visit the exhibits without missing any workshops or other events.
This showcase will be similar to those held at the APTA bus and rail conferences, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. The Bus Products & Services Showcase Conference in Cleveland hosted a record 134 booths, while the Rail Products & Services Showcase in Vancouver, BC, filled all available exhibit space with 67 booths representing 58 exhibitors.
Space is still open, so sign up now! Information is available online or from Anitha Atkins.
American Airlines is offering special discount rates to APTA conferences. Please call the airline number listed below, or your travel agent, to obtain round-trip transportation at the lowest convention fares. Ask your travel agent to call the Convention Desks to obtain these reduced fares.
Call the Convention Desk toll-free: 1-800-433-1790
Give the APTA Account Number: A85H0AP
Reduced Train Fares
Amtrak will offer a 10 percent discount off the best available fare to San Antonio from Sept. 30 through Oct. 9. To book space, contact the National Reservations Desk or your local travel agent. Make sure you refer to the fares order number when making your reservation. This offer is not valid on Auto Train or Acela services. Fare is valid on Regional Transportation services for all departures except holiday blackouts. Fare is also valid on sleepers, business class, or first class seats with payment of the full applicable accommodation charges.
Call the National Reservations Desk toll-free: 1-800-872-7245
Give the APTA Fares Order Number: X22D-907
Reduced Car Rental Rates
Avis Rent a Car offers special low car rental rates available one week before and one week after the conference.
Contact Avis by either calling toll-free 1-800-331-1600 or going online.
Provide this code: AWD# D757633
Sunday, Oct. 3
11:30 a.m. – noon: APTA Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers
3:30 - 4:30 p.m.: This is APTA – Realizing the Full Potential of Membership
6 - 8 p.m.: Welcome Reception/Products & Services Showcase
Monday, Oct. 4
8:30-10 a.m.: Opening General Session
10:15 – 11:30 a.m.: General Session: Crystal Ball vs. Harsh Reality - The Future of Financing Public Transportation
11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Products & Services Showcase
2:15 – 3:45 p.m.: Concurrent sessions
VIA’s Host Forum
AdWheel Awards Ceremony
Creating a Safety First Culture
State of the Industry
Accessibility for All: A Visioning Process
High-Speed Rail Delivery Methods
4 – 5:30 p.m.: Concurrent sessions
APTF 2010 Scholarship Awards Ceremony
Transit MPO Partners
DBE 2010: Challenges & Changes - Are You Ready?
Connecting the Dots - Energy, Environment, Transportation, Housing, Livability
5:30 – 6:30 p.m.: APTA/COMTO DBE Reception
6:30 – 7:30 p.m.: APTF Gala Reception
Tuesday, Oct. 5
7 – 8:30 a.m.: Inteli Drive Listening Session
8:30 – 10 a.m.: General Session: APTA Business Members Present Malcolm Gladwell
10:15 – 11:30 a.m.: Concurrent sessions
General Forum: High-Speed Rail in the U.S. - A Status Update
Using Social Media to Make the Case for Transit
Best Practices for Small Operators
Technology Strategies for Organization
Workforce Development - A Blue Ribbon Panel Update
11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.: Awards Luncheon
2 – 4 p.m.: Concurrent sessions
General Forum: Transit and the State DOT Commissioner - The Future is Multi-Modal
Title VI: Environmental Justice Peer Exchange
The Letter & the Spirit of ADA
2 – 5 p.m.: Technical Tour: VIA's Maintenance Facility
4 – 5:30 p.m.: Leadership APTA - Celebrating Tomorrow's Leaders
5:30-6:30 p.m.: ADA Celebrates 20 Years Reception
Wednesday, Oct. 6
7:30-9:15 a.m.: APTA/WTS Breakfast
9:30 – 11 a.m.: Concurrent sessions
Assessing the State of Good Repair
Making Energy Efficiency Work
Successful Transit Agency - Business Partnerships in Tight Times
11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Closing General Session: Elections 2010 – What Does It Mean?
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.: Professional Development Session: Customer Service At Its Best
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.: Forging Transit-Bicycle Partnerships Summit
1:30 – 5 p.m.: FTA New Starts/Small Starts Workshop
With more twists and turns than the River Walk—and more faces than the façade of the Alamo—San Antonio proudly wears its culture on its sleeve. From modern museums and old world missions to walking tours and architectural wonders, this city is bursting with cultural history, character, and charm.
That culture is apparent in plazas inspired by Spanish colonial concepts and in buildings that chart the course of the city’s history, from plastered chapel to gingerbread Victorian to towering skyscraper. And it’s obvious in the celebrations that take place in those squares and spaces: the “Little Village” that is La Villita provides a home for events as diverse as Fiesta’s Nights in Old San Antonio and the fall International Accordion Festival.
HemisFair Park, the scene of the 1968 World’s Fair, hosts the Institute of Texan Cultures’ June Folklife Festival, as well as numerous Mexican Cultural Institute programs. And the streets themselves come alive in early spring with Luminaria, a new celebration of all the arts. At almost any time and place, the city offers something for everyone.
The genesis of it all is a modest settlement founded in 1718 alongside a spring in what is now San Pedro Park, the second oldest park in the nation. Later moving south, the city took shape with simple structures, but also soon began building in stone—both around squares in the new city center and south along the San Antonio River—with a string of missions whose fields were irrigated by a system of channeled acequias. Today’s Mission Trail links four of the missions—San José, Concepción, San Juan, and Espada—with its nearby aqueduct. The fifth is the Alamo itself—much modified but firmly fixed in the minds of camera-toting history buffs as the scene of a battle that helped secure Texas’ independence from Mexico.
But there’s more than missions to be seen of this formative period. The 19th-century façade of San Fernando Cathedral is finally getting the framework it deserves in the form of a newly renovated Main Plaza, originally Plaza de las Islas in honor of the 16 families from the Canary Islands who arrived in 1731. But walk behind the building and you’ll see the 1738 apse of the original structure.
Just a block farther west is the Spanish Governor’s Palace dating from 1749. Though the title “palace” was always an exaggeration, the building breathes with both the spirit of the times and echoes of the fandangos once held there.
In San Antonio, it pays to keep eyes, ears, and nose open.
Museums & Galleries
History comes alive in context, but there’s nothing like a museum for the big picture. Catch a truly cinematic glimpse into San Antonio and the rest of Texas at the Institute of Texan Cultures on the eastern edge of HemisFair Park. Within this distinctive structure, the fascinating stories of all the ethnic groups that make up Texas come to life, from African-Americans and Slavs to Mexicans, Syrians, and Lebanese.
For a more focused view, check out The Texas Ranger Museum. It has relocated adjacent to the Buckhorn Saloon & Museum, itself worth a look, and documents the history and lore of the fabled institution. Ranger memorabilia formerly shared space with the Texas Pioneer Museum on Broadway, which has expanded to include exhibits of notable Texans. Fittingly, next door at the Witte Museum, reconstructed log cabins from pioneer times can be seen outdoors, and special shows on local history are frequently staged inside. Don’t miss the fanciful tree house structure that contains kid-friendly exhibits with a science bent.
Many of the city’s other museums, some housed in structures that are historic in their own right, also play into San Antonio’s cultural continuum. The San Antonio Museum of Art converted a 19th-century brewery into a showcase for Latin American art across the centuries and an extensive Asian Art Wing, along with Greek and Roman collections and American art from colonial times to the present.
The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, with its focus on 20th-century works, evolved from a 1927 Spanish-Mediterranean-style villa and has recently completed an extensive contemporary addition for traveling exhibitions.
Another contemporary structure, located at the foot of Market Square just west of downtown, houses the Smithsonian-affiliated Museo Alameda. Its shows are dedicated to presenting the Latino in America.
Further proving that San Antonio can turn any facility to artistic ends, there is the Southwest School of Art & Craft in a convent built in 1851 for the Ursuline Academy of French nuns. In addition to creating classrooms, a gift shop, restaurant, and gallery space from the historic compound, the school has converted a former tire store nearby into exhibition space.
To complete the catalog of conversions, a complex of industrial buildings south of downtown is now home to the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center. With the center as a catalyst, adjacent galleries such as the UTSA Satellite Space, San Angel Folk Art, and the Joan Grona Gallery now thrive. The complex also houses the Blue Star Brewing Company.
The urge to recycle and respect the past—while building for the way we live, work, and play—continues at a massive project at the old Pearl Brewery. Its developers have already renovated much of the historic complex and have succeeded in attracting a branch of the Culinary Institute of America. Plans for more restaurants and shops, a seasonal farmers’ market, and housing are also on the horizon.
The Pearl complex will be the northern terminus of extensive improvements now being made to extend the River Walk and, by means of locks, provide for river barge traffic north, all allowing visitors and locals alike to experience San Antonio in new ways.
Back in the city center, the river continues to be our guide through history, and nowhere is that history more apparent than in La Villita. Simply ascend the steps of the Arneson River Theatre from the River Walk and step through the arch leading to the Little Village. The site was once home to Spanish soldiers assigned to the Alamo, became a permanent settlement in the early 19th century, and was first restored in 1940.
Farther south along the river’s banks you will find Sauerkraut Bend, once the term for that stretch of the river lining the King William Historic District, home to many German families who helped define the city in the mid 19th century.
Pioneer Flour Mills, on the opposite bank, is one such institution, and its Guenther House Museum & Restaurant is a perfect place to refuel for more self-guided immersions in special places. Bus tours in the neighborhood have been discouraged by residents, but oak-shaded strolls along King William’s streets are the best ways to appreciate the stately architecture (a visit to the Steves Homestead Museum will give you an inside look), and side trips to flanking Southtown, a thriving area of restaurants and galleries, will provide colorful contrasts.
As tempting as it may be to keep to the river, you’ll also want to hit the streets for additional discoveries: the “enchilada red” public library, for example. Located next to the Southwest School of Art & Craft (housed in the 150-year-old Ursuline Academy), the building boasts bold forms and colors that speak to the city’s contemporary connection to Mexico and further reinforce the diversity of San Antonio’s culture, both built and felt.
The Alamo is by far the most famous of San Antonio’s historic missions, but it isn’t the only one. The Mission San José Church—seen here—dates back to the 18th century.
Gary Newgard, Mary Schofield Nowee
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Gary Newgard and Mary Schofield Nowee have been named senior supervising architects in the San Francisco office of Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB).
Newgard will initially focus his efforts on two significant transportation projects: California High-Speed Rail and the San Francisco Central Subway/Third Street Light Rail project. He has more than 36 years of experience in architecture, including more than 10 years in the design of transit and transportation facilities in the U.S. and abroad.
Nowee will serve as specifications manager for the California High-Speed Rail project. She came to PB from a national engineering firm where she was a specifications manager and senior architect working on numerous light, heavy, and commuter rail projects. Her career spans more than 35 years.
Bradley J. Heigel
HARRISBURG, PA.—Bradley J. Heigel, P.E., has joined Michael Baker Jr. Inc. as assistant vice president and office principal of the Harrisburg office.
Heigel has worked for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for the past 20 years as a total reconstruction program manager and a liaison and traffic engineer. He provided management overview and coordinated project requirements with other governmental entities and stakeholders.
BOYNTON BEACH, FL—Jordan Henderson has joined the Board of Advisors for Eta Phi Systems Inc.
Henderson previously served as vice president of software and architecture for a provider of Transit Information Management Systems. He has 25 years of product development experience with companies ranging from Westinghouse Nuclear Services and Kennametal to International Truck and Engine.
TUCSON, AZ—Stantec announced the promotion of Doug Moseke to transportation manager for its southern Arizona operations.
Moseke has more than 15 years of experience designing and managing transit, roadway, and highway, and transit projects at Stantec.
John Andreas, Hal Lindsey
SAINT-BRUNO, QC—Bombardier Transportation has named two new directors-sales and business development for its Services Unit in North America: John Andreas, covering the northeastern U.S., and Hal Lindsey, covering the southeast and midwest.
Andreas has 25 years of experience in the transportation industry. He comes to Bombardier from Voith Turbo, where he was vice president of the Rail Division. He also held director positions at both Alstom and Faiveley.
Lindsey returns to Bombardier after 11 years at Lea+Elliott, where he was a senior associate. His has 30 years of transportation experience and is a member and former chair of the APTA Automated Transit Technical Forum.
ROCKFORD, IL—The Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) has appointed Paul Brandel as risk manager.
Brandel joins RMTD from Hyatt Hotels Corporation, where he served as claims manager. He has more than 11 years of experience in developing and managing workers’ compensation programs.
Mario Péloquin, Julie D’Orazio, Bill Hjelholt
NEW YORK, NY—AECOM has named Mario Péloquin, a 25-year transportation veteran, to the newly created position of AECOM’s Canada national transit leader. He began his career with the Canadian National Railway Company and has also served the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Transport Canada, the city of Ottawa, and Siemens Canada.
Julie D’Orazio, P.E., joined AECOM as vice president and Northeast Transit leader. She is a 22-year transportation engineering and management professional who most recently served as the manager for the New York rail department of Jacobs North America Infrastructure.
AECOM also promoted Bill Hjelholt to North America director, freight rail. He has 26 years of experience and joined AECOM in 1997, serving most recently as Canada Central Rail market leader.
Paul T. Dionisio
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Paul T. Dionisio, P.E., has joined Urban Engineers Inc. as a senior project manager in the firm’s Construction and Program Management Services Practice, based in New York City.
Dionisio has more than 35 years of experience, with specific expertise in rail, structural, and mass transit projects. He previously worked for Dewberry-Goodkind Inc. and Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation.
NEW YORK, NY—The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) named Jim Ferrara, a 33-year employee of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, as president of the agency. He had served as acting president since January, succeeding Susan Kupferman.
Ferrara was previously vice president for operations. He began his career in 1977 as a bridge and tunnel officer and came up through the ranks, serving as a sergeant and lieutenant before entering management. Ferrara also has served as general manager of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and has worked at the R.F.K. (formerly Triborough) Bridge, the Henry Hudson Bridge, and the Rockaway Bridges.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Willa Johnson recently became only the second woman in the 137-year history of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s cable car fleet to become an operator. The first, Fannie Barnes, retired from active cable car duty in 2002 and from the agency in 2007.
Johnson is Local 250-A secretary for the Cable Car Division and has worked as a cable car conductor since 2008.
EUGENE, OR—John Perry recently marked his 40th anniversary as a bus operator with the Lane Transit District (LTD) and its predecessor, the private Emerald Transportation System. He began his driving career in May 1970, six months prior to LTD assuming Emerald Transportation System’s assets and starting operations in November 1970.
Perry has driven every bus model LTD has owned, ranging from the original Chevrolet “Green Meanies” to the 63-foot, hybrid-electric New Flyer Bus Rapid Transit vehicle he currently operates.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—The Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has named Mike Setzer, vice president of Veolia Transportation, as its interim chief executive officer.
DENVER, CO—Gary Eckhardt, P.E., PLS, has rejoined Stantec as senior associate in the company’s Denver transportation practice, overseeing the addition of 20-plus team members for the 2010 construction season.
Eckhardt has almost 40 years of industry experience, previously serving as senior associate with Stantec before joining Rocksol Consulting Group.
Mike Laffan, Frank Sorvino
FARIBAULT, MN—ABC Companies has promoted Mike Laffan to general manager for its Northeast Region and Frank Sorvino to Laffan’s former post as senior account executive for New Jersey, New York City, Westchester County, and Long Island.
Laffan began his career with ABC Companies in 2000 as account executive for the New England territory. In 2003, he joined DATTCO as sales manager for the School and Commercial Bus division, but he returned to ABC in 2007 as senior account executive for the firm’s Western Region.
Sorvino, an ABC Companies employee for 17 years, returns to his original territory in the Northeast Region with this position. He will be based in Camden, NJ.
David B. Thomas
HARRISBURG, PA—David B. Thomas has joined Gannett Fleming as a senior vice president and the national director of transit and rail, based in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Thomas brings more than 35 years of innovative and executive leadership experience to the firm. Most recently, he was executive vice president and director of infrastructure operations and client development for an international infrastructure, environmental, and facilities consulting engineering firm, responsible for all U.S. infrastructure offices.
David D. Fullerton
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Transportation Resource Associates (TRA) announced the appointment of David D. Fullerton as senior project manager.
Fullerton comes to TRA from Port Authority Transit Corporation in Lindenwold, NJ, where he was system safety program manager. Earlier he was a senior safety specialist with Consolidated Edison in New York.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Murphy McCalley has joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a director in the Transportation Group, serving transit and transportation issuers nationwide.
McCalley has a combined 23 years of increasing responsibility in public transportation and investment banking industry positions. He was the founder of McCalley Consulting and formerly served as a vice president in the Municipal Securities Group at UBS Securities.
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in Lancaster, CA, recently introduced a 360 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) solar panel system at its maintenance facility that it estimates will generate approximately 680,000 kilowatt-hours of green electricity each year. The “SmartPark” system places the solar array on a fixed structure that provides outdoor covered parking on an existing lot.
With this system in place, AVTA will generate approximately 70 percent of the facility’s energy needs.
According to AVTA, the use of solar power will lead to annual operating cost savings of more than $90,000 at current electricity rates. The agency also will receive rebates from Southern California Edison under the California Solar Initiative.
“AVTA is proud of this project,” said Executive Director Randy Floyd. “It put to good use a portion of our American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. Not only did this project generate jobs; it is reducing our carbon footprint and reducing our operating costs.”
As 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity generation produces 3.8 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, AVTA estimates that the PV panel system will reduce CO2 emissions by 260 tons each year.
Since the maintenance facility operates around the clock, a significant portion of the bus maintenance, fueling, and washing takes place after the buses return from their routes at night. The PV system will be connected to the Southern California Edison grid and the excess power generated during the day and not used by AVTA will be fed to the grid during peak power consumption periods in the region. AVTA will draw power back from the grid at night during periods of low demand by other users.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) honored siblings Loan Phan and Tuon Phan for their contributions to the transit agency’s student art contest, Expressions That Move You. Their artworks will appear on 10 of The T’s buses until September.
Loan Phan, an 11th-grade student from Dunbar High School, won the grand prize in the 6th to 12th grade category with a pencil drawing depicting The T’s buses as weightless hot air balloons taking passengers where they need to go. Her younger sibling Tuon, a fifth-grade student at Carroll Peak Elementary, won the Kindergarten to 5th grade category’s first prize with his crayon drawing titled “The T Can Take You to See Nature.” The judges were unaware of the relationship between the brother and sister during the competition; they selected the winners based on theme, artistic merit, and creativity.
The T invited all Fort Worth Independent School District students to submit a work of art—drawing, painting, or photograph—that expressed what the agency, the city, or the environment meant to them.
“This contest provides a great program for getting the attention of future transit riders to tell them our story on the benefits of using public transportation,” said Dick Ruddell, president of The T. “Showcasing our winners’ charming impressions of transit n our city streets is also a great third-party public endorsement.”
Bob Parmelee, left, chair of The T’s board, and Richard Maxwell, the agency’s assistant vice president of marketing, present Tuon Phan with a mounted replica of his winning art in the elementary-school level of The T’s Expressions That Move You art contest. An entry by Tuon’s older sister, Loan Phan, won the contest in the other age category.
The SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, recently received one of 14 Clean Air Excellence Awards for 2009 presented by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency received the honor in the “Clean Air Technology” category.
EPA recognized SunLine for its leadership in alternative fuel technologies, specifically zero-emission hydrogen fueled buses and infrastructure. The transit agency was a pioneer in owning and operating its own hydrogen generation and dispensing station—part of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Hydrogen Highway initiative—equipped with both a dedicated hydrogen bus hose and a commercial third-party card reader system, so the public and outside fleets can purchase hydrogen 24 hours a day. SunLine also recently received its sixth-generation hydrogen fuel bus, one of three hydrogen-fueled vehicles currently providing service in the Coachella Valley.
According to SunLine General Manager C. Mikel Oglesby: “The agency’s mission to provide safe and environmentally conscious public transportation services and alternative fuel solutions to meet the mobility needs of the Coachella Valley continues to be realized with the presentation of this prestigious award. This award is a testament to the dedication of the board of directors and hard work of SunLine staff.”
C. Mikel Oglesby, right, general manager of the SunLine Transit Agency, accepts the EPA Clean Air Excellence Award from Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation.
The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) in Pompano Beach, FL, operator of Tri-Rail commuter rail, recently introduced its first Bicycle Locker Program at the West Palm Beach Station. The program provides space for 36 bicycles in 18 perforated-sheet steel lockers, each with a diagonal divider and separate door entries on either end.
SFRTA will install the lockers at the other 17 Tri-Rail stations over the next few months, ultimately providing about 600 lockers for bicycle and bike accessory storage for a registration fee of $37 for six months and $64 for a year. Users may also register for a second locker for half price should they want to store a bicycle at both their origin and destination stations. A refundable $30 security deposit covers the cost of one lock and two keys.
“More and more commuters are turning to bicycles for their commute to and from our train stations,” said SFRTA Executive Director Joseph Giulietti. “It’s a healthy, economical, and environmentally responsible choice, and one that we want to support however we can.”
METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH, recently received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for the design and use of environmentally friendly materials on its Intermodal Transit Center, which opened in January 2009.
The center earned LEED points for using recycled materials during construction and recycling scrap materials after the initial construction. The transit center houses a 20,000-gallon underground tank that holds rainwater for non-potable uses, such as toilets and landscaping.
It also has 45 geothermal wells to heat and cool the facility, making it one of the largest geothermal fields in Summit County, and has 435 solar panels that generated 134,000 kilowatt-hours of power in their first year of operation.
METRO also is installing more than 3,500 solar panels at its bus garage, located down the street from the transit center. The agency anticipates that this solar display will generate 700,000 kilowatt hours of power annually.
Another “green” benefit is that METRO can sell solar credits from the transit center, bringing approximately $50,000 in annual revenue. The bus barn solar array may bring in more than $200,000 annually through sales of its solar credits.
The agency introduced its first diesel-electric hybrid bus to the 200-bus fleet in May. METRO is testing the Gillig hybrid bus for performance in the region, and hopes to purchase two more within the next year.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) broke ground July 16 for the $17.7 million Four Corners/Geneva Commuter Rail station project, one of four new stations being built as part of the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line Rehabilitation Project.
Work on the Four Corners/Geneva Station will include construction of new high-level platforms with detectable warning strips, new canopies, access ramps, passenger shelters, electronic message signs, and pedestrian-friendly walkways.
When the station opens in 2012, it will provide such amenities as closed circuit television video surveillance cameras, police emergency call box systems, public telephones, and off-street drop-off/pickup areas at both entrances.
Massachusetts DOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Mullan joined state and local officials at the event.
The rail line rehabilitation project began in 2005 and continues to transform the nine-mile-long Fairmount corridor: the only commuter rail line located exclusively in the city of Boston, extending from South Station through Dorchester and Hyde Park. The first phase of the effort, now complete, included rehabilitation of two stations, reconstruction of three bridges, and implementation of a new interlocking.