Passenger Transport - August 16, 2010
Nominated for one-year terms as executive committee members at-large were J. Barry Barker, Doran J. Barnes, Alison Hewitt, Jerome C. Premo, and Peter J. Varga, while Christopher P. Boylan, Greg Evans, M.Ed., Sharon Greene, and Alice Wiggins-Tolbert were nominated to two-year terms and David J. Armijo, Sharon McBride, James Weinstein, Charles R. Wochele, and Alan C. Wulkan to three-year terms. These initial terms were staggered to ensure an orderly evolution of the executive committee in future years, with each future selectee serving for a full three years.
Nominated for one-year terms on the APTA Board of Directors as directors-at-large were Michael J. Blaylock, Joseph A. Calabrese, William Correa, Paul E. Davis, Rufus Francis, David A. Hillock, Christian T. Kent, Reginald A. Mason, John A. Somers, and Larry Yermack. Nominated for two-year terms were Robert Brownstein, Tammy J. Haenftling, John L. Hendrickson, Paul C. Jablonski, Kristen Joyner, Brad Miller, Mary Jo Morandini, Jesse D. Oliver, John R. Plante, and Stanley J. Rosenblum. Nominated for three-year terms were Mark R. Aesch, Hakan Eksi, Joel Gauthier, Dr. Delon Hampton, Stephen Kingsberry, Dick Ruddell, Carl Sedoryk, Kimberly Slaughter, Beverly S. Silas, and Evalynn A. Williams. Like the executive committee positions, these terms were staggered to ensure the board’s evolution over time; future selectees will serve full three-year terms.
The APTA Executive Committee and members-at-large complete the full board of directors, which includes designees of 20 of APTA’s largest dues-paying transit agencies and 10 of its largest dues-paying business members, as well as the chairs of 25 committees.
The slate will be presented to the APTA membership for approval at the APTA Annual Business Meeting and Election of Officers, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Oct. 3, 2010, in San Antonio, TX, during the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced at an Aug. 10 forum that he is “more optimistic than ever” about the timing of major transportation policy legislation in Washington. Building America’s Future, a national and bipartisan coalition, hosted the forum titled “America’s Infrastructure at a Crossroads.”
LaHood, presenting his keynote address via satellite, said he was going to meet with President Barack Obama later that day to discuss the administration’s “transformational vision” for the nation’s infrastructure, including implementation of high-speed rail. He predicted that the new rail service would connect 85 percent of the U.S. in 25 years, adding: “We don’t know where the lines will fall on a map or where the money will come from, but I promise you, in less time that it took to create our interstates, [the country] will have high-speed rail.”
According to the secretary, America is “beginning the work of reimagining and rebuilding America’s transportation system. This isn’t about politics or about pitting people on the left against people on the right. It’s about whether our economy goes up or down. It’s about whether we have a transportation system that moves us forward or one that holds us back. I believe that—together—we’re laying the groundwork for progress and getting America on the move once more.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America’s Future, emphasized that “Infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to help create good-paying jobs, increase Americans’ quality of life, and show how we can efficiently invest during hard times.”
Other participants in the event, co-sponsored by TechQuest Pennsylvania, included former Sen. and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, chairman and chief executive officer, MF Global Holdings, and former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, president and chief executive officer of Gephardt Government Affairs.
Residents of communities with high-quality public transportation drive less, exercise more, live longer, and are generally healthier than residents of communities that lack quality public transit, according to Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits, a survey of current research conducted by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute on behalf of APTA.
“Public transportation enhances the overall quality of life of an individual and a community,” said APTA President William Millar. “Use of public transit simply means that you walk more, which increases fitness levels and leads to healthier citizens. More importantly, increasing use of public transit may be the most effective traffic safety countermeasure a community can employ.”
By aggregating the findings of several recent studies, the study concludes that people who live in transit-oriented “smart growth” communities enjoy several health benefits compared to those who do not:
* They drive less, exposing them to a lower risk of fatal vehicle accidents;
* They experience less environmental pollution because public transportation produces far less emissions per passenger mile than private automobiles; and
* They are more likely to undertake regular physical activity than are residents of automobile-dependent communities.
The researcher also showed that transportation activity plays a role in five of the 10 leading causes of reduced lifespan as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A recent CDC study evaluated causes of potential years of life lost, including cancer, heart disease, and motor vehicle crashes. For example, “Pollution contributes to cancer and congenital anomalies [birth defects], and sedentary living ... contributes to heart disease and strokes,” Litman wrote.
One solution is smart growth communities, according to Litman, who cited a 2003 study finding that urban residents had significantly lower violent death rates, whether from vehicle accidents or other causes. The same study noted that the 10 U.S. counties with the “smartest,” most transit-oriented growth have approximately one-fourth the traffic fatality rates as those counties with the most sprawl development.
Moreover, other recent studies have found that users of public transportation walk more than those who do not use public transit, regardless of income.
The health benefits of public transportation should be given greater consideration in transportation planning, Litman concluded. “A growing portion of households want to rely more on alternative modes and live in more accessible, multi-modal communities,” he wrote. “Accommodating this demand would provide benefits to users and society, including significant health benefits.”
The report is available online.
Easter Seals Project ACTION commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with an “online dialogue” between July 26 and Aug. 6, seeking comments on issues related to the future of paratransit operations.
For example, as of Aug. 2, the web site had received 20 comments in the category “ADA Complementary Service,” considering the role of both paratransit and fixed route transit operations under ADA from a variety of perspectives.
One commenter, noting how the growth in the aging population will lead to more paratransit customers, suggested establishing “federal grants that would permit colleges to offer certificates in travel instruction for persons with cognitive and physical impairments. Such certificates could include 12 to 15 credit hours of coursework to prepare instructors for this role.”
Picking up on the same demographic trend, another participant stated: “The anticipated growth in the elderly population gives transportation planners and providers opportunity and fear. Many elderly people are driving because that is what they have always done. It is incumbent on us as transportation planners/providers to provide options and communicate that to elderly people.”
The best way to comply with ADA requirements? A mix of modes, according to a poster describing the multi-part rural transportation program—administered by a tribal agency in Northeastern Oregon—that provides rural bus service on eight routes to serve the entire reservation, a number of rural towns and counties, and three cities in Washington State. “This is used by many rural people both on and off the reservation. There is a demand-response component using taxis and a taxi voucher program to support the buses and allow for door-to-door service,” the poster said.
Other correspondents noted the improvements in fixed route public transit in the 20 years since ADA was enacted—and the new challenges that have followed. “ADA complementary paratransit is intended to supplement the fixed route public transportation system—for individuals who can’t get on the bus, to the bus, or independently and safely navigate the community or transit system,” wrote one. “Twenty years later, most of our public buses are accessible—so getting on the bus has become much easier. However, while we have made progress in building accessible sidewalks, we still have work to do to ensure that people with disabilities can get to the bus.”
Another writer agreed: “Accessible fixed route services should be reviewed to make sure routes and stops are truly accessible. Eligibility assessments should include actual in-service fixed route testing and conditional eligibility measures should be applied. The fixed route service operators and their employees must accept, welcome, market, and encourage people with disabilities to patronize the accessible fixed route services.”
Still other posters emphasized the importance of stakeholders from throughout a community participating in any planning effort. “Work with consumers, caregivers, and site coordinators to alter trip times so that people riding in the same area and same direction at about the same time can share rides (group rides!). Sequence social service program times—as do most school systems … Encourage riders to adhere to regular standing order schedules in which the same group of people ride together with the same driver on the same circuit every week or morning as appropriate. Sequence those circuits into routes if they match,” said one respondent.
Sometimes comments are direct and forthright. “We need to work together (advocates, local governments, and transportation providers) to find the best ways to preserve and promote accessible transportation options,” said a poster. “Cutting every service is more costly to local governments in the long run.”
Project ACTION will summarize the results of the dialogue into a report.
AECOM Technology Corporation has agreed to acquire Davis Langdon, a global cost and project management consultancy firm, in a $324 million transaction. Davis Langdon’s 2,800 employees serve clients around the world, with a strong presence in Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S.
David Langdon’s counterpart in Asia, Davis Langdon & Seah, will remain independent, but will continue to work with AECOM’s Davis Langdon operations under an existing collaboration agreement.
John M. Dionisio, AECOM president and chief executive officer, said of the acquisition: “Davis Langdon’s strong cost and project management capabilities bolster our growing portfolio of construction management services. Combined with our recent acquisition of Tishman Construction, we have significantly enhanced AECOM’s ability to meet the growing customer demand for turnkey, integrated services—and we have done so by adding two recognized global leaders in the industry to the AECOM enterprise.”
Davis Langdon has worked on high-profile projects around the world, including San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal, the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link in Johannesburg, and Abu Dhabi International Airport.
“We are delighted to be joining AECOM,” said Rob Smith, chairman of Davis Langdon’s international board of directors and senior partner of its Europe and Middle East region. “Now, more than ever before, our clients are looking for integrated solutions and access to global knowledge. In partnership with AECOM, Davis Langdon will be well-positioned to deliver our frontend cost and project management, and consultancy services as part of a complete end-to-end offer.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Davis Langdon is expected to receive approximately 80 percent of the consideration in cash and 20 percent in AECOM common stock. The transaction is expected to close in October of 2010.
MTA Metro-North Railroad and the New York Transit Museum invite railroad aficionados to share artifacts related to New York City’s Grand Central Terminal for an exhibit commemorating the centennial of this landmark building. The exhibit in Vanderbilt Hall, the terminal’s former Main Waiting Room, will open Feb. 1, 2013, the 100th anniversary of the official opening of the terminal.
“We know that railroad fans and history buffs have some unique collections that may have had interesting origins,” said Howard Permut, Metro-North president. “But we are grateful to the stewards of our history and recognize that many of these vintage items were literally rescued from trash bins as one railroad failed and another took over.”
Metro-North, the current operator of Grand Central, came into being Jan. 1, 1983, from the bankrupt remnants of the passenger division of Conrail, which was itself an amalgam of Penn Central and the New Haven and Hartford Railroad, and so on back to the 1800s.
The museum and the railroad are seeking donations for this exhibit and for the museum’s permanent collection. Loans also will be considered. The request is for basically anything that says “Grand Central” or any New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail, or Metro-North memorabilia directly related to Grand Central. The museum is not looking for general railroad memorabilia.
Potential donors should contact archivist Carey Stumm. Museum curators will review and respond to all offerings of donations and loans. Items for loan will be returned according to a standard contract and donors will be acknowledged in the exhibit.
IMPulse NC LLC in Mount Olive, NC, told its story of transit manufacturing and the importance of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) when it welcomed Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) to a site tour Aug. 4.
Joining Jones were Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald, Mount Olive Town Manager Charles Brown, and representatives from Triangle Spring and the Marmon Group. IMPulse shares its transit overhead catenary manufacturing facility with Triangle Spring, a sister company under the Marmon Group/Berkshire Hathaway companies that manufactures heavy duty truck suspensions and springs.
IMPulse noted the benefit it received from projects covered by ARRA funding, which not only allowed the company to retain jobs, but also played a key role for a large nationwide sub-supplier chain.
Jones expressed an interest in public transportation business through this conversation. He said jobs are a key focus in Congress and called transit the backbone toward improving the economy and growing great U.S. job opportunities.
Jeffrey Wharton, left, president of IMPulse NC LLC, hosts Rep. Walter B. Jones at the company’s facility in Mount Olive, NC.
Cubic Transportation Systems-Australia, a subsidiary of Cubic Corporation, recently helped the state of Queensland, Australia, reach the one million mark in distribution of its “go card”—just two years after the introduction of the smart card system to a transit network covering more than 10,000 square kilometers.
At a ceremony in the state capital, Brisbane, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh presented the one millionth card to Wellington Point resident Jill De Gros.
The go card system serves TransLink buses, ferries, and rail in South East Queensland, from Brisbane to Coolangatta on the south coast of Queensland, up to Gympie and west to Helidon.
Queensland Transport Minister Rachel Nolan, who also attended the event with the premier, noted that TransLink passengers have taken more than 100 million individual go card trips. The card accounts for 60 percent of all trips on the system, she said, with 23.6 million between January and March of this year, more than double the number for the same period in 2009.
To encourage even more Queensland commuters to switch to smart cards, TransLink and the state government are giving away 400,000 go cards, each loaded with $10 (Aus.) credit.
“We want people to make the switch from paper tickets,” Bligh said, “and this giveaway is aimed at making it easier for everyone to get on board. Go card users board vehicles faster, and they travel and transfer between modes more easily.”
“The Brisbane go card system is a great example of a modern integrated ticketing system. TransLink is already starting to see the benefits of shorter boarding times and better data on transport usage patterns,” added Matt Cole, Cubic’s Australasian managing director.
We need your signatures! As part of APTA Chair M.P. Carter’s signature initiative, “Telling Our Story,” the public transportation industry is out in full force this summer collecting signatures for the National Public Transit Petition.
It’s simple. Just encourage your riders, employees, and advocates to sign the petition. The petition and your testimonials will be featured in a Sept. 22 event in Washington, DC, urging Congress to pass surface transportation authorization now.
In addition, all collected video testimonials will be showcased in an interactive online video wall.
Here’s just a sampling of what some systems are doing to promote signing the petition in their communities:
* Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is undertaking a number of activities to promote the Telling Our Story: Public Transportation’s Petition to Congress. RTA is featuring a link to the petition on its home page, using Twitter to communicate the importance of signing the petition, and posting items on its Facebook page.
* The Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, NY, sent the link to the petition to all New York Public Transit Association members and is also contacting members of one of its local chambers of commerce.
* Volunteers from the North Texas Clean Air Coalition gathered signatures during a special Trinity Railway Express customer appreciation event sponsored by Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.
As contributions continue to come in, be sure to look back at APTA’s Telling Our Story web page.
The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in Pompano Beach, FL, gathers signatures for the national public transportation petition at one of its customer outreach events.
BY LYNNE MORSEN, APTA Senior Program Manager
More than 100 board members and support staff heard from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other speakers during the 2010 APTA Transit Board Members Seminar and Board Support Employee Development Workshop, July 17-20 in Eugene, OR, hosted by the Lane Transit District (LTD). The senator discussed the role of public transportation in creating jobs and supporting the U.S. economy.
The board members heard about environmental issues from a panel including moderator Fred Hansen, former general manager of Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon; Lynn Peterson, chair, Clackamas County Board of Commissioners; Rob Zako, a transportation consultant in Eugene, OR; John A. Somers, director, transit business development, for Clean Energy; and Bernard Blanchet, regional representative, Region VII, APTA Transit Board Members Committee, and borough councilor/board member, Societé de transport de Montréal, QC.
Doran Barnes, executive director of Foothill Transit in West Covina, CA, spoke about the final report of APTA’s blue-ribbon panel on workforce development. He explained that, with a nationwide convergence of high levels of interest in an environmentally sustainable economy and public transportation, many new jobs will become available in the field. The World War II and boomer generations will eventually retire, he said, so “now, not in five years, is our time to listen to what is important for a next generation workforce.”
Mary Spilde, Ph.D., past chair of the American Association of Community Colleges and president of Lane Community College in Eugene, offered remarks about the importance of community colleges in preparing the workforce and how transit agencies can partner with such institutions “to assure that the public transportation industry has the workers it needs to meet your mission and that together we also do great things in service to our communities.” She added: “I believe in education for the top 100 percent.”
Other major sessions included “Telling Our Story,” moderated by APTA Chair M.P. Carter and including remarks from LTD Board Vice President Greg Evans, M.Ed., Region VI regional representative to the APTA Transit Board Members Committee; “Crisis Management for Board Members”; and presentations by the Eno Transportation Foundation and National Transit Institute. LTD hosted tours of its Emerald Express (EmX) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) A surprise guest—Mike Bellotti, college football analyst for ESPN and former head coach for the University of Oregon—presented remarks on leadership, team building, personal development, and coaching.
Sessions at the Board Support Employee Development Workshop included “Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders” and “Flourishing in the Workplace: Living from Your Truest Yes.” LTD hosted a tour of its board facilities.
Photo by Huelon Harrison
“Creating a Culture of Sustainability” was the theme of APTA’s sixth annual Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, July 25-27 in New York City, attended by 170 participants from across the nation.
Workshop attendees explored cutting-edge energy-efficient, economically sound, and socially responsible developments and practices and how they are measured and managed. The event focused on new business practices and innovations in sustainability within the transit industry, the role of public transportation in creating livable communities, and the partnerships that can facilitate that process. Specifically, participants learned ways to save money while improving efficiency, lessening environmental impacts, and promoting strategies that encourage public transit use.
The program also showcased good models for creating local, regional, and state partnerships on sustainability and the opportunities for partnering with the federal government. The New York City metropolitan area served as the central model; participants had the opportunity to learn about initiatives to make the city and region more livable through smart transportation and land-use policies.
Jay Walder, chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, opened the event by emphasizing the mutually inclusive nature of economic and environmental improvement.
Signatories of the APTA Sustainability Commitment reported on their real-world experiences during the workshop, including Fred Hansen, immediate past chair of APTA’s Sustainability Task Force and former general manager of the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon in Portland, and James Weinstein, chief executive officer of New Jersey Transit Corporation. During the Transit Leaders’ Roundtable, Weinstein explained that transit agencies can find unusual partners to be great supporters to work on the land-use/transportation connection.
APTA President William Millar reinforced this point when he said: “Allies in environmental organizations, in a world of green energy, are invaluable partners in creating greener communities—as are planners, developers, housing advocates, and the business community.”
Among the session topics were “Creating a Sustainability Culture,” which focused on embedding the concept of sustainability within an organization from top to bottom; “Sustainable Planning, Policy, and Community Development,” referring to sustainable practices in transportation planning, land use planning, and urban design; and “Green Design, Materials, and Infrastructure,” about integrating sustainability into facilities and capital projects and mitigating environmental impacts while under construction.
Another major focus of the workshop was livable communities: specifically, the ways in which transit systems, regional councils, and metropolitan planning organizations can partner to create sustainable and livable outcomes in plans, programs, and projects. Several speakers noted that the pursuit of livable communities is not about limiting citizens’ options but rather, expanding their choices, and that many younger people are moving toward livability because they are “fatigued by driving hours in a car” to get to work or home.
In his conclusions, Hansen remarked that the workshop not only showed the depth and scope of sustainability initiatives being addressed by the transit industry; it demonstrated that sustainability is no longer a “side issue” in the industry but becoming “business as usual.”
Participants in the closing leaders’ roundtable at the APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop were, from left: Bob Franklin, vice-president of the board and chair of the sustainability/green committee for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; Arthur T. Leahy, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Metro; David McAlister, director of corporate development, Parsons Brinckerhoff; Fred Hansen; Amy Miller, director of marketing, New Flyer; Peter Varga, chair, APTA Small Operators Committee, and chief executive officer of The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI; James Weinstein; and Jeff Wharton, chair, APTA Business Member Business Development Committee, and president of IMPulse NC LLC.
Dr. Larry J. Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia and director of the university’s Center for Politics, will speak at the Oct. 6 Closing General Session at the APTA Annual Meeting, “Election 2010—What Does It Mean?”
Sabato, a noted political prognosticator and pundit, will talk about the potential impact of the upcoming congressional elections on the federal agenda, including the future of public transportation, and how public transit professionals can prepare for changes in leadership throughout the nation. He is a regular contributor to NPR and has been making national media appearances since the 1970s.
Register now to attend the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting, Oct. 3-6 in San Antonio, TX. For information, visit the APTA web site.
Riding public transportation saves individuals, on average, $9,381 annually and $782 per month compared with driving, according to the most recent Transit Savings Report released monthly by APTA.
The figures are based on the Aug. 10, 2010, average national gas price of $2.78 per gallon, as reported by AAA, and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $154.23, according to the 2009 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, and over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,850.
The report also ranks the top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership in order of their transit savings, based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass and factoring in local gas prices for Aug. 10, 2010, and monthly unreserved parking rate. New York leads with $13,904 in annual savings and $1,159 in monthly savings, followed by Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle.
APTA explained that the report shows how an individual in a two-person household can save money by taking public transportation and living with one less car. It demonstrates that riding public transit as an alternative to driving also allows individuals to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Transportation Research Board recently released three new Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) publications.
Report 138: Estimating Soft Costs for Major Public Transportation Fixed Guideway Projects. This report defines and describes soft costs and provides a new suggested methodology to estimate soft costs based on historical projects. It also examines detailed technical information about the data collection, methodology, and statistical analysis used to develop the suggested methodology.
Synthesis 82: Transit Fare Arrangements for Public Employees. This synthesis explores the state of the practice for transit agencies in terms of fare arrangements for public employees. It also covers such issues as leadership of the program; barriers, obstacles, and constraints; administrative procedures; implementation; lessons learned; cost, financing, and pricing; and program evaluation.
Synthesis 84: Current Practices in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Savings from Transit. This synthesis describes the role of transit agencies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and examines the current practice of a sample of transit agencies.
Copies of these reports are available online.
The APTA Standards Development Program will accept public comment through Aug. 31 on two standards documents: the Heavy Duty Transportation System Escalator Design Guidelines and the Standard for Passenger Seats in Passenger Rail Cars.
To download and comment on the standards document, click here.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has unveiled a new online “Dashboard” that will allow the public to track the progress of its various capital projects.
This new tool on the MTA’s web site features a user-friendly interactive system that will provide information on project scopes, budgets, and schedules.
“The Dashboard provides an unprecedented level of detail and information on our capital projects,” said Jay H. Walder, MTA chairman and chief executive officer. “From station improvements to the purchase of equipment, signal improvements to updates on the Second Avenue Subway, the Dashboard will allow anyone to monitor the MTA’s new approach to capital projects designed to keep the 2010-2014 Capital Program on schedule and on budget—all with a few clicks of the mouse.”
By using the Dashboard, the public can search for a project in the 2010-2014 MTA Capital Program by keyword, project category, agency, project phase (planning, design, construction, or complete), or by location where an interactive map, powered by Google, will list projects within a geographical area.
Clicking on the resulting link will provide a more detailed description of the project and additional information.
In addition, the Dashboard also includes projects in the 2005-2009 Capital Program that are under construction but not completed and with budgets over $20 million. Information will also be available for projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as projects contained within the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access, and MTA New York City Transit 7 Line Extension projects.
“I believe the MTA has taken a significant step in providing MTA managers, public officials, and the public itself a more user-friendly tool to track the progress, in dollars and time, of capital projects,” said MTA Inspector General Barry Kluger. “I am particularly gratified that MTA has accepted the recommendation made in our Dashboard Report to make it a more transparent and useful reporting tool to the public.”
The SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, unveiled its newest piece of high-tech equipment—an automated ticket vending machine (TVM)—during a public event July 30 at the agency’s Division 2 facility in Indio, CA.
The new TVM is user-friendly and accessible to customers using wheelchairs and other mobility devices; it features large print, easy-to-read directions, as well as voice-activated audio and Braille, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It allows passengers to purchase bus passes with cash, credit card, or debit card 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing a variety of fare media: day pass, 31-day pass, 10-ride pass, and half-fare pass for seniors and persons with disabilities.
The Indio bus stop at Highway 111 and Flower functions as a high-volume transfer stop where four bus lines meet. SunLine selected this location for its accessibility and convenience to a large number of passengers; additionally, 24-hour video surveillance at this location provides an added safety feature for the agency’s customers.
“Although passes can be purchased on the bus as a result of the new fare box SunLine installed last year, the ability to purchase a pass before boarding the bus facilitates faster boarding and helps the bus operator stay on schedule,” said SunLine General Manager C. Mikel Oglesby.
Photo by Diann Chumney, SunLine Transit Agency
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has begun eliminating most paper passes and Regional Transit Connection stickers for San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) service. By next spring, Muni will accept Clipper(SM), the successor to the TransLink® regional farecard, in place of the stickers and all passes except the Lifeline pass made available through human services agencies.
Holders of the Muni “A” Fast Pass, which also allows riders to access San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District service, will be the first to make the change; users must transfer to the Clipper card no later than the end of October. Other area transit agencies that accept Clipper include AC Transit, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry, and soon the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and San Mateo County Transit District.
Muni customers who qualify for the monthly discount pass due to disability currently use a monthly sticker on their RTC Discount ID Card, and they will receive Clipper-compatible cards automatically when they apply for or renew their cards. They must switch to loading the pass on their card by the end of October, before purchasing their November pass. Customers can load their cards online, at a participating Clipper vendor or, beginning this fall, on a ticket vending machine in a Muni Metro station.
Senior and youth pass holders will be the next to transition, in early 2011, followed by “M” Fast Pass customers in spring 2011.
“We have more than 40,000 customers who use the ‘A’ pass and more than 7,000 who use the RTC stickers, so it’s critical we start early.” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA executive director/chief executive officer. “While the end of October is the deadline, we advise our monthly customers to begin switching well in advance of that.”
Muni reported approximately 600,000 customer boardings using a Clipper or TransLink card in June—a 100 percent increase in just six months.
BY MELISSA LAFSKY
This article originally appeared online at Infrastructurist.com.
Vive la bus! The biggest non-rail form of mass transit has long suffered from an image problem, but now buses are beginning to see a comeback.
The resurgence stems, at least in part, from current economic realities—more people are moving to urban areas, requiring more need for mass transit, and trains are extremely expensive to build and maintain. Starting up and running a bus line, meanwhile, is a fraction of the cost.
There’s still the age-old “buses aren’t sexy” problem, which has always been grounded more in perception than reality—the stigma of “riding the bus” has all sorts of sociological roots that, at the end of the day, don’t have a shred of relevance to today’s modern-day commuter. Whether or not it’s traditionally been cool, the bus makes sense—and as we’ve always said, when transportation consumers are presented with a choice that works, they will gravitate towards it. And when you take the best of rail—the reliability, the speed—and apply it to buses, then commuters will make the obvious choice.
Nowhere is the revolution more in play than in New York City, where the Bx12 Select Bus Service, which high-tails it daily along Fordham Road in the Bronx. Launched two years ago, the line has had major growth and inspired intense loyalty among its passengers. It’s not just the adding of a bus lane, and enforcing it with police patrols that make this bus line so great—there’s also the measures taken to make boarding (the major time-waster on buses) more efficient, like offering a rear door for boarding and allowing passengers to swipe their Metro cards for entry while they’re waiting in line at the bus shelter, rather than paying as they enter the bus.
So how is the actual experience of riding this bus? New York magazine’s Robert Sullivan describes it as follows in a big profile this week on the city’s bus upsurge:
All of the sudden, here it comes: the Bx12. Right away, you see it’s different. A different paint job—new branding, as the transit people like to say—and bright-blue lights flashing on the header. Buying a ticket is different, too: You pay before you board, from a little box like a MetroCard vending machine that offers you a receipt. In the world of transit planning, boarding time is everything, and the receipt streamlines the process. “You just hold on to it,” a woman offers, shouting from under her earbuds. She smiles. “It’s much faster.”
Waiting on the curb, you notice that the bus has its own lane, painted terra-cotta, with signs to deflect non-bus traffic…. You see the big, roomy bus shelter holding enough people to fill a subway car, and you wonder if everyone will be able to get on. But when the Bx12 SBS pulls up, this monster of mundaneness opens up not one but two doors….
Traffic geeks know that about a third of bus delays comes from passenger-boarding issues, and now the doors of the Bx12 SBS open. The stopwatch is running … Twenty-two people board; about four get off. The doors close; the bus sets off. Total wait time: 23 seconds.
Riding on, you see that traffic is heavy. The Bronx River Parkway and the Hutch are jammed. The Bruckner looks like a diseased artery. But the bus cruises down the bus lane, with only one car (a Lexus with Connecticut plates) even thinking of getting in its way.
Still skeptical? You may not be when you hear this: The Bx12 can make the full trip during rush-hour in a total of 12 minutes.
If you think that sounds appealing, you’re not the only one: Weekly ridership on the Bx12 has increased 30 percent in the last year, and a 2009 study found that 98 percent of riders said they were satisfied with the service. This satisfaction can only be improved by the installation of GPS systems on buses, so passengers waiting at stops can know when the next bus is coming. (In our opinion, not having this technology on public transit is a form of purgatorial torture.) There’s also the introduction of signal priority, which allows buses approaching an intersection to keep the traffic light green until they pass.
Granted, the holy grail of bus transit—a lane separated by a barrier—is still elusive in the Big Apple. But it may not be for long: The DOT has an ambitious plan for the “34th Street Transitway,” which involves closing the major East Side-West Side artery to cars between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and adding a physically-separated bus line by 2012. Meanwhile, more and longer rapid-transit routes will be opening on First and Second Avenues, where a Select Bus Service will run from South Ferry (the very bottom of Manhattan) all the way to 125th Street (the very top). Now all New York commuters have to do is ride it, and we’ll see that policy skeptics critical of the bus revolution are suddenly very quiet.
MTA New York City Transit's Bx12 Select Bus Service operates in a dedicated bus lane.
Colonus (Lonnie) Mitchell, Martha Welborne
LOS ANGELES, CA—Los Angeles Metro announced the appointment of Colonus (Lonnie) Mitchell to chief operations officer, a position he had held on an interim basis since December 2009, and the hiring of Martha Welborne as executive director of countywide planning.
Mitchell joined the agency as procurement chief in June 2000 after completing a 30-year career in the U.S. Navy Supply Corps. In 2005, he became chief administrative services officer.
Welborne is an architect and urban planner whose work has ranged from individual building design to such large-scale planning projects as Los Angeles’ surface transit project, an effort that led to the creation of the county’s Metro Rapid bus system.
Gustavo (Gus) Pego
POMPANO BEACH, FL—Gustavo (Gus) Pego, P.E., has joined the Governing Board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, appointed by Florida Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Kopelousos.
Pego is a 31-year employee of Florida DOT who was appointed District VI secretary in May 2008.
Ray Abraham, Jay Harper, Suresh Shrimavle
PHOENIX, AZ—Valley Metro Rail, operator of METRO light rail, has named Ray Abraham as chief operations officer; Jay Harper as chief of safety and security; and Suresh Shrimavle, P.E., as chief maintenance engineer.
Abraham has worked in public transit for 30 years, serving in cities including Pittsburgh and Minneapolis before joining METRO five years ago as manager of rail activation during the 20-mile system’s startup.
Harper has transitioned to supporting METRO’s safety and security program after more than 20 years in transit operations. He joined METRO seven years ago after starting his transit career in Utah.
Shrimvale comes to Phoenix from Los Angeles Metro. He will be responsible for technical engineering support for vehicle, system, and facilities maintenance, as well as contract administration.
Jesse Bernstein, Sue McCormick, Anya Dale, Roger Kerson
ANN ARBOR, MI—The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) Board of Directors elected Jesse Bernstein as its chair and Sue McCormick its treasurer. Each will serve a one-year term.
In addition, Anya Dale and Roger Kerson have joined the AATA board, both appointed by Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.
Dale has a background in encouraging sustainable land use and transportation. She is a project manager with the Washtenaw County Department of Economic Development and Energy. Kerson is a media consultant at RK Communications. His current projects include media relations and advertising for “Save Our Ride,” a labor-community coalition advocating enhanced support of public transit agencies across the nation.
PITTSBURGH, PA—Kathryn Spear has joined Ansaldo STS USA as vice president, strategic marketing. She previously served the company as director, strategic marketing.
Spear has 20 years of experience in product line management, strategic planning, market communications and new market development.
ST. LOUIS, MO—Tracy Beidleman, director of program development and grants for St. Louis Metro, has received the first-ever Award of Excellence for Outstanding Customer Service and Financial Oversight of FTA Projects in St. Louis, presented by Region VII of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). She is an 11-year employee of the system.
William Kalt, team leader for operations and program management with FTA Region VII in Kansas City, said the high recognition for Beidleman was special, perhaps even just a one-time award. FTA presented it to honor her performance in complicated and demanding collaboration between Metro, as a recipient of federal grants, and FTA as the agency that administers the grants.
KANSAS CITY, MO—TranSystems announced the hiring of Frank Miller as a vice president of the Passenger Rail & Transit sector, located in the Philadelphia office.
Miller has 26 years experience in planning, design, construction, inspection, project management, and track and facility engineering for major railway transportation and public transit systems. His previous experience includes projects with New Jersey Transit Corporation; MTA Long Island Rail Road; HNTB; Parsons Brinckerhoff; Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; and MTA New York City Transit.
WALNUT CREEK, CA—John Haussmann, P.E., has joined HDR as a vice president and principal project manager based in the company’s Walnut Creek office.
Haussmann has more than 30 years of experience delivering a wide range of multimodal surface transportation projects. Prior to joining HDR, he was the regional transit manager for PBS&J’s west and central regions. From 1997 to 2008 he served first as chief operating officer and then chief executive officer/president of T.Y. Lin International.
SURREY, BC—Coast Mountain Bus Company announced the retirement of Angus McIntyre after more than 40 years as a transit operator for the company. He joined the bus company in the fall of 1969 and retired May 30.
McIntyre is one of the few remaining operators to have driven all three generations of trolleybuses used in Vancouver.
YORK, PA—Scott Colburn is the new operations manager of rabbittransit, in charge of fixed route service, specialized transit, scheduling, safety operations, and maintenance operations.
Colburn has 18 years of transportation experience. As an employee of ATC/Vancom, he served as general manager of transit properties in Chico, CA, and Holland, MI. He worked for First Transit from 2002 until the present as general manager in properties in New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts.
PORTLAND, OR—The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) announced the promotion of Shelly Lomax to executive director of operations. Lomax served as TriMet’s interim executive director following the retirement of Fred Hansen.
Lomax joined TriMet as a bus operator in 1987 and later held such positions as director of safety and security and, most recently, director of operations support.