Passenger Transport - September 13, 2010
Participating in the Sept. 3 launch of Foothill Transit’s innovative Ecoliner electric bus are, from left, Doran Barnes, executive director of Foothill Transit and vice president, transit management, for Veolia Transportation; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; Foothill Transit Executive Board Chair Roger Chandler , who is also a city of Arcadia councilmember; Rep. Grace Napolitano; and City of Industry Councilmember Jeff Parriott.
LYNX in Orlando, FL, and representatives of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hosted ceremonies Aug. 30 to spread the word about their joint security campaign. LYNX launched a wrapped bus depicting participants in the federal Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) effort, designed to raise public awareness about TSA’s deployment in all modes of transportation.
“Since June of 2009, when we started this program with LYNX, we’ve done over a dozen VIPR operations and screened over 7,000 passengers,” said John Daly, TSA federal security director for Orlando. LYNX spokesperson Matthew Friedman said most of the screenings take place at LYNX Central Station, but some are performed at the system’s mini-hubs.
Daly stressed that the VIPR teams only inspect buses randomly, and encouraged riders to contact LYNX or local law enforcement if they see something suspicious.
VIPR teams bring together Department of Homeland Security employees who may include Federal Air Marshal Service supervisors and air marshals not scheduled for flight duty at that particular time; Transportation Security Officers; U.S. Coast Guard or TSA-certified canine teams; explosives experts, including TSA Bomb Appraisal Officers and K-9 teams; TSA Transportation Security Inspectors; Customs and Border Protection; local transit security teams; and local or county law enforcement officers.
TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz explained that the teams work with local law enforcement to provide a visible deterrent in public transportation, aviation, and maritime systems. They have a wide range of law enforcement and security capabilities including behavior observation, security screening, explosive detection, and traditional law enforcement authority.
The program has deployed teams more than 3,500 times throughout the U.S. during the past three years, both for special events and other occasions that involve large numbers of people using transportation systems—and at random intervals scheduled in conjunction with law enforcement partners.
Joining members of the LYNX-TSA team are Seminole County Commissioner Carlton Henley, left, chairman of the LYNX Board; Scott Johnson, second from left, general manager, field operations, TSA Office of Security Operations; LYNX Interim Chief Executive Officer/Chief Administrative Officer Edward Johnson, second from right; and John Daly, right, TSA federal safety director for Orlando.
Thousands of people have already signed the National Public Transit Petition created by APTA, but we still need more.
APTA will present this petition to members of Congress Sept. 22 at a special event in Washington, DC. The purpose of this event—which will also launch a video wall showcasing testimonials from “real” people describing how they benefit from public transit—is to urge Congress to pass a surface transportation authorization bill as soon as possible.
To collect even more signers, APTA staff members took the petition out to a baseball game Sept. 7. Once there, they gathered signatures from fans heading for the Nationals-Mets game at Nationals Park—walking directly from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Navy Yard Station one block from the ballpark. As fans mingled before the game, buying snacks and waiting for friends, the staffers were able to “Tell Our Story” and obtain signatures. In addition to signing the petition, many people shared stories of why transit is important to them.
The Nationals game provided a good location for APTA staff to talk with a number of people who had just supported public transportation by riding Metro to the game. This petition-gathering outreach effort reinforced the benefits of public transportation and the need to continue supporting it by signing the petition online.
The Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Committee is seeking nominations through Sept. 30 for the “Roger Tate Is Smiling Award,” which honors individuals with a strong commitment to improving transportation services in rural America. TRB will present the award during its 19th National Rural Public and Intercity Bus Transportation Conference, Oct. 24-27 in Burlington, VT.
Eligible candidates must be involved—at the local, state, or federal/national level in either the public or private sector—in public, intercity bus, or human services transportation in rural communities in planning, administration, operations, education and training, or research and demonstrations. Award criteria include a record of at least one major contribution to improved or expanded rural transit services or programs and a dedication to mentoring and advising others.
TRB described Tate, the award’s namesake who died in 1996, as “both a pioneer for and founding father of the National Rural Transit Assistance Program and the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility.” He joined the Federal Transit Administration in 1982 and rose to serve as director of the Office of Research Management.
“Roger gave many people reason to smile and many rural transit programs a future,” said TRB in a statement. “His legacy, the focus of this award, is to recognize persons in rural transportation who also have given many people reason to smile and who have improved the future of rural transit programs.”
More information about the award is available from Jon Burkhardt or online.
Gold Coast Transit (GCT) in Oxnard, CA, has announced that Steven P. Brown—currently the agency’s director of marketing and planning—will succeed Deborah C. Linehan as general manager following her retirement, scheduled for Oct. 5. Linehan has headed GCT for almost a decade.
“With Deborah’s retirement we have a great deal of knowledge, skill, and experience leaving GCT. We are confident that Steve will be able to step into the leadership position immediately and perform very effectively since he is already an experienced and successful GCT department head,” said GCT Board Chair John C. Zaragoza.
Brown’s career in transit planning, marketing, and operations management spans more than 32 years. Before joining GCT four years ago, he served six years as a deputy director of the City of Phoenix Public Transit Department, overseeing the operations and planning division, and eight years as manager of bus system improvement planning for Los Angeles Metro.
Linehan came to GCT, then known as South Coast Area Transit, in February 2001 after five years as general manager of a regional transit authority in Burlington, VT. She began her transit career in Phoenix in 1982 as a transit planner and senior planner for the Maricopa Association of Governments; she joined the newly established Regional Public Transportation Authority in Phoenix in 1986, beginning as manager of corporate planning and ultimately serving as deputy executive director.
Rural parts of the U.S. are too often left out of policy discussions concerning the need to improve connectivity throughout the nation, according to a new report from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
Connecting Rural and Urban America, released Aug. 30 at events in Little Rock, AR, and Wichita, KS, describes the need for increased rural transportation investment to connect new and emerging cities; improve access for the travel, recreation, and tourism industries; and ensure reliable access to key defense installations.
“Improving connectivity and mobility for the 60 million Americans who live in rural areas is just as important as improving mobility for those who live in metropolitan areas,” AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley said. “Rural states are essential to the nation’s success, not only to meet the needs of their own citizens, but also to maintain their part of the national network on which the U.S. economy depends.”
One suggestion in the report is to shift trips to other modes when possible. “Significantly increasing transit service will be an important component in ensuring affordable transportation and access to jobs and other services in communities all across America. Increased transit use can help reduce congestion as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Critical to improving metropolitan mobility, it will also become increasingly important to serve the rising number of older persons, especially in rural America.”
At the report release in Wichita, Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller cited public transit, rail, and aviation as ways the state can solve its rural capacity challenges.
Connecting Rural and Urban America noted, for example, that as of 2008, more than 9.6 million people age 65 and above live in rural areas—and they rely heavily on public transportation and rural roads.
The report lists three components of any federal transportation authorization bill necessary to ensure the connectivity of rural and urban America:
• Double federal investment in rural transit systems to meet rising demand;
• Expand the existing capacity of the Interstate system, upgrade rural routes to Interstate standards, and connect newly urbanized areas to the Interstate system; and
• Continue to fund rural portions of the Interstate Highway System and other federal-aid highways that connect America.
For more information and to see state examples of rural capacity needs, click here.
APTA announces that R&G, a privately owned technology business group dedicated to the design, development, and manufacture of operating support systems for public transportation, has become its first Polish member. The company is located in Mielec, in the southern part of the country.
Aspiring entrepreneurs find Poland, with its free-market economy, a particularly fertile ground for their efforts. With its rapid growth, Poland continues to improve and expand its transportation infrastructure—and R&G has been part of this effort for almost 20 years, when its founders developed the first paper ticket validator. Wacław Graniczka, a young engineer who now serves as president of the company, came up with the idea.
Under Graniczka’s leadership, R&G has become a prominent manufacturer of real-time electronic information displays and transportation data analysis solutions. It has also developed advanced traffic management systems, advanced traveler information systems, advanced vehicle control systems, and electronic payment/fee collection systems.
The company currently employs nearly 300 workers and it has exported its products to 13 European countries. R&G is also a supportive member of its local community, with nearly one-third of its payroll consisting of workers with disabilities.
R&G representatives visited APTA headquarters in May and soon after joined the association. “Joining APTA is the best way for us to learn about the U.S. market and meet potential customers and partners,” said Robert Pezda, vice president, commercial.
The company also encourages U.S. companies to look to Poland as a way to expand into the mainstream European markets. Centered at the crossroads of Europe and a member of the European Union, Poland offers some distinct advantages.
“The only obstacle between the U.S. and Poland is distance,” said Graniczka, adding that he believes “this is only a temporary problem as American and Polish companies establish partnerships.”
The Transportation Research Board recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) publications:
Legal Research Digest 32—Reconciling Security, Disclosure, and Record-Retention Requirements in Transit Procurements. This digest highlights the federal and state legal requirements relevant to the transit procurement process of balancing the competing needs of open government and public security.
Report 95, Chapter 19—Traveler Response to Transportation System Changes: Employer & Institutional Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Strategies. This report explores the relative importance of particular categories of TDM strategies, such as support versus incentives, as well as particular strategies themselves.
Report 140—A Guide to Planning and Operating Flexible Public Transportation Services. This report presents flexible transportation service strategies that are potentially appropriate for small, medium, and large urban and rural transit agencies. It also examines financial and political realities, operational issues, and institutional mechanisms related to implementing and sustaining these services.
Report 141—A Methodology for Performance Measurement and Peer Comparison in the Public Transportation Industry. This report looks at performance measurement and benchmarking as tools to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of a transit organization, set goals or performance targets, and identify best practices.
Synthesis 83—Bus and Rail Transit Preferential Treatments in Mixed Traffic. This synthesis studies the application of different transit preferential treatments in mixed traffic. It also examines decision-making processes.
Copies of these reports are available free by clicking here.
Green beans and gooseberries are just some of what London Underground (LU) staff are growing as they compete in “Underground in Bloom,” LU’s annual gardening competition to cultivate the best fruit and vegetables on the Tube network. Winners will be announced Sept. 16 at London’s City Hall.
In total, 55 Tube stations, depots, and service control rooms throughout the network are working to create oases in an urban environment. One station, for example, used rubble left over from station upgrade work to create a garden.
“Once again, I have been really impressed by the effort and time that our staff have put into transforming the Tube into a brighter and more attractive place,” said Howard Collins, LU chief operating officer. “These wonderful gardens, hanging baskets, and tubs have all been cared for in our hardworking employees' own time. This shows just how committed our staff is to offering an outstanding service to customers using the London Underground.”
The Underground in Bloom awards recognize Tube staff who have gone beyond their work duties to use their own time to make stations more attractive. Previous competitions have included only plants and flowers—fruits and vegetables are new this year, in support of the Mayor’s Capital Growth program that encourages organizations and communities to grow their own produce.
Categories to be judged include cultivated garden plots, hanging baskets, tubs, fruits, and vegetables. Extra points will be given to environmentally friendly gardens that attract wildlife or use water wisely.
Mike Reidy, a customer service assistant at the Tottenham Hale Tube station, displays chili peppers grown on the roof of the station as part of “Underground in Bloom.”
City Utilities Transit in Springfield, MO, recently introduced five new coaches to replace its current paratransit fleet, which had been serving persons with disabilities passengers since 1997, funded with a $650,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.
The agency provided 17,500 rides on its “Access Express” paratransit service in 2009.
The new vehicles offer service improvements including a front entry door ramp instead of a lift, providing easier access for passengers traveling in wheelchairs; a low floor feature for customers who may have trouble managing steps; and a new color and design scheme. The distinctive “blue wave” look on these buses will eventually be used throughout the system’s entire bus fleet and on signs at bus stops.
More than 600 people attended Hampton Roads Transit’s (HRT) Aug. 28 “Safe-T Fest” in Norfolk, VA, held in preparation for next year’s launch of “The Tide” light rail service. The regional event kicked off HRT’s light rail safety campaign, focusing on children ages 5-12.
The free program offered safety information at six stations representing the components of the campaign’s S.A.F.E.T.Y acronym:
• Stay alert, don’t get hurt!
• Anytime is train time!
• Forget shortcuts!
• Everyone should obey signs and signals!
• Tracks are for trains!
• You! Safety starts with you!
Participating children were required to visit each safety station before they could enjoy balloon animals, face painting, inflatable obstacle courses, a 25-foot rock climbing wall, and carnival games. HRT also used Safe-T Fest to introduce the children to a new regional mascot: Safe T, a masked and caped superhero featured on fliers, videos, and activity books for children.
The event was part of HRT’s broad-based effort to educate residents of Hampton Roads—especially those who live along the 7.4-mile light rail route, expected to enter service in May 2011—that train safety is a shared responsibility of the transit agency and the public.
How many bus mechanics could step out of the garage and onto the runway?
Marilin Archie, who works on compressed natural gas engines and brake systems for Los Angeles Metro, hopes to make the move as a contestant on She’s Got the Look on the TV Land channel. The winner of the competition receives a contract with the Wilhelmina Models agency and a photo spread in Self Magazine.
Archie told The Source, L.A. Metro’s online news source, that she had hoped to become a model when she was a child, but her family could not cover the costs of schools and training. She joined Metro in 1990, at age 18, and cleaned buses as a service attendant for 15 years.
“I grew up here at Metro…the agency practically raised me,” said Archie. She explained that, after taking classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and Santa Monica College, took the agency’s on-the-job training program to become a mechanic.
Archie is a second-generation Metro employee: her mother retired in 2000 after 23 years of service and community outreach.
She’s Got the Look is a competition to discover a beautiful, sophisticated, and confident woman over the age of 35; Archie is 38, married, and has two children. Other contestants this season include a trial lawyer, an Olympic swimmer, an insurance agent, and a grandmother of six.
Marilin Archie, Metro mechanic...
The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) has entered into a new five-year contract with Smiths Detection, under which the firm will continue to provide and will upgrade its existing anti-terrorism detection products in the Metrorail system.
The company administers two systems for WMATA: PROTECT, which stands for the Program for Response Options and Technology Enhancements for Chemical/Biological Terrorism, and FirstView. PROTECT provides early warning chemical detection and response protocols for safeguarding public locations, as well as accurate information and real-time modeling of hazard zones in large public spaces, while FirstView controls and coordinates thousands of cameras and detection devices through a single command and control sensor and video integration management system.
As part of the contract, Smiths Detection will upgrade the systems to include expanded chemical detection libraries and radiological detection capabilities.
Editor's Note: On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6, President Barack Obama laid out a plan for renewing and expanding America's transportation infrastructure that combines a long-term vision for the future with new investments.
Tuls plan would build on investments already made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and create jobs for American workers. It would also reform the way America currently invests in transportation,. changing the focus to enhancing competition, innovation, performance, and analysis that provides the greatest return for the monies invested. One elements of the president's plan is to make major new investments in the nation's bus and rail transit system, dedicating significant funding to the New Starts program, and continuing to invest in high-speed rail.
APTA released a statement lauding the president that is included in the front page story. Below are other excerpts from reactions to the president's speech.