Passenger Transport - September 13, 2010
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Obama Calls for Long-Term Public Transit Investment

President Barack Obama called on Congress to enact a long-term transportation authorization bill “that expands and reforms our infrastructure investments and returns the transportation trust fund to solvency” in a Labor Day address Sept. 6 in Milwaukee.

In addition, he proposed an up-front investment of $50 billion that will include funding for improvements to existing transit systems, significant new dedicated funding for New Starts, and continuing support for high-speed rail.

APTA sent a letter to Obama on Sept. 8 commending his remarks and emphasizing the economic importance of investing in public transportation infrastructure.

Elements of the six-year plan include:

• Establishing an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs;

• Integrating high-speed rail on an equal footing into the surface transportation program to ensure a sustained and effective commitment to a national high speed rail system over the next generation;

• Streamlining, modernizing, and prioritizing surface transportation investments, consolidating more than 100 different programs and focusing on using performance measurement and “race-to-the-top” style competitive pressures to drive investment toward better policy outcomes; and

• Expanding investments in areas like safety, environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, and livability—helping to build communities where people have choices about how to travel, including options that reduce oil consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and expand access to job opportunities and affordable housing.

“I commend the president’s vision of a world-class infrastructure system and his call to enact a new, six-year transit and highway authorization bill that … commits to building on the previously announced investments in high-speed and intercity passenger rail,” said APTA President William Millar.  “The proposed up-front investment of $50 billion will jump start job creation and is a good first step toward addressing our country’s high unemployment,” he added.

Obama announced “a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America’s roads and rails and runways for the long term.  I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world. We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We can have it again. We are going to make it happen.”

Obama said the program, which includes installation and maintenance of 4,000 miles of railway—enough to go coast to coast—will provide “investments in tomorrow that are creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs right now.” It builds upon federal investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) while also reforming “the way America currently invests in transportation, changing our focus to enhancing competition, innovation, performance, and real analysis that gets taxpayers the best bang for the buck while moving away from the earmarks and formula debates of the past.”

"I am very pleased that the president wants to build on the success of [ARRA] with further investment in our national transportation infrastructure,” said Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“I am also pleased that the president shares the committee’s objectives of restoring our surface and air transportation systems to a state of good repair, increasing energy efficiency, and relieving the road and rail congestion that is crippling our economy. The principles outlined by the president are consistent with those put forward by the committee in the Blueprint for Investment and Reform and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called ARRA a vehicle for “paving the way for a 21st-century economy” while “employing thousands of American workers.”

He continued: “A 21st-century economy is going to need a transportation infrastructure that can move its goods. Recovery Act investments have shown that transportation work benefits America from safety to efficiency to growth and—yes—to the jobs needed for the work we have too long deferred. That’s why President Obama and this Administration want to revamp our approach to transportation and put more people back to work on more projects that will support our economy for years to come.”

“For every $1 billion invested in U.S. public transportation, 36,000 jobs are supported and created. Also, the introduction of high-speed rail is creating a new industry of jobs for America’s workers.”

Congressional Action Needed in September

BY BRIAN TYNAN, APTA Senior Legislative Representative

As members of Congress prepared to return from their August district work period, much was left on its agenda with significant questions surrounding what can be accomplished prior to adjournment in October for the coming election season. Legislative successes will likely be decided very close to the Oct. 8 target adjournment date set by the House; however, the Senate target remains “to be determined.”

Whatever legislation is still unfinished in October will have its fortunes shaped by the results of the November elections. Although activity in a lame-duck Congress appears necessary, the extent of measures that may be considered in a post-November session continues to be unknown.


Surface Transportation Authorization
President Barack Obama recently announced a renewed push on transportation investment aimed at jump-starting job creation, calling for an up-front $50 billion in transportation spending that will be part of a new six-year authorization bill. With the funding announcement, the administration renewed its pledge to work with Congress and the industry on a new authorization bill that expands public transit systems, dedicates significant new funds to the New Starts program, and commits to building on the existing investments in high-speed and intercity passenger rail. The $50 billion investment is expected to be fully offset to reduce concerns over deficit spending. Details were unavailable on whether the administration will release a full six-year bill in the coming months or propose a long-term revenue source for the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account.

Surface transportation programs have been operating under an extension of that authority since the underlying law, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), expired last year. The latest extension, provided under the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, expires on Dec. 31, 2010. As a result, Congress will need to pass either a long-term surface transportation authorization bill or a further short-term extension by the end of the year.

In the House, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) has continued to seek a solution to the revenue requirements for passage of long-term authorization. In the Senate, industry observers continue to await word of whether Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will proceed with previously planned committee action. The Obama announcement will impact Congressional activity in this regard, although as Passenger Transport went to press it was unclear what steps Congress would take to act on the proposal. Action on an extension or long-term bill will have to occur prior to Dec. 31 to prevent another shutdown of federal transit and federal-aid highway programs and furloughs of DOT employees.


Appropriations
The 12 annual appropriations bills that provide agencies and programs with actual spending authority for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 are among the must-pass legislation facing Congress.

The House Appropriations Committee initiated action on the FY 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill in July, and moved quickly later that month to consider the bill in the full House. The bill provides $11.3 billion for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs, $1.4 billion for high-speed and intercity passenger rail, and $75 million for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grants for Positive Train Control (PTC).

The House bill provides modest increases for FTA formula programs—to $600 million—but that will require additional action by the authorizing committees. High-speed and intercity rail funding saw an allocation above the Obama administration’s budget request, albeit significantly below the prior year’s allocation. The bill did provide a major increase for PTC—a pleasant surprise that had been sought by APTA and commuter rail operators.

The Senate Appropriations Committee looked to pass its own version of THUD late in July; the full committee completed its markup prior to the August recess, but no time remained for the full Senate to consider the bill. The Senate committee did not provide the extra funding for FTA formula programs that the House did, citing uncertainty over long-term authorization issues.

Overall, the Senate committee bill largely follows the flat funding levels for FTA programs and the administration’s funding request for high-speed and intercity rail programs. But the Senate actually improved on the House’s support for PTC grants, doubling the funds available to the FRA.

Three of the 12 annual appropriations bills have yet to see any action in Congress, and the relative progress by both the House and Senate on transportation appropriations could indicate that the THUD bill will serve as a legislative vehicle for an omnibus appropriations bill. The overall limited progress on all bills indicates that a continuing resolution will be necessary before the October adjournment.


Tax Issues
Tax legislation remains a priority for public transportation as many agencies continue to await legislation extending a valuable tax credit based on usage of such alternative fuels as natural gas. “Tax extenders” legislation—including the alternative fuels tax credit—passed both the House and Senate on multiple occasions, but in the end cost concerns and a deal over the extension of unemployment benefits led to the omission of the alternative fuels tax credit and other tax extenders from the final package.

Deficit issues have had an impact on all legislation, even those with broad, bipartisan support, as members who back the underlying legislation ask for budgetary offsets before agreeing to passage.

Interest remains over a variety of “big issue” tax bills, such as small business tax relief and lending expansion, extension of middle-class tax cuts, estate tax, and energy tax legislation. The fact that tax legislation remains prominent on the congressional agenda means that opportunities remain for the alternative fuels tax credit and a much sought-after extension of transit commuter tax benefits. The latter faces expiration on Dec. 31, 2010, of the benefit level established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which raised the transit benefit to parity with commuter parking benefits.

Congress may only have one final opportunity to pass a tax bill this year, and so it could wind up being a very large and comprehensive package of extensions and reforms.


Safety and Security
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs approved comprehensive rail transit safety legislation in late June to give DOT safety oversight authority for U.S. transit systems. The legislation would extend authority to DOT to set standards and regulations for transit safety, require annual safety plans, increase safety training, and set up more robust state safety oversight programs for rail transit safety. APTA worked very closely with the Senate in shaping the legislation, and the resulting bill addressed many industry views and concerns.  The committee has shown an interest in bringing the legislation to the full Senate for consideration, but senators have raised objections to its expedited consideration. Transportation leaders in the House have also given the issue close review and will take up the legislation should the Senate be able to move its bill in the waning days of the 111th Congress.

In the area of security, following the unanimous Senate confirmation of John Pistole as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the prospects for TSA authorization legislation may have increased. Pistole has cited his intent to place a higher priority on transit and rail security, providing encouragement to transit leaders. The House had moved TSA authorization legislation last year, including provisions affecting the Transit Security Grant Program, but difficulties surrounding prior nominees had hampered further consideration. The confirmation of Pistole may bring new life to TSA legislation.

Congress will have approximately four weeks of work before it wraps up and the members head home for the November election. Activity during a lame-duck Congress is virtually assured, but how much will be left on the table and what accomplishments might be within reach during November and December will certainly hinge on the tone and atmosphere following Election Day.

Foothill Transit Unveils First-in-the-World ‘Ecoliner’ Bus

Step up to “the greenest ride in town”! In an event historic to the public transportation industry, the world’s first heavy-duty, fast-charging electric bus was unveiled Sept. 3 at the Pomona, CA, facility of Foothill Transit in West Covina, CA, to more than 250 attendees.

The EcoRide BE35™ from Proterra LLC—a lightweight, 68-passenger, 35-foot low floor vehicle branded by Foothill Transit as the “Ecoliner”—entered service on a line between La Verne and Pomona; the transit agency hopes to introduce a full fleet of the buses by 2011. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds covered all costs of the project.

“This technology, a heavy duty electric bus that recharges in less than 10 minutes at an in-route docking station, could be the machinery that launches us into a realistic and highly advantageous renewable energy platform,” said Roger Chandler, chair of Foothill Transit’s Executive Board. “Excited doesn’t begin to describe how we feel. This is history.”

Others attending included Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), David Dreier (R-CA), and John Mica (R-FL), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Therese McMillan, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

“The first commercial deployment of Proterra’s battery-electric buses by a major transit agency like Foothill Transit is a significant milestone for Proterra and a bold step by the nation in our collective effort to decrease dependence on fossil fuel,” said Proterra President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffery Granato.
 
Powered by Nature
Unlike traditional cars, trucks, and buses that use fossil fuels like gasoline to power their engines, the Ecoliner runs exclusively on clean, electric energy. The Ecoliner contains all electric components, and at its heart is the TerraVolt™ Energy Storage System. This system features a highly advanced lithium battery that recharges in just 10 minutes—which means Ecoliners can run around the clock without ever leaving their routes.  And all this electricity comes from naturally occurring, renewable sources like the sun, wind, and water, which means that Ecoliners produce zero emissions.

Both Foothill Transit and Proterra LLC will monitor the vehicle’s ability to handle the demands of a regular, stop-and-go transit route over a two-year trial period.

 

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 Raises Awareness of Joint Security Effort

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.

 

Pounding the Pavement, While ‘Telling Our Story’

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.

TRB Seeks Nominations for 'Smiling' Tate Award

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.

 

Brown to Head Gold Coast Transit; Linehan Retires in October

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.

AASHTO: Increase Rural Transportation Investment

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 Welcomes Its First Polish Member: Business Group R&G

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.”

New TCRP Publications

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.

On London’s Tube, Gardeners Compete in ‘Underground in Bloom’

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.”

Springfield, MO, Launches New Paratransit Fleet; Uses ARRA Funds

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.

HRT Rolls Out Light Rail Safety Campaign

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.

L.A. Metro Bus Mechanic Is Contestant on Television Modeling Show

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... 

...and model. 

WMATA to Upgrade Security Systems

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.

Reactions to Obama's Infrastructure Proposal

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.