Passenger Transport - October 11, 2010
Members of the APTA Executive Committee for 2010-2011 include, from left: seated, Gary C. Thomas, vice chair; Michael J. Scanlon, chair; M.P. Carter, immediate past chair; and Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., secretary-treasurer; standing, committee members-at-large Alice Wiggins-Tolbert, Alan C. Wulkan, Doran J. Barnes, David J. Armijo, J. Barry Barker, Alison Hewitt, Jerome C. Premo, Sharon McBride, Peter J. Varga, Christopher P. Boylan, Greg Evans, and Sharon Greene. Not shown are James Weinstein and Charles R. Wochele.
Recent federal policy for high-speed and intercity passenger rail has been enacted in pieces through a series of federal bills that include the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, and several recent federal transportation appropriations bills.
Plans for a national system of high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail (HSIPR), however, mean that longer-term legislation is critical. As a result, APTA has taken the lead in developing a proposed legislative framework for an ongoing federal program.
At its recently concluded Annual Meeting in San Antonio, APTA adopted a set of principles for federal legislation on HSIPR in the U.S. The principles address federal funding mechanisms, the grants process, and other aspects of the program. On Oct. 3, the APTA Legislative Committee and Board of Directors unanimously approved them.
The principles call for the upcoming federal surface transportation authorization bill to include a high-speed and intercity passenger rail title, funded with not less than $50 billion over the initial six-year authorization period. As with the interstate highway system 50 years before, the vision for the program would be represented through a national map and corridor descriptions that reflect defined and agreed-to corridors, all of which would be completed over a multi-year period through a system of scheduled federal payments. Drawing from a dedicated and predictable federal source, projects would be allocated sufficient funds to ensure their completion according to a reasonable schedule.
The APTA working group that developed the principles was chaired by Stan Feinsod, co-chair of the Commuter and Intercity Rail Legislative Subcommittee, with direction and support from J. Barry Barker, vice chair-government affairs; Bill Volk, chair of the Legislative Committee; and Jolene Molitoris, chair, High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee. [Editor’s note: Since the vote on governance, some of the titles above have changed.]
Members of the working group were former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Mortimer Downey, senior advisor for Parsons Brinckerhoff; Stanley Rosenblum, division vice president for Jacobs; Peter Gertler, vice president and high-speed rail services chairman for HNTB Corp.; Albrecht Engel, who recently joined Amtrak to head a new high-speed rail department after serving as vice president and high-speed rail director for AECOM; David Kutroski, managing director of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, Oakland, CA; Allan Rutter, former administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; Nazih Haddad, chief executive officer of the Florida Rail Enterprise at Florida DOT; Daniel Duff, counsel at Thompson Coburn LLP; Charles Wochele, vice president for business development at Alstom Transport; Richard Bacigalupo, deputy chief executive officer, Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA; and Paul Staley, policy coordinator at Ohio DOT.
The working group benefited from the considerable expertise of APTA members concerning processes and practices of Federal Transit Administration formula and discretionary grant programs, and applied this knowledge to the effort.
With the adoption of these principles, APTA will be able to work even more closely with Congress and the administration to help shape an ongoing program, ideally in the context of authorization of a comprehensive surface transportation bill.
The complete text is available online.
A study group led by two former U.S. secretaries of transportation has released a report warning that the deteriorating condition of the nation’s transportation infrastructure will drastically weaken the national economy without major reforms to transportation planning, financing, and implementation.
Well Within Reach: America’s New Transportation Agenda, released Oct. 4, is a product of the David R. Goode National Transportation Policy Conference, held last fall at The University of Virginia and led by former DOT Secretaries Norm Mineta and Samuel Skinner.
“The Interstate Highway System and all modes of transportation must have the benefit of a new vision and regain financial stability following the rapid, and at times disjointed, growth of demand and dwindling of funding,” the report states. “A lack of capital continues to critically hinder plans for the maintenance of existing systems as well as the successful introduction and integration of new systems.”
The report estimates that maintaining and improving the nation’s highways, public transportation, and airlines through 2035 would require an additional annual investment of $134 billion to $262 billion.
“Existing structures fall into disrepair, plans for new construction fail to adequately address the problems that they intend to fix, interconnectedness between various modes of transportation is not optimized, and millions of hours of productivity are lost and billions of tons of gasoline burned as citizens wait at a standstill. We are a nation in need of fresh strategic thinking,” said former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, which hosted the National Transportation Policy Conference.
The report lists 10 specific recommendations, which include Congress addressing the immediate crisis in transportation funding; clarifying federal decision-making power and enhancing that power with states, localities, and metropolitan planning organizations; adopting an integrated approach to transportation planning that takes in freight and goods movement and stresses intermodal connectivity; finding more effective ways of reducing urban congestion; and encouraging public-private partnerships while also improving their oversight.
Failure to adequately plan for and invest in the transportation system “compromises our productivity and ability to compete internationally,” the authors wrote.
The report is available online.
The Western High-Speed Rail Alliance will host a conference on the theme “The Rail Ahead: Building a National High-Speed Rail System Through Partnerships” Oct. 13-15 at the Vdara Hotel and Spa @ CityCenter in Las Vegas.
Speakers at the event will include Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), along with experts from rail systems, consulting, and government. The conference will focus on steps for achieving a high-speed rail link between the major cities of the American West, to include Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles—and eventually to Reno, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
Session topics will include “International Case Studies in High-Speed Rail Implementation,” “Regional Rail Partnerships,” “Public-Private Initiative Partnerships and High-Speed Rail,” “Launching a Mega Project,” and “Sustainability Through High-Speed Rail.”
Registration information is available online.
After being moved to make way for a new highway expansion and being closed for more than a year, the recently reopened National Capital Trolley Museum in Colesville, MD, in the suburbs of Washington, DC, hosted an event Sept. 21 to celebrate its success.
At the ceremony, APTA President William Millar lauded the livability benefits of historic and modern streetcars. The museum “is an educational institution that will help generations of Washingtonians and visitors from around the world understand the contribution that the streetcar makes to building our cities and the industrial economy that has fueled our nation’s growth for nearly 100 years,” he said.
Millar noted that, thanks in large part to the extensive availability of streetcars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the cities and towns of yesteryear were much more walkable and densely developed—more livable—than the sprawling development that came later.
Those livability benefits have been receiving their just recognition in the past few decades, he said, as communities around the nation choose to invest in modern streetcars and light rail, spurring economic development and offering residents greater choice in how they travel.
The museum collection includes a number of historic streetcars, a model streetcar display, historic video footage, and 10-minute trolley rides for visitors every half hour.
APTA and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) signed a cooperative agreement at the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting. From left are APTA President William Millar, CUTA President/Chief Executive Officer Michael Roschlau, APTA 2009-2010 Chair M.P. Carter, and CUTA Chair Charles Stolte.
Two APTA staff members—Pamela L. Boswell and Paul Dean—recently received special recognition for their achievements in the public transportation industry.
APTA Vice President-Program Management and Educational Services Pamela L. Boswell is one of eight “Women in Transportation” profiled in the September/October 2010 issue of Metro Magazine. She joined APTA as director of program management services after 14 years with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; her focus is on strategic workforce development issues, specifically retaining current employees and attracting new people to the public transit workforce.
Paul Dean, director-government relations in the APTA Government Affairs Department, has been named one of Mass Transit Magazine’s “2009 Top 40 Under 40” in its September/October 2010 issue. He joined APTA in 2007, working directly with Congress and the administration on the association’s legislative and regulatory priorities. He previously spent 12 years working on Capitol Hill as a staffer and as a lobbyist. Dean is a member of the Leadership APTA Class of 2009.
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
“San Antonio is known as a city of missions,” said APTA President William Millar in his welcoming remarks at the Opening General Session of the 2010 APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX. “And we are here with a mission of our own: to share knowledge, create opportunities, and advance public transportation.”
Speaking to nearly 2,000 transportation professionals in a packed meeting room, Millar presented highlights of the past year, including the first quarterly increase in total U.S. transit ridership in six quarters: public transit agencies nationwide provided more than 2.5 billion passenger trips in the second quarter of 2010. “History shows that as the economy grows, public transit ridership tends to increase,” he said, “so this rise in ridership offers hope that we may be coming out of the recession and ridership may continue to move upward in many parts of the country.”
In recounting outgoing APTA Chair M.P. Carter’s year-long Telling Our Story initiative, Millar called on the membership to “keep telling that story.” He also urged attendees to sign the online petition supporting increased federal investment in public transportation.
Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, presented the keynote address at this session. (See related story.)
Texas Secretary of State Esperanza (Hope) Andrade, a former board chair of VIA Metropolitan Transit, host system for the meeting, and former chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, described the unique and sometimes contradictory qualities of Texas. She noted that the state contains both the most urban and the most rural parts of the U.S. and has the 11th largest economy in the world.
“Sustaining our quality of life is important. We recognize that public transportation plays a key role in this economy,” she said. “As secretary of state, I continue to tout the benefits of transit.”
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro remarked that his city, the seventh largest in the nation, “is the new face of the American Dream” and said public transportation “is the intersection of the quality of life and economic development. Transit can be the catalyst for completely turning around the trajectory of cities across the nation.”
Representing the host system were Henry R. Muñoz III, chair of the VIA Board of Trustees, and Keith T. Parker, AICP, VIA president/chief executive officer.
Parker called his agency “a hidden gem among public transit providers…a fundamentally strong system, but we aspire to be more.” He added that while VIA currently provides only bus service, it is making plans for a multimodal future incorporating streetcar lines.
Muñoz pointed to the city’s “rich public transportation history” and said that while San Antonio is one of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas without rail, its bus service is among the best in the nation.
In her remarks, Carter described the “amazing journey” she has undertaken since joining the Memphis Area Transit Authority board 19 years ago, saying: “I could not have anticipated that I would end up in this spot.”
She discussed each of her initiatives, which included passage of the new governance structure; enactment of the five-year APTA Strategic Plan; and executive committee approval of the final report of the Workforce Development Blue Ribbon Panel.
“But the initiative I have poured my heart into,” she said, “is Telling Our Story.” She continued: “And you have taken opportunity after opportunity to tell your story. In doing so, you’ve helped raise awareness nationwide—of the tremendous benefits of public transportation.”
She invited the audience to sit back and watch a short video highlighting both the year’s Telling Our Story initiative and the special event held Sept. 22 on Capitol Hill. She made the point that this effort will live on with the newly launched online video wall—where hundreds of testimonials are posted. With that, she introduced one such posting—from Ed Begley Jr., a longtime environmental and public transportation advocate.
After concluding her remarks with “that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it,” she participated in the traditional “passing of the gavel” to incoming Chair Michael Scanlon.
Millar then provided a heartfelt introduction of Scanlon, noting they first began working together more than 35 years ago in Pittsburgh.
After expressing thanks to his family for their continued support, Scanlon identified what he plans to concentrate on for the next 12 months. He announced that “inclusion and relationships” will be the focus of his term as APTA chair.
“We have no higher priority than authorization, but we have to include everyone in getting it passed,” he said. “We have to get all the stakeholders involved—and many stakeholders have no idea they are stakeholders. They have no idea of the impact transit has on the environment, the economy, the nation’s energy needs. We need to go way beyond our members to form new partnerships. We have so much in common with so many people today; we just need to be respectful of how each and every person sees the world.”
Scanlon said: “With authorization at the top of our list of priorities, APTA must play a central role as the messenger and advocate for the changes we know must take place. We can be the vehicle—pun much intended—for a revitalized economy, putting people to work on critically needed infrastructure projects.”
He also picked up on the “Telling Our Story” theme, saying: “We’re going to have to keep telling our story day in and day out.”
“We can be drum majors for the administration’s commitment to livability, because the services we provide will be at the heart of a transit-friendly, sustainable, environmentally and economically sound—and walkable!—America,” he said, adding: “We have a big agenda—no question—but it is matched by our ambitions and by our energy.”
The session concluded with an energetic invitation to attend the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans, LA. Justin Augustine, chief executive officer of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, and Michael P. Melaniphy, chair of APTA’s International Public Transportation EXPO Advisory Committee and vice president, public sector, for Motor Coach Industries Inc., threw iconic Mardi Gras beads to the audience and stressed the energy and planning that have already gone into this effort, noting that more than 15,000 people are expected to attend from around the world. Augustine then asked everyone to watch a video extolling the rich culture and history of his city.
The session opened to the sounds of a mariachi band—led by Jesse Quintero, a 45-year employee of VIA Metropolitan Transit.
Trapeze Group sponsored the session; its chief executive officer, Mark Miller, spoke briefly about technology’s role in public transit.
APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon
Nearly 2,000 people attended the opening session.
Speakers at the Opening General Session include, from left: standing, Henry Munoz, Michael Scanlon, M.P. Carter, Michael Melaniphy, Justin Augustine, Peter Rogoff; seated, William Millar, Texas Secretary of State Esperanza (Hope) Andrade, Mark Miller of Trapeze Group, and Keith Parker.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
Michael Melaniphy, left, and Justin Augustine promote EXPO 2011 in New Orleans.
BY KATHY GOLDEN, Editor
The Oct. 4 Host Forum at the APTA Annual Meeting, “Developing an Innovative Transit Vision into a Long-Range Plan,” highlighted the progress of VIA Metropolitan Transit’s “Long-Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan for 2035,” called SmartWaySA.
Through SmartWaySA, high-capacity transit corridors will be identified and prioritized. VIA is considering many high-capacity transit alternatives for the region, including bus rapid transit (BRT), electric streetcar, light rail, commuter rail, and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.
VIA President/Chief Executive Officer Keith T. Parker, AICP, kicked off the session, saying he had just left the Alamo, where Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), had announced the award of $7.1 million in grants to the agency from FTA’s new State of Good Repair Program.
The agency received two grants under the program. One, for $4 million, will pay for rehabilitation of 261 transit buses to extend the vehicles’ useful lives by five years, while the other, for $3.1 million, will cover the costs of rehabilitating several areas of VIA’s main campus, bus yard, and maintenance facility just north of downtown.
Parker noted that VIA Metropolitan Transit is the ninth fastest-growing transit system in the U.S., reporting 15 percent growth in 2006-2008. At the same time, its cost of operations is among the lowest in the nation, $2.63 per passenger. Despite having to cover 1,200 square miles and the absence of a hub/spoke city layout, VIA carries an average of 31 passengers per hour—one of the highest rates in the nation.
“We need to grow the system and become even more relevant, because San Antonio is one of the fastest-growing areas in the entire country,” he emphasized. “Over the next 10-20 years, hundreds of thousands of new people, thousands of new jobs, will be coming to this area, and they will not be bringing their roads with them.”
Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff said the city’s bus system is “excellent, but we have to project beyond that because Texas has always relied heavily on cars and highways and trucks” in the past. He noted that the state resources going into public transit are “very limited,” but said he was glad the administration in Washington is focused on mass transit, focused on rail.” He said that for the “first time in history we’re going to be able to make some strides.” Wolff added that if everyone “works hard together, we’re going to see our vision come together in the next few years.”
Henry R. Muñoz III, chair of the VIA Board of Trustees, recounted how his grandparents took public transit to get to work and to buy groceries, adding that “It’s the way we got to school.” He noted that “today San Antonio is the largest city in the U.S. without a rail system, and this is the 21st Century.” “This grant is the first in history for VIA,” he noted. Muñoz said this is a historic opportunity to revitalize downtown for our citizens.” He added that a plan such as this one takes “vision, partnerships and collaboration.”
Allan Zreet, AIA, principal with Jacobs Engineering in Dallas, said possible benefits to the San Antonio region include projected daily reduction of 280,000 vehicle miles traveled; the potential to reduce 230,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions daily; reinvestment of more than 30,000 vacant acres; and creation of 6,300 jobs per year—along with other benefits such as enhancing public space, improved transportation linkages, and increased walkability and bicycle access.
Zreet compared San Antonio’s future transit development to the recent experience of San Diego, which also began as a bus-only system before adding light rail and commuter rail, with BRT on the way. He emphasized the need for the city to follow San Diego’s example of incorporating bus service into the rail system, adding necessary route changes—all designed to achieve complete coverage and seamless transfers to rail. San Diego also made sure to connect housing to major employers in the city, he noted.
He pointed out that DART began in 1983 as a bus-only system and has since grown to include paratransit, HOV lanes, a rapidly expanding light rail system, and Trinity Railway Express commuter rail to Fort Worth. The financial benefits have been significant: the 40 miles of light rail alone have produced $4.2 billion in economic development so far, with $7 billion projected.
“There’s a huge opportunity for community reinvestment and economic development,” said Zreet,“[but] it has to be planned along with the system.”
John S. Kulpa, Ph.D., regional transit manager, Jacobs Engineering, in San Antonio, said the process of developing a long-range transit-expansion plan for the city began in 2009 with visioning workshops. Clearly, he said, describing the benefits of system expansion was key to gaining public support. Kulpa recounted that VIA incorporated a great deal of public outreach and input as it developed the 2035 plan. “The entire city was really energized, and Bexar County overall,” he said. Kulpa noted that projects were evaluated using the same criteria that FTA uses: We think that’s important, because ultimately the city of San Antonio and Bexar County can’t do it alone.” The final draft plan will be presented in early 2011.
Speakers, from left, were Henry R. Muñoz III, Keith T. Parker, John S. Kulpa, and Allan Zreet.
Judge Nelson W. Wolff
BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor
What will the $8 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for high-speed rail mean to America’s travelers? The Oct. 5 General Forum at the APTA Annual Meeting, “High-Speed Rail in the U.S.—A Status Update,” provided attendees with an opportunity to hear directly how grant recipients in the Midwest, Florida, and Texas are working to change the transportation face of the American landscape while simultaneously turning ARRA dollars into real jobs.
David J. Carol, market leader, high-speed rail, with Parsons Brinckerhoff, sponsor of the session, introduced moderator Karen J. Rae—deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)—as “a friend of APTA, a great friend of high-speed rail, and a great leader.”
Rae called the work being done on high-speed rail “the first step in one longer network. We are keeping an eye on creating a network that will get us the optimal use out of this exciting new initiative.”
Before a packed meeting room, the forum kicked off with comments from Jolene M. Molitoris, director of Ohio DOT and a past vice chair of the APTA High-Speed & Intercity Rail Committee.
After asking, rhetorically, “How do we reframe our message as an industry? How do we build a system to be responsive to the new generation?” Molitoris said: “The word I like to use for all of these projects, particularly ours, is transformative. This will change and transform Ohio in a very-near term way. It’s not just a network of passenger rail, it is a network that is leveraging the very best return on investment for all partners.”
Noting that “it’s all about jobs, economic development, and revitalization of cities,” Molitoris said it is imperative to convey that “we are building a transportation system. Because that’s the key that we’re developing—and this intercity and high-speed rail is a key component.”
Kevin J. Thibault, P.E., chief executive officer of Florida Rail Enterprise, next discussed the state’s project, saying that in time high-speed rail will run from Tampa to Orlando to Miami. He pointed out that while the grant submission included the entire route, the group is initially seeking funding just for Phase 1, Tampa to Orlando—84 miles long with five stops.
Thibault talked about the importance of community involvement, noting that 1,000 people participated in a series of workshops in Orlando his organization held for small and minority-owned businesses. He also made the point that this project began decades ago, under then-Gov. Bob Graham. “We built upon the work done by our predecessors; we didn’t create the wheel,” he said.
Florida Rail Enterprise also has “significantly” revamped its web site, he said. It now includes a “keep me informed” link: once an individual enters an e-mail address, that person receives notice every time the site is updated.
William Glavin, director of the Texas DOT Rail Division, reported on the process his agency used to arrive at its high-speed rail goals. As Rae noted, there was one state with eight visions, and that was Texas—and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told the state to come up with just one vision.
“We took the challenge,” said Glavin. “The first thing we needed to do is understand the freight network that exists.” Then, he noted, they began to put information out and take information in.
The agency held meetings across the state; conducted public hearings; listened to the comments received; and contacted state elected officials. “We wanted the Texas legislature to know what the citizens of Texas want and need in terms of both passenger and freight rail,” Glavin said.
The last speaker was Albrecht Engel, vice president, high-speed rail department, for Amtrak. “Is it possible,” Engel asked, “to put a next-generation high-speed rail line in the existing Northeast Corridor, which was launched in 1935?” He noted that such a rail line would result in a “quantum leap” in both ridership and revenue.
More specifically, Engel said 55 percent of ridership on this service would be new, and developing this line would result in 40,000 construction jobs annually over 25 years, equaling 125,000 permanent jobs. And it would live up to its name, making the Washington, DC, to New York City take just a little more than an hour and a half—one hour and 36 minutes, to be precise.
This rail line, he continued, will not only effectively “compress geography” by dramatically shortening how long it will take to move from one major city to another, it will also result in a “safer, greener, healthier environment, with plenty of capacity for the future.”
The U.S., Engel said, has a “history of grand transportation endeavors—including the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the Panama Canal, and the Interstate Highway System. High-speed rail would be a worthy successor.”
FRA’s Rae Gives Progress Report on National Rail Plan
Prior to the General Forum, Rae gave a progress report on the National Rail Plan on Oct. 3. The report, released Sept. 28 by LaHood, builds upon the Preliminary National Rail Plan mandated by the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008 and submitted to Congress in October 2009.
“The challenge,” she said, “is to find ways to integrate truck and rail.” She also emphasized that “it’s about building a network, not a line.”
Rae described FRA’s efforts over the last 15 months, which included public outreach events in 12 cities with more than 1,500 participants, as well as focus groups, webinars, and biweekly conference calls with senior government leaders—all to better understand the issues. She noted that DOT’s five strategic goals—Safety, State of Good Repair, Economic Competitiveness, Livable Communities, and Environmental Sustainability—have been an integral part of the process.
FRA, which is hoping to learn from such models that operate in Spain, Japan, England, and China, will be looking at ranges of costs and is “very focused on the public return on investment.”
“Rail has another good story to tell,” she said, “how safe it is, whether it’s passenger or freight rail versus a car.” She added that safety must be built in at the start instead of the operator going back yearly. “All pieces have to come together to make a difference in the future. All pieces work together at the end of the day” she said.
Kathy Golden and Susan Berlin contributed to this article.
Panelists in the General Forum on U.S. high-speed rail include, from left, Kevin Thibault, William Glavin, Jolene Molitoris, Albrecht Engel, and moderator Karen Rae.
The APTA Marketing and Communications Committee presented its 2010 AdWheel Grand Awards at ceremonies Oct. 4 during the APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
APTA presented the awards in four groups, three listing transit systems by size and the fourth for business members, and five categories: print media, electronic media, campaigns, special events, and—new this year—social media.
The Grand Award winners, selected from all first-place award recipients, are:
Group 1, covering public transportation systems with fewer than four million annual passenger trips: print, Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO, schedule notice/timetable, “Mountain Metropolitan Transit Ute Pass Express Pocket Brochure”; electronic, Greensboro Transit Authority, Greensboro, NC, radio advertisement or public service announcement, “GTA Fare/Service Increase”; campaign, Butler Transit Authority, Butler, PA, shoestring campaign, “Summer Student Campaign”; special event, Lake Erie Transit, Monroe, MI, public relations/awareness or educational special event, “Butterfly Bus Hybrid Bus Rollout”; social media, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transit, Greensboro, NC, social networking, “PART Social Media.”
Group 2, for public transportation systems with more than four million but fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually: print, Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA, promotional materials, “Swift LEGO Set”; electronic, Agence Metropolitaine de transport, Montreal, QC, digital ad, “Web Banner to Promote Off-Peak Train Service”; campaign, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), Portland, OR, shoestring campaign, “Dirty Words Campaign”; special event, TriMet, promotion special event, “Green Means Go Opening”; social media, The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI, blogs, “www.getonboard.org.”
Group 3, representing public transportation systems with more than 20 million passenger trips annually: print, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX, poster, “Changing the Art of Travel”; electronic, San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Oakland, CA, Internet home page, “www.bart.gov”; campaign, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY, public relations/awareness or educational campaign, “MTA: If You See Something, Say Something”; special event, Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, MD, public relations/awareness or educational special event, “MTA Civility”; social media, Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO, viral video, “Lessons in Light Rail Courtesy.”
Group 4, business members: print, Veolia Transportation, Silver Spring, MD, newsletter, “Veolia International Newsletter-Exchange”; electronic, New Flyer Industries, Winnipeg, MB, Internet home page, “iBus Company Intranet”; campaign, Motor Coach Industries, Schaumburg, IL, promotional campaign, “MCI in Motion 2010”; special event, Bombardier, Saint Bruno, QC, public relations/awareness or education special event, “The Olympic Line-Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar”; social media, VPSI Inc., Troy, MI, blogs, “www.van-pools.com.”
The niche award went to the Florida Public Transportation Association for the best implementation of APTA’s “Telling Our Story” campaign.
Here is the complete list of first-place winners in the 2010 AdWheel Awards competition. Grand Award winners are listed in bold.
Group 1: Public transportation systems with four million or fewer passenger trips annually.
• Advertisement-Advocacy/Awareness: “Collision Absorption Technology Graphic,” Metrolink, Los Angeles, CA
• Advertisement-Promotion: “The CCTA Smart Business Program,” Chittenden County Transportation Authority, Burlington, VT
• Annual Report: “Access Services 2009 Annual Report,” Access Services, El Monte, CA
• Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: “Commuter Awareness Billboards,” County of Lebanon Transit Authority (COLT), Lebanon, PA
• Brochure: “Amtrak Downeaster Travel Guide,” Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Portland, ME
• Direct Mail: “Introduction of Commuter Route,” COLT, Lebanon, PA
• Map: “System Map,” Central Oklahoma Transportation & Parking Authority, Oklahoma City, OK
• Newsletter: “Tri-Rail’s ‘Vision’ Newsletter,” South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)/Tri-Rail, Pompano Beach, FL
• Passes & Tickets: “Pro Bowl 2010/Super Bowl XLIV Tickets,” SFRTA/Tri-Rail,
Pompano Beach, FL
• Poster: “Transit Center Posters-Waukesha Metro Transit,” Waukesha Metro Transit, Waukesha, WI
• Promotional Materials: “LT Promotional Shirts,” COLT, Lebanon, PA
• Schedule Notice/Timetable: “Sarasota County Area Transit Ride Guide,” Sarasota County Transit Authority, Sarasota, FL, and “Mountain Metropolitan Transit Ute Pass Express Pocket Brochure,” Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO
• Transit Card: “Mountain Metropolitan Transit Summer Busboards and Transit Cards,”
Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO
• Illustrated Vehicle: “Mountain Metropolitan Transit ‘Rethink Your Ride’ Bus,”
Mountain Metropolitan Transit Authority, Colorado Springs, CO
• Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: “GTA Fare/Service Increase,” Greensboro Transit Authority, Greensboro, NC
• Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: “Bus vs. Car Park and Ride,” Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA
• Video Presentation: “FY 2009 Annual Report Video,” SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA
• Internet Homepage: “SunLine Transit Agency Homepage,” SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA
• Digital Ad: “Video Advertisement on superyellowpages.com,” SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA
• Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: “Your Future Is Riding On It—Ozone Awareness,” Denton County Transportation Authority, Lewisville, TX
• Promotional Campaign: “Tri-Rail’s Rail Rewards,” SFRTA/Tri-Rail, Pompano Beach, FL
• Shoestring Campaign: “Summer Student Campaign,” Butler Transit Authority, Butler, PA
• Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Special Event: “Butterfly Bus Hybrid Bus Rollout,” Lake Erie Transit, Monroe, MI
• Promotion Special Event: “Train to Maine Guerilla Marketing Event,” Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, Portland, ME
• Social Networking: “PART Social Media,” Piedmont Authority for Regional Transit, Greensboro, NC
Group 2: Public transit agencies that provide more than four million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually.
• Advertisement-Advocacy/Awareness: “Be Airesponsible Print Ads,” Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), Fort Worth, TX
• Advertisement-Promotion: “Your Life On Track Poster Series,” METRO Light Rail, Phoenix, AZ
• Annual Report: “Riverside Transit Agency’s Fiscal Year 2009,” Riverside Transit Agency, Riverside, CA
• Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: “AATA Transit Shelter Posters,” Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (The Ride), Ann Arbor, MI
• Brochure: “Swift Commemorative Book: The Future of Transit,” Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA
• Direct Mail: “Route 57 Direct Mail,” The T, Fort Worth, TX
• Map: “Verticle Onboard MAX System Map,” Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), Portland, OR
• Newsletter: “Caltrain Connection Redesign,” San Mateo County Transit District/Caltrain, San Carlos, CA
• Passes & Tickets: “Value Card Program,” Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, San Francisco, CA
• Poster: “Green Means Go Opening Poster,” TriMet, Portland, OR
• Promotional Materials: “Swift LEGO Set,” Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA
• Schedule Notice/Timetable: “HRT Green Schedules,” Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton Roads, VA
• Transit Card: “Rules of the Road Revamped,” Regional Transit System, Gainesville, FL
• Illustrated Vehicle: “Molly the Trolley,” The T, Fort Worth, TX
• Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: “Texting & Riding,” METRO Regional Transit Authority, Akron, OH
• Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: “Next Stop Television Commercial,” Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), Tampa, FL
• Video Presentation: “USF Athletics Partnership Video,” HART, Tampa, FL
• Internet Homepage: “www.cota.com,” Central Ohio Transit Authority, Columbus, OH
• Digital Ad: “Web Banner to Promote Off-Peak Train Service,” Agence Metropolitaine de transport, Montreal, QC
• Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: “Telling Our Story: TransitTalk.com,” GRTC Transit System, Richmond, VA
• Promotional Campaign: “COTA Promotional Billboards,” Central Ohio Transit Authority, Columbus, OH
• Shoestring Campaign: “Dirty Words Campaign,” TriMet, Portland, OR
• Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Special Event: “7th Edition of In Town Without My Car Montreal,” Agence Metropolitaine de transport, Montreal, QC
• Promotion Special Event: “Tacoma Bike Swap 2010,” Pierce Transit, Tacoma, WA, and TriMet, “Green Means Go Opening,” Portland, OR
• Viral Video: “Swift Flash Mob,” Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA
• Social Networking: “www.facebook.com/TheTFortWorth,” The T, Fort Worth, TX, and “GBT Facebook Network,” Greater Bridgeport Transit, Bridgeport, CT
• Twitter: “Dirty Words Haiku Contest,” TriMet, Portland, OR
• Blogs: “www.getonboard.org,” The Rapid, Grand Rapids, MI
Group 3: Public transportation agencies providing more than 20 million annual passenger trips.
• Advertisement-Advocacy/Awareness: “Transit Facts,” Regional Transportation District (RTD), Denver, CO
• Advertisement-Promotion: “MetroBus Rebranding,” Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington, DC
• Annual Report: “Progress: SEPTA’s 2009 Annual Report,” Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia, PA
• Billboard/Outdoor Advertising: “Reliable. If Only That Were True about Everything,” Milwaukee County Transit System, Milwaukee, WI
• Brochure: “Mini Budget Brochure,” Charlotte Area Transit System, Charlotte, NC
• Direct Mail: “MetroBus Express Bus Route,” WMATA, Washington, DC
• Map: “Go Metro Map,” Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA
• Newsletter: “Between the Routes,” Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority/LYNX, Orlando, FL
• Passes & Tickets: “Parking Permits Metrorail Series,” Miami-Dade County Transit, Miami, FL
• Poster: “Changing the Art of Travel,” Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Houston, TX
• Promotional Materials: “Funambus,” Société de transport de Montréal, Montreal, QC
• Schedule Notice/Timetable: “Metrobus Book,” Miami-Dade County Transit, Miami, FL
• Transit Card: “2009 Winter Group Pass ‘Gingerbread’ Vehicle Ext.,” Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, UT, and “Tips for a Better Ride,” King County Metro Transit, Seattle, WA
• Illustrated Vehicle: “Save the Bay Ride MTA + Think Green Ride MTA,” Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, MD
• Radio Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: “MTS Moves Me! San Diego Summer 30 Second Radio Spot,” San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA
• Television Advertisement or Public Service Announcement: “2009 Sit for Something Environment: 30 TV,” UTA, Salt Lake City, UT, and “Travel Light Television,” Sound Transit, Seattle, WA
• Video Presentation: “OCTA.net Web Demo Video,” Orange County Transportation Authority, Orange, CA
• Internet Homepage: “www.bart.gov,” San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Oakland, CA
• Digital Ad: “Rider Etiquette Series,” RTD, Denver, CO
• Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Campaign: “MTA: If You See Something, Say Something,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York, NY
• Promotional Campaign: “Travel Light Campaign,” Sound Transit, Seattle, WA, and “Green Line Opening Ad Campaign,” Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas, TX
• Shoestring Campaign: “Engagement Survey Campaign,” San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco, CA, and “Allstate Arena Express,” Pace Suburban Bus,
Arlington Heights, IL
• Public Relations/Awareness or Educational Special Event: “MTA Civility,” Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, MD
• Promotion Special Event: “Link Light Rail Launch,” Sound Transit, Seattle, WA
• Viral Video: “Lessons in Light Rail Courtesy,” RTD, Denver, CO
• Social Networking: “www.bart.gov/facebook.com,” BART, Oakland, CA
• Twitter: “www.twitter.com/sfbart,” BART, Oakland, CA
• Blogs: “TransLink Buzzer Blog,” TransLink, Vancouver, BC
Group 4: Business members (manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, consultants, associations, transportation management organizations)
• Advertisement-Promotion: “Happy Buses,” Complete Coach Works, Riverside, CA
• Annual Report: “Parsons Brinckerhoff 2009 Annual Review,” Parsons Brinckerhoff, New York, NY
• Brochure: “Transit Center Sustainability Brochure,” Transit Center, New York, NY
• Newsletter: “Veolia International Newsletter-Exchange,” Veolia Transportation, Silver Spring, MD
• Promotional Materials: “2010 Tectrans Calendar,” Tectrans Inc., Los Angeles, CA
• Internet Homepage: “iBus Company Intranet,” New Flyer Industries, Winnipeg, MB
• Digital Ad: “The Future of Transportation Email Invitation,” Eno Transportation Foundation, Washington, DC
• Promotional Campaign: “MCI in Motion 2010,” Motor Coach Industries, Schaumburg, IL
• Public Relations/Awareness or Education Special Event: “The Olympic Line-Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar,” Bombardier, Saint Bruno, QC
• Promotion Special Event: “Veolia International Management Summit,” Veolia Transportation, Silver Spring, MD
• Viral Video: “www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWPUoZ0,” VPSI Inc.,Troy, MI
• Social Networking: “www.facebook.com/vpsiinc,” VPSI Inc., Troy, MI
• Twitter: “www.twitter.com/vpsiinc,” VPSI Inc., Troy, MI
• Blogs: “www.van-pools.com,” VPSI Inc., Troy, MI
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
“There is an enormous amount of power in the concept of the public good,” said Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers: The Story of Success.
That was his message when he spoke Oct. 5 at the APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX. And the most effective ways to harness that concept—in this case, convey to the public the importance of public transportation—are to keep the message simple, use appealing stories and appropriate images, and if possible, find a charismatic spokesperson.
He cited the example of seatbelts, noting that initially, U.S. drivers strongly resisted using them, considering them an “unwarranted government intrusion” into their lives. Once advocates shifted the message from attempting to influence adults to promoting the use of children’s car seats, the children then became advocates for seatbelts, and the percentage of adults using them rose from 15 percent to 65 percent.
“Approaching the issue from a different way made all the difference in people’s willingness to respond,” he stressed.
Another way Gladwell proposed to frame the message is to emphasize social and economic equality. “Public transit is a vehicle of economic equality and opportunity—the same access to jobs, education, and cultural events to everybody, regardless of resources. A way we make our society a united and equal place …. isn’t only about taking people from point A to point B; it’s something far grander and more crucial and central to the American dream.”
Gladwell talked at length about how the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, created an unusual partnership with workers and religious institutions—with the goal of civil rights equality. People needed to ride the bus to and from work, and “for the bus to be segregated was the ultimate inequality … The boycott was about the dignity of workers.” So churches became bus “stations,” and religious leaders organized transportation to ensure that the workers kept their jobs. “You can reframe what you do in such a way that you can bring in allies who may never have thought they were allies,” he said.
He also pointed to public transit as a “public good,” similar to parks, schools, and other benefits that improve the general quality of life, as opposed to “private goods” owned by individuals. “People are getting fed up with the current emphasis on private goods,” he said. “If you talk to people and listen, you find they’re talking about public goods.”
Gladwell continued: “If you have $1 billion, you have all the private goods you can acquire. There’s nothing more that will make your life better that you can purchase for yourself. The only ways in which your life could improve—cleaner air, fewer potholes, less crime—are all public goods.” For that reason, he added, the wealthiest citizens should support paying more taxes to support the common good, much as they did in the 1950s as America rebuilt itself after World War II.
Public transit professionals “need to make a much stronger argument that public goods will be more beneficial than buying things as individuals,” he said. “What would really make your life better? I’d like better schools for my kids, a shorter commute time, I want my kids to be able to play outside without worrying—all parts of being a community.”
Sharon Greene, principal, Sharon Greene and Associates, presided over the session.
APTA’s business members sponsored Gladwell's address.
BY LYNNE T. DEAN, Special to Passenger Transport
Employees of Southwest Airlines are in the customer service business—they just happen to provide airline transportation, said Camille Keith, an original employee of the airline and most recently its vice president of special marketing. During the interactive Professional Development session she led Oct. 6 in San Antonio, TX, participants learned the inside story about the company consistently rated No. 1 in customer service and employee satisfaction.
Calling Southwest “the little plane that could,” Keith reviewed the meteoric rise of the company and credited much of its success to a mission statement that emphasizes the airline’s commitment to “trying to do the right thing.” She stressed that the company is not selling an airline; it’s selling an experience.
While at Southwest, Keith was responsible for developing nationwide marketing strategies targeted at specific groups—women, children, senior citizens, and college students—as well as special projects in the 62 cities and 32 states the carrier serves. She played a key role in the development of what many have called “the nation’s friendliest” airline and the creation of a unique corporate culture centered on a mission of customer service.
With humor and warmth, she shared anecdotes depicting the company’s commitment to customer service, ranging from an employee who changed a customer’s flat tire to one who helped a customer deal with breast cancer to many who provide baby gifts.
Keith also recounted how employees responded to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when many airline passengers found themselves stranded in unfamiliar airports and unsure of what would happen next. Southwest employees stepped up to book buses, rental cars, hotels, meals, and more for passengers in need; many used their own credit cards because of the urgency of the situation.
Beyond simply taking care of the customer’s needs, employees at Southwest Airlines treat each passenger as a guest. According to Keith, that principle is essential to the company’s customer service—and one of the reasons for its superlative ratings in consumer satisfaction accumulated and published by DOT.
She credited the team spirit of employees, as well as their joint ownership of the airline, as another key part of the company’s stellar performance in customer service. “Herb Kelleher [Southwest co-founder] told early employees they would have a Cadillac and a million dollars before they retire,” she said. As part of that team spirit, the company hires people that it believes care about people and has developed a corporate culture centered on this philosophy.
The best ideas, Keith noted, arise from a group of people working together. When questioned how Southwest works with employees who aren’t team players, she acknowledged that some people simply need coaching. And, she added, a sense of humor and a little compassion go a long way.
Recognition of “people doing something right,” being quick to apologize because “it’s hard to argue with someone who says ‘I’m really sorry,’” and “keeping our word” are all part of that Southwest culture, Keith said. Reputation, she explained, is built by a thousand individual acts.
Participants provided examples of their customer service experiences throughout the session. These ranged from passing on positive e-mail communications to the person who provided the experience that prompted the e-mail to an account of one agency providing holiday lights tours for seniors as a marketing strategy to increase ridership.
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
Vernice “Flygirl” Armour may seem unique. Her childhood dream of being a police officer on horseback—along with a chance to attend Mardi Gras as part of an ROTC women’s rifle team—led her to become the first African-American woman to fly combat missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, serving two tours in Iraq.
But, as she told attendees at the 15th Annual APTA/WTS Breakfast Oct. 6 in San Antonio, the potential for greatness is available to any person. “Everyone faces obstacles,” she noted after bounding from the stage into the audience. “Acknowledge the obstacles, but don’t give them power”—a belief underpinning the philosophy she calls the “breakthrough mentality.”
Part of Armour’s forward-looking attitude comes from recognizing that she was “standing on a lot of shoulders” as she moved into unfamiliar territory, both mental and physical, and that people should consider the legacy they leave for the people who come after them.
Armour pointed to building relationships and accepting diversity of thought as important components toward achieving a personal breakthrough, along with “refusing to settle, even in the smallest moments.” She compared the members of an organization to an army’s varied types of ammunition: bullets, bombs, and missiles working together in a situation where no one form of ammunition could work as well by itself.
As she recounted stories from her experience—leading up to a mission in Iraq where, despite having limited fuel and one unreliable missile, she rescued U.S. soldiers pinned down by the enemy—Armour presented life as a dynamic experience that requires “full intensity.” She concluded: “It’s up to each of us how we react or respond to a situation. Where you go is up to you.”
In introducing Armour, Dwight Brashear, executive vice president for business development with TecTrans, sponsor of the session, quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you can’t be a pine tree at the top of a hill, be a bush in the valley, but be the best bush you can be.”
The public transportation industry honored its top leaders and agencies in North America at the Oct. 5 APTA Awards Luncheon, held during the APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
APTA presented the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award to systems in three different ridership categories.
Bloomington Transit (BT) in Bloomington, IN, received the honor among public transportation agencies that provide four million or fewer annual passenger trips. BT has operated for 37 years and saw its annual ridership more than triple in 10 years, from one million in 1999 to more than three million in 2009. The system benefits from partnerships within the community: for example, it provides universal access to the students, faculty, and staff at Indiana University and shares maintenance and operations facilities with the university’s own transit system. BT also recently introduced six hybrid-electric buses to the fleet and has plans for a LEED Silver certified downtown passenger transit facility.
Among transit agencies providing more than four million and fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips, APTA honored the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL. HART has seen ridership growth reflecting the increased population and employment opportunities of the Tampa Bay region.
The Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award for agencies providing more than 20 million annual passenger trips went to the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) in Montreal, QC. Operating a fleet of 1,680 buses and four Métro lines serving 68 stations. STM has adopted a series of strategic measures to promote ongoing increases in service and ridership: for example, according to a recent international benchmarking study conducted by Imperial College London, the Montréal Métro ranks among the most productive in the world. Other efforts include a promotional campaign showing the connection between using public transit and supporting the environment, and improved recruitment efforts to support the agency at a time of workforce expansion and renewal.
The Outstanding Public Transportation Manager honor went to Hugh A. Mose, general manager of the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) in State College, PA, and a former APTA vice chair-small operations. Over the years, he has been involved in virtually everything that APTA’s Small Operations Committee has accomplished: creation of the biennial Transportation and University Communities Conference, development of the Small Transit Intensive Cities funding tier, and the emergence of small operations as a significant component in the association. Most recently he participated in the development of APTA’s new governance and committee structure.
APTA recognized Jim Srygley, chief executive officer of S & A Systems Inc., with the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award. After completing a graduate program in engineering economic systems at Stanford University, Srygley began his career in transportation developing computer simulation models and implementing first-generation programs for transit maintenance, scheduling, and run cutting. He founded the company in 1970 and has been active in APTA for its entire history, serving more than 20 years on the Member Services Committee.
Flora M. Castillo, a New Jersey Transit Corporation board member since 1999, received the Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member Award. She was the first Latina and the youngest member to serve on the board and currently oversees the Customer Service and Administration committees. As APTA’s vice chair of transit board members, Castillo has helped to increase board members’ participation in APTA committees and initiated activities to enhance professional development. Additionally, she has served on the APTA Executive Committee for three years.
Mufi Hannemann, mayor of the City and County of Honolulu from January 2005 to July 2010, received the Local Distinguished Service Award for his leadership in advancing public transportation in Honolulu and the island of Oahu. A 20-mile elevated rail system he supported is about to break ground, with funding from federal, state, and local sources and support from a coalition of stakeholders including community groups, business, labor, and the media. He also kicked off the largest public information program in city history to inform the nearly one million residents of Oahu about the rail program.
“It took a team to bring Honolulu to the cusp of achieving a lifelong dream,” said Hannemann at the ceremony. He listed these components of a successful campaign to build infrastructure:
* Political will: it comes from everyone, is critical, and needs to be maintained. Never make decisions based on fear.
* Don’t wait. A project will cost more if you wait.
* Avoid being pigeonholed. This rule is not just for transportation; it can lead to an improved quality of life.
* Set aggressive timetables. Honolulu completed its Environmental Impact Statement in an unprecedented five years. Be open and transparent.
* Build and create partnerships.
* As Fleetwood Mac sang, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” Educating the public is an ongoing process.
The luncheon was sponsored by GFI Genfare.
APTA’s 2010 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager—Hugh Mose, left, general manager of CATA in State College, PA—receives his award from David Tripp, executive director of the St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission in St. Cloud, MN.
Jim Srygley, right, chief executive officer of S & A Systems Inc., accepts the Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member Award from Kim Green, president of GFI Genfare
New Jersey Transportation Corporation board member Flora Castillo receives the Outstanding Public Transportation Board Member honor from Howard Silver, past APTA chair and chair of the Golden Empire Transit District Board of Directors in Bakersfield, CA.
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, second from right, accepts the Local Distinguished Service Award from, from left, Joe Magaldi Jr., chair of the Honolulu Transportation Commission; Honolulu Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka; and Roger Morton, head of Oahu Transit Services.
Representing STM are Carl Desrosiers, left, executive director of operations, and Bernard Blanchet, center, board member and Lachine Borough councilor. Rick Simonetta, vice president and national director of high speed rail and special projects for URS Corporation, presents them with the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award for agencies providing more than 20 million annual passenger trips.
Shirley DeLibero, second from left, president of DeLibero Transportation Strategies LLC, honors representatives of HART with the Outstanding Public Transportation System award for agencies providing more than four million and fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips. From left are HART Chief Executive Officer David Armiko; DeLibero; HART Board Chair Ron Govin; Vice Chair Alison Hewitt; and board members Dr. Steven Polzin and Michael York.
Michael Melaniphy, left, vice president, public sector, for Motor Coach Industries, presents Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation General Manager Lewis May, center, and Board Secretary Alex Cartwright with the Outstanding Public Transportation System award for public transportation agencies that provide four million or fewer annual passenger trips.
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
Representatives of the two largest U.S. public transportation agencies—New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)—joined other speakers to examine funding issues in difficult economic times at an Oct. 4 General Forum during the APTA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.
“In crisis there is opportunity—and I think we have a lot of opportunity now,” said moderator and APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon. “We’ve been on a tough road. We would be worried about transportation authorization even if we weren’t in a recession. What we need to know are: what are the opportunities? Are there ways we can be smarter?”
In his keynote address, MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay Walder noted that he rejoined the New York agency after a 15-year absence, saying: “I’m amazed at how much stronger our industry is today than it was before. You have done something I wasn’t sure was possible—transit is no longer an asterisk on the federal highway bill. In that context, the benefits we’re providing today are more fundamental to issues of the day than ever before. Whether the issue is environmental, energy, or dealing with economic crisis, we’re in the middle of it.”
Walder listed some ways fiscal retrenching has been beneficial for the MTA. The authority has consolidated its phone numbers from the previous 92 and brought together its five call centers: by comparison, multinational corporations have a single call center, he said. By eliminating jobs, renegotiating contracts, and consolidating redundant functions, MTA is on track to save $500 million next year and up to $750 million by 2014.
“We kept asking ourselves, if we cut costs and do what it takes to keep the place running, is that good enough? The answer was a resounding no,” he continued. “People want to know we’re using their tax dollars and fares wisely, that we really care about service. They don’t want to hear excuses.”
CTA President Richard Rodriguez, representing the second-largest U.S. transit agency, said his agency is facing struggles very similar to those in New York City. “About two years ago, we learned that our operating funds were being cut,” he explained. “We went to work streamlining operations, hedging fuel costs—we did have to reduce 18 percent of service, but ridership declined by only 1 percent.”
Carolyn Flowers, general manager of the Charlotte Area Transit System in Charlotte, NC, said she has faced experiences similar to those of Walder, but on a different scale. “Charlotte had experienced a large stretch of growth, but now there’s been an erosion in our sales taxes. We’ve had to look at our operations, find ways to control fuel and labor costs and ways to reduce structural costs going into the future,” she said.
Small and mid-size properties must leverage the assets they have, she said. “The only way you’ll grow is to build on what you have … look at best practices of larger operators and see if you can adapt them to your agencies, and be able to take those models and use them because we won’t have resources to do it by ourselves.”
Mortimer L. Downey III, chairman, PB Consult, and president of Mort Downey Consulting LLC, said transit agencies must begin with “fundamentals: control of operations, control of financial systems, focus on customers, treating transit as a business.”
He next spoke of the value of public-private partnerships in problematic economic times. “While partnerships provide new money, that isn’t the most important thing. Investors like a nice safe place to put their money,” he explained. “We can also change the way we design and manage projects: if we’re building a major new line, we can sit down with developers and determine how we can design it to increase the size of the pie for all of us. That’s something we really have to build on.”
Robert E. Skinner Jr., executive director of the Transportation Research Board, noted that recessions have occurred about every eight years since the early 1980s and that such cycles are inevitable.
“Every one of us in our jobs, every agency and organization, has an opportunity to innovate,” Skinner stressed. “That’s the way I think we should be looking at our own jobs and agencies: not just receptive to innovation, but proactive. This is a field worthy of being taken very seriously. We have all these challenges and innovation has got to be part of the answer.”
AECOM sponsored the session.
Participants in the General Session “Crystal Ball vs. Harsh Realities—The Future of Managing and Financing Public Transportation Systems in Unprecedented Economic Times” include, from left, moderator Michael J. Scanlon, Robert E. Skinner Jr., Carolyn Flowers, Richard Rodriguez, Mortimer L. Downey III, and Jay Walder.
Political prognosticator Dr. Larry J. Sabato offered his predictions for the 2010 congressional elections and their effect on the federal agenda at the Oct. 6 Closing General Session.
A mariachi band led by Jesse Quintero, a 45-year employee of VIA Metropolitan Transit, welcomed guests to the Opening General Session.
APTA hosted 118 business member companies with 137 booths in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for the second annual Mannual Meeting Products & Services Showcase.
BY STEVE HINIKER
The following article not only makes an interesting case for investment in intercity rail in Wisconsin, it is also a good example of how to take an idea and describe it in such a way that anyone can understand its point about the cost of a particular infrastructure investment compared to other investments.
Over the years, I have worked with sponsors of a wide variety of public transportation projects across the country. I’m thinking that many people could find this creative technique useful in telling the story of the value of potential investment in public transportation—a technique that people could easily relate to.
So, read, and enjoy!
This story originally appeared Sept. 25, 2010, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Reprinted by permission of the author.
With anti-rail activists whipped into a frenzy over threats that passenger rail services pose to Wisconsin and the state’s finances, it’s time to step back and take a closer look. Are rail opponents onto something, or are they on something?
Rail opponents rail against the cost of rail. They would like to have the money for rail either returned to Washington or spent on highways. Dream on. The $810 million is a part of a larger plan to restore intercity passenger rail across the United States. This is a federal project that won’t be derailed by Wisconsin politics. Restoring rail is expensive, but transportation projects are expensive. The Zoo Interchange will cost more than $2 billion to reconstruct. The Marquette Interchange was close to $1 billion. Where’s the outrage over that spending?
In any case, the money can’t be spent on highways, and even if it was sent back to Washington, it would be reallocated to another state to build their rail system—leaving Wisconsin in the dust. (We also would be sending millions of our tax dollars to another state to build rail instead of us getting the hundreds of millions from other states.)
The core of rail opponents’ argument seems to focus on the $54 question: Can we afford the annual operations costs of the added service? Those annual costs will amount to around $6 million a year. That amounts to one-fifth of one cent of our gas tax. So when a driver fills up with 20 gallons of gasoline at $2.70 per gallon, the bill will comes to $54. Just $.04 (yes, 4 cents) out of that $54 will go to pay for intercity rail.
Their argument also assumes that there are absolutely no benefits associated with the 4-cent investment that comes with a $54 purchase. It assumes that no one will benefit from jobs created to build the service. That no one will benefit from the development that occurs around rail stations. And that no one will benefit from being able to relax rather than fight traffic on the interstate.
Opponents also like to say that the train fares will be unaffordable. According to the state Department of Transportation, one-way fares will be between $20 and $30 for the ride from Madison to Milwaukee. Compare that to the cost of driving. Using federal reimbursement rates for mileage, driving the 78 miles between Madison and Milwaukee costs $39. That means taking rail saves between $9 and $19 each trip. It saves a lot more for someone in Madison taking the train to Mitchell International Airport to catch a flight due to the saved costs of parking. And it will boost traffic at Mitchell.
It seems like there’s a lot of rage over just 4 cents out of every $54.
The real issue seems to center on divisive politics: Since most people won’t ride the train, let’s not build it. Imagine if that argument really took hold on other issues. Most people in Wisconsin won’t use the Zoo Interchange, so let’s save $2 billion and not rebuild it. Most people in Wisconsin won’t drive on I-39 between Madison and Janesville, so let’s save a billion dollars by not building that. The argument can be extended to schools, libraries and other public services that we can’t afford to lose.
Wisconsin needs smart investments to grow and to be competitive with other states and other regions. Passenger rail is one of those investments. Passenger rail serves those who would rather relax - or work - on intercity trips. Rail stations attract development that adds value to host communities. Rail becomes an attractive option to driving as gas prices rise. Rail provides mobility to those who cannot drive.
Passenger rail has been a priority for many leaders in Wisconsin’s business community for decades. It has also been a priority for one of Wisconsin’s most irrepressible cheerleaders, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson—proving that rail does not have to be a partisan issue.
Sadly, opponents to rail are more interested in creating wedge issues than looking at the real potential of rail service. Otherwise, they would look at the 4-cent investment of a $54 purchase through a different lens.
It’s time to stop the bickering and move ahead with an eye on Wisconsin’s future.
Steve Hiniker is executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.
MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) has announced plans to install its newly designed Help Point Intercom (HPI) in two stations along the Lexington Avenue Line.
The HPI prototype, demonstrated at a recent meeting of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors, has a sleek, modern design with a blue light on top to enhance its visibility. The units are designed for vertical mounting on either a station wall or platform column, and will offer the capability for both emergency reporting and customer service questions—a red emergency button that connects to the subway Rail Control Center and a green information button that links to Travel Information or the station booth.
“We have designed the HPI to be a major step beyond the Customer Assistance Intercoms that passengers may see in stations now,” said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. “Make no mistake, this device represents impressive 21st-century technology, and it demonstrates our ability to incorporate it into a system that is more than 100 years old.”
The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) in Portland, OR, has partnered with INIT, Innovations in Transportation Inc., to install the company’s combined on-board computers and mobile data terminals (COPILOTtouch) in 254 paratransit vehicles and 15 supervisory vehicles. The contract also includes voice radio and cellular data modems, fleet management software for nine dispatch work stations, emergency alarm improvements, and training.
The COPILOTtouch mobile data terminal organizes voice and data radio communications, providing automatic vehicle position calculation and immediate schedule adherence data. The full-color touch screen displays route and schedule functions and gives clear navigation announcements transmitted through a built-in audio amplifier.
The Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) in Sacramento, CA, marked the two-year anniversary of its online “Transit Talk with the General Manager” program on Oct. 1.
The monthly online chat, usually scheduled on the first Friday, gives the public an opportunity to interact directly with Mike Wiley, RT general manager/chief executive officer, and to submit transit-related questions and receive immediate feedback.
Since its launch in October 2008, the chat has averaged nearly 4,000 page hits per month and has received approximately 1,000 questions from the community, ranging from day-to-day service-related issues to broader policy and planning questions. RT archives previous sessions on its web site.
“The chat is a scheduled appointment each month for riders to address their questions or concerns directly to me,” Wiley said. “I enjoy the time connecting online and hope our customers find the interaction useful and informative.”
The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) in Albany, NY, commemorated its 40th anniversary of service by rolling back fares to the original 40 cents on Sept. 16.
The New York State Legislature created CDTA in 1970 as a public benefit corporation to provide regional transportation services by rail, bus, water, and air. The agency operates fixed route bus service, shuttle systems, Northway Commuter services, and STAR paratransit. CDTA owns and operates the Rensselaer Rail and Saratoga Springs rail stations and is active in the proposed upgrade to the Schenectady Station.
CDTA has served more than half a billion customers on its regular route system since it started in 1970.
“We’re proud of our 40 years of service to the Capital Region, delivering innovative transportation solutions while making a strong economical and environmental impact along the way,” said CDTA Chairwoman Denise Figueroa. “To thank our loyal customers and our community for their steadfast support over the years, we are winding back to the original 40-cent fare for this one day only.”
Figueroa added: “Moving forward, we will continue to improve, expand, and adapt to the changing transportation needs of the Capital Region.”
CDTA employs more than 650 people and transports more than 45,000 riders each weekday.
The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)/Tri-Rail in Pompano Beach has entered into a partnership with the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association to provide a free community bus service for the city of Fort Lauderdale. The “Tri-Rail Northwest Community Link” serves Tri-Rail’s Fort Lauderdale Station, Broward County Transit’s Broward Central Terminal, and the communities of Hillmont Heights, Lauderdale Manors, and Lauderdale Villas.
The weekday service operates with a bus from the TMA’s Sun Trolley service fleet, which is wheelchair accessible and equipped with bicycle racks.
Steven L. Abrams
POMPANO BEACH, FL—The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners has appointed Commissioner Steven L. Abrams as its representative on the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Governing Board, succeeding Jeff Koons.
Abrams, a three-term mayor of Boca Raton named mayor emeritus in 2008, has served on the board of commissioners since 2009. In the 1980s, he worked in the White House as law clerk to the counsel to President Reagan and current Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Dave Somers, Lance Norton
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, WA—The Community Transit Board of Directors announced the appointments of two new members: Snohomish County Councilmember Dave Somers, who filled the slot vacated when former County Councilmember Mike Cooper was appointed mayor of Edmonds, and Lance Norton, representing the agency’s union membership.
Somers has been an agency board member or alternate since January 2006. He is serving his third term as a member of the county council and serves as its vice chair in 2010.
A new state law requires that public transportation benefit area corporations have a non-voting union representative on their boards. Norton served as president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 from 2000 to 2009, and previously spent 23 years as a coach operator for King County Metro Transit in Seattle.
Also, Snohomish County Councilmember Stephanie Wright was named an alternate to Community Transit’s board. She was selected by the county council to fill Cooper’s position.
OMAHA, NE—HDR has named 16-year employee Tim Bennett, P.E., LEED AP, its client manager for the Union Pacific Railroad.
Bennett has 25 years of engineering experience in the freight rail industry. He is the incoming chair of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association’s Technical Committee 5-Track and a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Railroad Track Structure System Design Committee.
EUGENE, OR—Stefano Viggiano, assistant general manager of the Lane Transit District (LTD), recently was honored with the Peter DeFazio Hall of Fame Award presented annually by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC). OTREC is a National University Transportation Center created by Congress in 2005, a partnership among Portland State University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the Oregon Institute of Technology.
Viggiano is retiring at the end of 2010, following 31 years in the transportation field. He has been involved in the development of numerous bus service and facility projects including LTD’s Bus Rapid Transit service, EmX.
CRESSONA, PA—Sapa Profiles North America has named Patrick Lawlor business area president. He has served the company since 2009 as chief financial officer and general manager, specialty/business integration, and previously was chief financial officer with Indalex.
He earlier worked in Norway at Price Waterhouse and Norsk Hydro.
Adrian Share, Conrad Blankenzee
LAKE MARY, FL—Adrian Share and Conrad Blankenzee have joined HNTB Corporation to work in the firm’s high-speed rail practice in Florida. HNTB, in a joint partnership with Wilbur Smith Associates, was selected by Florida DOT in March 2010 as the program manager for passenger rail in the state, primarily the link between Tampa and Orlando.
Share was named a senior vice president and program director of passenger rail for the newly formed Florida Rail Enterprise. He brings more than 27 years of experience in program and project management, high-speed rail and transit, and roadway/bridge design. He previously worked for HNTB for 18 years, moving to Wilbur Smith Associates in 2004.
Blankenzee has joined the firm as a senior rail specialist with responsibility for the systems development of several high-speed rail projects in Florida. He comes to HNTB from the Auckland, NZ, Regional Transportation Authority.
Elizabeth (Libby) James
GREENSBORO, NC—Elizabeth (Libby) James, Greensboro Transit Authority/Public Transportation Division manager, has received the 2010 Governor’s Public Transportation Award, presented annually by North Carolina DOT’s Public Transportation Division.
James was hired as the first transit administrator for the city of Greensboro in 1990 and was instrumental in the creation of the first city-sponsored transit system. She was promoted to public transportation division manager in 2001. The award specifically recognizes her outreach efforts with the disability community to ensure equal access to all city transit services.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—IndyGo has named Sarah Knight its new manager of marketing and communications.
Knight brings 10 years of public relations experience to the agency. Before joining IndyGo, she served as communications manager for Klipsch Group., Inc, an Indianapolis-based loudspeaker manufacturer, and as a communications specialist for the Indiana Child Care Fund and a public relations assistant for The Field Museum in Chicago.
Clint Guth, Lee Loper
FARIBAULT, MN—ABC Companies has announced that Clint Guth, regional vice president and general manager for the western region, has assumed responsibility for the sales management for ABC’s Midwestern and Canadian regions.
Guth is a 16-year veteran in the bus and motorcoach industry who joined ABC Companies in 1999, and was named the company’s Salesman of the Year in 2003 and 2004.
Lee Loper, former regional vice president and general manager for the Midwest Region, will serve as vice president and general manager for the Nappanee Bus Refurbishment Center.
Thomas B. Furmaniak, Michael A. Tagaras
AMBLER, PA—LTK Engineering Services has named Thomas B. Furmaniak, P.E., its vice president, business development.
Furmaniak first worked for LTK during the 1970s, after which he held senior management positions with MTA New York City Transit and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and served as chief system-wide engineer for the Athens Metro in Greece. Since rejoining LTK in 1998, he has served as vice president for the firm’s Northwest Region, based in Portland OR, and its Southeast Region, based in Atlanta.
Also, Michael A. Tagaras has been promoted to manager of LTK’s South Central Region, based in Dallas. He earlier was manager for the South Texas area, based in Houston, and the New England area, based in Boston. He has more than 21 years experience with transportation systems.
NEW YORK, NY—Ruby Siegel has joined AECOM as a senior member of its North America transportation planning services. With more than 30 years of management and planning experience in the transportation field, she assumes business development and project manager responsibilities for AECOM’s transit and high-speed rail planning programs.
Siegel recently was consultant team project manager for the planning and environmental review phase of the New Jersey Transit Corporation/Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Access to the Region’s Core tunnel project.
WINNIPEG, MB—New Flyer Industries Inc. announced the hiring of Craig Parsley for the newly created position of parts sales manager.
Parsley returns to New Flyer, where he began his career in 1976 and served in the production, engineering, field service, and parts departments. He later held senior positions in parts sales and product development roles with Target Transit Supply and Baker Transit Parts.
Susan L. Keaney,. Melinda Rombold
PITTSBURGH, PA—Ansaldo STS USA announced the appointments of Susan L. Keaney, PMP, to vice president, program management, and Melinda Rombold to vice president, human resources.
Keaney has more than 25 years of experience in project management, including more than 20 years at Westinghouse Electric Company. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute.
Rombold comes to Ansaldo with 18 years of human resources experience.
ST. LOUIS, MO—Mike Mavrogeorge, fire chief of Metro’s St. Louis Downtown Airport, received the Airport Fire Rescue Achievement Award from the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives for his efforts in establishing the fire department at the airport.
Metro hired Mavrogeorge in April 2008 for the purpose of establishing the department. He was responsible for drafting regulations and policies, helping to hire firefighters, overseeing training, participating in design of the station, and working to secure federal grants to build the station and buy equipment.
Carl Adrignola, Steve Brunner, Matt Newsome
SAN DIEGO, CA—Cubic Transportation Systems Inc. promoted Carl Adrignola, Steve Brunner, and Matt Newsome to new positions as vice presidents.
Adrignola, a contracts director for Cubic since 2008, is now vice president of contracts. He has more than 35 years of experience in both commercial and government contracts administration and management.
Brunner and Newsome, previously regional directors, have been promoted to vice president and regional director for their respective regions in North America. Brunner is responsible for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, while Newsome oversees the West Coast.
Brunner started his Cubic career 27 years ago as an intern, and since then he has held progressively challenging positions in program and engineering management in the United States and as director of engineering at Cubic's U.K. subsidiary.
Newsome has been with Cubic for almost 20 years. He started as a mechanical engineer and advanced through engineering management before transferring to Cubic's U.K. operations as director of business development.
LOS ANGELES, CA—Stantec hired Andy Nahle to serve as a principal in its transportation practice and lead of its California aviation services.
Nahle has nearly 27 years of industry experience to the position, including 20 years with the Federal Aviation Administration.