Passenger Transport - March 11, 2011
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BREAKING NEWS

LaHood Tells Appropriators of Changes to Trust Fund

In testimony March 10 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood cited changes to the current Highway Trust Fund included in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 DOT budget request. This proposal includes the first year of a six-year, $556 billion surface transportation authorization plan.

The trust fund plan in the budget proposal would expand the current trust into a new Transportation Trust Fund containing four accounts: one for highways, one for transit, one for high-speed passenger rail, and one for the Infrastructure Bank established in the proposed legislation to finance projects of national or regional significance. The bank, with initial funding of $30 billion over six years, will work with credit markets and private-sector investors to achieve maximum return on federal transportation dollars.

LaHood stated that, consistent with the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, “for the first time, the budget proposes to subject surface transportation spending to ‘paygo’ provisions to make certain that spending does not exceed dedicated revenue. This approach is designed to ensure that our surface transportation program is paid for fully without increasing the deficit.”

NEWS HEADLINES

High Gas Prices Spur Transit Ridership

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

U.S. gasoline prices are shooting up at an unprecedented pace, largely as a result of unrest in the Middle East. Between the end of February and the beginning of March, AAA statistics showed average U.S. gas prices jumping 28 cents a gallon in 10 days.  And historically, when gas prices rise, so does public transportation ridership.

In its monthly transit savings report for March, APTA reported that public transit riders would save $9,904 annually and $825 per month based on the March 4, 2011 average national gas price ($3.47 per gallon – reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. This is the highest savings for public transit riders in two years..

While the numbers coming in are based on very recent events, many agencies across the nation are reporting more trips than in the same time period a year earlier.

For example, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) in Tampa, FL, announced a 19 percent increase in its bus ridership during February compared with the same month in 2010: 1.1 million rides instead of 958,515.

HART Chief Executive Officer David Armijo called the ridership growth “uncharted territory” for the agency. He added: “While public transportation is certainly highlighted during gas spikes and HART expects to continue to attract new riders, our sustained bus ridership increase has been in response to improvements made over the past few years. These include more late-night service, more shelters, and improved frequency of buses.”

Metro in Cincinnati noted that it provided about 1.2 million bus rides in February, a 5 percent increase over February 2010. Its ridership numbers in January 2011 not only exceeded the same month a year ago, they topped the agency’s projected ridership for 2011.

"We believe Metro’s ridership increase is a response to the high gas prices,” said Terry Garcia Crews, Metro’s chief executive officer. “Metro serves the community by providing a money-saving alternative. As commuters realize how much they can save by choosing public transportation, Metro expects ridership to increase even more.”

In Buffalo, NY, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) credited rising gas prices among other reasons for its ridership increase of nearly 3 percent during the four-month period between October 2010 and January 2011, compared with the same period in the previous year.

“Four dollars is sort of the magic number,” said NFTA Interim Director of Surface Transportation Richard McDermott. “When the price of gasoline gets up to $4 per gallon, people are going to look hard at alternative ways to get around the region—and that means transit.”

McDermott explained that NFTA simplified its fare structure in September 2010 and “rebalanced” the route map in November, adding frequency on lines with more riders and eliminating trips on less popular routes.

A CBS News story on the gas price increases focused on a Los Angeles area commuter who began saving money when she left her car at home and used Los Angeles Metro instead.

“Gas prices in California top the nation so it’s not surprising that we’ve seen a spike in Metro ridership,” said Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy. “We’re poised to take advantage of this opportunity to attract new riders, and we’re working on a dozen new transit projects that will create even more options for commuters and others.” 

Even before the gas price situation became a priority, many U.S. public transit systems reported seeing positive signs as far as their ridership.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority noted that total rail ridership increased 7 percent in January 2011 over the previous January and the increase on heavy rail alone totaled 11 percent—despite the fact that the 3.6 million rides system-wide during the month were a 4.25 percent decline from last year.

HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit continued a trend that began when it entered operation, seeing its ridership grow 7.5 percent.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority in Oakland, CA, provided 11 percent more rides in January 2011 than in January 2010, and 13.5 percent more in February.

Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix reported that its ridership increases of 7.2 percent in January and 4.2 percent in February are part of a continuing trend dating back to the launch of the light rail system in December 2008.

LaHood Testifies on the FY 2012 Budget Proposal

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood provided emphatic testimony on March 8 supporting the administration’s DOT budget request for Fiscal Year 2012 before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The FY 2012 transportation budget request totals $129 billion, LaHood said, and includes the first year of a six-year, $556 billion surface transportation authorization plan. It incorporates a $50 billion “up-front” economic boost designed to jumpstart job creation through improvements to the nation’s transit, highway, rail, and aviation systems.

“America is at a transportation crossroads,” the secretary said. “That is why President Obama called on the nation to repair our existing roadways, bridges, railways, and runways and to build new transportation systems—including a national high-speed intercity rail network—which will safely and efficiently move people and goods.”

LaHood explained the four broad goals of the transportation authorization proposal: building for the future, spurring innovation, ensuring safety, and reforming government and exercising responsibility.

“For too long we have put off the improvements needed to keep pace with today’s transportation needs,” LaHood testified. “If we settle for the status quo, our next generation of entrepreneurs will find America’s arteries of commerce impassably clogged and our families and neighbors will fight paralyzing congestion.” He explained that the administration’s proposal addresses this challenge in three ways: through the creation of a national high-speed rail network funded with $53 billion over six years; $336 billion over six years for road and bridge improvements and construction; and $119 billion over six years for “affordable, efficient, and sustainable transit options.”

Innovations include a $32 billion competitive grant program called the Transportation Leadership Awards to recognize states and local governments that demonstrate transformational policy solutions.

As part of the focus on safety, LaHood noted, the administration’s proposal grants rail transit safety oversight to the Federal Transit Administration.

He described how the authorization proposal consolidates and streamlines the current federal public transportation and highway programs, merging six transit programs into one “state of good repair” program and one focusing on “specialized transportation.” It also provides for the conversion of the current system of more than 50 separate highway programs into five new categories.

Political Winds Blowing in a Different Direction

BY MEREDITH SLESINGER, APTA Legislative Analyst

The political winds on Capitol Hill have changed significantly in the year since APTA members came to Washington for the 2010 Legislative Conference. At this critical juncture, therefore, it is essential for APTA members to demonstrate to their federal representatives the benefits that public transportation brings to their districts, so those representatives can also become transit advocates as the political battles continue over the budget and appropriations processes.

So far this year, Congress has dedicated most of its time to completing the federal budget for the current fiscal year, 2011. Because no compromise has been reached on federal appropriations for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, which ends Sept. 30, Congress is operating under a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires March 18.

At the same time, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which authorizes funds for surface transportation programs, has been extended for a seventh time through the end of the fiscal year. It is the hope that this seven-month extension will give Congress time to negotiate and pass a new authorization law.

Amid concerns about the growing size of the federal deficit, new members of the 112th Congress ran on a platform of cutting government spending, balancing the budget, and eliminating earmarks. President Obama has agreed with the initiative to eliminate earmarks and has pledged to veto any legislation that contains them.

To meet the Republican pledge to present a budget $100 billion lower than the administration’s FY 2011 request, the House passed H.R. 1, a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year that contained $7.87 billion in cuts from DOT compared to FY 2010 enacted levels and rescinded $3.752 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for transportation programs. However, these funding levels were unacceptable to Senate Democrats.

It remains to be seen how the House and Senate will compromise on spending cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year. If no compromise on the remainder of the fiscal year is reached by March 18, Congress may pass another short-term extension to keep the federal government operating.

The current CR reduces discretionary spending by $4 billion, which meets the Republican goal of cutting spending by $2 billion per week to meet its $100 billion goal. This was done by making cuts to programs that President Obama had already suggested eliminating in the FY 2012 budget, as well as terminating in FY 2011 some of the earmarks made available in FY 2010. While transit was not affected in the most recent round of cuts, it is a possibility in future negotiations.

Last month, the president unveiled his budget request for FY 2012, which contained steep cuts in discretionary government spending. However, transportation programs were among the few to see an increase in funding under the administration’s proposal. As part of the campaign to “win the future,” infrastructure is included with education and innovation as one of the sectors with increased federal investment.

The president’s budget proposal contained a six-year authorization proposal of $556 billion for surface transportation, which would more than double transit investment from FY 2010 enacted levels during the first year. It would bring public transportation’s share of funding over the six years in line with APTA’s recommendations of $123 billion in its authorization recommendations.

The administration’s proposal includes renaming the Highway Trust Fund to the Transportation Trust Fund with subaccounts for highways, mass transit, high-speed rail, and a national infrastructure bank. The proposal did not include a revenue source for high-speed rail and the infrastructure bank, but stated that the administration plans to work with Congress to develop a revenue solution. The budget request also explicitly stated that the revenue source for highways and transit would remain unchanged; however, increasing the gas tax was not included in the president’s proposal.

Another key policy change reclassifies surface transportation spending as mandatory and subject to Congressional PAYGO provisions to ensure that spending is limited to actual revenues generated. This allows the president to state that his transportation proposal is deficit neutral. If it is enacted, all federal public transportation programs would be funded by the Transportation Trust Fund (with the exception of grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority). Currently, approximately 20 percent of public transportation funds come from the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury.

This reclassification of funds for surface transportation programs would result in the restoration of the guarantees that funds are to be made available at authorized levels on a year-to-year basis.

APTA members have a great deal of important work to do over the next week in Washington to support the president’s proposal for increased investment in public transportation and the need for the certainty a long-term authorization brings to the industry and the public.

Rogoff Details Transit Budget; Highlights Infrastructure, State of Good Repair

With the administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget on everyone’s mind, Passenger Transport (PT) asked Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, some pressing questions concerning this budget proposal. His responses follow.

PT: Can you talk at all about what the overall proposal seeks to do in terms of addressing national goals?

Rogoff: During his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out an aggressive but achievable plan to out-build, out-innovate, and out-educate our global economic competitors. At the heart of the president’s challenge is public transit. The president’s budget and reauthorization proposal mark a groundbreaking commitment to expand transit options for Americans and maintain our transit systems in a state of good repair.
 This commitment is an important reflection of the role that transportation infrastructure—including transit—will play in growing our economy for years to come. Proposed funding for affordable, efficient, and sustainable bus and rail transit systems is increased by 126 percent in the president’s budget proposal. And our commitment to safety is demonstrated by the fact that the budget also requests new authority for the Federal Transit Administration to ensure the safety of rail-transit riders across America.

We understand it would replace the existing bus/bus facilities program and the fixed guideway modernization program. How would you distribute these funds and how would you address situations where an agency needs to address substantial capital projects, such as maintenance facilities and fueling facilities?

The budget provides $10.7 billion for State of Good Repair (SGR). For Fiscal Year 2012, that’s more than three times our current funding for fixed guideway modernization and discretionary bus programs combined. Of this, $7.5 billion is included in the president’s $50-billion up-front investment in DOT-wide initiatives, so SGR is very high on the Obama Administration's agenda.

Through the SGR program, we will provide formula grants to transit agencies to enable them to improve the condition of their existing capital assets. Grants will be distributed by a reformulated two-tiered formula for both bus and rail that closely reflects the capital needs of transit agencies. The formula will give priority to transit agencies with the most pressing capital investment requirements.

Recent FTA studies show that older, rail-based transit systems face the greatest capital replenishment needs. A September 2010 FTA study found that the nation’s transit systems, including bus systems, have a $78 billion backlog of assets in marginal or poor condition. Given that, FTA’s SGR formulas will balance the needs of older and newer transit systems.

There is a discussion in the proposal about performance measurements. APTA supports performance measures in the transportation program and is in the process of finalizing its principles on this issue. Can you talk a bit about what kind of goals you want to seek in the performance measures?

The administration wants to be sure that we target resources to transit agencies with the greatest capital asset needs and monitor their progress in bringing transit assets to a state of good repair.

As part of this effort, FTA will develop performance measures that focus on reducing the nation’s capital asset backlog. We envision that grantees will report their asset conditions and how they are addressing their backlog via FTA’s National Transit Database (NTD) on an annual basis. This will help the FTA continue to make the case for adequate SGR investment.

Of course, FTA’s success in this area will depend on the quality of the data we receive. So, in order to improve the quality of data, FTA will be working with transit agencies both to develop a simplified analysis tool to help with forecasting long-term recapitalization needs and to ensure they have accurate, up-to-date inventory data.

Can you elaborate on temporary, targeted use of federal transit funds to help transit systems address operating costs at this point in time when revenues that normally help support transit operating costs have been adversely affected by the economy?

DOT’s proposed flexibility to use [Section] 5307 funds for operating expenses is an important recognition that these agencies need help addressing their operating shortfalls in the short run. In smaller urban areas and in rural areas, of course, FTA formula funds can already pay for operating assistance. But now we are proposing that FTA funding be available for temporary operating assistance specifically in economically distressed urbanized areas with a population of over 200,000. This flexibility would phase out over three years. In the first year, grantees in these targeted areas would be permitted to use up to 25 percent of their urbanized area apportionment for operating expenses and declining portions during the second and third years.

What other highlights of the budget are you enthusiastic about?

Our renamed Capital Investment Program, formerly the New Starts program, will feature simpler streamlined requirements for funding. The program received a record $3.2 billion in the president’s FY 2012 proposed funding recommendations for 28 transit construction projects across the United States. This amount includes assistance from a $1 billion up-front investment to help major transit capital projects reach the finish line. This will help us do an even better job of moving projects to revenue service and fully paying off the federal share more quickly.

In addition, with our new emergency relief program, we’ll be able to green-light up to $25 million a year in emergency assistance to grantees who, for example, lose a significant portion of their bus fleet to a flood. We will no longer be entirely dependent on FEMA and other agencies for a quick emergency response.

The budget lays the foundation for a six-year $119 billion reauthorization proposal for transit—a significant 126 percent increase above our level under SAFETEA-LU. This includes a more streamlined formula for State of Good Repair; a Consolidated Specialized Transportation Program and improved processes for the capital transit program; and a new Livable Communities pilot program that provides greater access to transit for cities and rural areas.

HSR Partnerships Key to Success in WA, OR

In Washington State late last month, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced the signing of agreements that guaranteed $590 million in federal funding to improve the Amtrak Cascades rail corridor from Portland to Seattle. This project, one of 28 moving forward on high-speed rail, provides an example of a successful initiative attained through a series of partnerships.

With these agreements, work can now begin during this year’s construction season, which will create more than 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. “This is another great development for our state in that this rail work will generate thousands of highly skilled construction and operating jobs and result in important improvements in rail passenger service,” Gregoire said.

One agreement was signed between the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that guarantees the funding amount initially awarded in early 2010.

Separately, Amtrak, BNSF Railway, and WSDOT signed an agreement that outlines how rail investments will be made based on service outcomes and passenger rail performance benchmarks on rail lines shared by freight and passenger rail, such as on-time performance and faster travel times.

This funding will provide for:

* Two additional daily Amtrak Cascades round trips added between Seattle and Portland, for a total of six, by 2017;

* Increased on-time reliability (from 62 percent to 88 percent);

* More consistent speeds throughout the corridor, resulting in faster travel times between Seattle and Portland;

* Completion of major construction projects, including construction of bypass tracks to allow for increased train frequency and multiple upgrades to existing track; and 

* Such safety-related projects as grade separations and the latest technology in advanced-warning signal systems.

Gregoire credited the state’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), as instrumental in working with federal partners in Washington, DC, to secure this passenger rail funding.

“Our state and region’s partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration will make a major contribution to moving rail passengers between our fast-growing cities,” said Sound Transit Deputy CEO Celia Kupersmith. “We are pleased that Sound Transit’s investments in establishing long-awaited commuter rail service between Tacoma and Lakewood are moving forward in close coordination with the Washington State Department of Transportation’s establishment of a high-speed rail corridor in Washington. Our residents are grateful for the federal support for both of these important priorities.”

“We believe reaching this agreement is consistent with that long-term relationship with WSDOT and our agreement with Amtrak, which will bring improved passenger service in the corridor,” said Matt Rose, BNSF Railway chairman and chief executive officer.

“Amtrak congratulates all the parties in reaching this important agreement to advance America’s high-speed rail program,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman. “We look forward to the opportunity to deliver improved intercity travel options for rail passengers in the Pacific Northwest.”

Poll Shows Widespread Support for Smart Growth

Almost four out of five U.S. residents—regardless of political affiliation—support sustainable communities, according to a poll released this month by Smart Growth America (SGA).

According to the poll, Building for the 21st Century: American Support for Sustainable Communities, 79 percent of Americans overall approve of the sustainable community, defined as an urban, suburban, or rural community that has more housing and transportation choices; is closer to jobs, shops, or schools; is more energy independent; and helps protect clean air and water. When broken down by political party, the figures are 89 percent of Democrats; 76 percent of Independent voters; 72 percent of Republicans; and 65 percent of those polled with no party affiliation.

Other major findings from the poll of 1,200 people, conducted in late 2010, include:

* Most Americans believe their region needs more sustainable communities: 66 percent overall, which breaks down to 74 percent in urban areas, 67 percent in the suburbs, and 54 percent in rural areas;

* Most Americans—more than 80 percent nationwide—believe that sustainable communities are an important part of rebuilding the national economy; and

* Large majorities of Americans agree about a number of problems facing our country, including dependence on oil; the high cost of housing and transportation; the troubles facing the economy; and spending existing federal funds more wisely—all of which can be addressed through smart growth solutions.

The poll results are available online.

DOT Announces Review of Existing Regulations

On Feb. 16, DOT published a Federal Register notice announcing its intent to review “its existing regulations to evaluate their continued validity and determine whether they are crafted effectively to solve current problems.”

The announcement follows President Obama’s Jan. 18, 2011, Executive Order directing each executive branch agency to review its significant regulations and determine if they are “outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome.”

The president reiterated the need for a transparent regulatory process in his Executive Order, and the DOT Federal Register notice explains how the review process will be more effective if conducted with the input of those affected by the regulations. The Executive Order requires DOT to submit a preliminary plan to analyze its existing rules and the department intends to use comments received in this process to inform its preliminary plan.

DOT has specifically asked for comments concerning:
* How best to evaluate and analyze regulations;
* How to determine the costs, burdens, and benefits of existing regulations;
* Whether there are means for DOT to measure the effects of rules over time;
* Whether DOT’s current process for periodically reviewing regulations is effective; and
* How DOT should prioritize regulations for review.

DOT should receive comments on or before April 1, 2011, to ensure their proper consideration. APTA will submit comments based on the consensus positions of its members and has asked for initial input as soon as possible to ensure its members have adequate time to review draft comments on this vital rulemaking. Input and questions should be addressed to APTA’s chief counsel and vice president-corporate affairs, Jim LaRusch.

McMillan Receives Distinguished Alumni Award from UC-Berkeley

The University of California-Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design (CED) honored Therese W. McMillan, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), with the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award. The annual award, presented March 4, recognizes alumni for outstanding professional, social, academic, artistic, or other achievements at the local, national, or international level.

Before joining FTA in July 2009, McMillan worked for the San Francisco Bay Area Region’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, CA.

McMillan majored in environmental policy analysis and planning as an undergraduate and pursued graduate studies at Berkeley’s CED, becoming a member of the first graduating class for the dual master’s program in transportation (receiving an M.S. in civil engineering science and a Master of City Planning degree).  She was a member of the CED alumni board from 2005 to 2009, serving as both vice chair and chair.

“I congratulate Therese on receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award, and for her lifetime achievements in the transportation industry,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We are fortunate to have her at the department, and her appointment as deputy administrator is a testimony to the caliber and expertise of those who serve in the Obama administration.”

“Therese brings a keen ability to assess, analyze, and improve the way FTA does business,” said Administrator Peter Rogoff. “She has been instrumental in strengthening FTA’s civil rights and program oversight, and leading our effort to build smarter, more livable communities that better connect people with the places they need to go. Therese is an invaluable asset to the FTA and we are proud of this recognition of her achievement.”

‘Mad Men’ and … High-Speed Rail?

U.S. PIRG, in conjunction with the web site Funny or Die,  has worked with two actors from TV’s Mad Men to produce a video in support of high-speed rail.

Acting as their on-screen characters in the 1960s, the two men banter that high-speed rail is so clearly a good idea that the smart people in government will “of course” make it happen the way they did for highways and airports. “I think you can relax on this whole thing,” says one. “I read that in 40 years, gas is going to be almost a dollar a gallon.”

The video ends with a voiceover: “We can’t wait another decade to move forward on high-speed rail. The future is now. Tell your friends, tell your family, but most importantly—if you agree—then tell your senators.”

If large numbers of visitors to the website click that they find the video funny, then it stays at the top of the website and attracts many more viewers. The more viewers, the more attention high-speed rail will receive. To see the video, click here.

FRA Seeks Comments on Safety Notification

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would make it easier for the public to report unsafe conditions at highway-rail grade crossings. The proposal, published March 4 in the Federal Register, would require railroads to establish toll-free telephone numbers to allow the public to report malfunctioning highway-rail grade crossing warning signals, disabled vehicles blocking crossings, or any other unsafe conditions at crossings.

Under the proposed rule, once the railroad receives a call from the public about a malfunctioning crossing signal or a vehicle stalled on the crossing, train operators in that area would be immediately notified of the unsafe condition in an effort to avoid an accident.

The proposal to establish Emergency Notification Systems would require railroads to post a toll-free telephone number and DOT’s National Crossing Inventory identification number at every highway-rail crossing and explicitly authorized pathway grade crossing. Currently, all of the larger Class I freight railroads and larger passenger railroads have some type of system in place by which they receive notification of unsafe conditions at grade crossings. However, not all smaller railroads have such a system in place.

Based on National Crossing Inventory data from the end of December 2009, the proposed rule would affect 211,401 highway-rail and pathway grade crossings and 594 railroads.

“Giving the public the power to report unsafe conditions at a highway-rail grade crossing can save lives,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“With a uniform emergency notification system all railroads must follow, we could cut the number of highway-rail crossing incidents,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo.  “Standardization would simplify the process for both the public and railroads, saving precious time and lives.”

The proposed rule is required by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and was developed following public outreach efforts by FRA. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available here. Comment is due 60 days after the Federal Register notice.

Mineta Report Examines Low-Income Riders

Most low-income U.S. households are concerned about transportation costs even if they do not own cars and receive subsidized transit passes, according to the newest report from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI).

In MTI Research Report 10-02, Getting Around When You're Just Getting By: The Travel Behavior and Transportation Expenditures of Low-Income Adults, principal investigator Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D., asked how people with limited resources pay for cars, public transit, and other means of travel, and how their transportation behavior changes during periods of falling employment and rising fuel prices. She and her research team conducted in-depth interviews with 73 adults to examine how rising transportation costs have an impact on low-income families.

The report covers four general areas: travel behavior and transportation spending patterns; costs and benefits of alternative travel modes; cost management strategies; and opinions about the effect of changing transportation prices on travel behavior.

MTI reported that low-income individuals actively and strategically manage their household resources to survive on very limited means and to respond to changes in income or transportation costs. When making mode-choice decisions, these travelers carefully evaluate the costs of travel (time and out-of-pocket expenses) against the benefits of each mode.

Members of low-income households find ways to cover their transportation expenditures, according to MTI; however, many of these strategies had negative effects on lifestyles, such as greater stress and anxiety, reduced expenditures on necessities such as food, inability to participate in various activities, and limiting residents to the neighborhood around their homes.

Agrawal cited MTI’s recommendations for improving services to this population: change policies to mitigate the hardships of poverty and the costs of transportation; improve transportation services for this population by improving data; and take into account both the time and money costs of transportation and the benefits from different types of travel.
The full report can be downloaded at no charge by clicking here.

 

FRA Explains FY 2012 Budget Proposal

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) presented its $8.2 billion budget for passenger rail programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 at a March 8 webinar, hosted by APTA and linked at more than 100 locations. FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae was the featured speaker at the webinar.

The overwhelming majority of that amount—$8.046 billion—would go toward the National High-Performance Rail System (NHPRS): the first year of a six-year proposal to set the stage for realizing President Obama’s goal of giving 80 percent of Americans convenient access to a passenger rail system, featuring high-speed service, within 25 years.

FRA is requesting these funds to preserve and enhance America’s existing rail infrastructure and to support development of a three-tiered passenger rail network consisting of:

* Core Express—Connect large urban areas up to 500 miles apart within two to three hours on electrified, dedicated track (125-250+ mph);

* Regional—Connect mid-size urban areas up to 500 miles apart with service on dedicated and shared track (90-125 mph); and

* Emerging—Connect smaller communities with service on shared track (up to 90 mph).

For the first time ever, the administration proposes to include passenger rail programs in a multi-year authorization funded with mandatory contract authority out of a dedicated rail account of the new Transportation Trust Fund (the successor to the Highway Trust Fund).

This budget also advances $223 million for railroad safety activities, including monitoring compliance of federal safety regulations throughout the nation’s rail industry.  Another $40 million would support the research agenda in rail systems safety, human factors in train operations, rolling stock and components, track and structures, track and train interaction, train control, grade crossings, hazardous materials transportation, train occupant protection, facilities and test equipment, and rail cooperative research.

In addition to FRA’s support for developing “world-class” high-speed rail, Rae cited these key changes to passenger rail programs:

* Opportunities for private sector participation and greater competition;

* Investment in Northeast Corridor and in rail station accessibility by bringing all stations into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act;

* Upfront investment in replacing aging equipment that will increase reliability, boost domestic manufacturing, and create jobs;

* Better and more comprehensive administration by consolidation and integration of previously disconnected passenger rail programs; and

* Realignment of the Amtrak budget according to business lines (state corridors, Northeast Corridor, long-distance routes), thus increasing the transparency of Amtrak’s federal funding.

Wilbur Smith Associates Now Part of CDM

CDM, based in Cambridge, MA, has announced its acquisition of Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA) of Columbia, SC. CDM provides consulting, engineering, construction, and operations services in water, environment, transportation, energy, and facilities, while WSA’s professional services consulting portfolio covers transportation, infrastructure, and community development planning, engineering, and economics.

CDM has more than 4,600 employees in 123 offices, 85 of them in the U.S. WSA employs 1,182 people in its 54 offices, 42 of which are in the U.S. Engineering News-Record included both firms in its 2010 ratings of Top 500 Design Firms (CDM is 21st, WSA is 64th) and Top 200 International Design Firms (86th and 114th respectively).

With the transaction completed, the firms have begun the important transition process to integrate the two organizations. 

RouteMatch Software Acquires RouteShout

RouteMatch Software Inc., based in Atlanta, has acquired RouteShout™, a Traveler Information Systems (TIS) product developed by Deeplocal, a Carnegie-Mellon University spin-out.

RouteShout combines real street network data, real-time Global Positioning Satellite information, and predictive analysis algorithms to pull, convert, and push real-time information to riders.

“Transit agencies now using or considering any paratransit or fixed route technology have proven schedule information and a real-time estimated time of arrival solution with RouteShout,” said Tim Quinn, executive vice president of RouteMatch Software. “Real-time bus and rail arrival information has been the missing link to achieving fully coordinated Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for many transit agencies. RouteShout can help complete their ITS vision.”

Public transportation agencies also can use RouteShout to notify customers of disruptions or route or schedule changes via alerts. It can also help lower volume of phone calls into call centers and the costs of printing paper schedules.

COMMENTARY

Now is the Time for All Good Transit People to Come to the Aid of Their Industry

BY WILLIAM MILLAR

Every year APTA urges its members to attend the Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, because it provides excellent opportunities to meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill to advocate for public transportation investment. These visits are always important, but let me say to you—candidly and directly: There has never been a more critical time to meet with your Representatives and Senators than this year.

So much is at stake. Surface transportation authorization has been delayed 17 months so far; the appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011 are still not completed; and the House has proposed to cut public transit and high-speed rail funding. On the plus side, President Obama’s FY 2012 budget calls for more than doubling the investment for public transit and substantial investment in high-speed rail. All of these elements are being considered within the context of the desire to reduce the federal deficit.

Add to the above that more than 100 new members of Congress were elected in November; dozens more were not in Congress when SAFETEA-LU was passed in 2005; and there are hundreds of new Congressional staff. Many members of Congress and their staffs don’t know much about the federal transit program and what it represents in their districts and states.

What this means is—there is a need for lots of education, and a “back to basics” message of how public transit plays a vital role for our citizens, our communities, and our country. Here at APTA, our staff focuses on the national messages and statistics to make the case. But there are no better advocates than APTA members, including you. Your meetings with members of Congress and staff offer an opportunity for you to convey the real impact of federal funding for public transit. I urge you to be direct, specific, and clear on how your community or business (and their constituents) will suffer without continued—if not more—federal investment in public transit.

Explain how important the federal dollars are for your transit system or business and your community. Make sure your members of Congress know exactly how much money goes into their district and state each year from the federal government for public transportation.

Transit members should focus on their annual formula apportionment in addition to talking about projects underway or planned and the vehicles they are purchasing or intend to purchase. Remember—earmarks have been eliminated, so your special projects are likely to be funded through formula or un-earmarked program dollars, and they are at risk as Congress looks to reduce the federal budget. Explain how your federal funds are combined with state and local dollars to operate your system, maintain your assets in a state of good repair, and meet ridership demands from their constituents.

Business members should talk about the number of jobs they create and support because of federal investment, what kinds of jobs they are, and how such economic activity generates more business for their communities whether they have transit services or not. Remind the members of Congress that for each $1 billion invested in public transportation, 36,000 jobs are created and supported. For every $1 invested, $4 in economic activity is generated. Also help them understand why a six-year bill is required both for planning purposes and to spur investments.

Don’t be shy about explaining how reductions in federal investment will have a negative impact on your system or business. Help them understand that without long-term funding, projects simply cannot go forward.

Let your members of Congress know that their failure to support federal investment will lead to constituent job losses, deferred maintenance, delayed or canceled projects, and the inability of transit systems to meet growing ridership demands in their communities.

You should also express your strong support for President Obama’s request for more than $22 billion for public transit and $8 billion for high-speed and intercity passenger rail investment for FY 2012. This is the first year in the president’s long-term authorization proposal; he has advanced an excellent, game-changer budget and authorization proposal. If members of Congress want to improve upon it, fine, but it is critical that Congress and the administration work together to find a way to finance a well-funded, six-year, multimodal surface transportation program.

Finally, talk to your representatives about the rapidly rising gas prices and their volatility. Public transit is the quickest and most effective way for citizens to beat the high cost of gasoline if they have transit service available. Households using public transit save an average of $9,900 a year. Talk about your experiences from 2007 and 2008 when gas prices were high and explain the impact that high prices have on your system’s budget and ridership.

Your message must be: Congress needs to expand public transit services—not reduce them—if we are to get serious about reducing our dependence on oil from foreign sources and help Americans save money.

As I said before, there is much at stake. There are many risks, but there can also be great rewards. Odd as it may sound, this year we will need to play both defense—and offense. We face a unique opportunity to ensure that public transit plays an even larger role in helping expand travel options for our citizens and improving the social and economic health of our communities and our nation. Not just for now, but to leave a strong legacy for the generations who follow.

To repeat—this is a critical time. Let’s join together, as we have so many times in the past. Together, we can succeed!

LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS

Hundreds of Conference Goers Convene in Washington to Examine Legislative Issues

As uncertainty remains over the status of a federal surface transportation authorization bill and Congress continues to discuss current-year appropriations levels, hundreds of public transportation professionals have come to Washington, DC, to make their voices heard during the 36th Annual APTA Legislative Conference, March 13-15.

Conference activities kicked off at the JW Marriott Hotel during the weekend with numerous committee meetings, the “Welcome to Washington” session featuring political expert and pundit Charlie Cook, and the Welcoming Reception.

LaHood Headlines Monday’s Events
On Monday, March 14, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood will present the keynote address at the Opening General Session, “What’s Ahead for Transit – New Opportunities in 2011.” He will discuss the administration’s transportation initiatives, including its recently released budget request for Fiscal Year 2012 and proposal for a new surface transportation authorization bill that more than doubles public transit investment.

The opening session follows a breakfast briefing on “The Insider Perspective on the Transit Industry” headlined by former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who is also a former chairman of the Amtrak board. Thompson will offer his views on national political dynamics and how the public transportation industry can best make its case in Washington.

The next session, “Expanding the Transit Coalition: Partners in Transportation Authorization,” brings together representatives of organizations with similar goals for transportation, including the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and Americans for Transportation Mobility.

The first afternoon session—after a lunchtime performance by the satirical group the Capitol Steps—features DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, sharing the latest news from their agencies.

The day’s schedule concludes with “View from the Hill,” where key congressional staff report on legislative issues of importance to the transit industry, and the first-ever “Capitol Hill Summit Kickoff.” The summit is a new APTA initiative that will feature a series of events to help make the case for public transportation while APTA members are in Washington for the conference.  The kickoff session will bring together advocacy tips and techniques from the “Advocacy Guru,” Stephanie Vance, with remarks from friends of public transportation on Capitol Hill, Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

On Tuesday and Wednesday
The schedule for Tuesday, March 15, begins with the “Get Started with Members of Congress Breakfast” featuring House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL).

APTA will hold a public transportation showcase in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building to serve as a gathering place and information center for APTA members as they go from meeting to meeting with their elected officials.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., APTA joins with ATU to host a reception in the Rayburn building cafeteria.

Following the conference on Wednesday, March 16, APTA will host a half-day workshop on changes in the FTA’s New and Small Starts programs. Participants are asked to register in advance at the APTA registration desk at the JW Marriott Hotel.

Visiting Capitol Hill: Introductory Legislation 101

BY SUSAN BERLIN,Senior Editor

The legislative process is the backbone of federal funding for public transportation, but—like a human spine—it’s part of a complicated organism that can’t be understood without help. What follows is a “guided tour” that explains how bills are enacted—in this case, public transit-related bills—and why the process seems at times to take so long.

To begin with, any member of Congress can write a bill on any subject and submit it to the full chamber, which refers the legislation to a specific committee for consideration. Which committee will receive the legislation, though, is less straightforward.

In the House, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) considers authorizing legislation for transportation, which includes public transit. The Ways and Means Committee oversees transit financing, including the Highway Trust Fund and commuter benefits, and the House Appropriations Committee takes care of apportioning funds. The appropriations bill that includes DOT also covers the Department of Housing and Urban Development, while the Department of Homeland Security has its own appropriations bill, which includes transit security.

The situation is even more dispersed in the Senate. The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee covers public transit; the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee oversees highways; and the Commerce Committee has responsibility for passenger and freight rail, including intercity rail. The Senate Appropriations Committee takes care of transportation appropriations, but the Highway Trust Fund is in the purview of the Senate Finance Committee.

Bills that cover topics under the jurisdiction of different committees can receive multiple referrals.

The administration launches the legislative process for major bills such as budgets and, in the past, major transportation authorization bills by submitting its version of the legislation to Congress. The administration has not formally submitted a full proposal for the next authorization bill, but did release principles in conjunction with its request for the Fiscal Year 2012 budget. Congress rarely enacts the administration’s bill without making changes.

Members of Congress introduce a large number of bills, many of which never progress beyond consideration by a committee or subcommittee. Legislators need a reason to move a specific bill, such as funding specific needs or dealing with a particular problem.

In general, the process goes like this:

A member of Congress introduces a bill to the full House or Senate, which assigns the bill to the committee of jurisdiction.

The legislation receives consideration first in a subcommittee, then in the full committee. Along the way, senior committee staff plan hearings on topics related to the issues covered in the bill; they receive input from members of the committee, consult with interested organizations, and ultimately invite witnesses to testify.

The subcommittees incorporate information obtained during the hearings as they prepare draft legislation for the full committee. Separate bills on similar topics may make their way through the House and Senate at the same time, each with its own schedule for hearings, committee meetings, and procedural votes.

Subcommittee members “mark up” (amend) the draft bill until the majority agrees to submit the revised bill to the parent full committee, which then holds its own mark-up session. The full committee may insert entire new sections to the bill, even to the point of preparing a completely different version.

If components of the legislation fall under the jurisdiction of another committee, it goes there after passing the primary committee by majority vote. After the committees finish their oversight, the bill is then “reported out” to the full chamber of its respective body of Congress.

The full House and Senate debate, amend, and vote on their respective surface transportation bills, after which a conference committee is formed to reconcile differences between the two and arrive at a mutually acceptable compromise.

Once the conference committee agrees on a final version of the bill, it is returned to each body of Congress for final passage. The full House and Senate must vote on conference bills in their entirety, exactly as presented by the conferees. When the conference bill has passed both houses, it goes to the president for signature.

However, all of these steps are not always necessary to complete the legislative process, according to Justin Harclerode, director of communications for the House T&I Committee. For instance, a committee can discharge a bill without considering it at the subcommittee or full committee level, and the bill can go straight to the House floor. Either the House or Senate can generally take up a piece of legislation passed out of the other body and approve it, in which case there is no need for a conference.

Planning a House Hearing
Harclerode also presented an overview of what goes into a congressional hearing. “The process of arranging and conducting committee hearings can vary in length, but typically takes several weeks,” he said. “Once a hearing topic is determined, potentially relevant witnesses must be identified and invited, making sure that they can offer valid insights on the topic at hand, and that their schedules will work with the date or dates being considered.”

While witnesses prepare their remarks on their own and submit the written testimony before the hearing, the committee members and staff develop background information in preparation to ensure that the hearing will be as thorough and informative as possible.

Hearings can also be assembled more quickly if necessary, Harclerode said, for instance to address urgent issues in a more timely fashion.

The text of the written testimony appears on the committee’s web site following the hearing. Also, the official record remains open for additions, supplemental information, and further written testimony from any other interested stakeholders who were not part of the official witness panel.

Tips and Techniques for Your ‘Capitol Hill Summit’ Visits: How to Make the Most Out of Your Advocacy Efforts

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

To emphasize the importance of federal investment in public transportation and support for a surface transportation authorization bill, APTA is holding its first “Capitol Hill Summit” during the 2011 Legislative Conference in Washington. The summit’s purpose? To ensure that conference participants make every minute count during their visits to members of Congress and their staffs.

So what are the most efficient and effective ways to present their case?

Here are some tips and techniques to help with the campaign, culled from people who have significant longtime experience “in the trenches.”

Before Your Visit
* Do your homework. Before going to Capitol Hill, become familiar with the issues. You’ll reach maximum effectiveness if you are fluent not only with your agency’s situation, but also with what Congress can do to help find a solution. In other words, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. If the legislator asks a question to which you don’t know the answer, say “I will get back to you”—and do so, promptly. Study the legislator’s past record; identify any prior transit support.

* Concentrate on members of Congress from your home state. Legislative advocacy is most effective when done by constituents. Start with these representatives—regardless of their committee assignments—then, if you have time, meet with other decision-making members who do not depend on your vote.

* Anticipate questions—and prepare answers. Before you set foot in a Congressional office, take the time back home to prepare for the visit by thinking through your questions and answers, even rehearsing your approach with a colleague. Develop your message (talking points). Research the legislator’s past votes or statements on the issue, the position of the legislator’s party, and his or her committee assignments.

* Understand the legislator’s position. A member of Congress must deal with many competing interests and requests for funding and assistance. Even the best legislator has to balance these requests and determine which ones take precedence. Recognize these political realities when making a request.

* Politics is consumer-driven. A legislator needs to know the importance of your position to the real people who live in his or her district—and there’s no better way to bring the issue home than by sharing real-life examples of how public transit benefits people in your community and state. For example, describe how service improvements will allow a faster commute for constituents, or how additional station accessibility will make transit more available to more residents. Business members can stress the number of jobs this project will create in the district and state.

* Make sure you talk to the right person. Identify the staff member responsible for transportation issues before the visit—and make your appointment in advance. This way, you won’t waste your time, hoping the staffer sees you. Also, it is to your advantage to speak with the person most likely to have a background in your specific issue or project. In addition, always identify yourself at every contact and remind the person of your issue.

During the Visit
* Keep the visit brief and focused. Your visit to a Congressional office will be most effective if you speak simply yet specifically, saying: “This is who I am, this is what my organization needs, and these are the facts.” Most veteran advocates recommend staying no more than five minutes. At the start of the meeting, thank the legislator (or staffer) for his or her previous support. Bring concise, to-the-point materials to distribute in the office before you leave—nothing voluminous or hard to read. Think user-friendly, with limited text, charts, and graphs.

* Be specific. Simply expressing an opinion—such as: “Our transit agency needs more money”—won’t change anything. Instead, provide details of specific projects. Describe what you need, then listen to what they say they can provide.

* Be professional. Arrive promptly for your appointment, adding in enough time to clear security. Once you meet the member of Congress or staffer, be scrupulously honest and trustworthy and stay calm. Avoid criticizing others when making the case for your issue.

* Be aware of counter-arguments; be ready for what you don’t know. If you don’t know an answer, just admit that, and promise to find out the answer and provide it quickly.

* Remember that the process is a dialogue. Don’t do all the talking. Ask directly and politely for the policymaker’s views and position on the issue and what he or she plans to do. Do not let the policymaker or staffer distract you with other topics; gently steer the conversation back to your issue. Avoid responding to subjects that veer from your key points.

* Take nothing for granted. Never assume that a legislator supports or opposes a position strictly because of party affiliation. Look for common values and work to build a communications bridge. At the same time, members of Congress and his or her staff will treat you with courtesy and respect—even if they disagree with your position. Make sure you know the legislator’s views on the issue.

* Stay focused. Remain on point when making your presentation. Have a message and stick to it—and be as polite as possible. Remember, this is your field of expertise. Before leaving the office, always thank the legislator or staffer for his or her time.

* Be patient. Realize that building a relationship takes time. The goal is achieving consensus, which may take many more steps.

After the Visit
* Follow up. Be sure to send a thank-you note after your visit and offer to provide further assistance. Don’t be in touch only when you want something from your representatives, and remember to thank them additionally when they take a position you agree with.

* Keep the lines of communication open. Even if the representative does not agree with your cause, offer that individual the opportunity to communicate with you and hear your perspective. Make your contact with the legislator or staffer go beyond the actual visit: call, write letters, and e-mail.

Remember that each individual Hill visit you make is part of a comprehensive strategy. By working together, public transportation professionals can ensure that members of Congress know the necessity of federal transit funding for the nation’s continued economic and environmental success.

IN DEPTH

BRAC Closings = More Personnel + Need for Public Transit

BY CHUCK McCUTCHEON,Special to Passenger Transport

Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

For security reasons, military bases often feature long, snaking lines of cars waiting to get inside the front gates. Now, thanks to the Pentagon’s decision to shift workers among numerous bases around the country, some military sites are likely to see even longer lines of cars and plenty of other traffic-congestion problems—but without adequate public transportation to help ease the burden.

That’s the conclusion of a new federal study that found that public transit needs to be given much more serious consideration as the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) shifts workers from closed bases to active ones.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) examined how BRAC decisions in 2005 to move personnel from bases slated for closure to new ones have affected four areas of the country, from the Washington, DC, region to Washington State. It found that military planners did not always consider in advance how the moves would aggravate traffic problems, and recommended that the Pentagon assume a greater share of the costs involved.

The study, released in February, said the Defense Department’s efforts to deal with increased traffic demand focused largely on building new roads. It noted that the department’s Defense Access Roads program—the only dedicated funding source for assisting communities with BRAC-related transportation needs—cannot, by statute, fund public transit improvements.

The study recommended “a wide range of options” to address congestion, including expanded transit services, transit benefit programs, bus shuttles, and vanpooling. To fund such efforts, it said Congress should consider either a one-time special appropriation or reprogramming of uncommitted economic stimulus money.

“If you’re talking about urban areas where congestion exists, public transportation has to be a part of the discussion,” said Joseph Sussman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who chaired the NAS study committee.

The study “calls attention to serious issues that need a higher profile” among federal lawmakers in a time of tight budgets, agreed Martin Wachs, a senior principal transportation researcher at the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, CA.

“The BRAC program is supposed to save money for American taxpayers, yet in the realm of transportation, it’s clear that consolidation brings new and sometimes substantial costs,” Wachs said. “Sometimes consolidations create opportunities for transit operators by creating concentrated employment clusters at transit-supportive densities, but transit today is starved for cash and there usually is no BRAC funding of either capital or operating costs to extend transit service.”

The BRAC process was begun as a way of closing unneeded military bases and realigning the workforce at existing ones. More than 350 installations have been closed in four BRAC rounds: 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1995. The most recent round became law in November 2005 and must be fully implemented by mid-September.


Washington, DC Region

In the Washington, DC, area, where BRAC-related changes from the 2005 round have caused significant transportation concerns, several members of Congress vowed to look for more money. Some military leaders also agreed that bus and rail deserve more consideration.

“I’m very bullish on opportunities for mass transit … It seems the Washington and Baltimore transit systems work in isolation,” Army Col. Kenneth McCreedy, commander of Fort Meade, MD, told the Washington Examiner newspaper. Fort Meade, located midway between Washington and Baltimore, expects to receive some 22,000 new commuters in September.

The current spending bill for Fiscal Year 2011 being debated in Congress includes $300 million that could be used to pay for improvements stemming from the relocation of Walter Reed Army Medical Center from the city of Washington to the nearby National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, MD. Local officials hope the funds can survive congressional efforts to further slash spending.

The BRAC decision on Walter Reed, which will result in NNMC’s workforce growing from 8,000 employees to about 10,200, is “an unfunded federal mandate on state and local governments that are having to deal with local transportation needs,” said Phil Alperson, BRAC coordinator for Montgomery County, MD, home of NNMC.

Alperson said the $300 million has been unfairly characterized as a special-interest earmark that is of little use. “It’s not an earmark,” he said. “The untenable gridlock [from BRAC-related traffic] will affect the hospital's ability to provide for patients.”

The other BRAC-related move in the Washington area involves Fort Belvoir in Northern Virginia, 12 miles outside the District of Columbia. Its workforce is expected to grow from about 24,000 to as many as 43,500 employees, causing substantial demand in a region that the Texas Transportation Institute has said is tied with Chicago for the nation’s worst traffic congestion.

At least 30 major highway or public transit projects have been identified as necessary to serve the fort’s expansion, but only four are fully funded and an additional 10 have partial funding, according to the NAS report. Officials in Virginia’s Fairfax County and the Virginia Transportation Department have estimated needing $1.9 billion for the unfunded projects, including $600 million to extend the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Metrorail system to Fort Belvoir.

The report said public transit does not work at every military installation, noting that some bases are located a considerable distance from nearby communities with transit systems. In addition, there can be disincentives to making greater use of public transit, such as free parking.

Washington State
At Washington State’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord, located southwest of Tacoma, nearly 80 percent of the traffic to and from the base uses one interstate highway and there is little to no transit service. The base also has extensive parking, something the report said has discouraged bus use. Most of the solutions being implemented there involve improving the timing of traffic signals and boosting towing crews so to allow the prompt clearing of disabled vehicles.

However, several other communities that have seen increases in BRAC-related personnel reported that they have been working to successfully incorporate public transit—particularly expanded bus service—as part of the solution. In most cases, they said responsibility for the added costs is still being worked out.

San Antonio and El Paso, TX
In San Antonio, officials at VIA Metropolitan Transit are working on ways to manage personnel increases at the city’s four military bases, which are expected to receive nearly 5,000 new employees.

“What we’re having to talk about is how many bus turnarounds we will have and where the turnarounds actually take place,” said Deborah Seabron, chief of command for the 502nd Mission Support Group and member of a VIA task force. “We’ve got to be real careful with the dollars involved, and we’ve got to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the customer. If we have a bus coming to our main access control [gate], we want to make sure the turnaround or drop-off point is in the most expeditious place.”

Also in Texas, similar discussions are underway between El Paso’s Sun Metro system and nearby Fort Bliss, which is expanding by about 25,000 troops. As the transit system works to determine the configuration of new bus routes, spokeswoman Laura Cruz said the base is seeking to make incoming arrivals aware of its travel voucher program subsidizing $48 monthly bus passes.

“We’re lucky in El Paso because we aren’t restricted like DC, where they’re landlocked. We have a little more room to breathe,” Cruz said. “The biggest obstacle is finding the resources, but also maintaining security there.”

Fort Knox, KY
Fort Knox, KY, considers its employee voucher program successful; the fort is getting 4,300 mostly civilian personnel from the Army Human Resources Command, plus another 3,400 soldiers and employees from the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade.

In the last three years, the fort’s park-and-ride bus service has gone from attracting just 15 daily riders to around 160, with more people becoming interested each week, said Jodi Alford, transportation director for the Transit Authority of Central Kentucky in Lebanon, KY. She said the authority is expecting many more users as BRAC-related transfers arrive, and it has ordered more buses.

“A lot of [the service’s popularity] has to do with gas prices in the area, as far as people riding goes,” Alford said. “Once they get used to it, they realize how nice it is.”

Fayetteville, NC
In Fayetteville, NC, officials are hoping to begin running an express bus to nearby Fort Bragg. One of the nation’s largest military bases, the fort is expecting as many as 23,000 new employees as a result of BRAC.

A task force in 2008 recommended studying the feasibility of a light rail streetcar system between Fayetteville and the fort. Although there are unused railroad tracks between the two points, the tracks would be removed to widen a road and security at Fort Bragg would have made train service impossible in any event, said Rick Heicksen, coordinator of the Fayetteville area’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.

But officials still consider public transit important—especially with some of Fort Bragg’s new employees arriving from Atlanta’s Fort McPherson.

“Those people are used to MARTA [Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority] and the bus service there,” Heicksen said. “We believe in multimodalism.”

More Serious Thinking Needed
The NAS study concluded that the Pentagon must start thinking much more seriously and systematically about the congestion problems that result from shifting workers to bases in future BRAC rounds.

“Agencies and staff in [the Defense Department] are not developing and sharing information, or facilitating processes, that would identify all the direct and indirect costs of traffic congestion and the range of related funding available to give base commanders the resources that could help address base impacts,” the study said.

 

 

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
Members of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission question Secretary of the Navy Gordon England, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, Commandant of the Marine Corps Michael W. Hagee and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Infrastructure Analysis) Anne Davis during 2005 hearings on the recommended restructuring of the nation’s defense installations.

Photo courtesy of URS Corporation
The exterior of WMATA's Medical Center Metrorail Station, located on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Plans connected with the relocation of Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the National Naval Medical Center, located across a highway from NIH, include improved access to the station.

 

Photo courtesy of VIA Metropolitan Transit
VIA Metropolitan Transit is using vanpools to help the four military bases in San Antonio deal with the arrival of nearly 5,000 new employees.


 

APTA NEWS

Sound Transit Employee Wins Call Center Challenge

Robert Nedrow III, a customer service representative for Sound Transit in Seattle, took the top prize in APTA’s 2011 Call Center Challenge, held March 1 in San Diego as part of the APTA Marketing and Communications Workshop. This was Sound Transit’s first time competing in the event.

APTA sponsors the Call Center Challenge to recognize the exemplary efforts of call center personnel at member transit agencies, defined as employees who handle incoming calls relating to trip planning and/or customer service issues. The judging process began with a preliminary round in January, from which seven finalists were selected to compete in front of a live audience at the workshop.

The other finalists were Sarah Farahani, Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), Los Angeles; Heather Cramer, Bloomington-Normal Public Transportation Corporation, Normal, IL; Andrea Myers, Chicago Transit Authority; Celia Mejia, Dallas Area Rapid Transit; Elisha Walker, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail, Pompano Beach, FL; and Raina Washington, METRO Regional Transit Authority, Akron, OH.

The competition presents the finalists with three randomly selected customer service scenarios. APTA member judges grade the contestants on their ability to resolve each inquiry in a friendly and professional manner, with the top prize going to the one with the highest overall score.

Here are a few examples of the questions that challenged the entrants:

“The forecasters are calling for seven inches of snow tomorrow. Will you be canceling service? I need to know now because I have an important meeting tomorrow.”

“I’ve started taking on overtime at work and I am not leaving until after it gets dark. Do you offer any type of security escort service? I have to walk almost five blocks to my bus stop.”

“My son has a unicycle. It won’t fit in the bike rack and the bus driver told him bicycles aren’t allowed inside the bus. It’s not a bicycle; it’s a unicycle. What’s my son supposed to do?”

“Your driver slammed the door on my right hand. I was lucky to get out before he drove away. My hand is bruised and hurts.”

“I saw the most offensive ad on the side of your bus. It was for a movie and the woman in the ad was practically naked.”

Similar to the Call Center Challenge, APTA’s Marketing and Communications and International Bus Roadeo committees will host a Customer Service Challenge for bus operators in conjunction with the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference and International Bus Roadeo in Memphis, TN, in May. More information is available from Jack Gonzalez.

Register Now for TransITech!

Peter H. Appel, administrator of DOT’s Research and Innovation Technology Administration, will present the keynote speech at a March 29 luncheon session during APTA’s TransITech 2011, March 29-31 at the Hilton Miami Downtown in Miami, FL.

Registration is still open for this conference, which focuses on information technology, traveler information and intelligent transportation system issues affecting public transportation systems. Sessions will examine specific topics such as key performance indicators; wireless broadband and narrowbanding; cloud computing and service-oriented architecture; and electronic fare payment systems.  The schedule also includes a products and services showcase.

More information on TransITech is available online.

TCRP Seeking Topics for Synthesis, Research Programs

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) has issued a call for study topics for the 2011 Synthesis Program. TCRP will accept suggestions through April 1 from the industry and individuals with an interest in improving the management and operations of transit and in finding solutions to concerns facing the industry.

The purpose of the program reports is to produce a compendium of the best knowledge available on those practices found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems or issues within the transit industry. Syntheses are relatively short, averaging 40-60 pages plus reference materials, and become immediate, useful documents that report on the current practices in the subject.

A project panel that meets on an annual basis performs a preliminary screening and ordering of topics, then makes the final recommendations that are forwarded to the governing board of the Transit Development Corporation (TDC), which also serves as the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee. Applicants may suggest updates of published syntheses.

Information on the submittal process is available online.

TCRP also is seeking potential study topics to be considered for the Fiscal Year 2012 Research Program. Topics can cover all areas of public transportation, including operations, policy, planning, service configuration, engineering of vehicles and facilities, maintenance, human resources, and administration.

The TOPS Committee will select the research problem statements for this program in the fall. Once the statements are selected, request for proposals will be issued and contractors to conduct the research will be sought through a competitive review process. The TCRP focuses on research that is consistent with, and supportive of, FTA’s strategic research goals and TCRP strategic priorities.

The deadline for submitting suggestions for TCRP reports—typically more in-depth studies released in the form of handbooks, design manuals, and web documents—is June 15. Problem statements can be submitted by e-mail. The outline and instructions for submission are available online.

APTA Webinar Covers Impact of Impending ‘Silver Tsunami’

More than 150 people participated in a March 9 APTA webinar titled “Funding the Transportation Needs of an Aging Population.” David Koffman, principal, Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, and lead investigator for the Transportation Cooperative Research Program report of the same title, led the program, which was jointly promoted by APTA and the National Center on Senior Transportation.

“In the next 10 years [by 2020], the number of people age 65 to 74 will grow by 51 percent and growth will be about 22 percent for those 75 to 84,” said Koffman. “After 20 years, the growth will be about 80-90 percent for both groups. In their 70s and 80s, people will tend to have more mobility limitations and need paratransit services.”

He predicted that demand for dial-a-ride services not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will likely grow fastest.

The study estimates that demand for ADA paratransit, non-ADA dial-a-ride services, subsidized taxis and other services will grow from a combined 217 million trips in 2010 to 282 million trips in 2020 and 393 million in 2030.

According to the facts presented in the webinar, transportation services for older riders will require an estimated $4.2 billion for operating costs and $616 million in capital costs in 2010, increasing to $5.4 billion for operating costs and $870 million for capital in 2020, and to $7.4 billion in operating costs and $1.2 billion in capital costs in 2030.

Webinar moderator Rick Ramacier, chair of APTA’s Access Committee and general manager of the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority in Concord, CA, observed that transit systems are already offering additional training for operators and assistance for customers; low floor buses; lifts and ramps; and interior bus amenities such as stanchions and grab bars. He said more transit systems are reviewing bus stops for location and design as well.

“The presentation today described how to expand mobility options within our existing resources. There is no question that the ‘silver tsunami’ is coming our way with the aging population. Those were reasonable estimates. It makes sense that the demand for dial-a-ride will be higher by far, with a much higher cost per passenger than bus or rail services. We’ll need to coordinate within our areas on how public transportation can best be organized in each community,” said Ramacier.

The report, “Funding the Transportation Needs of an Aging Population,” is available online.

 

As the number of older Americans increases in coming decades, public transit agencies will have to provide more extensive paratransit connections--like this one in Austin, TX--as well as dial-a-ride and other services. 

TCRP Releases Two Publications

The Transportation Research Board recently released two Transit Cooperative Research Program publications:

Report 143: Resource Guide for Commingling ADA and Non-ADA Paratransit Riders. The core features of this guide are two decision-making processes: planning and operations. It presents important lessons learned from transit agencies that have made decisions both to commingle and not to commingle their Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and non-ADA paratransit riders. Non-ADA paratransit riders include non-sponsored older adults, non-sponsored persons with disabilities, other agency funded persons, the general public, persons receiving Medicaid, Title III persons, non-sponsored low-income persons, and persons in the Head Start program.

Research Results Digest 97: Transit Agency Compliance with Title VI-Limited English Proficiency Requirements. This digest explores the legal issues associated with transit operators’ limited English proficiency (LEP) compliance efforts. It is designed to serve as a single source of information concerning the development and current status of transit LEP implementation efforts by state and local legislative and operational bodies.

These publications are available online.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Cincinnati Metro, TANK Play Hoops to Raise Money for Area Charities

Employees of Cincinnati Metro and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) in Fort Wright, KY, met Feb. 26 on the basketball court at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in the first annual Metro-TANK Tri-State Charity Basketball Shoot-Out. TANK won the game by 67-62, but the real winners were two local charities.

Proceeds from the event will provide more than 2,250 bus tokens for low-income individuals who need help getting to jobs and job training through the Everybody Rides Metro Foundation’s partner agencies. In addition, TANK will donate $900 in bus passes to the Welcome House of Northern Kentucky, which provides services for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“The event was a tremendous success for us. We will be able to provide a significant number of bus rides for people who cannot afford them,” said Everybody Rides Metro Executive Director Joe Curry. “It was a great game, and I think everyone who attended had a lot of fun. This is just the start of a great tradition.”

Nearly 300 fans attended the game, played by agency employees including bus operators and staff from the accounting and communication departments. TANK General Manager Andrew Aiello played on his system’s team. Former ESPN reporter Betsy Ross announced the game, which was sponsored by attorney J. Thomas Hodges, a member of the Everybody Rides Metro board; Veolia Transportation; and an anonymous donor.

 

Representatives of Cincinnati Metro and TANK competed in a basketball game, but the real winners were the two charities that received the proceeds from the event.


 

 

MBTA Initiates ‘Quiet Car’ Option in Commuter Rail Pilot Program

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston has introduced a “quiet car” option on its Franklin and Fitchburg commuter rail lines operated by the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad. The pilot program continues through April 3, at which time the authority will consider expanding it to all its commuter rail lines.

The quiet car is the one closest to the locomotive during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Passengers riding in that car are asked to refrain from cell phone use; turn off the sound on pagers, cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices; and speak quietly. Conductors will be able to lift the quiet car restriction in times of disruption or severe overcrowding.

 

Salem, OR, Transit Agency Honored for Partnership with Tribal Confederation

Salem-Keizer Transit in Salem, OR, recently received the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments Regional Cooperative Project Award for its Grand Ronde Express service, a partnership between the transit agency and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, OR, is the largest single employer in Polk County, but transportation challenges have led to problems with employee retention. The transit system created the route to help meet the need for employee transportation to and from Grand Ronde, but it is also open to the public: commuters, business patrons, or anyone who wants an alternative to driving.

Salem-Keizer Transit reported that the route operates five days a week and has already provided more than 34,000 trips.

The partnership is a reciprocal relationship of funding and transportation service resources, with the transit agency providing service resources such as buses, drivers, and maintenance. Funding comes from the Federal Transit Administration Tribal Transit Program, Oregon Department of Energy Business Energy Tax Credits, and passenger fares.

“This is a perfect example of two governments putting their heads together and saying, ‘Let’s find a win-win for both of us!’,” said tribal council member Chris Mercier. “I am excited about this service because many of our tribal members, employees, and casino patrons now have an affordable means of getting here and back. This is a definite boon for the tribe and community of Grand Ronde.”

Valley Metro Opens Mobility Center

In ribbon-cutting ceremonies Feb. 23, Valley Metro in Phoenix marked the completion of its Mobility Center: a new regional facility whose purpose is to help make travel easier for thousands of passengers who may need additional assistance navigating the transit system. The system provides service to more than 11,000 people who are eligible for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) designation, allowing them reduced fares on the bus and light rail system and access to paratransit service, or Dial-a-Ride.

“Our goal was to build a facility that simulated our actual transit environment in the metro Phoenix area,” said David Boggs, Valley Metro executive director. “The center, which is modeled after similar structures in Los Angeles, Orange County, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City, allows passengers the opportunity to try transit before they actually ride to see if it’s feasible for them.”

He stated: “The Mobility Center is a goal realized, but only the first of many to provide a more efficient way of providing transit and alternative travel for those who have to rely on it most.”

Valley Metro designed the Mobility Center as an important first step in developing a regional paratransit system for metro Phoenix. The customer can navigate a mock streetscape and transit system in the mobility assessment area, known as the Transit Walk, to lessen the intimidation of being a new rider.

A paratransit technical advisory committee and a regional paratransit stakeholders group considered input on the design of the center. Members of the disability community volunteered to participate in the interview and mobility assessment experience in advance of opening as a way to prepare for implementation.

Innovative Design
The design of the Mobility Center incorporates a full-size 40-foot bus and bus shelter set against a backdrop of life-size photo murals depicting various transportation modes including light rail. The assessment center for ADA certification offers various pavement and sidewalk treatments, providing a realistic environment for navigating local communities.

Riders seeking ADA certification will participate in a customer-focused in-person process. The intent is to improve how evaluations occur for ADA service and to better match passengers with transit needs. It is anticipated that Valley Metro will process 400 to 500 ADA eligibility determinations each month at the facility.

Valley Metro Board Chair Shana Ellis, a member of the Tempe City Council, pointed out that the new facility also will serve as home base for the agency’s travel training programs. The agency used the results of a regional paratransit study in creating the mobility center and its amenities.

“We realize that the possibilities of this facility are many and will provide a professional and caring approach for new and renewed ADA applications,” Ellis said, adding: “With this facility, all steps of eligibility will occur here and will create a simpler process for each person, while allowing for greater care and accuracy.”

The center opened for business March 1. It also houses more than 60 agency employees in the customer service call center and the ADA area.

Operation of the facility is funded by Proposition 400, the regional, half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004 that helps build and provide transportation projects in Maricopa County.

 

 

Cutting the ribbon at Valley Metro’s new Mobility Center in Phoenix are, from left: Jim McDonald, Avondale vice mayor and Valley Metro Board member; Goodyear Councilmember and Valley Metro Board member Frank Cavaliere; Mesa Vice Mayor and Valley Metro Board member Scott Somers; Tempe Councilmember and Valley Metro Chair Shana Ellis; Chandler Councilmember Jack Sellers; Marvin Rochelle, National Federation of the Blind; Steve Banta, chief executive officer of METRO Light Rail; David Boggs, Valley Metro RPTA executive director; Jean Moriki, representing the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities; and Phil Pangrazio, director, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living. 

 

Bridgeport Riders Spread the Word

Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT) in Bridgeport, CT, has posted a video on its web site in which riders share their experiences with the agency and emphasize their many reasons for riding. The tagline is “GBT improves lives, one ride at a time.”

Riders tell how GBT has helped keep them moving to work, shopping, and school, as well as promoting travel training services and ridership benefits for seniors. One calls the system “the greenest, cleanest way to get around town,” while another states: “I love the system. I use the bus for everything I need to do because I’m a senior and I don’t have a car.”

The video is available for viewing here.

Valley Forge TMA Partners with Nearby Community College

The Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVF), based in King of Prussia, PA, has entered into a partnership with the Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) to institute a free shuttle service for college students and employees that connects the college’s campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, PA, about 30 miles apart.

The 14-passenger shuttle vehicle, equipped with Wi-Fi, enables riders to travel back and forth between the two campuses for classes and activities. It currently operates Monday through Thursday, providing 1,488 rides during 60 days of service in the 2010 fall semester, and will expand to five days a week for the 2011 spring semester.

Since signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, MCCC has instituted policies and procedures that reduce its carbon footprint. The shuttle has made a significant impact in reducing carbon emissions from the commuter-only campuses while also supporting the students.

“This effort supports sustainability and student success by helping students gain access to courses required for completion of a degree that may be available at one campus and not the other,” said MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout.

GVF provided management services for this shuttle program including coordinating the Request for Proposals and contract processes, marketing the service to students and faculty/staff, documenting ridership, and managing a daily reservation system for riders.

El Paso’s Sun Metro Opens Glory Road Transfer Center

Sun Metro in El Paso, TX, recently joined with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to mark the opening of the new, $13 million Glory Road Transfer Center.


The facility offers a variety of amenities to enhance the rider’s experience, such as free Wi-Fi, a heated and air-conditioned waiting area, real-time bus arrival displays, an automated teller machine, a change machine, vending machines, and concession/retail space. Similar amenities are available at Sun Metro’s other passenger facilities: the Bert Williams Downtown Santa Fe Transfer Center, Al Jefferson Westside Transfer Center, and Nestor A. Valencia Mission Valley Transfer Center.

The seven-story transfer center incorporates a six-level, 436-space parking deck, which opened to the public for the 77th Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 2010. Football fans lined up at the parking garage at 6 a.m. that day and filled it to capacity four hours later.

The transfer center site also houses the city of El Paso’s newest public artwork: “Glory Road,” two large mosaic murals created by Mike Mandel. The artwork commemorates Don Haskins—the first basketball coach to start five African-American players in an NCAA championship game—and the 1966 UTEP (then Texas Western College) basketball team that won the championship and accelerated the advancement of African-American athletes in the south.

 

Sun Metro bus operator Karen Mahich drives through the barrier to mark the opening of the Glory Road Transfer Center in El Paso. In the foreground are cheerleaders from the University of Texas at El Paso.

 

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Anita Gulotta-Connelly
MILWAUKEE, WI—Anita Gulotta-Connelly, managing director of the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) since 2007, has announced her plans to retire effective April 1.

Gulotta-Connelly has been an MCTS employee for more than 31 years and also is the current president of the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association.






Robert Gave
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Robert Gave, P.E., joined Gannett Fleming as a senior project manager in the Program Management Practice, based in San Francisco.

Gave has 25 years of experience in transportation systems technology, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), information technology infrastructure, electronic fare collection equipment, and rail vehicles.





Gary Cumbie, Rosa Navejar, Gary Havener, Jesse Martinez, Janet L. Saltsgiver

FORT WORTH, TX—Gary Cumbie, donor relations officer of the Tarrant County College Foundation, has been elected chairman of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. He succeeds Bob Parmelee, a Fort Worth attorney who had been chairman since 2008.

Rosa Navejar, executive director and president of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was named vice chair, and Gary Havener, a real estate developer, was re-elected secretary.

Two new members also joined the board: Jesse Martinez, a retired executive with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, and Janet L. Saltsgiver, a retired Continental Telephone management employee and a public relations entrepreneur and lobbyist.



Paul F. Parker
BUFFALO, NY—Urban Engineers of New York, P.C., has named Paul F. Parker, P.E., vice president and office manager for the firm’s Buffalo location. He brings more than 30 years experience managing design and construction projects in the transportation industry throughout New York to this position.

Parker joined Urban in 2006 following a 24-year career with New York State DOT.







Sam Hout, Rock Miller, Sherry Nour

IRVINE, CA—Stantec has expanded its regional leadership presence in southern California with the additions of Sam Hout as Southern California transportation practice leader, Rock Miller as transportation area principal, and Sherry Nour as senior program director.

Hout has more than 28 years of experience in multi-faceted engineering and infrastructure projects, most recently with an international professional services firm. Miller joins Stantec from a nationally known transportation engineering firm and has worked in traffic planning, design, and operations for more than 30 years. Nour most recently served as project director for an international professional services firm as part of her 26 years of experience.



Khani Sahebjam

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—HDR announced the appointment of Khani Sahebjam as a vice president and north central area program manager for transportation, based in the Minneapolis office.

Sahebjam, a licensed professional engineer with nearly 26 years of experience in civil and structural engineering, spent the past two decades with Minnesota DOT, most recently as its deputy commissioner/chief engineer at the state level.



Douglas Zeigler
NEW YORK, NY—New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced the appointment of Douglas Zeigler as its director of security. He succeeds retiring Chief William A. Morange in overseeing security for the MTA, including coordinating the authority’s efforts with the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, the National Guard, New York Police Department (NYPD), and state police, as well as the MTA Police Department.

Zeigler, a 37-year NYPD veteran, began his law enforcement career in 1973 and served in a variety of positions including chief of the Community Affairs Bureau, chief of the Organized Crime Control Bureau, chief of the Housing Bureau, and borough commander for Patrol Borough Queens North.





Frank Golemis, David Griffis, Ray Cole

BUFFALO GROVE, IL—Vapor Bus International-A Wabtec Company, has promoted Frank Golemis to director of engineering; David Griffis to manager, new products and standards; and Ray Cole to national service manager/mid-Atlantic sales and service engineer.

Golemis served Vapor previously as manager of engineering, manager of statistical engineering and mechanical engineer. He will be responsible for engineering and new products and will also lead the Ricon Corporation engineering department. Vapor and Ricon are both subsidiaries of Wabtec Corporation.

Griffis has held positions in sales and engineering, serving recently as business development manager. Cole will add coordination of service and training activities nationwide to his current customer support duties in the mid-Atlantic area.



Jim Durrett, Barbara Babbit Kaufman, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Frederick L. Daniels Jr., Robbie Ashe, Rod Edmond, Wendy Butler, Adam Orkin, Noni Ellison Southall

ATLANTA, GA—The newly restructured Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors recently convened its first regularly scheduled meeting. Because of a change in the state law enacted last year, the formerly 18-member board now includes 11 voting members and one non-voting member, the executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

MARTA board officers are Jim Durrett of DeKalb, chairman; Barbara Babbit Kaufman of Fulton, vice chair; Juanita Jones Abernathy of Atlanta, secretary; and Frederick L. Daniels Jr. of DeKalb, treasurer.

The five new members of the MARTA board are lawyers Robbie Ashe and Rod Edmond, representing Atlanta; attorney Wendy Butler of DeKalb County; and from Fulton County, Adam Orkin, chief executive officer of a real estate consulting and investment firm, and Noni Ellison Southall, senior counsel at Turner Broadcasting.



Danny Crenshaw, Alan Rowland, Juan Gonzalez, David Wu
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Danny Crenshaw, a member of the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo) Board of Directors since July 2003 appointed by the City-County Council, has been elected chairperson of the board. He is the founder of Crenshaw Insurance.

Alan Rowland, appointed to the board in June 2008 by the City-County Council, is the new vice chairperson. He is the business development manager for CompTIA’s education program which serves the academic and not-for-profit communities.

The new secretary/treasurer is Juan Gonzalez, appointed to the board in September 2009 by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Gonzalez is a vice president and senior business banking relationship manager at Key Bank.

Also, the mayor appointed David Wu to serve on the IndyGo board. Wu is vice president of business intelligence and analytics for Angie’s List, a ratings and reviews web site for local services, who earlier worked as a policy advisor to the Indianapolis mayor and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.








Sean Rugless, Dr. Margaret C. Gutsell, Suzanne Burke

CINCINNATI, OH—Sean Rugless has been re-elected chair of the Board of Trustees of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) for 2011. He has been on the board for more than two years and was named SORTA chair in October 2010.

Rugless is president and chief executive officer of the Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce. He previously worked in brand management at Procter & Gamble.

Dr. Margaret C. Gutsell, a board member since 2007, has been elected board vice chair. She is the principal and owner of Inclusive Quality, a training, consultation, and technical assistance company.

Also, Suzanne Burke has joined the SORTA board. She is chief executive officer of the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, a position she has held since 2005.



Gary R. McVoy, Gregg Albright, Victoria Cross Kelly, Frank Ames, Rebecca Kohlstrand, Vanessa Forbes

NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has announced the following recent appointments:

Gary R. McVoy will serve as PB’s transportation sustainability practice leader, based in the Washington office. He joins the firm after a 31-year career with New York State DOT, where he most recently served as director of operations. McVoy also is a founding board member of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Center for Environmental Excellence and received the AASHTO President’s Award in 1999.

Gregg Albright has been named a senior planning manager in the Sacramento, CA, office, serving as PB’s planning director for the California High-Speed Rail project. Albright comes to PB after serving as deputy secretary for environmental policy with California’s Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency and deputy director of planning and modal programs for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

Victoria Cross Kelly, an employee of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for more than 30 years, has joined PB as strategic operations manager for the Northeast Region. She served the port authority most recently as director, tunnels, bridges, and terminals, and is a former deputy director of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation.

Frank Ames has been named a senior resident inspector at PB, responsible for oversight of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s procurement of 75 new bi-level coaches in Boston. He comes to PB after serving MTA New York City Transit as customer resident inspector.

Rebecca Kohlstrand has been named a vice president in the San Francisco office of PB, serving as planning and environmental manager for California. She has more than 30 years of experience in transportation planning, most recently as co-founder and principal of EnviroTrans Solutions, a transportation and environmental planning consulting firm.

Vanessa Forbes has been named global head of health and safety at PB, based in the London office. She has been with Balfour Beatty, PB’s parent company, since 2008 when she joined as group health, safety, and environmental manager.











Daniel T. Blomquist
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Daniel T. Blomquist, P.E., has joined Gannett Fleming as a project manager in the Program Management Practice, based in the San Francisco regional office.
Blomquist has more than 10 years of experience in transportation and civil engineering,