Passenger Transport - March 25, 2011
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LaHood, Mica, Brown Talk Transit

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and Reps. John Mica (D-FL) and Corinne Brown (D-FL) addressed a packed audience March 15 at APTA’s Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. LaHood opened the session, saying “You have a lot of friends at DOT, and we consider you our partners in what we want to do in America. Thank you for all you’ve already done.”

He explained the important role of public transportation as part of a network of transportation options operating across the nation. “We have many priorities,” he noted.

"While our signature issue is high-speed and intercity rail, we can’t do it without support from transit. We are not going to be able to connect 80 percent of America with just high-speed rail. We want to continue the partnership with public transportation. We need to provide connectivity.”

He also emphasized the importance of transportation infrastructure as an investment in the future: “This program will take us to the next generation of transportation, doing it for the next generations of Americans—our kids and grandkids.”

LaHood also listed two other DOT priorities: legislation giving the department jurisdiction over transit safety and security, and a change in policy that would allow the use of some federal transit capital funding for operating purposes.

Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), told conference participants that they need to spread the word about public transportation—and the importance of a new six-year authorization bill—to the “new kids on the block” elected in 2010. Regarding his own 59-member committee, he said, 20 of the 33 Republican members are in their first term: “I have a fourth of the freshman class on my committee.”

According to Mica, the “game plan” is to hold hearings through the spring, release the legislation in May, then get it to the president by the deadline of Sept. 30, 2011.

He also voiced his support for high-speed rail, specifically in the Northeast Corridor connecting Washington with Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. “Imagine, if you will, going down to [Washington’s] Union Station and being in New York City in an hour, or being in Philadelphia in 30 minutes,” he said. “Imagine the transit-oriented development that would take place around the Northeast Corridor, the jobs that would be created, the entire vision influencing the United States. I believe we can do it.”

Brown, ranking member of the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, called on Congress to support “a comprehensive transportation bill that includes transit.”

She continued: “As we move forward, we need to make sure we have the local, state, and federal governments as our partners. Our competition understands the importance of moving people, goods, and services. We need to get the word to the Hill: we need a comprehensive bill that includes rail—and sidewalks.”

In answer to an audience question, LaHood pointed out the importance of DOT’s partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Environmental Protection Agency as a job-creating mechanism. “By pooling our money, we’re creating green jobs and opportunities for housing and transportation,” he said. “By connecting transportation to larger national themes, we’ve made transportation transcend its mission and become part of the larger picture.”

He concluded: “If we’re going to carry on this vision, we cannot do it without you. Let’s work together. We will hopefully have a transportation authorization plan on the president’s desk by the August recess.”

Porcari Addresses Legislative Conference
‘World-Class Transportation’ Is a Critical Priority for the U.S.

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

“We can’t have a world-class society without world-class transportation,” Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari told the March 14 Opening General Session of the APTA Legislative Conference in his keynote address. He welcomed conference participants as partners of DOT, noting: “Your advocacy shapes the way we view transit as a nation.”

Porcari reported that the $127 billion for public transportation in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for DOT is more than double previous expenditure levels, which he called “an unprecedented increase for making public transit more affordable and accessible.”

He cited U.S. Census Bureau statistics estimating an increase in the nation’s population by 100 million by 2050—equivalent to the combined population of Texas, California, New York, and Florida. “If we don’t take action on transit, we’ll make sure tomorrow’s entrepreneurs are literally trapped in the slow lane,” he said.

The deputy secretary also listed other elements of the administration’s budget proposal, such as creation of a National Infrastructure Bank that would link federal funding with private-sector investment; a competitive grant program based on outcomes; strengthening Buy America as a way to guarantee that public transit investment and jobs remain in the U.S.; and a program that would allow cities with high unemployment to use formula funding as operating assistance on a targeted, temporary basis. As Porcari explained, “There’s no point buying buses if you’re laying off operators.”

He continued: “Transportation has always been the thread that binds people together, taking goods to market and helping communities thrive.” The nation’s current infrastructure began with investments made by the parents and grandparents of the current generation, Porcari said, but “are we doing right by the next generation? We’re committed to rebuilding the transportation network—rebuilding the foundation of America for future generations.”

During the session, APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon, general manager/chief executive officer of the San Mateo County Transit District and Caltrain (Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board) in San Carlos, CA, commented on how the current year is, in the words of Charles Dickens, “the best of times and the worst of times.” He continued: “It’s a time of great difficulties or great opportunities—not in the issue of public transit funding, but in how we view it.”

Scanlon reminded conference participants that the focus of his year as chair is “inclusion,” which he defined at “getting everybody into our tent. Many of our stakeholders don’t have a clue yet that they are stakeholders. They have to see the economic and social impact and how it rolls down. Different organizations may seem disparate, but they are dependent on each other.”

He also called on APTA members meeting with their members of Congress to return to the time when “differences of opinion were celebrated. Let’s set the bar as high as we can for civil discourse. Even if you disagree, you don’t have to be disagreeable,” he said.

In his introductory remarks at the opening session, APTA President William Millar called the president’s FY 2012 budget “amazing for public transportation. It could be a game changer for tens of millions of Americans.”

He also provided an overview of the challenges facing U.S. public transportation agencies: although the unemployment rate is slowly falling, gasoline prices are rising at an unprecedented speed—a double-edged sword because at the same time drivers decide to try transit in response to rising fuel costs, the transit systems must also cope with increased costs along with service cuts and fare increases related to the recession.

“When people choose to use public transit, good things happen,” Millar said. He cited the APTA March Transit Savings Report, which shows that households that use public transit can save an average of $9,900 per year—more than most households spend on food.

At the conference, APTA released a report titled Potential Impact of Gasoline Prices on U.S. Public Transportation Ridership. According to the report, a gasoline price increase to $4 per gallon could result in 670 million more public transit trips in a year, or two million more each day. At $5, the projected annual ridership grows to 11.6 billion, and at $6, to 27 billion, a level not seen in the U.S. in 60 years.

Millar also noted that 46 percent of American households currently have no access to public transportation. “We think that if those Americans are to have a choice and take some of their trips by public transit, we need to expand the amount of transit in America,” he said. “We must talk about expanding travel options for Americans and providing the right kind of public transit service for the size of their communities.”


DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, center, offered the keynote address at the Opening General Session, "What's Ahead for Transit--New Opportunities in 2011." APTA President William  Millar, left, and APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon also participated in the program. 

DHS and NCAA Join Together in ‘See Something, Say Something’ Campaign

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new partnership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for DHS’ “If You See Something, Say Something” security public awareness campaign. This combined effort is to help ensure safety and security during the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament and all 88 NCAA championship games and tournaments.

“Every citizen plays a critical role in identifying and reporting suspicious activities and threats,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Bringing the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign to the NCAA’s championship games and tournaments will play a critical role in ensuring the safety of players, employees, students, and fans.”

The DHS-NCAA partnership, which launched March 23, features both print and video materials—including a public service announcement featuring Napolitano and NCAA President Mark Emmert, which will play at all tournament games and future NCAA events. To view the public service announcement, click here.

The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign originated with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is now licensed to DHS for nationwide implementation. Public transportation agencies—including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority [see story in this issue]—have joined the effort, along with the National Basketball Association, National Football League, and major corporations nationwide.

Over the past nine months, DHS has worked with its federal, state, local, and private-sector partners, as well as the Department of Justice, to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign and the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative.  This initiative is an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime, and other threats; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and expand and enhance the sharing of those reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS—to communities throughout the country.

NRDC Names 15 Regions Leaders in Smart Transit

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Smarter Cities project has named 15 U.S. metropolitan regions as leaders in transportation innovation and smart transit.

NRDC divided its “2011 Smarter Cities for Transportation” into three size categories. Among regions with populations of more than one million, the organization honored Boston; Chicago; New York; Portland, OR; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and the Washington, DC, region including Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Four metropolitan areas with populations between 250,000 and one million received recognition: Boulder-Longmont, CO; Honolulu; Jersey City, NJ; and New Haven, CT. Recognized metro areas with populations of less than 250,000 are Bremerton, WA; Champaign-Urbana, IL; Lincoln, NE; and Yolo, CA.

The study, created by NRDC in collaboration with the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), compares and profiles U.S. cities based on public transit availability and use; household automobile ownership and use; and innovative, sustainable, and affordable transportation programs. For example, a $7.50 monthly fee in Lincoln covers unlimited bus use for low-income riders, while residents of New York—with an average of 9,920 miles a year per household—travel fewer miles in the car than residents in any other region except for Jersey City.

“By and large, ‘location efficient’ places—with essential services that are nearby or accessible by many transportation modes—lower transportation costs for residents,”” said CNT President Scott Bernstein. “Cities and regions that foster compact, walkable, transit-rich communities can reduce reliance on automobiles and help lower at least one expense for households struggling to get by in the current economy.”

“Transportation policies that deliver a variety of mobility options including integrated bike paths, bus, rail, and even vanpools not only benefit the environment, but they also enrich urban life by making city attractions and neighborhoods more accessible,” added Deron Lovaas, director of federal transportation policy at NRDC. “By improving regional transportation programs we boost local economies, reduce air pollution, enhance quality of life, and even benefit public health by making walking and biking safer and more enjoyable for commuters.”

This study is the second in the Smarter Cities series, which aims to inspire regions nationwide by recognizing what leading metro regions, cities, and municipalities across the country are doing to make themselves more efficient and livable. To identify these leaders, the Smarter Cities team focus on one sustainability factor at a time—energy, air quality, or smart growth, for example—and using quantitative and qualitative analysis, compare regions on their efforts to make themselves more sustainable. The team deliberately omitted smart growth because it will be included in a future report.

More information about the study is available here.

Fort Worth’s ‘T’ Receives FTA Award

And the winner is … the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T), which received an Award of Excellence on March 16 as Transit System of the Year from Robert Patrick, Region VI administrator for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  Presented for “outstanding operations,” The T achieved a perfect score on its 2010 FTA Triennial Review for a large transport provider.

The rigorous review, similar to an audit, assesses an agency’s compliance with FTA federal requirements for grants practices and programs over a three-year period. The T achieved zero findings—a rare accomplishment, said Patrick.

When accepting the award, The T Board Chair Gary Cumbie said: “The T is committed to continuing its outstanding performance record and partnership with FTA, as it seeks to expand and enhance its public transportation system, and provide more passenger rail and advanced bus systems to support the rapid population growth and expanding mobility needs of Tarrant County and the north Texas region.”


FTA’s Robert Patrick, right, presents the award for Region VI Transit System of the Year to Gary Cumbie, board chair of The T.



NTI’s Schedule Announced

The National Transit Institute (NTI) will hold its 2011 Transit Academy program May 15-19 in Dallas, in cooperation with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). This workshop provides experience for transportation decision-makers and staffers new to the industry.

Key transit agency personnel serve as instructors. Additionally, participants will also be able to interact with transit managers, operators, and other experts from the behind-the-scenes operations at DART who will share their knowledge and experience.

Tuition for NTI’s 2011 Transit Academy is $450. A special rate of $107 per night has been negotiated at the Magnolia Hotel. More information is available online.

Grant Named Managing Director in Milwaukee


The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) has named 26-year employee Lloyd Grant Jr. as its next managing director and promoted Michael Giugno to Grant’s previous post as deputy director. These changes follow the retirement of Managing Director Anita Gulotta-Connelly.

Grant joined MCTS in 1985 as an executive assistant and served in various engineering and technical positions before becoming director, labor relations and affirmative action, in 1998. He also served as the agency’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise officer and has been deputy director since 2007.

He is a 2001 graduate of Leadership APTA and is a member of the APTA Human Resources Committee and the Labor Relations Subcommittee.

Giugno has more than 30 years of transit experience and joined MCTS as a bus operator in 1981. He has held a variety of positions with the transit system including operations analyst, manager of street operations, director of transportation, and most recently director of operations. He has also led efforts to meet established Department of Homeland Security requirements for transit systems, while working to enhance on-bus security programs.

Cameron Beach Dies; SFMTA Board Member

Cameron Beach, 62, a longtime employee of the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) who became a member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors in 2007, died March 18.

Beach’s 44-year career in public transportation included 25 years with RT, where he served first as a consultant; he was named chief operating officer in 1991. A San Francisco native, he retired from RT in 2006 and became principal of Beach Consulting.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a close friend and colleague who had an unparalleled passion for Muni, our customers, and the future of this system,” said SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan. “Director Beach has been a pillar of transit expertise and insight on our board and it has been a privilege to know and work with him over these years.”

“I’ve known Director Beach for decades, and his strong passion for public transit has made significant improvements to the industry,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA executive director/chief executive officer. “His transit expertise will not only be missed here in San Francisco but across this nation. Our heartfelt condolences are with his family during this time.”

“Cam dedicated his life to public transit,” said Colleen Elder, materials management superintendent for RT. “Not only was Cam a close colleague, many of us called him ‘friend.’ He will be missed by all.”

“We at APTA join our colleagues to mourn the loss of Cam Beach,” said APTA President William Millar. “Among many accomplishments, Cam’s the guy who brought light rail to Sacramento and shared his knowledge freely throughout the industry. Cam was more than a highly respected industry leader—his willingness to share his keen insights and knowledge and love of transit was unparalleled. Words cannot express the void we in the industry feel from his passing.”

For APTA, Beach served on the Business Member International Business Development Subcommittee, Clean Propulsion and Support Technology Committee, Committee on Public Safety, Commuter Rail Committee, Light Rail Transit Technical Forum, Rail Conference Planning Subcommittee, Rail Standards Policy and Planning Committee, and Streetcar Subcommittee. He also was chair of California Operation Lifesaver.

His survivors include his wife Carmen Clark, also an APTA member. They met when both served on the board of the Market Street Railway, Muni’s nonprofit partner.

The family asks that donations be made to Bay Area Electric Railroad Association (Western Railway Museum), Market Street Railway, or Pacific Bus Museum.

DiJohn Dies; UIC Professor, First Director of Pace Bus

Joseph DiJohn, 67, professor of transportation at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), died March 19 after battling lung cancer for several months.

DiJohn was director of Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative at UIC, which he established in the Urban Transportation Center of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs to conduct research and planning for transportation agencies. During his 13 years of full-time service to UIC, he was awarded approximately $6 million in grants and contracts for research and technical assistance.

He began teaching at UIC part-time in 1988 while working full-time as the founding executive director of Pace Suburban Bus in Arlington Heights, IL. After retiring from Pace in 1998, he became a full-time faculty member and researcher.

DiJohn was manager of the Regional Transportation Authority’s (RTA) bus division from 1982 until its reorganization in 1984, when he supervised the restructuring of the RTA from an operating agency to a financial oversight and planning agency. He also supervised the creation of Metra commuter rail and Pace, consolidating private and municipal bus systems into a single operation.

During the 1970s, DiJohn was the first chief executive officer of the North Suburban Mass Transit District, now the Pace Northwest Division.

“He had the unique combination of grace and power that served us astoundingly well. Joe was a scholar, a transportation leader, and a gentleman,” said UTC Executive Director Steve Schlickman.

Donations may be made to the University of Illinois Foundation, c/o Joe DiJohn UTC Scholarship Fund, Urban Transportation Center, MC 357, University of Illinois at Chicago, 412 S. Peoria St., Suite 340, Chicago, IL 60607.


Conference, Capitol Hill Summit a Success!
APTA Members Convene in Washington, Meet with Legislators

In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte: “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.”

While it was not ten thousand speakers, it was hundreds of APTA members who made their voices heard in the nation’s capital when APTA’s Annual Legislative Conference concluded and its Capitol Hill Summit began.

From March 13 to 15, more than 680 attendees gathered in Washington, DC to participate in these events. 

They listened as speaker after speaker talked about the need for a well-funded, six-year, multi-modal surface transportation bill. They listened as a bipartisan array of Members of Congress reiterated that support for public transportation was in a precarious position, and that the time for timidity in lobbying for current and future support was gone.

The speakers—from federal agencies, transit systems, nonprofits, and Congress—confirmed that this year, 2011, is a critical one for the future of the federal transit program. With the Obama administration recommending steep increases in that program and Congress seeking to reduce the federal deficit by cutting funding for domestic programs, input from the transit industry on Capitol Hill is paramount.

* Send a focused message to Capitol Hill.” This was heard time and again. But, the speakers said, the message should not only be focused, it should convey urgency.

* Tell your elected officials that public transit moves their constituents,” the speakers said. Members of Congress in particular repeated these themes:

* Educate your Members. Connect transit to their communities, to their constituents.

* Explain in detail how many jobs will be lost should funding cease. Include not only transportation-related jobs, but jobs people cannot keep if they cannot travel to and from work because of service cuts.

* Do your homework and bring your facts and figures.

* Understand the level of difficulty in trying to convince newly elected officials who campaigned on cutting federal spending how critically important public transportation is to our nation’s mobility.

These attendees listened and acted. When the formal sessions ended at the conference, hundreds of APTA members took public transportation to Capitol Hill—comprising a large, enthusiastic contingent of advocates. As APTA staff noted, everywhere you went, you saw APTA members. The energy, the drive, and the focus were nearly palpable.

This was, everyone agreed, one extremely successful Legislative Conference.

‘Good Things Happen When We Work Together’
Session Examines How Partnerships Will Be Key to Authorization Success

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

“You will hear how we are going to engage partners to help with authorization,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., APTA secretary/treasurer; vice chair of the APTA Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee; and executive director/chief executive officer, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

In his role as moderator of “Expanding the Transit Coalition: Partners in the Authorization Debate,” a March 14 General Session at APTA’s 2011 Legislative Conference in Washington, Ford stressed that there is strength in numbers. “The most effective method for moving your message is to enlist the participation of others,” he said, and then introduced the session’s speakers.

John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), spoke first. Declaring himself very optimistic, he said: “We’re in [the effort to obtain a long-term funding bill] together—and this is the year we’re going to pass a bill. There’s no question in my mind—this is the year.”

He continued: “One of the reasons we think we’re going to move a bill this year—what we are excited about—is the prospect of opening the door to innovation,” which Horsley said would provide ways to “leverage the dollars we’ll be given.”

Horsley said the most important signal of the president’s call for action by putting forth an enhanced budget for 2012 was his “frontloading it with a $50 billion jumpstart.” He noted the need to streamline programs to accelerate delivery and talked about how APTA and AASHTO have long collaborated on how to systematically measure performance and report on the progress of reaching goals.

He added: “We stand ready to work with [Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood and [FTA Administrator Peter M.] Rogoff on what those measures should be.”

Dale J. Marsico, executive director of the Community Transportation Association of America, spoke directly and forcefully.

“At a time of tremendous disinvestment at the state and local level, the proper role for our government is not to hide from the responsibilities in Washington, DC, but to address them head-on,” he said. “As far as we are concerned regarding transit, it is time to not be afraid to tell the truth to the people who were elected last November. We must never forget that we do more for America than what people assume. We are on the front line every day trying to help Americans lower their fuel costs—and we are the only off-the-shelf solution to helping people with sky-high fuel prices based on events throughout the world.”

Marsico offered advice to conference attendees: “Remind members [of Congress] that, regardless of the size of their communities, they have a stake in public transportation. It’s not just New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles; it’s every city of every size and it’s unacceptable to sit in a room with people who say, ‘There is no public transit in my community.’”

He continued: “It is incumbent on all of us to tell the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable for the listeners. I do believe that we cannot have a successful authorization unless we tell the truth about finances…. And remind the members who live in the place you call home that, despite the political rhetoric, they have an obligation to you and the people they serve—because, in the end, we are their constituents.”

Observing that this next authorization bill would be the sixth of his career, and taking into account the history of advocacy for these bills, Amalgamated Transit Union General Counsel Robert Molofsky stressed: “It’s not a time for how much less we should spend on highways and transit—it’s a time to spend more.” In talking about the importance of partnerships, he said: “We work better when we work together. In the end, we share the common goal of trying to create a well funded transportation bill.”

Molofsky noted that there is “power out there on the streets, but the challenge is to shape the coalitions on the streets, in the churches, and in the business communities”—all of which depend on transit. He also made the point that the public transportation industry should demonstrate the “same kind of courage and confidence” that the administration did in proposing to double the transportation budget. “This is not the time to compromise,” he said.

Janet F. Kavinoky, executive director, Congressional and Public Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice president of Americans for Transportation Mobility, offered some practical advice.

“Let’s stop fighting the people who will never get on our side—and focus on the people we can convince,” she said. “Partner with your state and local chambers of commerce and do those visits together. Let’s figure out how we make sure that business and transit are going in together.”

Kavinoky observed that elected officials who vote against investment in transportation are “going to have to find a way to face up to the jobs that are lost, the bridges that collapse, the buses that don’t run.” The only way to make these consequences clear to them, she said, is to walk into their offices with a list of “‘this is what I’m not going to do’ [should the agencies fail to receive federal funding]. We’ve got to have those case studies to do it.”

Speaking next from a political strategy perspective, she said that “we must be willing to say to Congress, ‘We understand that we’re willing to take some things off the table, we’re willing to streamline, we’re willing to use performance management.’” Further, Kavinoky noted that many of the people who work on Capitol Hill may need to be educated about transportation. “Don’t be afraid to start with [Public Transportation] 101—as simple as it gets.”

Following a brief Q&A section that covered such varied topics as when an authorization bill would be approved and acknowledging that bicycles are an untapped resource in public transit, Ford closed the session by noting simply: “It’s clear that good things happen when we work together.”


Participants in the General Session “Expanding the Transit Coalition: Partners in the Authorization Debate” included, from left, Janet F. Kavinoky, Robert Molofsky, Dale J. Marsico, and John Horsley.


Lawmakers Encourage Conference Attendees to Make Strong Case for Transit
First Ever ‘Capitol Hill Summit Kickoff’ Held

BY KATHERINE LEWIS,Special to Passenger Transport

Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) urged APTA members to make the case for public transportation investment to revitalize the struggling U.S. economy when they addressed a March 14 session of the 2011 APTA Legislative Conference in Washington.

APTA’s first ever “Capitol Hill Summit Kickoff” was organized to rally its members before they visited their representatives on the Hill.

LaTourette told conference participants not to visit their lawmakers’ offices wringing their hands over the budget situation and pleading to be kept to the funding levels set in Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). “You have to go in and say: ‘Listen, this is an important thing. Gas prices are expected to hit $5 this summer. How are we going to move people, how are we going to employ people, how are we going to build America, how are we going to put people back to work, unless we have a robust funding stream in the transportation sector?’” he said.

The recent series of short-term federal budget extensions makes it impossible for transportation policymakers to plan, LaTourette said. But, he continued, the challenge in attempting to pass a six-year transportation authorization bill is what the funding source will be.

“At the end of the day, unless we raise the gas tax, unless we exercise some excise fee on barrels of oil, unless we take the pilot program that’s now underway with vehicle miles traveled, unless we make a decision to toll more, the trust fund keeps limping along at $32 or $34 billion a year,” LaTourette said. “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

Blumenauer said he’s happy to support a gas tax increase and to explore an oil barrel tax, emphasizing the importance of connecting road use with energy efficiency. While the cost per mile traveled has fallen by 50 percent since the last gas tax increase due to increases in efficiency and inflation, he nonetheless noted:  “The cost of wear and tear, congestion, expansion, maintenance have not declined.”

Public transportation made it possible for the city of Portland, OR, to create such an appealing quality of life “that people feel like they’re retiring,” Blumenauer said. At the local level, transportation policy cuts across partisan lines—the bipartisan support that APTA members need to communicate to federal lawmakers.

“If you can help us translate that broad bipartisan support for what you are doing locally, for having a reasonable federal partnership, it will make a huge difference for people like Steve and me to be able to advocate for you going forward,” Blumenauer said.

APTA Vice Chair Gary Thomas, president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, urged transit leaders to keep preaching the importance of public transportation and give relevant, local information to lawmakers. “You’ve got the opportunity to talk to your congressmen and women about what’s happening in your community. You’ve got the opportunity to tell them how many people you carry every day,” Thomas said.

Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates told the audience to be persistent and follow up with lawmakers’ offices after a meeting. Ask for something specific, connect your visit with their constituents’ needs, and don’t be discouraged if you end up meeting with young staffers rather than a member of Congress, she added.

“They are quite young, but actually often it’s better to meet with the staff because they have a little bit more time to get to know you and your issues,” she said.


Reps. Earl Blumenauer, left, and Steven LaTourette address the Capitol Hill Summit Kickoff. 

Thompson: Press Congress on Budget

BY KATHERINE LEWIS, Special to Passenger Transport

Tommy Thompson, the former governor of Wisconsin and former Amtrak board chair, urged APTA members to explain to their members of Congress the importance of public transportation, with an emphasis on specific projects and services in their home districts. Thompson spoke at the March 14 Policy Briefing Breakfast session of the 2011 APTA Legislative Conference in Washington, sponsored by APTA’s Business Members.

“A small group of committed citizens can change the direction of the world,” said Thompson. “We don't want so much to change the direction of the world; what we want to do, ladies and gentleman, is change the direction of Congress as it relates to mass transit.”

He advised conference participants to maintain contact with their members of Congress. “Invite that congressman when you’re opening up a new business and have his smiling face there holding onto a shovel,” Thompson said. “He’s going to feel pretty damn guilty getting his picture taken and not voting for you in the future.”

Invite lawmakers to ride in the engine and hold the throttle: people love trains, said Thompson, whom APTA and its business members have retained to help make the case for public transit.

“We have a [federal] budget in front of us that increases the amount of [transportation] money to the tune of about $556 billion,” he said. “It’s up to us—you and I in our respective roles—to be able to convince Congress that that’s a good investment.”

Thompson reminded the group of the importance of public transit as an employer, creating American jobs while generating tax revenues at the federal, state, and local levels.

Instead of using figures from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—which Thompson said is unpopular with many incoming lawmakers—to make the case for public transportation, he suggested going to state universities for studies of the benefits that transit provides to the city, region, or state. Then bring that evidence to the attention of federal legislators, he said.

Don’t limit outreach to those lawmakers considered friends of public transit, he advised, but seek to speak with those considered foes. “I’ve always found that if you convert a sinner, you get the best disciple,” he said. “A lot of the reason people vote against you is that they don’t understand you.”

Rogoff, Rae Discuss Federal Commitment to Transit


President Obama’s vision for high-speed rail and his administration’s commitment to public transportation overall was the focus of much of the March 14 General Session during the APTA Legislative Conference featuring officials from DOT and the Transportation Security Administration.

William L. Volk, chair of the APTA Legislative Committee and managing director, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL, moderated the session, titled “Federal Agency Update,” and sponsored by CDM.

Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), noted that he has spoken at several of APTA’s bus and rail conferences and at the 2010 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, but said the Legislative Conference is “probably the most important conference of all.” He said DOT has been working closely with Congress “hopefully for [creation of] the next six-year [surface transportation] authorization bill,” emphasizing that the stakes “have never been higher.”

“Thousands upon thousands of jobs were created under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) that will benefit citizens for a long time to come,” Rogoff said. “We’re still seeing benefits,” he added. “The compelling need to provide public transportation has never been so startling.”

This year more than ever, he said, APTA members need to get their message to Capitol Hill legislators: “Nobody can speak about the circumstances, daily challenges, expenses, and benefits better than you. Just speak the truth to Congress and say, ‘This is how federal funding helps and how, in the absence of it, it harms.’”

Pointing to the historically large number of new members of Congress, Rogoff said APTA members must focus on both new and old legislators and let them know exactly how the federal dollars they provide are used. He also encouraged APTA members to take the additional opportunity to reach out to their respective members while they are in their home districts. “They’ll have more time and they can also see first-hand the service you provide. Be consistent and be persistent,” he said.

Finally, Rogoff said: APTA is “only as strong as its members and they have a very, very important message to deliver. I obviously believe that President Obama has made an outstanding statement on public transportation going forward, and that’s an important message to bring forward. But you bring your message in your terms. We can only be as strong as your collective voice.”

Karen Rae, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, spoke about the administration’s vision for rail, particularly high-speed and intercity rail. She said the commitment to passenger rail began in Congress even before Obama became president, with the passage of the Passenger Rail Investment Act.

“But no one envisioned such an aggressive agenda,” she said. “The president has sent out a vision that we will connect 80 percent of Americans through our high-speed and intercity rail network over the next 25 years.”

Rae also emphasized Vice President Joe Biden’s passion for high-speed and intercity rail: “He said we cannot compromise. The rest of the world is not compromising, and if we are going to be a part of the future and position America for the future we must be sure that part of that picture is high-speed and intercity rail in this country.”

She noted that, as the U.S. population continues to increase, “we are not prepared to provide basic mobility if we stay on the flat course originally projected.”

She stressed the importance of not losing sight of the fact that although three states have chosen not to move forward with high-speed rail: “33 [states] have said, come to the table, and more are coming.”

Citing a Harris poll, Rae said two-thirds of Americans support funding for high-speed rail. “We believe it’s important to continue to educate along with groups like APTA to better [inform] about what high-speed rail is and what it isn’t.”

Saying these are still challenging times, Rae concluded her update with a quote: “Our real problem, then, is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow." With that, she thanked President Dwight D. Eisenhower for “giving us our marching orders.”

TSA Chief of Staff Art Macias Jr., echoing Rogoff and Rae, urged APTA members to tell their congressional members “what it is you do.”

Macias told the audience: “TSA is much more than aviation security. We focus on surface transportation security.” He noted that TSA Administrator John Pistole’s first act after taking office was a whistle-stop tour to promote the “If you see something, say something” campaign.

In addition, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano asked for assessments of how “to reinforce what TSA does in surface transportation security so people feel safe and secure as they travel to get to work, go to meetings throughout the day, and get groceries,” he said.

TSA’s goal, according to Macias, is to maximize security while also protecting passengers’ privacy. With this in mind, he said, TSA is working to direct grants to the most at-risk properties.

Macias described the prevention and response roles of TSA’s Visible Intermodal Protection and Response teams in thousands of public transit, maritime, and highway systems. However, he said, despite all of TSA’s efforts, “the threat to the U.S. public transportation sector remains high,” adding: “Our best defense is a risk-based, layered security approach using seen and unseen measures.”

TSA, he added, is using grants to fund operational activities as well as critical infrastructure projects and to supplement local and state law enforcement efforts. Macias also mentioned the Transit Security Grant Program as a “key tool” in mitigating threats.

The Homeland Security Advisory System, which uses colors to reflect threat levels, is being replaced. Macias said TSA is working closely with FTA and APTA to develop guidelines as the new system is rolled out in early summer.


Representatives of the federal government who presented program updates and initiatives at a March 14 session included, from left, Art Macias Jr., chief of staff, Transportation Security Administration; FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae; and FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. At right is moderator William L. Volk, chair of the APTA Legislative Committee.


Cook: Modern Voters Increasingly Likely to Change the Channel on Congress

BY KATHERINE LEWIS, Special to Passenger Transport

Modern-day voters give little time for the political party controlling Congress to advance an agenda before they grow impatient and return the other party to power, compared with voters in the 20th century, said Charlie Cook, publisher of The Cook Political Report and political analyst for the National Journal Group, at the March 13 Opening General Session of the 2011 APTA Legislative Conference in Washington.

He noted that Democrats controlled the House for 40 straight years, from 1955 through 1994, through 20 consecutive elections. Then Republicans held control for 12 years until 2006, a shorter time frame.

“The circle is getting smaller and smaller and tighter and tighter,” Cook said. “Voters do not have the patience, they do not have the tolerance that they had when they’d put one party in power for 40 years or another party in power for 12 years.… It’s a totally different mindset than when all of us were kids.”

Independent voters have become the deciding factor in congressional elections, Cook stated, showing that support from independent voters made the difference between big Republican wins in 2010 and gains by Democrats in 2006. In both years, independents favored the winning side by an 18-point margin.

“It is the role and behavior of independent voters that are making that huge difference,” he said. “If this were an Austin Powers movie you’d say you get your mojo from these independents.”

Polls leading up to the 2010 elections found a whopping 60 percent of independents agreeing with Republicans that the government was doing too much—handing that party a big win. Currently, only 47 percent of independents believe the government is too heavy-handed, much closer to levels seen before the financial crisis, Cook said.

He emphasized that the economy was a big factor in the fall elections, as it will be in the 2012 presidential election. “When you have a 9.8 percent unemployment rate, even if voters weren’t mad at you for anything else, they’d beat the heck out of you anyway,” he said. “People vote their pocketbooks. They vote their economic well-being far more than they vote anything else.”

‘No Long Coattails’
Even if President Barack Obama is re-elected—which is likely, Cook said, given that the majority of sitting presidents who ran for second terms have won them—history suggests that he’s unlikely to be much help to Congressional Democrats looking to regain power. In 1972, when President Richard Nixon was re-elected with wins in 49 states, Republicans picked up only 12 House seats and lost two in the Senate. In 1984, when President Ronald Reagan won a second term with 49 states, Republicans only gained 14 House seats and lost two Senate seats. In 1996, when President Bill Clinton won re-election, Democrats only eked out another three House seats and lost two Senate seats.

“There’s not a pattern of long coattails for presidents, even when they’re winning by big or even historical margins,” Cook said. “The only way Democrats can get the House back is if Republicans completely and totally self-destruct.”

Cook predicted that Republicans are likely to gain control of the Senate in 2012, when 23 Democratic senators—including many who rode into office on a wave against Republicans—are up for re-election. “We’re looking at divided government for a while,” he said. “We’re going to be looking at Republicans holding onto the House for a while, taking the Senate, and holding it for two to four years after that.”

The Republican nominee for president will likely be either former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or a less well-known challenger, according to Cook. He suggested that the three other best-known potential GOP candidates—former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—either have too much baggage or are unlikely to give up lucrative private-sector positions to run.

In terms of public transportation, tight budgets at the federal, state, and local levels are likely to push projects out further in time. “The new reality of the next year or two, this is going to be a lot tougher than a lot of us ever thought,” Cook said. “A lot of the really exciting things that we’ve been really looking forward to, and I think are really important for the country, are going to be on a longer fuse.”

URS Corporation sponsored the session.

Congressional Aides Discuss Transit Funding

BY KATHERINE LEWIS, Special to Passenger Transport

Congressional aides reassured public transportation leaders that lawmakers remain committed to their interests, while warning that the Fiscal Year 2012 budget will be hard-fought and new funding sources are needed, at a March 14 “View from the Hill” session of the 2011 APTA Legislative Conference.

Mitch Warren, majority professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, noted that Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) heads the committee following last year’s retirement of Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), and that Johnson understands the importance of transportation to his constituents and America overall.

“You’ll continue to see the Banking Committee be very supportive of the transit industry,” Warren predicted. “There’s a whole list of senators on the committee who represent larger metropolitan areas that really depend on transit.”

Among population growth, an aging citizenry, and the ongoing volatility in energy prices, he said, it’s important that as many people as possible can access public transportation.

Lawmakers hope to include the Public Transportation Safety Act, which failed to pass the Senate last year, as part of a well-funded, long-term authorization bill, Warren said. But he cautioned that attempts to push proposed new spending through Congress will be very difficult.

“It’s critical to get out there and make the case to your members of Congress about the importance of transit,” he emphasized, noting that the House appropriations proposal includes significant cuts to public transportation. “Let’s help make sure the final product keeps those cuts to a minimum.”

Shannon Hines, minority senior professional staff member for the Banking Committee, agreed with Warren’s comments, saying that the ranking member, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), expects to cooperate closely with Johnson just as he has with past chairs.

“We’re very hopeful we will be able to complete a reauthorization bill—but, as we all know, there is a significant issue with regard to funding,” Hines said. “We’re going to be sitting still until we figure out how to move forward on the funding side as well as on the policy side.”

Hines expressed disappointment that the Obama administration proposed a surface transportation authorization bill but not a new revenue stream to support the significant increase in transportation funding. While Shelby doesn’t support a gas tax, she said, he wants to look at as many innovative options as possible, such as public-private partnerships.

“We recognize that public-private partnerships don’t work in all places,” Hines said. “Nothing should be off the table right now. Dollars are tight; it’s a tough economic climate. When everybody’s talking about cutting, we have to be willing to consider all the options to figure out how to make our dollars go further.”

Shelby does not view the proposed infrastructure bank as a panacea, especially given the trouble encountered by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, she added.

Ward McCarragher, Democratic counsel for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the current authorization will be both different and harder than any other recent efforts.

He explained that the committee has never before faced the revenue question in the way it does in this bill. “It’s hard for people to understand how difficult it is even under current funding levels, let alone if you decrease them,” he noted.

As the authorization process moves forward, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have similar views on consolidating and eliminating programs while building in performance metrics and accountability for specific output goals. But the investment piece of the legislation is where the two parties almost completely diverge, he said.

McCarragher listed the three politically unpopular options facing Congress: to cut programs by 40 percent, transfer money from the general fund, or find a way to agree on new revenue sources. “That’s why this will be harder than other reauthorizations,” he said, adding that programs will run into cash flow issues by FY 2013 if nothing is resolved. “In some form, Congress is going to have to address the issues at some point in the next, probably, two to three years.”


Panelists at the March 14 “View from the Hill” session include, from left, Ward McCarragher, Shannon Hines, Mitch Warren, and moderator Christopher Boylan.


Scenes from APTA's 2011 Legislative Conference



An enthusiastic audience at the APTA Legislative Conference includes, from left, APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon; Richard Ruddell, a member of the APTA Board of Directors and president/executive director of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority; APTA President William Millar; Peter Varga, a member of the APTA Executive Committee and chief executive officer of The Rapid in Grand Rapids, MI; and APTA Vice Chair Gary Thomas.

Conference participants take a break in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building to observe the APTA video wall. The information center also provided printed materials and buttons for attendees to take when they visited congressional offices.



Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) meets with APTA members March 15 on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-WV), right, ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, talks to APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon during the Capitol Hill Reception in the cafeteria of the Rayburn House Office Building.



Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), left, speaks at the Capitol Hill Summit Kickoff while APTA President William Millar, center, and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) listen.

Participants in the March 15 morning session include, from left: APTA President William Millar; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; J. Barry Barker, a member of the APTA Executive Committee; Sharon McBride, another executive committee member and board treasurer for the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District in Peoria, IL, who introduced the secretary of transportation; DOT Secretary Ray LaHood; Rep. Corinne Brown (D-FL); APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon; and FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff.



The musical political satire of the Capitol Steps is a luncheon tradition at the APTA Legislative Conference. Here, in substance, are President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), right, meets Leona Bridges, a board member of the City and County of San Francisco Transportation Agency, during the Capitol Hill Reception.



Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, speaks with Paul Skoutelas of Parsons Brinckerhoff after addressing the March 15 session.

APTA business members Michael Schneider of InfraConsult LLC and Sharon Greene of Sharon Greene & Associations at the APTA/ATU Capitol Hill Reception.



The March 13 meeting of the Business Member Board of Governors attracted a standing-room-only crowd.

APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon, left, with Charles Watson, international vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), during the March 15 Capitol Hill Reception hosted jointly by APTA and ATU.



APTA Legislative Conference participants meet with Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), right.

Shirley A. DeLibero of DeLibero Transportation Strategies chats with Gov. Tommy Thompson after his presentation Tuesday morning.




APTA Secretary/Treasurer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. presided at the General Session, “Expanding the Transit Coalition: Partners in the Authorization Debate.”

Chuck Wochele, chair of the Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) and a member of the APTA Executive Committee, welcomes participants to the Monday morning Policy Briefing and breakfast. The BMBG sponsored the event.

In his remarks the morning of March 15, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on public transportation professionals to keep partnering with DOT as the administration works to increase funding.


New York MTA Launches Tunneling for East Side Access

In ceremonies March 18, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) dedicated two tunnel boring machines that will be used in the East Side Access project, creating four tunnels under Sunnyside Yard in Queens. The new tunnels, scheduled for completion in October 2012, will connect the tracks of the MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Main Line with the tunnel under the East River that leads to Grand Central Terminal.

Sixth-graders at I.S. 204, the Oliver Wendell Holmes School in Long Island City, submitted almost 90 names for the tunnel boring machines after the MTA asked them for ideas. The winning names are Tess, an acronym for “Tunnel Excavation Sunny Side” submitted by Sangida Bagum, and Molina, a play on the word “mole,” submitted by Mohammad Malik, Michael Morales, and Angel Peralta.

With the completion of the entire project in 2016, LIRR trains traveling through Sunnyside will have the option to head either to Pennsylvania Station, as they have since 1910, or for the first time to Grand Central Terminal.

“One hundred years ago, the tunnels under Penn Station gave Long Islanders easy access to Manhattan, essentially giving birth to Long Island as we know it today and leading to enormous growth in the region,” said MTA Chairman Jay H. Walder. “Today, East Side Access will build on this growth and transform this region in a similar way. Commuters throughout Long Island and Queens will have more service to Manhattan and shorter travel times to the East Side—making these communities even more attractive places to live, increasing housing values, and unlocking the next wave of economic development potential on Long Island.”


A New York MTA employee prepares “Tess,” one of two new tunnel boring machines, before it begins digging underneath Sunnyside Yard in Queens as part of the East Side Access project.


Murray, Napolitano Launch MBTA Security Campaign

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano visited South Station in Boston March 14 to launch the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) updated security awareness campaign, “If You See Something, Say Something.” The campaign urges the public to take an active role keeping the city and the transit system safe and secure.

“Our partners in Boston have long demonstrated their understanding that we each have a role to play in security,” Napolitano said. “I encourage Bostonians on the ‘T’ or anywhere else in town–if you see potentially suspicious behavior, say something to local law enforcement.”

The campaign receives funding from a $1 million grant through DHS. It promotes a collaborative effort of state and local agencies working together educating the public to be more aware of their surroundings, and report any behavior that may appear suspicious to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.

MBTA originally adopted the campaign in 2003, based upon a campaign implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The revitalized campaign uses posters and vehicle car cards—along with unique elements customers may encounter during their commute—to distribute the “See Something Say Something” message. Massachusetts DOT and the MBTA will also use social media including the MassDOT blog, YouTube, and Twitter to ask for the public’s help.

“Safety for our customers and our employees is a top priority of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MBTA,” said state Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Mullan. “The MBTA Transit Police and MBTA employees are on the front lines in keeping the system safe, and we depend upon the public’s assistance in this daily effort.”


Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan, at podium, speaks about the MBTA’s updated security awareness campaign. Behind him, from left, are Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, and MBTA General Manager Richard Davey.





Register Now for Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 22-25 in Memphis

It’s not too soon to register for the 2011 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference, May 22-25 at the Memphis Marriott Downtown in Memphis, TN! Early registration fees of $575 are available through April 15; on that day, the fee will increase to $625.

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) is the host system for the conference, which will offer more than 40 technical sessions, educational curricula, technical tours, and competitions for bus operators and maintainers. Concurrent with the conference is the annual International Bus Roadeo.

APTA will present its Bus Safety Awards during the May 22 Opening General Session. The schedule for the next three days includes technical educational sessions of interest to mid-level to veteran bus and paratransit professionals, ranging from alternative fuel technology and fare media to “greening up” the bus garage and partnerships between transit and -higher education.

In addition to two technical tours, MATA will explore the impact of public transportation in Memphis during the civil rights era at the May 24 Host Forum, “Stories of Memphis—Past, Present, and Future.” Speakers at the forum will include the Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles and Beverly Robertson, executive director of the city’s National Civil Rights Museum.

The preliminary program and registration, hotel, and travel information can be found online in the Conferences & Calendar section of the APTA web site  or from Starleetah Gaddis-Parker. For registration information, contact Adam Martin. International Bus Roadeo information is available from Saahir Brewington.

Youth Summit: ‘Generation Green’

This June 26-30, APTA will host its second Youth Summit at Trinity University College in Washington, DC. The event, “Generation Green on Board: A Youth Summit to Advance Public Transportation,” will bring together a diverse group of 50 high school junior and senior students from across the country who have expressed an interest in public transportation.

The summit will explore the environmental benefits of public transportation, how communities as a whole can prosper with increased services, the role of local and federal policies in public transit use, and career opportunities in the industry. Building upon the success of the first event, held in June 2008, the program will include presentations from a range of speakers including APTA President William Millar, as well as a trip to Capitol Hill.

Participating students will also engage in group discussions on such topics as sustainable transportation public policy and the future of public transportation, and will be challenged to develop and execute individual action plans once they return home.

Early sponsors of the summit include AECOM; the APTA Business Member Board of Governors; the National Transit Institute at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Parsons Corporation; and Veolia Transportation.

More information on the Youth Summit is available online.


Participants in APTA's first Youth Summit, in 2008, pose in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Photo by Steve Barrett 

Standards Development Program Documents Open for Comment

APTA’s Standards Development Program has posted five documents for public comment between April 1 and May 1. This time period is the industry’s chance to participate in the consensus-based process established by APTA for the development of standards.

APTA invites experts at public transportation organizations to validate and comment on each Recommended Practice, White Paper, or Standard. To access the documents, visit the APTA website under “News Updates” and click the link titled “APTA Standards Development Program Public Comment.”

The documents available for public comment are:

* Bus Standards – Maintenance Design: RP - Architectural and Engineering Design for a Transit Operating and Maintenance Facility;

* Security - Risk Management: RP - Development and Implementation of a Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan—a previously published document that requires reauthorization;

* Rail Transit - Operating Practices: S- Roadway Worker Protection Program Requirements (previously published) and S -Electronic Device Distraction Policy; and

* Rail Transit - Fixed Structures: S- Heavy Duty Transportation System Escalator Design Guidelines (previously published).


TCRP Seeks Information on Agencies’ ‘Transformative’ Efforts

The Transit Cooperative Research Program invites public transportation agencies to participate in its current research effort, Transforming Public Transportation Institutional and Business Models, the purpose of which is to provide the transit industry with useful strategies to implement “transformative and fundamental change.” Specifically, the research panel is looking for examples that are not yet documented or well known.

The study will identify successful approaches from public transportation agencies and seek out transferable lessons and strategies that can be adopted by other organizations. The overall goal is to support change that will help agencies improve efficiency, effectiveness, reliability, safety, and security.

In the study, the term “institutional and business models” is shorthand for a wide range of strategic issues that includes customer markets, practices for managing operations and capital assets, agency mission and long-range planning, functional areas of expertise, technical skill sets, business processes, funding mechanisms, performance measures, governance models, organizational structures, and collaborative practices. The case studies will focus primarily on “how” and “why” agencies have undertaken fundamental change across a wide range of functions.

To submit specific examples or questions regarding the study, contact Petra Mollet. Additional information is available online.

APTA Launches Online Buyers’ Guide

APTA has announced the introduction of its new Online Buyers’ Guide, a user-friendly tool for the public transportation industry that provides instant access to vendor resources.

The interactive guide—available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—allows public transit professionals to easily locate APTA members' products and professional services geared to bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, high-speed rail, and more by providing hyperlinks, multiple search capabilities, and rich search results. Additionally the guide will increase supplier exposure in the marketplace.

Visit the Buyers’ Guide here.

Still Time to Register for Practicum

APTA is joining with the International Union of Railways to hold the 2011 International Practicum on Implementing High-Speed Rail in the United States May 3-5 at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, MD.

Join international high-speed rail practitioners and top domestic rail experts for an in-depth workshop that will provide the critical information for implementing high-speed and higher-speed rail in the United States.

This year’s practicum will cover two tracks of study. Track 101 will cover key elements on infrastructure, rolling stock, operations, finances and management, markets, and customers. Track 201 offers an advanced curriculum for those who participated in last year’s practicum, and will include the environment and carbon balance, standards, stations and the city, traffic forecasting, financing, and group work on planning scenarios.

The practicum is designed for individuals – in both the public and private sectors – who who will be involved in implementation of the nationally designated high-speed and higher-speed rail corridors.

Space is limited and seats will be given on a first-come, first-served basis with every attempt made to ensure a balanced attendance from the public and private sector.  Full program, registration and hotel information is available here.



Gasoline Prices Continue to Rise; Transit Ridership May Follow Suit

Editor's Note: APTA recently released a study that predicted Americans will turn to public transportation in record numbers as gasoline prices continue to rise. What follows below are just a few excerpts of responses to the study results.