Passenger Transport - April 22, 2011
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Public Transit Agencies Confront Rising Gas Prices; Cope Through a Variety of Methods

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

As gasoline prices shot upward this spring and automobile drivers are turning (or returning) to public transportation, the question for many transit agencies is how to deal with possible increases in their own fuel costs. How they are handling these increases shows an array of planning approaches, highlighting the concept that one size (or one approach) doesn’t fit all. And sometimes, unfortunately, no amount of planning can accommodate this unexpectedly high and rapid increase.

Not uncommonly, a number of agencies reported seeing their fuel prices jump by $1 per gallon in the past year. 

For example, Lane Transit District (LTD) in Eugene, OR, described how its fuel costs rose by about 45 percent during the current fiscal year, leading to a drain of $945,000 from its operating budget. The agency has sufficient funding reserves for the current year to cover the larger expenditure without budget cuts or fare increases.

However, according to LTD General Manager Mark Pangborn, as his agency looks toward the future, “the precipitous rise in fuel prices will mean that a small amount of available resources, being generated through a sliver of economic recovery, will go toward buying fuel rather than restoring services or addressing other critical budget needs.”

Another agency dealing with this situation is Long Beach Transit (LBT) in Long Beach, CA, where the per-gallon fuel cost rose by more than a dollar compared with the previous year: an increase of about 50 percent.

“We have an operating budget of $74 million and consume about 13,000 gallons of unleaded fuel per day and about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day. That equates to an additional cost of about $18,000 per day,” said Marcelle Epley, senior vice president and chief administrative officer. “Annualized, that’s an additional cost of between $2 million and $2.5 million, or a 3 percent increase in the operating budget for the company over last year’s budget.”

A continued rise in fuel prices, she added, would force LBT to “raise fares and/or cut service at a time when the buses are already overcrowded and we are trying to attract people to use public transit.”

Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) in Monterey, CA, cited a 60 percent jump in its fuel prices over the past year, from a low of $2.29 per gallon to a high of $3.70 per gallon. MST budgeted $3.15 per gallon for the year, according to General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Carl Sedoryk, but its costs began exceeding budgeted amounts in January. Next year’s budget provides for $4 per gallon—a $600,000 impact.

“In just one year, this single line item in the MST budget will rise from representing 7.5 percent of total expenses to over 10 percent of total expenses,” Sedoryk said. “While MST has seen about a 6 percent increase in passenger boardings since the rise in fuel prices at the beginning of the calendar year, the revenue generated from increased passenger fares is not sufficient to cover the rapid rise in fuel costs.”

As federal funding levels remain stagnant and the agency faces a potential net loss of state funds, he said: “The increased cost of fuel comprises about 25 percent of our projected deficit for the coming year. MST staff are viewing service reductions to balance our budget, which is unfortunate at a time when we seeing increased demand for our services largely due to the high costs.”

CityLink in Peoria, IL, noted that it has seen per-gallon price increases of 33.5 percent for gasoline and 38.7 percent for diesel fuel, but said its finances are currently in good shape. The agency’s fuel costs were below budget early in the year and over budget now, according to Assistant General Manager Rick Tieken, but the agency expects the final figure to be close to the budgeted amount when the fiscal year ends on June 30.

“We all take our best educated guess as to what’s going to happen, but no one really knows” about future fuel costs, Tieken said. He explained that CityLink contracts for half its diesel fuel and half its gasoline (used in support vehicles and some cutaway paratransit vans) on a six-month basis while paying market rates for the rest of its fuel. The current fuel contract, which runs from April through November, begins with per-gallon prices of $3.028 for diesel and $2.20 for gasoline and increases to $3.084 and $2.27 respectively.

Tieken also noted other ways that CityLink is dealing with its fuel usage—specifically that the bus fleet shows an 8.5 percent increase in fuel economy since it began operating with a premium diesel blend. “We were hoping to get a 3 percent improvement,” he said. “We told our board of directors that the test program for this fuel saved us $12,000 in March.” Another conservation effort he mentioned is possible implementation of a no-idle policy that he said “will save some money as well as lessening air pollution and noise.”

Locking in Prices
In Tampa, FL, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) reported that—thanks to a fixed price contract that provides fuel for about $2.30 per gallon—the agency reached the highest ridership levels in its history during March 2011: 1.2 million, 14 percent higher than the same month in 2010 and the 13th consecutive month of providing more than one million rides.

Spokesperson Marcia Meija said HART expects the fuel price contract to save it more than $1 million in Fiscal Year 2011. The agency is working its way through the budget process for 2012 and 2013, she said, determining how much to set aside for fuel costs.

METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH, reported that it also benefits from locking in a fuel price at the beginning of each year but, according to spokesperson Molly Becker, “next year could be a different story.”

She continued: “At the end of each year, METRO locks in its diesel fuel price for the next year on a firm-fixed basis …. If fuel prices reach a prohibitive level, METRO is in a position to avoid cuts in service. Funding earmarked for growing our services could be used to offset a dramatic increase in fuel costs.”

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) takes fuel hedging to another level by purchasing fuel futures on the market for up to 36 months in advance, then using the monthly realized gains from those futures to offset the actual diesel costs.

“This is not speculation,” said GCRTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joseph Calabrese. “We do not keep the profits, but use them to the benefit of taxpayers, lowering fuel costs, and we only purchase futures for up to 90 percent of the diesel we project to actually use …. We feel we’ve properly hedged in the market and will therefore not see a large budget hit like we saw in 2008.”

Budgeting Ahead
Other transit agencies did not lock in fuel prices, but provided for potential price increases in their budgets. The South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA)/Tri-Rail in Pompano Beach noted that this strategy resulted in only a minor impact on operations despite its fuel costs increasing from $2.85 to $3.19 a gallon over a five-week period.

Spokesperson Bonnie Arnold said the agency will be able to maintain service at current levels into next year because of available reserve funds. “We currently have budgeted $2.55 per gallon through the end of the current fiscal year on June 30,” she said. “For next year, we’ve budgeted $3.50 a gallon. If the price goes above that, we’ll still be all right because we have reserves put aside as part of our budget.”

CNG Not Affected
One segment of the public transportation community is unaffected by fluctuating gasoline and diesel fuel prices: those whose bus fleets operate, completely or primarily, with compressed natural gas. Los Angeles Metro and the Sacramento Regional Transit District are among the larger transit agencies who use CNG.

Los Angeles Metro noted that—because CNG is cheaper than diesel and the supply is more stable because the fuel is produced domestically—its fuel costs have actually decreased. The agency also engages in price hedging, locking in a long-term rate for most of its fuel purchases.

“The impact of these cost increases is minimal because the agency started purchasing alternative fuel vehicles in 1991,” said Los Angeles Metro spokesperson Rick Jager. “If we did have to deal with spikes in the cost of CNG, we’d take measures in terms of trying to control costs or deferring some programs, trying to maintain same level of service—but there is no indication the prices for CNG are inching upward.”

Service Remains Top Priority
Despite the strains that increased fuel prices have placed on public transportation, agencies agree that they have the responsibility to continue to offer the best possible service to meet the needs of their customers.

“Our top priority is to maintain the transit footprint as best we can and maintain our level of transit as best we can,” said HART’s Meija. “We’ll try to do that within any necessary budget restraints.”

CityLink’s Tieken agreed: “We’re doing everything we can to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars. We have a whole fleet of new buses on order and they’re going to be even more environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient than our current fleet.”

SFRTA’s Arnold summed up: “The situation is so critical. We’ve got to keep the trains running because people need them now more than ever—and it looks as if we’ll be able to maintain the service we’re currently operating.”

DOT Announces $300 Million for Passenger Rail Projects

DOT has awarded grants totaling more than $300 million to enable the expansion of high-speed intercity passenger rail corridors from coast to coast.

“We have heard the call of the American people to build the safest, fastest, and most efficient ways to move people and goods,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “Communities across the country are already feeling the economic benefits of rail, and today we take another step forward, bringing new jobs to our citizens. Through high-speed rail, we are helping America win the future.”

Among the programs receiving federal funds are:

California DOT: Four projects totaling more than $22 million, including $13 million to refurbish 15 locomotives and upgrade engines to reduce emissions; $8.2 million for several coach cars on the San Joaquin Corridor and Capitol Corridor; $950,000 to cover preliminary engineering and environmental work on the Pacific Surfliner to Ortega; and $200,000 to pay for planning of the Pacific Surfliner route from San Diego to Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo.

Connecticut: A $40 million investment to upgrade the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail corridor will provide for 10 miles of double track to be installed on the Amtrak-owned New Haven-Springfield corridor.

Maryland/Baltimore Tunnel: For one of the largest choke points in the Northeast Corridor, $60 million will fund a preliminary engineering and environmental analysis to study the replacement and augmentation of the 100-year-old B&P Tunnel on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Missouri: Three projects totaling $3.8 million, beginning with $500,000 for development of a State Rail Plan covering passenger and freight rail priorities. Also, investments of $1.4 million to improve 13 highway-rail at-grade crossings between Sedalia and Kansas City and of $1.9 million for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis to design and construct a second main track from Lee’s Summit to Pleasant Hill.

New Jersey/Portal Bridge: This 100-year-old bridge is one of the most heavily traveled bridges in the country. A $38.5 million DOT grant will provide for the final design of the new bridge to alleviate delays to Northeast Corridor passenger service while also increasing capacity and improving reliability.

Washington State: A $145 million investment will fund rail corridor improvements and new equipment for the Cascades route from Vancouver, WA, to Blaine, WA. This will ultimately provide more frequent and efficient passenger rail service between Portland, OR, and Vancouver, BC.

Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority: A $600,000 grant will support a study to examine the feasibility of expanding the Downeaster line with increased service frequency, higher speeds, and reduced travel times. The study will also examine expanding the proposed service extension to Brunswick and Auburn, ME.

New York: A $3.3 million investment will add track and rail capacity in the congested Upstate New York area for Amtrak’s Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express services near the Village of Ballston Spa.

West Virginia: $1 million will create a state rail plan to establish strategies for rail services that benefit the public and businesses, while guiding priorities for the state’s investments in rail.

To date, approximately $5.7 billion has been obligated throughout the country for rail projects funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations.

Napolitano Announces Implementation of National Terrorism Advisory System

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the implementation April 20 of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), which provides timely information to the public about credible terrorist threats. This system replaces the former color-coded process of alerts.

These new alerts will include a clear statement when there is an imminent or elevated threat. Using available information, the alerts will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals, communities, businesses, governments, and public transit systems can take to help prevent, mitigate, or respond to the threat.

Napolitano also released a guide that outlines the new system to the American public, along with an example of an NTAS Alert that would be issued.

In some cases, alerts will be sent directly to law enforcement or affected areas of the private sector, while in others, alerts will be issued more broadly to the American people through both official and media channels.

“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly over the past 10 years, and in today’s environment—more than ever—we know that the best security strategy is one that counts on the American public as a key partner in securing our country,” said Napolitano.

Depending on the nature of the threat, alerts may be sent to law enforcement, distributed to affected areas of the private sector, or issued more broadly to the public through both official and social media channels—including a designated DHS web page, Facebook, and via Twitter @NTASAlerts. NTAS alerts and posters will also be displayed in such places such as transit hubs, airports, and government buildings. NTAS threat alerts will be issued for a specific time period and will automatically expire.

For more information on the National Terrorism Advisory System or to receive NTAS alerts, click here.

Organizations Release Transportation Principles

A joint statement released on April 14 by several organizations representing state and local officials—the National Governors Association (NGA), National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, and National League of Cities (NLC)—calls for strong partnership among all levels of government as part of any new national vision for surface transportation. It includes seven policy principles to help guide discussion in Congress.

“State and local governments are responsible for 97 percent of the nation’s interconnected surface transportation systems and contribute nearly 75 percent of the annual cost to operate and maintain those systems,” said NGA Executive Director Dan Crippen. “It is vital that these leaders help craft this vision and that Congress and the Administration will move forward quickly to complete reauthorization.”

“A coordinated transportation system is the lifeline for communities large and small,” added NLC Executive Director Donald J. Borut. “The ability to move goods and people easily depends on an integrated network of public transportation, roads, rails, and bridges.”

Six of the guiding policy principles note that state and local elected officials support:

* Funding and finance, with the continuation of the “user pays” principle to guide transportation funding, with all options on the table for evaluation;

* Certainty and stability of federal funding mechanisms designed to maintain reliable, long-term funding certainty;

* Program reforms that note the critical need to preserve core federal surface transportation programs while recognizing the need for program reforms and flexibility of funding and programs;

* Project delivery, streamlined through federal efforts;

* Mobility needs, with a strong federal role in funding equitable transportation solutions for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas across the country; and

* System performance, using outcome-oriented performance measures developed by states and localities that are clear, measurable and fair.

The seventh policy principle focuses on Safety and Security, stressing that all levels of government must cooperate to improve the safety and mobility of the surface transportation system, protect the environment, and ensure the security of transportation assets throughout the country.

The complete text of the principles is available here.

Realtors: Americans Prefer Smart Growth Communities

More than half of U.S. residents surveyed by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)—56 percent—said they would prefer to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods rather than neighborhoods that would require more driving between home, work, and recreation. NAR defines the term “walkable communities” as referring to areas where shops, restaurants, and local businesses are within walking distance from homes.

As part of the Community Preference Survey, 77 percent of respondents said that, if they were considering buying a home, they would look for neighborhoods with abundant sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly features. Fifty percent said they would like to see improvements to existing public transportation rather than initiatives to build new roads and developments.

The survey also revealed that, while the size of a house may be important to home buyers, many would sacrifice square footage for less driving. Eighty percent of those surveyed said they would prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it did not require a longer commute, but nearly three out of five of those surveyed would choose a smaller home if its location meant a commute time of 20 minutes or less.

More than three-quarters of Americans (78 percent very or somewhat important) consider being within 30 minutes of work important in choosing where to live, making that one of the most important factors tested, behind privacy.

“REALTORS® care about improving communities through smart growth initiatives,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, RI. “Our members don’t just sell homes; they sell neighborhoods. They understand that different home buyers are looking for all kinds of neighborhood settings and that many home buyers want walkable, transit-accessible communities.”

The survey of 2,071 adult Americans was conducted by Belden, Russonello, and Stewart between Feb. 15 and 24. The survey questions and results are available online.

Invest in Infrastructure, Support U.S. Economy

The Organization for International Investment (OFII), a Washington business association representing the unique interests of U.S. subsidiaries of global companies, has launched a campaign aimed at strengthening America’s infrastructure to enhance U.S. competitiveness and attract foreign direct investment.

As part of this campaign, OFII has released Building Competitiveness—American Jobs, American Infrastructure, American Global Competitiveness, by Professor Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. The paper highlights the critical link between strengthening our infrastructure—including public transportation—and remaining globally competitive.

“High-quality infrastructure has helped boost U.S. productivity and standards of living, in part by encouraging global companies to create high-paying jobs here,” Slaughter wrote. “Today, however, America’s infrastructure is deteriorating—both in absolute terms and relative to other countries that are rapidly bolstering their infrastructure. Applying the best practices in infrastructure investment and innovation from around the world can help America rebuild its infrastructure.”

“Historically, America’s infrastructure has provided the U.S. with a competitive advantage that has helped to attract worldwide investment to this country,” said Nancy McLernon, OFII president and chief executive officer. “Despite the current fiscal constraints the U.S. faces, we must ensure America has a world-class infrastructure. The U.S. subsidiaries of global companies have a strong interest in an efficient, modernized infrastructure to maintain their success in this country and enable them to continue as a source of American job creation into the future.”

The text of the report is available here.

Claypool to Head CTA

Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has named Forrest Claypool the next president of the Chicago Transit Authority. He will succeed Richard Rodriguez after Emanuel is inaugurated in May.

Claypool has served as a Cook County commissioner and headed the Chicago Park District. He lost a run for Cook County assessor in November 2010.

In addition, Emanuel nominated Gabe Klein as commissioner of Chicago DOT. Klein served as director of District DOT in Washington, DC, during the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty.

BART, HART Name Interim Heads

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Board of Directors in Oakland, CA, has named Sherwood Wakeman as interim general manager, effective April 23. He succeeds Dorothy Dugger.

Wakeman started with the agency as an attorney in 1973, shortly after train service began. In May of 1987, he became the agency’s general counsel, a position he held until his retirement in 2007. Wakeman served as interim general manager on two other occasions during his tenure with BART.

Also, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, named Philip Hale, chief of maintenance and facilities, as its interim chief executive officer, succeeding David Armijo. Hale is a member of the APTA Bus Operations Committee and Bus Technical Maintenance Committee.

Register Now for High-Speed Rail Practicum

Register now for the 2011 International Practicum on High Speed Rail presented by APTA and the International Union of Railroads, May 3-5 in Baltimore. International high-speed rail practitioners and top domestic rail experts will offer their perspectives at this in-depth workshop on implementing both high and higher-speed intercity rail in the U.S.

The practicum is designed to support those 33 states that have received federal high-speed rail funds, most specifically for incremental upgrades that will lead to greater speeds and shorter travel times. It includes two track of study.

* Track 101 includes instruction on infrastructure, rolling stock, operations, the market, and economic and managerial considerations.

* Track 201 modules cover the environment, standards, stations and forecasting, and financing. This track is aimed at those who attended the previous high-speed rail practicums held in Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles in 2010.

Speakers will include Joseph Szabo, administrator, Federal Railroad Administration; FRA Deputy Administrator Karen J. Rae; Jo Strang, FRA associate administrator, Office of Safety; and Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman.

More information is available online.

Orange County’s Measure M: A Success Story

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

More than two decades ago, in 1990, voters in Orange County, CA, approved a half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements. By the time Measure M expired on March 31, 2011, it had provided more than $4 billion in aid to public transportation, freeways, and local roadways.

“These county sales tax measures in California are the absolute pristine example of performance,” said Will Kempton, chief executive officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). “The public is advised at the outset what they’re going to get and when they’re going to get it, and the program has to deliver on these programs. Our slogan was ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept.’”

Kempton said the measure appeared on the ballot twice before it finally passed by a simple majority. Subsequently, the California Supreme Court ruled that county tax votes must pass by a two-thirds majority: “When we went back to the voters [to renew Measure M] in 2006—after the success of the first measure was very obvious, after the voters had received the outcomes they wanted—they approved the measure by nearly 70 percent.”

He called fulfillment of the measure’s promises “a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can go back to the voters and ask if they’d like to do it again, and as long as we deliver, generally the public is quite pleased.”

Under Measure M, 43 percent of tax revenues funded freeway projects, with 32 percent for streets and roads and 25 percent for public transit—including Metrolink commuter rail and service for seniors and persons with disabilities. Specifically, the measure provided $1 billion for Metrolink service and bus fare stabilization for seniors and persons with disabilities; $1.75 billion to upgrade to every Orange County freeway; and $1.3 billion for city street and road projects.

During its 20 years of operation, Measure M supported the implementation of Metrolink service in Orange County and $600 million to local agencies for improvements.

Kempton explained that, in addition to operating public transportation, OCTA is in charge of implementing sales tax improvements for all transportation services in the county.

“It’s very critical that you follow the guidelines provided by the voters,” he said regarding the distribution of funds. “It’s important to build the program based on input from the community, what the voters would like to see. In Orange County, the majority would like to see funding for the streets, roads, and freeways, but also an investment in transit.”

Although Measure M has now expired, its successor—Measure M2, another half-cent sales tax—went into effect April 1. OCTA anticipates that this 30-year measure will raise $15 billion over the next 30 years.

“We’re moving full speed ahead on implementation of this second measure,” Kempton said, “and we’re looking forward to as much success with M2 as we had with M1. ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ was not just a slogan.”

DOT Announces Challenge for ITS Technologies

DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) is accepting entries through June 30 for its Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Video Challenge: a new national competition highlighting innovative ways local communities use smart transportation technology to improve safety, mobility, and the environment.

RITA is seeking original videos of proven ITS technologies already in use. It will accept videos submitted by state and local governments, transit agencies, private firms, and even students who want to showcase smart technologies that excite them.

Each submission must focus on one example of ITS deployment in a community, which could include uses for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit and freight vehicles, or any combination of these. Examples include traffic signals that give priority to transit vehicles; road weather sensors that provide real-time information about icy bridges, wet roads, fog, and other road hazards; and curve warning systems that alert vehicles when they are approaching a curve too fast.

Competition rules and additional details can be found online.

The grand prize winner will receive a travel package to the Institute of Transportation Engineers 2011 Annual Meeting and Exhibit, Aug. 13-16 in St. Louis. The best overall video will be shown during the event’s main luncheon and selected videos will be posted on a consolidated web site.

AECOM Report Cites PPPs to Build Infrastructure

A report released by AECOM describes the consequences of continued underfunding of U.S. infrastructure as “dire, affecting the United States’ global standing as a leader in economic growth, productivity, competitiveness, capital inflow, job creation, sustainability, and lifestyle”—and proposes public-private partnerships as a timely and practical solution.

The report, U.S. Infrastructure: Ignore the Need or Retake the Lead?, emphasizes “the determination, creativity, and innovativeness of public and private institutions to fund and finance the necessary investments. Each day that passes without substantial commitments to U.S. infrastructure development merely postpones the inevitable, multiplies the expense, and increases the likelihood of an intractable public works crisis that will last for generations.”

In addition to citing the obvious problems with underinvestment—such as lost productivity and increased greenhouse gas emissions, both caused by traffic congestion—the report illustrates how infrastructure spending can serve as an engine for putting people to work and maintaining economic growth.

Although the U.S. economic situation remains uncertain, AECOM stresses that federal, state, and local “infrastructure spending provides taxpayers substantial return on their investment over the long term in the form of jobs, economic growth, improved productivity, enhanced mobility, a better environment, and the safe and ample supply of public services.”

The report is available here.

NTI Webinar Focuses on Senior Ridership

The National Transit Institute (NTI) will conduct a free 90-minute webinar, “Attracting Senior Drivers to Public Transportation,” May 5 beginning at 2 p.m. Speaker Jon Skinner will spend the first hour discussing the Federal Transit Administration report Attracting Senior Drivers to Public Transportation: Issues and Concerns, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session.

Research shows that almost all drivers will outlive their driving ability, making public transportation necessary for them to maintain their mobility. However, many public transit agencies struggle with marketing their products and services to older Americans. The webinar will examine case studies of successful marketing efforts and provide strategies and recommendations to help meet the needs of this population.

Participants will access the graphic content by logging into the webinar via computer and access the audio portion by dialing into a conference call. To participate, register online to receive the login information; from the home page, click “T-Classes and Webinars,” then select “Attracting Senior Drivers to Public Transportation.”

For more information, contact NTI Program Coordinator Lori Marosy.


Preparing for Earth Day

As Passenger Transport went to press, public transportation agencies across the U.S. were preparing to celebrate Earth Day, April 22, with activities including promotional campaigns, such as this one from the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority in Des Moines, IA; complimentary rides; a drawing for a free bus pass; participation in discussion groups promoting earth-friendly behavior; and special events for young riders, bicyclists, and other specialized populations. Passenger Transport is collecting this information and plans to cover many of these events in a future issue.

Powell Dies; Birmingham Transit Board Member

Doris Powell, 69, a board member and former chairwoman of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) Board of Directors, died April 13. She had served on the board since 2005.

Powell was active in her community, serving as the longtime president of the Fountain Heights Neighborhood Association; secretary of the Operation New Birmingham board; and an 11-year member and longtime vice chair of the Transportation Citizens Committee. A Birmingham native, she graduated from the State University of New York at Albany and worked as a producer for Saturday Night Live (appearing as Lt. Uhura in “The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise,” a classic sketch from the show’s first season) and, later, as a legislative aide for a Brooklyn member of the New York State Assembly. She returned to Birmingham following her father’s death in 1994.

In a statement, BJCTA called Powell “the voice of the rider. In every decision she made, in every word she spoke, it was with the rider in mind.”


A Small Effort Can Yield Big Results

BY MICHAEL MELANIPHY, Vice President, Public Sector, Motor Coach Industries Inc., Schaumburg, IL

Have you ever noticed that sometimes our greatest rewards come from our smallest actions? Think about the words, “I appreciate you.” It feels pretty good to hear that, doesn’t it? Absolutely! Now, think about how others feel when they hear that from you. Such a small, simple thing, yet it can brighten a person’s entire day.

With that in mind, think about the myriad of small things each of us can do within our industry to yield equally outsized positive results. To get you started, I have prepared some ideas.

Let’s start with this year’s International Public Transportation EXPO, to be held Oct. 3-5 in beautiful New Orleans. The EXPO will feature more than 750 exhibitors spanning every facet of our continuously expanding industry, and more than 17,000 attendees are expected. Obviously, we expect all of our association’s transit agency CEOs, board members, and senior executives to attend. (Right!?!)

But beyond that, I challenge you to select one of the young people on your staff and bring that person along as well. Allow him or her to be immersed in all things transit-related and to experience the breadth and diversity that is at the heart of what makes this industry so great. This person will learn more in three days at the EXPO than he or she could ever learn sitting in a cubicle, and it just may spark a passion that will burn for decades to come.

The late John Farrell did that for me more than 20 years ago when I was a transit planner in Laredo, TX. Once on the EXPO show floor, I was exposed to interesting new products such as the first low floor buses and exciting new MS-DOS based route planning software that could be loaded onto a 35-pound “portable computer” with a green screen. However, even more importantly, I was invited to attend meetings with the likes of Bill Stokes, Houston Ishmael, and Henry Church—every one of them a member of the APTA Hall of Fame. While I might not have fully appreciated who they were the time, their words of guidance had a significant influence on me for many years to come.

You might be surprised to learn that it has been 30 years since the inaugural EXPO event was held in Chicago. In celebration of this milestone anniversary, APTA will recognize the companies that were there in the beginning and are still exhibiting with us 30 years later—a small reward for a significant accomplishment. We hope you will join us in acknowledging those companies that have been with us every step of the way.

Speaking of recognition at the EXPO, we are really looking forward to the opportunity to showcase our outstanding Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Women-Owned Business Enterprise, and small business members. APTA and our EXPO contractors have put together a very attractive and affordable package specifically for our DBE, WBE, and small business vendors that makes it easy and affordable for them to exhibit at the industry’s premier event. As chair of the EXPO, I would especially like to recognize the efforts of Hugh Harrison, Mary Ann Collier, and Eve Williams, who have done an outstanding job helping us take our vendor diversity efforts to the next level.

There is no question that New Orleans is open for business, and I can’t say enough good things about the hospitality exhibited by everyone we have worked with in preparation for the EXPO. At the same time, we all know there are vulnerable areas of the community still in need of assistance. APTA is in the process of organizing several events that will allow our members to give back to the community in an organized and focused way. Those opportunities are very exciting, and I hope you will make plans to join us in making these a highlight of our Annual Meeting and EXPO. The efforts you put forth will yield exponentially positive returns.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to recognize the hard work and extra efforts put forth by the members of our EXPO Advisory Committee. This group has worked tirelessly for the last several years in preparation for this year’s event. Thank you to all of our committee members and the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, our host agency. Hopefully, you will each take a moment to thank them as well the next time you see them.

While APTA is an association led by and organized around our volunteer members, all too often we forget to recognize the outstanding efforts of the hard-working APTA staff. Many a committee meeting has concluded with direction to staff to simply “get it done,” sometimes without fully appreciating what that assignment truly entails. Yet, time and again they complete the task without complaint and make the rest of us look good. The next time you contact members of the APTA staff or see them at a conference, take an extra minute to thank them for all they do to support us.

Lastly, I’d like to extend my personal “Thank You” to Bill Millar. Early in his term as president of APTA, when I was an obscure transit agency general manager, Bill invited me to join him for dinner. He saw something in me that even I did not see, and he encouraged me to raise my hand and get involved. He didn’t have to do that and he certainly had more important things to do than to spend time with me, but he did it anyway. That led me in an entirely different and exciting direction of new opportunities that I could not have dreamed of.

As I wrap up this pre-EXPO commentary, I note with mixed emotions that, while I am excited about the opportunity to help cut the ribbon at this year’s EXPO opening ceremony, I will do it with a bit of sadness, knowing that it will be Bill’s last meeting as our president. Thank you, Bill, and thank you to all our members who give so much to make our association so great!

Melaniphy is chair of the 2011 International Public Transportation EXPO, chair of the APTA Awards Committee, first vice chair of the Business Member Board of Governors, and a member of the APTA Board of Directors. In his spare time, he is vice president, public sector, for Motor Coach Industries Inc.



EXPO: A Spectacular Presentation of Public Transit

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

What is an EXPO? According to definition, it’s a public showing. It’s also an array, an exhibition, a pageant, a panorama. And in the most positive sense, it’s something spectacular.

Does “spectacular” completely describe what’s in store for attendees at the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO, to be held Oct. 2-5 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans? Well … almost.

APTA’s EXPO, held every three years in conjunction with the Annual Meeting, is the world’s largest international showcase of public transportation technology, products, and services. In addition—it’s free! More than 17,000 attendees are expected, and they will have 350,000 net square feet to explore.

New This Year?
This year’s EXPO will feature 100 first-time exhibitors, a Natural Gas Zone pavilion that exclusively promotes this critically important part of public transit, expanded education on the showroom floor with more sessions in the Transit Tech Showcases, and the use of such emerging technologies as a mobile application called Chirpe, charging stations, and wayfinder terminals. 

Attendees will find more than 75 buses on display (traditional and green), one light rail vehicle, and the ameriTRAMTM streetcar, a 100 percent low floor streetcar powered by e-Brid™, a propulsion technology that enables operation powered by overhead catenary or on-board lithium-ion batteries. This exhibit, found at the Kinkisharyo booth, will enable city and transit authorities to tour the full-size rail vehicle and discuss modern streetcar options for their cities.

More than 66 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms will be represented; the schedule includes a special business-to-business reception Tuesday, Oct. 4, 4:30-6 p.m., which will focus on promoting DBEs.

Why Attend?
The reasons to attend this triennial event are many—and are based on what part of the industry attendees represent. Take two ends of the spectrum: Businesses, of course, show their services and products, while transit agency heads find out what’s new. Attendees can walk the floors of the convention center and discover solutions for every aspect of public transit—from procurement to maintenance, from engineering to operational safety and security.

“Every third year we come together where many of the people who provide the products and services for our industry showcase what this industry is all about. It gives everybody— external and internal audiences alike—a bigger glimpse of how critical our industry is to the well-being of this nation,” said APTA Chair Michael Scanlon, general manager and CEO of the San Mateo County Transit District in San Carlos, CA.

“Most of our knowledge comes from what comes into our offices. That tends to be both a constrictor and a filter,” said Michael Melaniphy, vice president, public sector, for Motor Coach Industries. “By attending the EXPO, you see everything from everybody and ask any questions you ever had and get an intelligent answer—and maybe get the answer from multiple points of view. What better way to recalibrate your knowledge base? You’ll make better decisions, you’ll have more information, and you’ll spark new ideas,” he added.

“EXPO is the one time you can truly see everything going on in our business,” said APTA Vice Chair Gary Thomas, president and executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit. “How many conferences can you attend where you can literally ‘kick the wheels’ of a new rail car, do the same thing with whatever new bus you want to try, and talk to the folks who built those vehicles as well as the people who made all of the components that make up that bus or rail car?” Thomas continued: “Like all APTA meetings, these are great opportunities to learn best practices from each other and think about how different approaches could help our own customers.”

Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System—host of the 2008 EXPO—noted that EXPO years at APTA are always highly anticipated. He called it “the highlight” of all APTA activities, adding: “I believe this year will be one of the most dynamic ever.”

Huelon Harrison of Legacy Resource Group has attended EXPOs as both a board member and business member. “From a marketing standpoint, you have an opportunity to see and be seen and get exposed,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win. Those that I’ve referred to the EXPO have seen positive results.”

What about the small operator? Does EXPO hold the same value? Martin Sennett, general manager of the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation (CityBus) in Lafayette, IN, and chair of the APTA Site Selection Committee, spoke to that issue, basically agreeing.

“What we try to do is—look at what our needs will be for the next three to five years and try to identify the vendors we need to speak with for certain projects,” Sennett said. “For the remaining time, we look to keep relationships that we’ve built up over the years with certain vendors and find out what’s new and what to be on the lookout for in the years to come.”

He added that gaining information at EXPO is enormously helpful when interacting with board members. “Because you just never know what you’re going to run into regarding the differences in the projects. Sometimes it’s good to point out to your board members why you don’t like a certain project—so when it comes to decision time, it makes the decision process a lot smoother,” he explained.

We live in a rapidly changing world—from economics to legislation to technology. Those who walk the aisles at the EXPO will learn the latest in evolving technologies, as pointed out by Paul Skoutelas, senior vice president and market leader, transit and rail, for Parsons Brinckerhoff in Pittsburgh: “EXPO is a tremendous way to see what our industry is offering and get ideas about the solutions to the challenges we all face, public agencies as well as the private sector.” Jablonski echoed that thought: “[EXPO] gives us a hands-on opportunity to understand what new technologies are out there that can help us in the job we do every day.”

Maryanne Roberts, senior advisor, communications and public affairs, U.S., for Bombardier Transportation, discussed the theme of her company’s exhibit: The smartest way to save the planet.

“By that I mean we’ll be showcasing our complete portfolio—smart transportation solutions—that deliver energy efficiency, passenger comfort, environmental performance, and cost savings,” she said.

Melaniphy noted that his company will be showing the broadest range of propulsion systems it has ever displayed: diesel, hybrid, and compressed natural gas.

“I can’t think of anywhere else in North America where all these transit agencies and suppliers will be under one roof at one time,” said Roberts. “It’s one-stop shopping—there’s no other place like it!”

The opportunities to meet and greet fellow attendees should also not be overlooked—and, according to some industry veterans, cannot be overstated. Joe Gibson, senior vice president for North American Bus Industries, termed EXPO “an excellent opportunity for networking.” He also cautioned while there are “a lot of choices, if anything, some might be a bit overwhelmed. I know that for my first one, I sure was. Wow.”

If there is a “takeaway” from this event, Scanlon has it pegged. “I hope attendees come away with not only a ‘can-do’ spirit, but a ‘must-do’ spirit. This is our time to rise to the challenge,” he said. Thomas echoed Scanlon’s comments: “We want members to leave New Orleans refreshed and excited about our industry and their agency or business. We want them to bring home a renewed commitment to serving our customers.”
What is EXPO’s Message This Year?
“Public transit is alive and well,” said Jeff Wharton, president of IMPulse NC, LLC, and co-chair of APTA’s Business Development Committee. He stressed that the committee increased international participation—to let U.S. businesses see what they can offer international agencies. He added that with the current federal emphasis on high-speed rail, EXPO “gives an opportunity for international companies to show their high-speed rail experience as well as American businesses showing that they are ready, willing, and capable of participating in the U.S. high-speed rail arena.”

Said Thomas: “In spite of all the challenges we face with regard to funding, our industry is vibrant and vital and is essential to rebuilding the North American economy.”

“EXPO showcases the best of the best,” said Harrison. “It shows that APTA is committed to taking it to the next level, that APTA has a whatever-it-takes approach to the industry.”

What to Expect?
This is APTA’s first major conference in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, so attendees will be able to see how the city continues to recover and how, in particular, transit is being used to bring New Orleans back.

From a more nuts and bolts perspective, EXPO will be “a little bit larger,” notes Gibson, who serves on the EXPO planning committee. Also, the entire showcase will be on one floor—with a tram operating down the center aisle!

Scanlon commented on the symbolism of holding EXPO in New Orleans, “a city that has dealt with serious problems. It stands as a metaphor. Now, our nation needs to come forward and pull itself up as New Orleans did, and develop an enlightened policy about public transportation to do what we need to do,” he said.

Final Words of Wisdom
Jablonski said: “I always tell people—if they can go to only one thing, they should go to an EXPO. There’s just so much more to learn there than the other conferences—it’s rail and bus and everything!”

Melaniphy said he hopes attendees will come away “feeling that their pool of industry knowledge has been filled to the brim, and that they now have a much better understanding of what is state-of-the-art—not only in their core discipline, but in the industry as a whole.”

Don’t forget, though, EXPO is B.I.G. So “pace yourself,” said Thomas. “You can’t really see everything in one try.”

And from a very practical approach, Roberts noted that walking up and down the aisles and seeing what the exhibitors are presenting is “another opportunity for exercise.”

Scanlon got the last words, however: “Wear comfortable shoes.”

Editor’s Note: Susan Berlin, Senior Editor, contributed to this story.

Crescent City Prepares to Serve as 2011 Host

BY JUSTIN T. AUGUSTINE, Vice President, Veolia TransDev, Delegated Manager to Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans

New Orleans is the perfect setting to host APTA’s 2011 International Public Transportation EXPO. I personally invite all of you to come and visit my hometown.

In all my travels and assignments leading transportation agencies around the country and the world, New Orleans has always held a special place in my heart. It is this love and commitment to bringing world-class transit back to this great city that brought me home to lead the efforts to rebuild this transit system.

New Orleans is a city that has clung to its rich history while embracing the future with open arms. It is the only city in the world whose transit system boasts both the oldest operating rail system and one of the newest bus fleets in the country. It’s a place where streetcar craftsmen still maintain a national transit treasure by hand while vehicle mechanics use the latest, most advanced, and environmentally conscious tools and maintenance techniques. 

It is also a place where the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) had the determination to revive transit for the citizens of its decimated city more than five years ago, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the transportation system along with the rest of the city. The leadership team embarked upon a historic public-private delegated management relationship to recreate transportation in the region and move it forward by implementing a new management style, new technologies, and a renewed commitment to providing world-class service to its riders—by hiring Veolia Transportation to manage all aspects of the agency.

EXPO 2011 in New Orleans will provide transit professionals with an opportunity to see firsthand this great story of recovery and revitalization. It will also give them a chance to participate on technical tours that showcase exciting projects helping both our system and our city to grow.

The RTA currently is involved in several unique projects, such as the expansion of rail lines through a multi-phase construction project that will extend the lines through business and residential districts. These projects already have stimulated economic investment and growth in the city. Additionally, the agency is embarking on a streetcar refurbishment project that will restore all the railcars in our historic fleet to their original beauty.

The agency has fully implemented Global Positioning Satellite technology to monitor service and has installed new system signage, including bus stops, shelters, system maps, and line schedules featuring the new brand of the agency.

In its efforts to build efficiencies and convenience, the RTA has introduced new fare media and installed automated ticket vending machines at its major transfer points. RTA also plans to launch a state-of-the-art web site this summer offering e-commerce, interactive system status alerts, mobile capacity, and an online business center.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the beauty, food, music, and fun EXPO 2011 attendees will find in New Orleans as they take a streetcar ride through our Garden District on the historic St. Charles Avenue Perley Thomas green cars, or aboard one of our more modern red cars through the Central Business District on Canal Street, or nestled between the banks of the Mississippi River and the historic French Market on our Riverfront Line. And what can I say about the food, music, and friendly atmosphere that can only be found in the Big Easy?

So join me for a bowl of gumbo, come dance to some authentic New Orleans jazz, stroll down Bourbon Street for a night of fun—whatever you choose, EXPO 2011 in New Orleans will be the best in recent history. Register now and don’t forget; Laissez les bon temps rouler…Let the good times roll.

See you in October!

Preliminary Program At-a-Glance

Friday, September 30
• APTA Business Members Community Service Project

Saturday, October 1
• Registration
• Committee Meetings
12 – 5 p.m.: APTA Board of Directors Meeting

Sunday, October 2
• Registration
• Committee Meetings
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.: Executive Committee Meeting
6 – 7 p.m.: Welcoming Reception

Monday, October 3
• Registration
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.: Opening General Session & EXPO Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.: EXPO 2011 OPEN
2 – 4:30 p.m.: Technology Showcase Presentations on EXPO Floor
3 – 4:30 p.m.: AdWheel Awards/Educational Sessions
5 – 6:30 p.m.: APTF Awards

Tuesday, October 4
• Registration
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.: Awards Breakfast
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.: EXPO 2011 OPEN
2 – 3 p.m.: General Session
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.: Leadership APTA/Educational Sessions & Technology Showcase Presentations on EXPO Floor
4:30 – 6 p.m.: Business-to-Business Event on EXPO Floor

Wednesday, October 5
• Registration
7:30 – 9 a.m.: APTA/WTS Speaker Breakfast
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.: EXPO 2011 OPEN
10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Educational Sessions
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.: Closing General Session
2 – 5 p.m.: Host Technical Tours (including Streetcar Operations and Facilities)

Thursday, October 6
• APTA Community Service Project

APTA Announces Specially Reduced Airline Fares for EXPO 2011

American and Delta Airlines are offering special discount rates to the APTA 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans. Please call the airlines listed below or a travel agent to obtain round-trip transportation at the lowest convention fares. Ask the travel agent to call the Convention Desks to obtain these reduced fares.

American Airlines
Promotion Code: 35H1BC
Valid for Travel: Sept. 30-Oct. 8, 2011
Eligible Airport: MSY-Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport 
APTA has partnered with American Airlines to provide meeting attendees a 5 percent discount off any published airfare on the American Airlines web site for travel to New Orleans. To make a reservation:
* Go to the web site to book your flight. Place the Promotion Code in the promotion code box and your discount will be calculated automatically.
* You may also call 1-800-433-1790 to book your flights. Please refer to the Promotion Code when you call. There is a reservation service charge for all tickets issued by phone.
Please note: This special discount is valid off any applicable published fares listed for American Airlines, American Eagle, and American Connection. International originating guests will need to contact your local reservation number and refer to the Promotion Code.

Delta Air Lines
Ticket Designator: NM7F6
Valid for Travel: Sept. 29-Oct. 8, 2011
Eligible Airport: MSY-Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
APTA has partnered with Delta to provide meeting attendees a discount of up to 10 percent off round-trip fares for travel to New Orleans. To make a reservation:
* Call Delta at 1-800-328-1111 for reservations and ticketing assistance. This line is open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. CDT.
* This discount is not available for online reservations.
Please Note: Since this discount is not available online, Delta has waived the $25 ticketing fee for tickets purchased directly with Delta.

APTA Volunteers Can Give Back to New Orleans

Before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish was an industrious community comprising middle-class and working-class families. Generations of families lived within blocks of one another and neighbors could trace their friendships back to their grandparents and beyond. The parish had 27,000 homes and 14,000 businesses. The onslaught of Katrina rendered all homes in the parish uninhabitable.

When APTA comes to New Orleans this fall for the 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO, it will provide a chance for meeting participants to join in the St. Bernard Project’s Rebuilding Program—an effort that has already completed 352 homes, with another 47 under construction. The schedule includes community service opportunities on Thursday, Oct. 6. The Business Member Board of Governors will also coordinate a work session Friday, Sept. 30.

Through this program, volunteers rebuild homes for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and families with children who cannot afford to have their homes rebuilt by contractors. For clients who can afford supplies, the project provides supervised volunteer labor; for those who cannot afford supplies, the project buys them and provides the labor. A typical rebuild project takes approximately 12 weeks of volunteer labor and uses about $15,000 worth of building supplies.

The APTA Executive Committee participated in a community service project for the St. Bernard Project during its November 2010 retreat in New Orleans.

Specifics about when and how to sign up to volunteer will appear in a future issue of Passenger Transport, but people attending the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO can make plans now to extend their visits to New Orleans to participate in this so-very-worthy venture. Or, according to some of the Executive Committee members and APTA staff who volunteered last fall, an adventure!


Photo by Bridget Nolan, St. Bernard Project
At the conclusion of APTA’s 2010 Executive Committee retreat, teams spent an afternoon rebuilding houses devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Above, working on drywall, two team members assist the St. Bernard Project.


A First Look at the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting

The 2011 APTA Annual Meeting, convening Oct. 2-5 in New Orleans in conjunction with the International Public Transportation EXPO, will unite the public transportation community and give industry professionals an unparalleled opportunity to enhance their knowledge and exchange information on best practices, research, and new trends in public transit. The Annual Meeting theme is “Public Transportation Takes Us There.”

The meeting schedule provides more educational offerings in public transportation than any other APTA event. Participants will have an opportunity to attend cutting-edge concurrent sessions and forums geared toward preparing the industry for the future, industry priorities, and business practices of individuals and organizations. These programs—as well as technical tours and other learning and networking activities—will address an array of policy, management, and operations topics designed to complement the transit innovations highlighted at EXPO 2011.

The preliminary list of educational and networking topics includes:

Sustainability: Greenhouse Gas Reduction, Green Practices.

Policy and Planning: Innovative Financing, Public-Private Partnerships, Intermodal Transportation, New Starts/Small Starts, High-Speed Rail, Federal Surface Transportation Authorization.

Safety and Security: Safety Roundtable, Security and Transit Funding, Transit Emergency Management.

Technology: Policy Issues in Technology, Alternative Fuels, Intelligent Transportation Systems Applications, Technology Strategies, Management/Operations, APTA Standards, Procurement, Bus Rapid Transit, Operations Planning.

Workforce Development: Labor/Management Relations, Risk Management.

Marketing, Communications, and Advocacy: Transit Advertising, Grassroots Advocacy; Customer Service Initiatives.

Accessible Transportation/Mobility Services for All: Mobility Management, Paratransit Operations, Accessibility.

APTA also will hold its Bus Technical, Maintenance, and Procurement Workshop Oct. 3-5 in New Orleans during the Annual Meeting and EXPO. This year’s workshop focuses on new technology and best practices in maintenance and procurement for transit bus maintenance and procurement and materials management professionals. This workshop has a separate registration fee.

More information on the Annual Meeting and EXPO is available online. Please note that Expovision is the only company officially sanctioned and certified by APTA to book hotel rooms on behalf of its exhibitors and attendees.

Show Your EXPO Spirit Online!

APTA is offering a free trip to EXPO 2011 in New Orleans, as well as one registration for the APTA Annual Meeting, as part of a promotion on the EXPO 2011 Facebook page.

Public transit professionals who “like” the Facebook page and upload a picture of themselves with the special EXPO Rally Towel—available here--by July 15 will have a chance to win. Be sure to include in the caption who is in the photo, what company he or she is with, and where it was taken.

Photos will be judged on the following criteria: best/most interesting location; farthest distance from New Orleans; and greatest EXPO spirit. Winners will be selected Aug. 15.

Check Out the Showcases

Transit Technology Showcases right on the EXPO floor will provide added value for exhibitors and visitors alike. EXPO exhibitors conduct these quality educational sessions—covering technical, management, and operations issues—that present the latest technology innovations to provide solutions addressing the needs of the public transit industry.

In addition, the EXPO will host international showcases designed to educate visitors about the latest public transportation developments and business opportunities in other countries. Guest speakers from the U.S. Commercial Service and transportation authorities from countries including Mexico, Brazil, China, and India will conduct presentations highlighting current and future development plans of interest to U.S. companies wishing to export their products and services.

Bridging the Gap: The Next Generation
Continuing APTA’s mission of encouraging student involvement in its conferences and meetings, EXPO 2011 offers a unique opportunity for students to network and interact with a variety of professionals within the industry.

The “EXPO High School” program—sponsored by AECOM, Veolia Transportation, and ACE Mentor Program of America in partnership with APTA and Junior Achievement—is a student outreach initiative with the goal of teaching 75 New Orleans-area students how to make career and life decisions. This special activity is a unique chance to promote careers in public transportation and engineering.

This initiative also provides an opportunity for APTA member organizations to network with and market to a new generation interested in careers within the public transit industry.

Business Networking: Now on the Menu

What does “business networking” mean? More than 750 companies that do business in the public transportation industry are coming to EXPO 2011—which makes New Orleans not only a great place to find new customers, but a premier venue to identify new business partners.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., business-to-business networking will take center stage—with the show floor open only to exhibitors and APTA business members.

Michael Melaniphy, chair of the International Public Transportation Expo Advisory Committee and vice president, public sector, Motor Coach Industries, came up with this idea. “The universe of potential suppliers is always changing,” he said. “This time at the show will give the private sector an opportunity to meet new partners that we could do business with and to learn more about their products and services. It will help us find new ways that we can better meet the needs of our customers.”

During this first-ever networking event, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and small business members will gather at the EXPO tram stop nearest to their booth to meet potential partners. Huelon Harrison, chair of APTA’s Business Member Small Business Committee, said: “The buzzwords for the over 60 DBEs exhibiting at the show will be ‘Meet me at my tram stop and let’s talk about doing business.’”

An added bonus: APTA’s business members will sponsor a reception for exhibitors during the networking event.

“Business networking is an important reason that companies belong to APTA,” said Chuck Wochele, chair of the Business Member Board of Governors and vice president for industry and government relations at ALSTOM Transportation. “This year we are sponsoring business networking breakfasts at both the bus and rail conferences, setting the stage for the networking event in New Orleans,” he continued. “With so many companies in one place at one time, it’s an outstanding opportunity for APTA business members to make new business contacts and gather new ideas that will help improve the products and services we offer to the public transportation industry. In times like this, business networking is more important than ever, and we’re pleased to support this event.”


APTA business members network at a special breakfast session during the 2010 Rail Conference in Vancouver, BC. For the first time, a similar networking event is part of the schedule for the Annual Meeting and EXPO.




Directory of Advertisers at APTA's 2011 EXPO

To see who's already signed up to exhibit at the 2011 International Public Transportation EXPO, click here!

This list is current as of April 11, 2011.

New Orleans Offers a Variety of Activities

No matter where you go or what you do—from taking a literary house tour to helping rebuild a home, New Orleans will leave you, as they say, spoiled for choice. Here are a few examples of how you can enjoy the Big Easy experience—and they’re [almost all] free!

Get jazzed. Stroll along Bourbon or Frenchmen, where jazz pours out onto the street, or duck into a few clubs for the full experience.

Immerse yourself in New Orleans history. Stop by The Historic New Orleans Collection at 533 Royal St. for a crash course on the city’s history that spans almost 300 years.

Bike along the levee. Rent a bike and go for a ride along the levee while taking in the sights and sounds of the mighty Mississippi River.

Shop for mansions on St. Charles Avenue. Come on! You don’t have to be in the market to appreciate these jewels on the avenue.

View the architecture of the French Quarter. Look for those iconic wrought-iron balconies and hidden courtyards. 

Go see Fulton Street. Stroll through the Fulton Street promenade, home to outdoor cafes.

Hang your business card at the Old Absinthe House. Leave your mark on New Orleans by adding your business card to the wall at one of Bourbon Street’s oldest bars.

Spend Saturday morning at the Farmers Market. Learn a bit about the famous New Orleans cuisine with free cooking demonstrations at the Crescent City Farmers Market.

Haunt the “Cities of the Dead.” Visit the famous above-ground tombs at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District or St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 on Basin Street, believed to be the final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Knock three times on her crypt and make a wish.

Take yourself on a Literary Tour. See where William Faulkner (624 Pirate’s Alley), Tennessee Williams (722 Toulouse), Thornton Wilder (623 Bourbon), Walker Percy (1820 Milan), Truman Capote (711 Royal), and Anne Rice (1239 First) lived.

Ride the River. The free Canal Street ferry offers some of the best views of the New Orleans skyline and drops you in historic Algiers.

Discover the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Located amid the beauty of City Park, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden features one of the most impressive collections of contemporary sculpture in America.

Be a “Voluntourist.” Though New Orleans is thriving, some parts of the city could still use some help following Hurricane Katrina. Just a few hours of volunteering can leave a lasting impact on New Orleans.

Delectable Tidbits for All Palates in the Big Easy

Andouille (ahn-DOO-ee): Spicy Cajun sausage. Don’t ask what’s in it.

Angelo Brocato: ices and creams. Some say pistachio; others say lemon ice. Two words: rum custard.

Bananas Foster: Brennan’s first whipped up this flaming ambrosia of bananas and rum, spooned over vanilla ice cream.

Barq’s: A great local root beer, served in glass bottles or frosty mugs.

Beignet (BEN-yay): Creole pastry carrés (square, like the Vieux Carré), fried to crusty perfection and generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Got café au lait? Tip: wear light colors to camouflage the powdered sugar.

Blackened Redfish: Highly seasoned redfish filets sizzled in a hot skillet. When Chef Paul Prudhomme made the Cajun dish a national craze, it put a strain on redfish supplies, so inspired chefs began blackening poultry and veal.

Blue Runner Gumbo to go: Canned okra and shrimp gumbo or gumbo base, beans, and other canned produce to take home. No muss.

Boudin (boo-DEHN): Spicy pork sausage stuffed with onions and herbs.

Cajun vs. Creole: Cajun food is the earthy, robust creation of fishermen and farmers in the bayou country of southwest Louisiana. Creole food is the cosmopolitan cuisine of New Orleans—a mix of Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Chicory (CHICK-er-ree): Endive roots are roasted and ground into Louisiana coffee. Indigenous coffee houses like C.C.’s and Café du Monde serve up local coffees all day and into the night.

Courtbouillon (COO-boo-yawn): Cajun for “short soup,” it is fish simmered in spicy tomato sauce.

Crab boil or shrimp boil, or crawfish boil: The standard brands are Zatarain’s and Rex. Why bother to boil if you don’t do it right? Seafood gets a flavor jolt in these aromatic blends of spices and seasonings.

Crawfish (a.k.a. mudbugs or crawdads): Cooked with lots of crab boil, these succulent little second cousins to shrimp hold the flavor in the heads and the meat in the tails. So you suck the heads and peel the tails. Dishes include crawfish pies and Crawfish Monica, a creamy pasta dish.

Creole cream cheese: Once close to extinction, now making a comeback (Robert’s Markets and Dorignac’s Supermarket still carry it), it’s close to France’s light crème fraîche. Add a little sugar or fruit, and breakfast will never be the same.

Creole Mustard: More pungent than American mustard; the mustard seeds are ground coarsely into piquant nuggets rather than bland dust.

Dressed: A po-boy sandwich with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo (known locally as “MY-nez,” usually Blue Plate).

Etouffée (ay-too-FAY): It literally means “suffocated,” but in New Orleans it simply means smothering great shrimp or crawfish with spicy tomato sauce and slathering it over rice.

Gumbo: New Orleans’ and south Louisiana’s signature Creole dish. Not an imitation of French bouillabaisse. “Gumbo” began with okra, or nkombo in Bantu, a vegetable of African origin. Native American filé (ground sassafras leaves) is the essential spice. Caribbean-born chefs, gens de couleur (free people of color), first whipped up this piquant potage—more soup than stew. In southern Louisiana, it’s made with a dark roux (gravy base made by browning flour in fat), shellfish, and sausage, served over rice. In north Louisiana, the roux is lighter and the meat is venison, duck, or squirrel.

Jambalaya (jahm-ba-LIE-ya): New Orleans’ answer to Spain’s paella, this Cajun rice dish makes a clean sweep of the kitchen, full of sausage, seafood, and, of course, spices.

King Cake: These racetrack-shaped cakes are served only between Twelfth Night (Jan. 6, the Feast of the Three Kings) and Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. Originally a version of French brioche, they are typically decorated in purple, green, and gold sugar. By tradition, whoever gets the piece with the tiny plastic baby or bean baked inside throws the next party and serves the next cake.

Mirliton (MER-lih-tawn or MIL-lih-ton): A tropical, pear-shaped squash. Louisianans love to stuff them with seafood, meats, and cheese. Elsewhere, they’re called vegetable pears, chayotes, chochos, or christophines.

Muffuletta: It’s not a sandwich; it’s a meal packed into a pizza-sized Italian bun. The calories don’t count when you’re having fun: salami, ham, and provolone lavished with olive relish. Go to the source: Central Grocery on Decatur Street, an Italian import store where the sandwich was invented about a century ago to satisfy hungry Sicilian stevedores on the nearby docks.

Oysters: Eating them raw on the half shell still separates the natives from the tourists, the sushi craze notwithstanding. Connoisseurs like to oversee the process, watching as the shells are pried open. Most natives dip them in a sauce made with ketchup, Tabasco, horseradish to taste, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.


‘Change Expert’ May to Keynote at APTA Bus Conference in Memphis

Matthew May, an internationally recognized expert on change, innovation, and design strategy, will give the keynote address at the May 23 General Session of the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference at the Memphis Marriott Downtown in Memphis, TN.

May will speak on organizational culture, which he calls the road map to an organization’s strengthens and weaknesses. He is a senior lecturer at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Business and the author of The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change, In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing, and the Shingo Research Prize-winning The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation.

To register for the conference, click here.


Spread the Word: ‘I [heart] transit’

APTA invites public transportation professionals to spread the message about the benefits of public transportation through its “I<3 transit” (I heart transit) campaign.

“I<3 transit” is a public education initiative that seeks to recruit public transit supporters via a mobile text messaging campaign to drive signatures to the APTA public transportation petition, as well as to build a grassroots base of support for passage of a long-term federal surface transportation bill.

This program allows public transportation employees, riders, and advocates to show their support by texting TRANSIT to 86677. Once the text is received they will receive a message instructing them how they can further support public transit; it will also discuss the expansion of public transportation options. These instructions will include web links to the petition and various other websites.

In addition, the public can follow I<3 transit on Twitter at @Ihearttransit.

For more information on the I<3 transit campaign, contact Lesa Rair.

Call for Sustainability Presentations

The APTA Sustainability Committee invites all APTA members to submit abstract proposals by May 6 for presentations at the 2011 Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, July 31-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles. The theme of this year’s workshop is "The Value of Sustainability: Increasing Quality, Efficiency, and Community Benefits in an Ever-Changing Environment.”

Suggested topics include:

* Sustainable Planning, Policy, and Community Development: Focus on partnerships for sustainable, healthy, and livable communities, joint development, sustainable practices in transportation planning, land use, and urban design.

* Green Design, Materials, and Infrastructure: Focus on integrating sustainability into construction projects and mitigating environmental impacts.

* Sustainable Operations: Focus on energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and socially responsive practices in transit operations and maintenance (including the role of new technologies and energy-efficient fleets).

* Sustainable Business Practices: Focus on sustainable business practices in such areas as manufacturing, procurement, and project management.

* Sustainable Organizations: Focus on sustainable practices and design in organizations, including green offices, workforce engagement, performance metrics, and sustainability reporting.

Members can also submit topic ideas outside these areas. The Call for Presentations forms are available online. Submit proposals to Rich Weaver.



KCATA Adds All-Electric Truck

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) welcomed its first all-electric maintenance vehicle on April 12. The Smith Electric Vehicle will be used to service and clean the agency’s Troost MAX and Main Street MAX Bus Rapid Transit lines, along with other Metro stops.

The truck operates with lithium-ion batteries and a 120kw electric motor; it has a top speed of 50 mph and a range of 100 miles on a full charge. It is designed to operate effectively in urban environments that demand heavy stop-and-go driving.

“KCATA’s commitment to the environment is more than a one-day celebration,” said General Manager Mark Huffer. “Our business is cleaner transportation, and we’re excited to be able to make this improvement to our maintenance fleet.”

On the same day, KCATA opened its newest park-and-ride, at 95th & Troost, which includes a charging station for the maintenance truck. KCATA expects to save more than $100,000 on fuel and maintenance over the life of the vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49 tons a year.

The 95th & Troost Park-and-Ride is a joint project of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and KCATA, and is located on the periphery of the GSA’s employee parking lot.


Participants in dedication ceremonies for KCATA’s all-electric, zero emissions maintenance truck include, from left, Geoff Jolley, representing Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO); Kansas City, MO, Councilman John Sharp; Mokhtee Ahmad, Federal Transit Administration regional administrator for Region VII; KCATA General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Mark Huffer; Jason Klumb, GSA regional administrator, Heartland Region; and KCATA Board of Commissioners Chairman Robbie Makinen.




Dennis K. Henning, Frank Domingo
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the appointments of Dennis K. Henning as a senior engineering manager in the Dallas office and Frank Domingo as a senior project control specialist in the Los Angeles office.

Henning will be responsible for developing and managing transit and rail projects throughout PB’s South Central Region. His 35 years of civil and environmental engineering and project/program management experience includes more than 19 years managing design, construction support, and environmental studies for major rail and transit projects located throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Domingo comes to PB from a transportation consulting firm where he worked on a variety of Los Angeles area projects. He has 17 years’ experience and, for PB, will be responsible for budget/cost management, contract change control, and subcontract administration for the Los Angeles Metro Regional Connector project.

Ian Newberg
COLUMBIA, MD—Ian Newberg, a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2001, has been appointed managing director for public transport, North America, for ACS, A Xerox Company.

Newberg comes to ACS from Parkeon, where he served as vice president of new business beginning in 2006 and was promoted to president in 2009. He succeeds Bob Jones, who is now focusing on large business pursuits for ACS’ Transportation Solutions Group.

Harry Saporta
PORTLAND, OR—The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) has named Harry Saporta its safety and security executive.

During his 31-year career, Saporta has worked on major transit projects around the world. Most recently, he worked in Abu Dhabi as lead of the Surface Transport Safety and Security Project for all modes of surface transportation for the United Arab Emirates Department of Transport. He earlier spent 19 years with TriMet during the construction of three MAX light rail lines, and is a former director of safety and security for the Federal Transit Administration.

Robert Kalivoda, Fotos Andreou, David Loutit
OMAHA, NE—HDR has expanded into Australia with the hiring of Robert Kalivoda, Fotos Andreou, and David Loutit of the former RK Consultancy Services (RKCS), based in Melbourne.

RKCS founder Kalivoda will be the managing director of HDR International in Australia. He earlier held senior management positions with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Credit Suisse First Boston, and American Express. Andreou has extensive experience advising water authorities and previously held senior positions with Treasury Corporation of Victoria and the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance. Loutit is a management consultant in the transportation, agriculture, textile, infrastructure, corrections, and government services sectors.

Shana Ellis, Ron Aames, Michael Johnson
PHOENIX, AZ—The Valley Metro Board of Directors elected Tempe Councilmember Shana Ellis as its chair. Peoria Councilmember Ron Aames was elected vice chair and Phoenix Councilmember Michael Johnson treasurer.

Ellis has served on the Tempe City Council since March 2006. She retired from the Tempe Community Council in 2006 after 20 years of service working with nonprofit organizations and community groups, and now is a board member of the community council. She also serves on the Maricopa Association of Governments Transportation Policy Committee and several committees of the National League of Cities.

Aames is an independent marketing consultant who has also been a corporate executive for high-tech, banking, and marketing firms. He joined the Peoria City Council in 2007. His background in planning and city development includes a Ph.D., focused on urban development, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Johnson has served since 2002 as a councilmember representing District 8, which includes Sky Harbor Airport, Downtown Phoenix, and South Phoenix. He retired from the Phoenix Police Department in 1995 after 21 years as a police officer, community relations officer, and detective, and is now president and chief executive of Nkosi Inc., a security service firm.

Jian Guo (Gordon) Yu
VALLEY FORGE, PA—Gannett Fleming announced the appointment of Jian Guo (Gordon) Yu, Ph.D., C.Eng., as manager of traction power analysis for Gannett Fleming Transit & Rail Systems.

He is based in New Hampshire and has more than 26 years of experience in traction power system simulation and analysis.

For APTA, Yu serves on the Power, Signals and Communications Technical Forum and the Research and Technology Committee.

Michael Buehlhorn, John Langa
ST. LOUIS, MO—Michael Buehlhorn has joined the Board of Commissioners of Metro in St. Louis, appointed by the St. Clair County Board. He succeeds Dr. James T. Rosborg, whose term expired.

Buehlhorn has served since 2004 as executive director of the Metro East Park and Recreation District, and was mayor of Swansea, IL, from 1985 to 2003. He was a board member of the St. Clair County Transit District from 1981 to 2001, a member of the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council from 1990 to 1997, and a member of the site selection committee for St. Clair County MetroLink from 1992 to 1994.

Also, Metro announced the hiring of John Langa as vice president of economic development. He has nine years of public sector experience in economic development and real estate brokerage and development, acting most recently as a vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle.

Lisa DeTaranti
BOSTON—Lisa DeTaranti, a 25-year veteran of the transportation industry, has joined Vanasse Hangen Brustlin as northeast director of transit and rail, with responsibility for projects in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Throughout her career, DiTaranti has led alternative analyses and planning efforts on large-scale projects in those three states.

Douglas R. Clark, David Hill, Ron Eickelman, Donna Peeples
WASHINGTON, DC—Douglas R. Clark, president of the Metropolitan Utilities District in Omaha, has been elected chairperson of NGVAmerica. He succeeds Andrew Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., who remains on the board as the immediate past chair.

Also elected were David Hill, vice president, natural gas economy operations, for Encana, vice chair; Ron Eickelman, president, Agility Fuel Systems, treasurer; and Donna Peeples, vice president & chief marketing officer, AGL Resources, corporate secretary.

Edward A. Mierzejewski
TAMPA, FL—Edward A. Mierzejewski, Ph.D., P.E., has joined Gannett Fleming as director of transportation research, based in the Tampa office.

Mierzejewski brings more than 40 years of transportation planning experience to the firm. He spent the past 22 years at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, most recently serving as its director.

Woodrow L. Moore
PHOENIX, AZ—Stantec recently hired Woodrow L. Moore as vice president and practice leader for its Desert, Mountain and Pacific Northwest transportation groups.

Moore has more than 30 years of large-scale project experience with all modes of surface transportation in the public and private sectors. Most recently, he was vice president of a national facilities, infrastructure, and aviation consulting firm.

Stacie H. (Soumbeniotis) Tiongson
WASHINGTON, DC—Stacie H. (Soumbeniotis) Tiongson has joined the law firm Kaplan, Kirsch & Rockwell as Of Counsel in the Washington office.

Until December 2010, Tiongson was deputy chief counsel to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I). Earlier, she served for 10 years as staff director of the T&I Subcommittee on Aviation.

David Markunas
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Urban Engineers Inc. announced the hiring of David Markunas as director of client development.

Markunas brings more than two decades of engineering and construction industry experience to the position, having worked for both public agencies and private firms. His experience includes employment with the New Schools Development Authority and the New Jersey Department of Treasury, where he spent nearly 14 years.

Anthony Zbierajewski
SEATTLE, WA--Anthony Zbierajewski has joined Michael Baker Jr. Inc. as a senior rail systems construction manager, technical consultant II, based in the Seattle office.

He has more than 22 years of professional experience in major transit and railroad projects, working in both the public and private sectors.

Brad Underwood
CINCINNATI, OH—Brad Underwood, a First Transit employee who serves as executive dir4ector for the Texoma Area Paratransit System (TAPS) in Sherman, TX, has been named Outstanding General Manager of the Year by the Texas Transit Association.

Underwood began his transportation career as chairman of the TAPS board in 2007 and was named executive director in 2009. He has been with First Transit for nearly two years.

Rodney Hardy
ST. PETERSBURG, FL—The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) Board of Directors honored bus operator Rodney Hardy for a 30-year career of accident-free driving.

Hardy began his career with the former Central Pinellas Transit Authority in 1980 as a recent college graduate. While he originally thought of his job as temporary, he realized that “it was such a good fit that I never looked back.”

In addition to his safety record, Hardy received recognition in 1996 as Driver of the Year for both PSTA and the state of Florida—the only bus operator from the agency to accomplish that feat.