Passenger Transport - June 17, 2011
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Rogoff: Rail is ‘Linchpin’ for Increased Economic Growth; Addresses Opening Session at Boston Conference

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Federally supported infrastructure projects will improve the quality of life for generations of Americans to come—and they “see all forms of rail as a linchpin for economic growth,” Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, told the more than 1,200 attendees at the June 13 Opening General Session of the APTA Rail Conference in Boston.

“On behalf of President Obama and Secretary LaHood, thank you for what you do every day,” Rogoff said. He noted how APTA’s efforts to promote public transportation overlap with the president’s priorities: “By using transit, people can keep more money in their wallets rather than handing it over at gas stations.”

The administrator emphasized that, even in these tough economic times, Obama is asking Congress essentially to double the FTA funding level in his Fiscal Year 2012 budget—“to hire employees, lay track, build stations.” He pointed to two rail projects currently under construction that he called “transformative”: the Denver Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks plan, which includes several public transit projects but no new highways, and the Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX Mid-Jordan light rail line. “Both agencies dreamed big,” he said, “got the voters on board early, and created cost-effective plans on time and on budget. FTA wants to do that with New Starts projects across the country.”

Rogoff also said FTA has found sufficient federal funds to honor FY 2010 and 2011 public transit projects that previously were placed on hold, through review of unused funds or those that lost their local funding and were not going forward. “This will allow you to keep every existing project whole, even in an environment of reduced appropriations, but the cupboard is now bare,” he explained.

He also said FTA will issue a schedule of all FY 2011 competitive grant funding opportunities at one time, so grantees can develop a strategic plan on which grants to apply for.

Rogoff next turned to the subject of risk assessment: “When there are different processes and different levels of sophistication, we can peel at least six months off our approval process when it comes to risk approval. Going forward, we are trying to eliminate duplication. You don’t have to pay consultants twice for risk analysis.”

Other priorities cited by Rogoff included passage of a rail transit safety bill and a proposal that would allow the use of federal funds for targeted and temporary operating assistance.

“What we’re doing through the rail industry is elemental to the job effort: helping people hear ‘You’re hired,’” he said.

Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, followed Rogoff at the opening session. “After decades of disinvestment and benign neglect, we have a president, a vice president, and a DOT secretary who get it,” he said. “They understand that rail is vital for economic viability.”

Szabo reported on potential high-speed rail corridors throughout the U.S., including the Washington, DC-Atlanta route, which would be included in the president’s proposed $53 billion, six-year transportation authorization bill.

“We have a bold vision,” he continued. “We have a long way to go, but the pieces are coming together to make high-speed rail succeed in America. We have to continue making bold investments in this program, and we can do it. If we were afraid of hard work, America wouldn’t have freight rail, interstate highways, or transit agencies across the nation …. High-speed rail is going to change the way we live, travel, and do business. It will keep us safer, save us money, and help clear our skies of pollution.”

Szabo concluded: “How do we win the future? This is how—by working together with the transit leaders of our nation, we can build the high-speed rail system our nation needs and deserves.”

In his welcoming remarks, APTA President William Millar announced that ridership trends began to turn around in the fourth quarter of 2010. Ridership in the first quarter of 2011 is 1.6 percent higher than the same quarter a year earlier, the largest increase in two years. “This growth was led by rail ridership,” he said, noting quarterly increases of 4.1 percent for heavy rail, 2.3 percent for light rail, and 0.5 percent for commuter rail.

“Nationally, in the first quarter of 2011, 39 million more trips were taken on public transportation than in the first quarter of 2010. That’s three million more riders per week,” he added.

Millar noted that the House of Representatives has proposed a 30 percent cut in federal funding for public transit. “Do you want that? Could your system live with 30 percent less federal aid? What would that mean to your community?” he asked the audience, calling on conference participants to tell Congress that Americans want more public transit.

APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon echoed Millar, calling federal investment in public transportation “as close to a magic wand as we can get.” He asked public transit professionals to emphasize people, not statistics, as they “sell their story” to members of Congress.

“We want everybody to be fully committed and persuasive. We’ve got the facts on our side,” Scanlon emphasized. “Mobility is the fifth freedom. Public transportation’s value is real, its presence is critical, and its reach is vast.”

Yoshio Ishida, vice chairman of East Japan Railway Company and chairman of the Union of International Railways, said his organization and APTA would work together more closely to promote high-speed rail. However, he said, “I believe that high-speed rail service will not be successful unless metropolitan transportation also works as a foundation. We must promote safer and better railroad services.”

Jeffrey B. Mullan, secretary and chief executive officer, massDOT, told the group: “We are at a crossroads. We have some important decisions to make that will define the next generation.”

Richard A. Davey, general manager and rail and transit administrator for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, host system for the conference, added: “The number one issue for commuters is—they want more service. This is a good problem to have.”

AECOM sponsored the session. 

Senate Panel Reviews Security Funding

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing June 14 to review railroad security after evidence found at Osama bin Laden’s compound showed he was plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. passenger trains.

“Terrorists have been focused on trains for years,” said committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV). “We must recognize that our surface transportation network is enormous and heavily traveled, and is therefore an attractive target …. Make no mistake: the threat to America’s rail network is real, and we must do much more to keep it secure.”

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a member of the committee and vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over rail security funding, called on Republicans to reconsider reductions in this funding, saying al-Qaeda remains a threat “to our rails.”

John S. Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), said: “Due to the large populations and substantial infrastructure served by mass transit and national railroad systems, these networks remain a target for terrorist groups.” Moreover, he added, “an open architecture connecting millions of passengers in major metropolitan areas creates inherent potential security vulnerabilities.”

He noted that cuts put forth in the House “will have a serious and significant impact in the security work that we are able to do.”

TSA employs advanced risk-based, intelligence-driven techniques to prevent terrorist attacks and to reduce the vulnerability of the nation’s transportation systems to terrorism, Pistole said.

He added that TSA is developing and fielding a risk assessment capability focused on individual mass transit and passenger railroad agencies, their regional security partners, and connecting and adjoining transportation systems. “This effort,” he said, “aims to produce several risk and vulnerability assessment tools integrated into a single platform so that TSA and its component security partners in DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] can conduct joint assessments of mass transit and passenger railroad agencies, employing resources more efficiently and improving the audit process.”

John J. O’Connor, Amtrak’s chief of police, told the committee: “The recent events after the death of bin Laden serve as a stark reminder that these threats continue to be viable and that a new twist was added, that terrorists are considering derailing trains.”

The House passed a bill that potentially cuts federal spending on rail transit security by 65 percent in next year’s budget. This is in addition to other security grant cuts in the House appropriations bill for FY 2012.

LaHood Attends NORTA Ceremonies

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited New Orleans to participate in ground-breaking ceremonies for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority’s (NORTA) Union Passenger Terminal/Loyola Avenue Streetcar project. The new streetcar line received $45 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The streetcar extension, scheduled to enter service next year, will run through New Orleans’ central business district along Loyola Avenue from the Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street—a major southern hub for Amtrak. The Loyola Avenue corridor is home to significant commercial and business activity, including the city’s energy, government, healthcare, and financial sectors, as well as many attractions and entertainment.

Also at the event, LaHood announced $3 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds for 12 programs through the “Innovative Workforce Development” program to support the training, hiring, development, and retention of public transit workers. FTA received 35 applications requesting a total of $7.3 million in requests for the available money.

NORTA will receive $400,000 through this grant to establish a streetcar maintenance training program to assist in hiring and training skilled streetcar maintenance workers. Funds will also go to programs administered by Florida DOT in Tampa; Denver Regional Transportation District; UMass Transit in Amherst, MA; Community Coordinated Transportation Systems (River Cities Public Transit) in Pierre, SD; New Jersey Transit Corporation; Los Angeles Metro; Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in Buffalo, NY; PennDOT in Pennsylvania; Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake City; Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; and Chicago Transit Authority.

“With our transit systems growing in ridership and complexity, we must begin recruiting and training the skilled workforce to match the challenges of expansion and innovation,” said FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff. “We must prepare for retirements and build a knowledgeable workforce that will ensure that our systems are safe, reliable, and desirable long into the future.”

More information on the grant recipients is available here.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, center, helps break ground for the new Union Passenger Terminal/Loyola Avenue Streetcar project.

Mica, Shuster Offer NEC Plan

House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the T&I Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, held a briefing June 15 to roll out a new approach to bring private sector competition to high-speed passenger rail in the Northeast Corridor and intercity passenger rail service across the country.

Mica said it was time for Congress to change the direction of America’s “failed high-speed and intercity passenger rail service.” He said: “This new direction will employ private sector competition to bring real high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor, reform passenger rail service across the country, and lower taxpayer costs.”

Shuster said: “As high-speed trains and passenger rail service around the world speed by, America remains stuck at the station.”

MBTA Breaks Ground for Commuter Rail Station

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) broke ground June 7 for the $15.9 million Talbot Commuter Rail Station with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino in attendance.

The Talbot Avenue Station is the third of four MBTA commuter rail stations under construction as part of the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line Rehabilitation Project. Construction will include high level platforms, canopies, passenger shelters, benches and windscreens, and electronic message signs. Sidewalks adjacent to the station will also be reconstructed with wheelchair ramps at major intersections. The station also will be equipped with closed circuit television video surveillance cameras, police emergency call box systems, public telephones, and an off street drop-off/pick-up area.

“The Fairmount Line investments are creating jobs and improving transportation options for residents across the community,” the governor said. “This is a smart investment that will pay off for decades to come.”

Later this year, MBTA will replace the Talbot Avenue and Woodrow Avenue railroad bridges in conjunction with the Talbot
Avenue Station project.

The replacement process will follow the fast-track method: the new bridges will be built on site and, following demolition of the existing structures, will be installed over one weekend each, to minimize disruption to the rail service.

The 9.2-mile Fairmount Commuter Rail Line runs from South Station through Dorchester and Hyde Park, terminating at the Readville Station. It is the only MBTA commuter rail line that exclusively serves the city of Boston.

Earlier, MBTA marked the completion of modernization efforts at its State Street Station on the Blue Line. This project incorporates two new fully accessible entrances and allows for a seamless connection between the Blue and Orange rail lines.

The project required relocation of all existing street utilities, demolition of abandoned city foundations, and the construction of 300 more feet of station tunnel. Additional work includes the lengthening of platforms to accommodate six-car trains.

“Modernization to State Street Station represents our continued commitment to provide people of all abilities access to public transportation that is direct and user-friendly," said MBTA General Manager Richard A. Davey.

Approximately 12,500 customers travel through State Street Station each weekday. Reconstruction and beautification improvements to the streetscape continue, with completion slated for November 2011.

Millar Honored with Eno Lifetime Achievement Award

APTA President William Millar received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Eno Transportation Foundation June 8 in Washington, DC, at a dinner during the foundation’s Leadership Development Conference.

“For 40 years, Bill Millar has played an integral role in advancing public transportation and helping millions of people across the country with improved access to jobs and economic prosperity,” said Eno President and Chief Executive Officer Joshua Schank.

“Eno and its board of directors are grateful to Bill for his leadership and are proud to honor him with a Lifetime Achievement Award,” Schenk announced.

Before becoming APTA president in 1996, Millar served 19 years at the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. During his tenure, he founded the award-winning Access Paratransit Program. He became executive director of the authority in 1983.

Millar also worked for PennDOT, where he developed and managed Pennsylvania’s Free Transit Program for Senior Citizens and led the department’s rural public and community transit efforts.

He began his career as the county transportation planner in Lancaster, PA.

Millar also is a past chairman of the Transportation Research Board and a founder of the Transit Cooperative Research Program.

Photo courtesy of Eno Transportation Foundation
Jerome Premo, right, a board member of the Eno Transportation Foundation, presents William Millar with Eno’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

FTA Seeks Proposals for Climate Change Adaptations

On June 1, the Federal Transit Administration released a request for applications for transit climate change adaptation assessment pilots, due by Aug. 25, 2011.

The pilot programs would fund transit agencies or partnerships with transit agencies to assess the vulnerability of transit agency assets and services to climate change hazards such as heat waves and flooding. They will also assess initial adaptation strategies and link these strategies to transit agency organizational structures and activities. One of the pilots will focus on demonstrating the integration of adaptation assessment within an asset management system. Each pilot will submit to FTA a final report on the activities conducted, main findings, and applicability to other transit agencies.

FTA contemplates making approximately four cooperative agreement awards, ranging from $50,000 to $175,000 each. Total funding available is $525,000. Eligible recipients are either a public transportation provider or a university, nonprofit, private, or public entity working in partnership with a public transportation provider.

Applicants must submit their proposals electronically by midnight Aug. 25 for consideration. All potential applicants are advised to begin the online registration process immediately if they have not previously submitted federal assistance applications through the site, to be able to meet the deadline.

For more information, contact Tina Hodges.

TTCI Names Stabler as President; Allen to Retire


The Transportation Technology Center Inc. in Pueblo, CO, has selected Lisa Stabler as its next president, effective Oct. 7. She will succeed Roy A. Allen, who will retire in October.

Stabler currently serves TTCI as vice president of operations and training. Earlier she worked for BNSF Railway as assistant vice president of quality and reliability engineering, chairing the Advanced Technology Safety Initiative Program for freight car maintenance, and was director of marketing, planning, and administration at Delphi Corporation in Dayton, OH.

Allen will retire after 40 years of service in the rail industry. During his career, he rose through the ranks from senior engineer at the Transportation Test Center (TTC) to manager of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Applied Technology Division for the Research and Technology Department in Chicago, to assistant vice president in charge of TTC, and to vice president of AAR R&T Department in Washington, DC.

“Under Roy’s tremendous leadership, TTCI has become the gold standard for rail research and innovation around the world,” said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward R. Hamberger. “Lisa brings tremendous talent and expertise—from both inside and outside of the rail industry—that will continue Roy’s legacy of advancing technology that enables rail to be the safest, most efficient, and productive way to move freight and people.”

Google Maps = Transit Updates

Starting now, Google Maps for mobile and desktop can tell you when your ride is actually going to arrive with new live free transit updates. Google has partnered with transit agencies to integrate live transit data in four U.S. cities (Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland, OR) and two European cities (Madrid and Turin).

According to Google, when you click on a transit station or plan a transit route through the Google Maps interface, a special icon will indicate “live departure times” as well as alerts concerning service (such as a change in a bus route). The company will soon be working with many more public transportation agencies in different cities to be able to offer live data to more transit riders.

Wittig Is New GM in Green Bay

Tom Wittig recently was named general manager for Green Bay Metro Transit in Green Bay, WI. He previously served as general manager for Davenport CitiBus in Davenport, IA. Both transit agencies are First Transit management properties.

Wittig has been in the transportation industry for more than 13 years. In 2009, he received First Transit’s National Silver Award for exceptional safety achievements. In addition, while at CitiBus, Wittig introduced “Green Saturdays,” which provided residents free transportation service throughout the city to promote both the service and an environmentally friendly form of transportation.

Aging Baby Boomers May Face Poor Mobility Options

With the number of U.S. residents age 65 and older increasing in coming years, a report from Transportation for America shows that millions of them will live in areas with no or limited public transportation service.

The report, Aging in Place: Stuck Without Options, describes how the trend toward “aging in place” in suburbs and exurbs may leave more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older with limited mobility options as soon as 2015—and the situation will only increase over time.

“With rising life expectancies, America‘s largest generation also will be the oldest ever,” the report states. “Inevitably, aging experts note, a large share will find that their ability to navigate by vehicle diminishes or disappears over time. These millions of older adults will need affordable alternatives to driving alone in order to maintain their independence as long as possible.”

The report ranks 241 U.S. metro areas in five size categories by the percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation, now and in the coming years, and presents other data on aging and transportation. The size categories are: less than 250,000; 250,000 to one million; one to three million; three million or more; and the New York metropolitan region, which was treated as its own category due to its size and uniquely robust transit system.

According to the report, in just four years 90 percent of seniors in metro Atlanta will live in neighborhoods with poor access to options other than driving—the largest in the population category of three million or more. Kansas City tops the list for metro areas of one to three million, while in the smaller categories, 100 percent of seniors in Hamilton-Middletown, OH, and Hagerstown, MD, will have to face poor access to public transportation in 2015.

“The baby boom generation grew up and reared their own children in communities that, for the first time in human history, were built on the assumption that everyone would be able to drive an automobile,” said John Robert Smith, president and chief executive officer of Reconnecting America and co-chair of Transportation for America. “What happens when people in this largest generation ever, with the longest predicted lifespan ever, outlive their ability to drive for everything? That’s one of the questions we set out to answer in this report.”

The text of the report is available here.

CUTA Elects King Chair

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) elected John King, City of Lethbridge, as 2011-2012 chair of the CUTA Executive Committee June 1 at the Annual General Meeting in Regina, SK.

Also elected were Bob Paddon, TransLink (Vancouver), first vice chair; Stéphane Forget, Société de transport de Montréal (STM), vice chair-communications and public affairs; Donna Shepherd, Burlington Transit, vice chair-small systems; and Paul Smith, New Flyer Industries, vice chair-business members. Charles Stolte, Edmonton Transit, becomes immediate past chair. Executive committee members whose positions remain unchanged are Gary McNeil, Metrolinx (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area), vice chair-technical services; Councillor Bev Dubois, City of Saskatoon, vice chair-municipal councils; Brian Leck, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), honorary counsel; Joël Gauthier, Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), Montréal, vice chair-government agencies; Suzanne Connor, Brampton Transit, vice chair-education and human resources development; Penny Williams, Transit Windsor, vice chair-finance; and Nadine Bernard, Nova Bus, vice chair-business members.

New directors elected to the board for the first time or appointed since the last Annual General Meeting are Daniel Bergeron, AMT; Bill Frost, TTC; Renée Lafrenière, Société de transport de l’Outaouais; Ron Mullins, Kings Transit; Stéphane Forget, STM; Kevin Joll, Red Deer Transit; and, Yves Wininger, Transdev Canada.

CUTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Roschlau also serves on the executive committee.


Murray: Rail is Successful Here in New England

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

“Where is rail working? In New England,” Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray told rail professionals at the June 13 General Luncheon, “The Power of Rail as a Foundation for Economic Growth,” during the APTA Rail Conference in Boston. He added: “When people have frequent, reliable transit, they leave their cars at home.”

“We have a vision for safe, reliable, efficient transportation,” Murray continued. “We are investing heavily in rail and transit in Massachusetts,” using more than $319 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

In 2009, he said, the state purchased rail rights-of-way to Worcester, Fall River, and New Bedford from CSX. “This agreement will turn the existing infrastructure into a 21st-century solution for transportation problems”—for example, raising the clearance of rebuilt bridges to allow freight trains to carry two containers stacked on top of each other, and restoring passenger rail service to cities that have not had it in decades. “This project benefits not just Massachusetts, but New England as a whole,” Murray explained.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority also has a major rail project underway: the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, which will include four new stations in an underserved part of the city. One of the new stations just opened. (See related story.)

“How can these successes work in other parts of the country?” Murray asked. “Rail professionals will have to remember a few basic principles: rail may seem an expensive investment up front, but it’s an investment with long-term benefits; rail operators must set themselves up to deliver high-quality service; rail development must incorporate new technologies to improve service; and multimodal operation and interconnections are necessary.”

Murray then joined a panel of rail experts from a variety of disciplines for a discussion of the concrete connections between rail investment and economic development.

Polly Trottenberg, DOT assistant secretary for transportation policy, noted that both the House and Senate have begun work on surface transportation authorization bills. However, they are likely to propose funding at a substantially lower level than President Obama’s $556 billion over six years: the Senate is considering a $340 billion authorization level while the House is looking at funding between $219 billion and $275 billion.

“How are we going to make our case in the next authorization?” she asked the audience rhetorically. “How can we get a number that meets our needs and lets rail and transit compete?”

Trottenberg also reported on the success of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, which created an even playing field for all modes of transportation. “We were able to compete on the merits and make our economic case,” she explained.

Janet F. Kavinoky, vice president of Americans for Transportation Mobility and executive director, congressional and public affairs, for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, provided a business perspective. “You know just how important transit is,” she said, “and the business community knows it too. What we hear from our members is that transit is critically important as a way to promote community development.”

She told conference participants: “We have to go back home—not as transportation professionals but as individuals—and get out the word. It’s time to make it possible, make it real, and let political leaders know what rail can do for them.”

Christopher B. Leinberger, president of Locus, Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors; founding partner, Arcadia Land Company; and visiting fellow, Brookings Institution, agreed with Kavinoky. “Transportation drives development,” he said. “Rail transit’s time has come: it’s the most important infrastructure investment of the early 21st century.”

Leinberger suggested returning to a bygone model—using real estate development to pay for public transit development, as was the case 100 years ago. “We need to unlock the power of the markets,” he said. “People have a pent-up demand for walkable urban development. Right now, the built environment represents 35 percent of the U.S. economic base, but it’s out on the margins. It’s our responsibility to bring it into the picture.”

Hector C. Rodriguez, interim executive officer, operations administration, for Los Angeles Metro, reported how parts of the city and region that were “ghost towns” at night 20 years ago now burst with nightlife and housing—and it’s all because of the Metro Blue Line light rail and Metro Red Line subway. People who start out opposing transit projects, he said, change their minds when they see the benefits it brings to other neighborhoods.

Joseph M. Giglio, professor, strategic management, with the Graduate School of Business at Northeastern University, laid out the economic importance of rail transit. “Well-managed enterprises know how to configure and coordinate their portfolios of assets,” he said. “Some products will always subsidize others”—and that is equally true of transit investment.

APTA Vice Chair Gary C. Thomas, who presided at the luncheon session, said: “Rail matters more now than it ever has before. We need to present our case at its most compelling and how we can make it even more so.” Thomas is also president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which will host the 2012 APTA Rail Conference.

Justin Augustine III, chief executive officer, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, and vice president of Veolia Transportation, invited conference participants to attend the 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO, Oct. 2-5 in New Orleans.

APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon announced that the Annual Meeting schedule will incorporate opportunities for attendees to help rebuild houses in St. Bernard Parish, where residents are still recovering from the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “I urge you to look at your schedules and make time to participate,” he said. “I did this last fall and, amid the paint and the drywall and the fun and the laughter, there was also this great sense of—simply put—being helpful.”

Bonnie D. Shepherd, a board member of the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF), kicked off the event by inviting luncheon guests to make $10 donations to the APTF scholarship fund through a new text messaging campaign.

HNTB Corporation joined APTA in sponsoring the luncheon.



Panelists at the General Luncheon included, from left, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray; Polly Trottenberg, DOT; Janet F. Kavinoky, Americans for Transportation Mobility; Christopher B. Leinberger, Locus; Joseph M. Giglio, Northeastern University; Hector C. Rodriguez, Los Angeles Metro; and APTA Vice Chair Gary C. Thomas, who presided at the session.

APTF Board Member Bonnie D. Shepherd kicks off its newest program, "APTF Donate by Cell," at the luncheon session. 


Focus on People, Benefits in Addressing Rail Critics

BY SUSAN JOHNSTON, Special to Passenger Transport

From environmental concerns to cost considerations, high-speed and intercity passenger rail service often face inaccurate and unfounded criticisms. The June 15 Closing General Session of the APTA Rail Conference in Boston, “Calling Out the Rail Critics: Facts Are on Our Side,” offered strategies for responding to and, in some cases, preempting criticism, an approach that moderator Kristina Egan, South Coast Rail manager for massDOT, called “proactive inoculation.”

Eric Peterson, a rail consultant and former deputy administrator with DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, shared themes that emerged in his study of critical comments about rail over the past several years. “There are really not that many critics, but they are very determined, very dedicated, and very persistent,” he said. “Criticism tends to be recirculated among critics.”

Among the criticisms he cited included charges of elitism or social engineering; concerns that high-speed rail is old technology and won’t work in the U.S.; accusations that high-speed and intercity passenger rail is expensive and will require taxpayer subsidies; and statements that benefits of the mode are overstated.

“The challenge we face is the debate often focuses on only a subset [of benefits],” said Todd Alexander Litman, founder and president of Canada’s Victoria Transport Policy Institute. “Individually, those benefits may not justify the project, but when you add up the sum of the benefits, that’s when you can justify very large investments and policies that favor high-quality public transportation.”

Litman urged attendees to “communicate not the costs but the benefits,” especially when speaking to families and individual riders. “Describe how this transit project will save your family or your future self traffic congestion delays, accident risks, financial costs,” he added.

Building on the importance of emphasizing the benefits of rail, Morgan Lyons, director of media relations for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), suggested making messages memorable, shareable, and relevant to individuals. “Transit is an incredibly personal experience,” he explained. “It is about how I get from A to B and the experience that I have during that trip. Our communication has to be on that personal level.”

For instance, he said, “in Plano, TX, what is it about using DART rail that helps you?” He continued: “You might be able to drive more quickly—but what you can’t do safely is respond to e-mail.”

Patricia Quinn, executive director for the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority in Portland, ME, continued the discussion with examples from her experiences fielding potential critics of her agency’s intercity rail service, the Downeaster. When a new governor and legislature took office in Maine, Quinn said she and her colleagues “developed a number of handouts that addressed some of the possible questions and criticisms before they became a criticism by telling stories about how the Downeaster helps to support the economy and jobs.”

For example, she said, while voters may not remember statistics, they will remember a compelling story or a photo illustrating how rail creates jobs.

In addition to communicating visually, Quinn recommended harnessing the credibility of others to advocate on behalf of rail transit. “People expect me to say good stuff,” she said. “Engage the users of the station and other businesses who benefit.”

That effort could include developers of transit adjacent builders or other groups. “We have local [food and beverage] products that we serve on our trains,” Quinn noted, “and that’s an important way for us to get into a new market and develop a new group of stakeholders.”

When Egan opened the floor to questions, attendees shared concerns that low ridership numbers from other public transportation operations might impact future rail projects. Litman allayed these concerns, saying: “The latest rail projects have exceeded their rider projections within a few years.”

However, Litman noted the challenges of a lack of reliable, easily accessible data on projected versus actual ridership. “One of the things we need to do as an industry,” he said, “is organize our information in a way that we can stand behind on the ridership impacts, the cost efficiencies, the land use value increases, and economic development increases in a way that anybody in any community can get that information and tailor it to their use.”

At the end of the session, presenters left attendees with positive messages and solid arguments in favor of rail. As Quinn said: “Make it about the people and not about the politics.”

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company sponsored the session.

Panelists at the Closing General Session include, from left, Morgan Lyons, Patricia Quinn, Eric Peterson, moderator Kristina Egan, and Todd Alexander Litman.


APTA Holds Press Event for State of the Rail Industry

Encouraged by increasing ridership and a commitment from the White House to expand funding for public transportation, industry leaders presented a forward-looking assessment of the state of U.S. public transportation in general—and intercity and passenger rail in particular—at a press event June 13 during the APTA Rail Conference in Boston.

Participating in the event were APTA President William Millar; Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration; Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; and Richard A. Davey, general manager and rail transit administrator for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, host system for the conference.

More than 20 reporters from across the country, as well as local Boston media, took part. News outlets included represented the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, New York’s National Public Radio Transportation Nation, the Boston Globe, and Greenwire.

“Over the last few years,” said Millar, “we have seen many transit systems across the country suffer from service cuts, fare increases, and layoffs. However, 2010 marked a turnaround year for the public transportation industry.” He said ridership rose slightly in the fourth quarter of 2010 and this trend has continued, with a 1.6 percent increase in the first quarter of 2011.

“This is the highest increase in rail and overall public transportation ridership in two years,” Millar added. “In other words, 39 million more trips were taken on public transportation in the first quarter of 2011—that’s three million more rides per week. And the reports we are getting from systems is that ridership is continuing to increase in the second quarter as well, with some systems seeing double-digit increases.”

Rogoff discussed the Obama administration’s support for public transportation and its placement in the administration’s priorities. “The Obama administration is committed to forward progress in transit investment precisely because transit accomplishes so many of the administration’s priority goals at a time when gas prices are creeping up around four dollars,” the administrator said. “Investing in public transportation helps Americans keep more of their paycheck in their wallet, as opposed to handing it over to the gas pump.”

Szabo stressed the importance of funding rail transportation as a part of achieving a balanced transportation system for Americans. “Investing in rail transportation is a great alternative to our addiction to oil,” he said. “We believe in implementing a comprehensive passenger rail service that includes high-speed rail, core express service, and regional rail service that are all tailored to fit a particular need and serve specific markets. We lack that balance today and should provide the choice for our citizens.”

Davey noted that the MBTA provided 1.3 million rides on a daily basis in April 2011, for the first time since September 2008.

“We are seeing customers and passengers come back in droves,” said Davey. “This is good news for rail and overall transit ridership, but it also is indicative of what the nation is seeing.”

Transportation Reform in Massachusetts: On Track for Success

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

Kicking off APTA’s 2011 Rail Conference in Boston, MBTA General Manager and Rail and Transit Administrator Richard Davey introduced his boss, Jeffrey B. Mullan, secretary and chief executive officer of massDOT. After jokingly noting that he (Mullan) had a bus waiting outside to take all the Canadians home (he being a Bruins fan) and observing that a newspaper article said of him: “Finally, a transportation secretary who talks as if he’s from Massachusetts,” he talked seriously and earnestly about how Massachusetts “is home to some of the most significant transportation innovations in history, including the first American subway system. To deliver more and better service for our customers – that’s what the massDOT is all about.” Mullan said, “The new massDOT is on the way to a successful path to fundamentally transform how the state government does the people’s business.”

He gave a brief history of transportation reform in the state, and said that the gap between “what we have and what we need is $20 billion over the next 20 years.” Before Gov. Deval Patrick implemented this new transportation program, Mullan explained, different modes were siloed and many heads of these agencies were not even speaking to one another. This led to widespread calls for a new system to “do anything,” Mullan said. He described how their work in transportation reform is framed by three overarching concepts:

* We will run transportation like a business, implementing strategic decision making for the long term;
* We will operate as one—one agency with one goal. “This required breaking down the silos over such things as lack of understanding on how our customers use the system,” he said. Also, the safety of the public must be paramount; and
* We will make accountability and transparency the centerpieces of transportation reform. 

Mullan talked about the goal of earning back the people’s trust and faith, and how implementing improved customer service was a key element in reaching this goal. massDOT has a website, a transportation blog, a Twitter account, and it began an initiative called “How Can I Help You Today?”

He noted that the agency has worked at improving employee morale through such efforts as a Transportation Roundtable—convened monthly so employees can speak directly with senior leaders.

“We have empowered our employees to engage in, feel responsible for, the decisions we make. For too many years, our organization has been managed in a top down control manner. Once armed with a clear vision and central mission, with the knowledge that so long as they give their best, I have their back – this organization will thrive,” he said.

The governor’s decision to make investments in the state has resulted in one of the largest public works initiatives in its history– in highway and public transit systems. “Indeed,” he said, “you cannot drive or ride a bicycle or ride a subway in any corner of this state without encountering a construction crew.” Further, he noted that administrative red tape has been reduced by more than 66 percent.

“All that I describe and all that we are working for is focused on regaining the citizens’ trust in us,” Mullan said. “We are building a program to last. As we approach our two year anniversary, massDOT is still a work in progress. What we have all in common [with other systems] is that we must address these challenges that we share, and recognize that they are a generational responsibility.”

Mullan then introduced Davey, who spoke candidly about how he perceived his role in public transit. “The old model—‘survive, don’t thrive’—has been rejected,” he said emphatically. He said his agency is focused on “safety, customer service, our people, fiscal responsibility, and innovation.” Safety, he said, is a top priority of the MBTA. “But guess what, platitudes will get you nowhere. What we’re working toward is to breathe life into [safety policy and procedure] documents, to imbue safety into our entire organization ... We now have a good faith safety challenge policy, where employees can question any task they feel is unsafe without fear of retribution.”

MBTA’s safety department is developing metrics to see how it is performing. Davey noted that already, injuries are “trending down.” He then asked: “What is our endgame for safety?” And answered: “To create a positive peer culture—for when I [or any other management leader] is not around, when I’m not looking.”

At the heart of building the public’s confidence, he said, is great customer service. To that end, MBTA began holding manager sessions at stations in April 2010 and launched a Twitter account last year. Another MBTA example of “back to basics” with its customers is its “95 and 5 initiative,” where a team responds with substantive answers to 95 percent of inquiries received within five days, and Davey said that they are tracking close to that goal.

When it concerns employees, Davey said: “I’ve got a phrase I use when I’m out talking to our employees. ‘General managers come and go, but trains and buses always run.’” Too often, he said, employees had been left behind when it came to communicating with and training them. “We are working very hard to listen to our people,” he said, adding that the monthly roundtable has spawned many mini-roundtables.

Fiscally, Davey said MBTA is working hard to manage its budget, noting that one savings was transitioning employees to a statewide healthcare plan that will save $30 million annually. He said they are also studying ways to reduce and/or contain costs of paratransit services.

Davey talked about MBTA’s latest innovative practices, which included opening up internal data to third party software developers who created a program that answered “every bus rider’s question of ‘where’s the bus?’” But he noted that “innovation is more than just providing real-time data,” and talked about how customers could now pay by phone, apps, or text for parking – and receive a proof-of-payment receipt, and how the agency has expanded its Charlie card to other systems “seamlessly.”

Lastly, Davey discussed MBTA’s green innovations, which include finding alternative energy sources, including wind turbines. He added that MBTA will soon launch an initiative soliciting proposals from the private sector to implement solar panel systems.

He summed up by saying: “For me, notwithstanding the many challenges we face at MBTA and in the industry, I think it’s a great time to be in public transportation. Because the number one issue I hear is ‘I want more. More train and bus service, more commuter rail service.’ “There isn’t a private sector company in America,” he said, “that wouldn’t want that ‘problem’—that customers want more.”

FRA Forum: Implementing the President’s Vision for High-Speed Rail in America

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

It was a standing room only crowd the afternoon of June 13, during APTA’s 2011 Rail Conference, at the FRA Forum featuring Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.

After being introduced by Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Dave Carol, market leader, high-speed rail, who listed the budgetary ups and downs concerning high-speed rail funding, Szabo said: “I would argue that the trajectory [of high-speed rail] is upward and onward—even with these ebbs and flows. We need to understand that it isn’t always a straight line.”  

Szabo then proceeded to give a status report on each high-speed rail corridor. “What we’ve been able to achieve in a little over two years,” he said, “is—in and of itself—amazing.” He added: “I don’t think there’s any question that there’s a demand from the public for improved high-speed and intercity rail.” As proof, he noted that FRA had received more than 500 applications for its High-Speed and Intercity Rail Program from 39 states and the District of Columbia requesting more than $75 billion in funding—“so you can see what the interest is from the states.”

With 33 states and DC moving forward with high-speed rail, he said, the vast majority of the dollars have been invested in the build-out of corridors “where we do believe we’ll get the best bang for the buck, the best return.”

Szabo made the point that, not only does he believe President Obama’s goal [of bringing high-speed and intercity rail to  80 percent of America in 25 years] is achievable; he identified the need—that the U.S. population is expected to grow by more than 150 million people by 2015. - He graphically underscored this point by saying that many new residents would equal the current populations of Texas, New York, California, and Florida combined.

“We frankly have a pending mobility crisis—congestion today is already costing our economy $120 billion a year. Without foresight and planning, congestion is only going to get worse, because it’s not just the movement of people but the movement of goods. We’re in competition with global competitors across the world. Europeans can do a quick day trip from Paris to London and be home in time for dinner. We can’t. And that puts us at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.

Szabo also talked about investments made so far, but reminded the audience that “while we’re continuing to lay the foundation for this high-speed rail network, this is a long-term build-out— as was the original interstate highway program.”

The next part of the administrator’s presentation focused on the specific regions that have received high-speed rail funding. He delineated what the federal dollars have paid for, including such elements as station upgrades, substantial improvements to on-time performance, and vastly improved reliability.

Concerning the Midwest plan to bring high-speed rail to Chicago and St. Louis, he said: “You can see the pieces starting to come together. You’re going to see more than 70 percent of the journeys at speeds of 110 mph. That’s significant.” 

His discussion of the Northeast Corridor was extensive. “Everybody understands the market potential of the corridor. Between the population density, the distances, the size of these communities—there’s just no question what the potential is,” he said. Moreover, Washington, DC’s Union Station eventually will connect to the Southeast Corridor, where, he said, with the emerging economies of Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh, “you end up with a corridor that has tremendous potential.” The Charlotte/Raleigh corridor alone, he noted, is one of the fastest-growing in the nation, with ridership doubling in the last year.

Szabo next stressed the importance of the Buy America provisions: “We’re adamant about this. The systems and equipment will be built in America by an American workforce.” He then gave some examples of new plants being created to make items such as motors and trains in the U.S. And the new plants mean new jobs. In Pennsylvania, for example, he noted that every General Electric job supports close to three additional ones. 

When asked about foreign investment, he responded: “We’re in a global society—it’s all international. We’re saying, however, that those who want to build equipment must open up factories here. And there are several examples of firms that have done that.”

So how, an audience member asked, can we mobilize a group like APTA to be helpful in convincing Congress to fund high-speed rail and other elements of public transportation?  Szabo said it’s less “selling” the benefits and more about explaining them, stressing the importance of mobility to our future. “I believe,” he said, “the grassroots citizenry is ahead of the elected officials on this. So it’s important that their desires and concerns flow up to those who will be casting the votes.”

“We truly believe that the president’s vision for high-speed rail will transform the way we move and do business in this 21st century,” he said. “We certainly recognize that there’s a great deal more to be done, but in this era of 24/7 news coverage, we’re thinking long-term.” 

Szabo added that he tells his staff to just “ignore the chatter you hear about [vacillating] funding. Do good work every day, build good projects, and everything else will take care of itself.” 
“We believe,” said Szabo, “we can build a transportation network that will serve the next generation in America.”

WMATA Takes Top Honors at Rail Rodeo; BART Maintainers, MBTA Operator Also Award Recipients

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) earned the top honor, the Team Achievement Award, at the 19th Annual APTA International Rail Rodeo, held June 11 at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Orient Heights Maintenance Facility in Boston. The WMATA operators, Charlie Richardson and Danielle Glass, placed second and maintainers Adrian Tase, Roland Lamar, and Jacob Stout took third place in the maintenance competition.

The Team Achievement Award goes to the competing public transportation system with the highest combined score in the operators’ and maintainers’ competitions. Second place went to the MBTA and third to Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

The rodeo winners received recognition during the June 12 Rail Rodeo Banquet, held in conjunction with the APTA Rail Conference in Boston.

First place in the rail operators’ competition went to Steve Portney of MBTA, while SEPTA’s John Hall and Michael Shepard placed third.

The maintenance team from the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District—Carl Ambrose, Ted Christian, and Dan Parris—took first place in the maintainers’ competition. George Sweeney and Randall Lovegrove, representing RTD, received the second-place honor.

Competitors represented 12 North American public transit agencies in the rail rodeo.

APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon also announced the names of the rodeo winners during the conference’s Opening General Session June 13.


WMATA representatives accept the Team Achievement Award at the rodeo banquet. From left: Richard A. Davey, MBTA general manager and rail and transit administrator; APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon; WMATA maintainer Adrian Tase; operator Danielle Glass; maintainer Roland Lamar; operator Charlie Richardson. Fifth from right, maintainer Jacob Stout. APTA President William Millar at far right.




Steve Portney of MBTA, third from right, accepts the first-place operator award.

Members of BART’s first-place rail maintenance team are, beginning third from left, Ted Christian, Carl Ambrose, and Dan Parris.


Scenes from the 2011 Rail Conference



Chatting at the Sunday night Opening Reception are, from left, Selene Faer Dalton-Kumins, deputy director, FTA Office of Civil Rights; APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon; APTA Vice Chair Gary C. Thomas; FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff; and Jeffrey B. Mullan, secretary and chief executive officer, massDOT.

Speakers at the APTA Rail Conference included, from left: Jerome C. Premo, representing AECOM, which sponsored the Opening General Session; Yoshio Ishida, East Japan Railway Company; APTA President William Millar; FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff; Justin Augustine III, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, inviting guests to the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in October; FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo; MBTA General manager and Rail and Transit Administrator Richard A. Davey; Jeffrey B. Mullan, secretary and chief executive officer, massDOT; and APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon. APTA invites its members to upload photos of the EXPO Rally Towel, like the one Augustine is holding, to its Facebook page; contest winners will receive a free trip to EXPO 2011 and a complimentary registration to the APTA Annual Meeting.



APTA President William Millar and Yoshio Ishida, vice chairman of East Japan Railway Company (JREast), celebrate the signing of an agreement between the two organizations under which a JREast employee will be “seconded”—transferred temporarily from one duty station to another—to APTA for a year.

Photo by Susan R. Paisner

James Graebner of Lomarado Group, right, chair of the APTA Streetcar Subcommittee, receives a gift recognizing his 50 years of contributions to the public transportation industry from Thomas Hickey of Parsons Brinckerhoff, subcommittee vice chair.



Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray speaks about the success of rail in his state and throughout New England at the General Luncheon on June 13.

A jam-packed audience attends the June 13 High-Speed Rail Update session.



Plaques for the winners await their presentation during the APTA International Rail Rodeo Banquet.

Possibly the youngest guest in attendance at the rodeo banquet. 



There were 200 exhibitors and 60 booths displaying their products and services at the Product Showcase.

MBTA Chief Operating Officer John Lewis, left, chats with an exhibitor during the showcase.


Nomination Process Now Open for APTA Leadership Positions

The nominations process for APTA leadership positions opened June 8 and continues through July 8. APTA Chair Michael J. Scanlon has appointed the nominating committee that will recommend individuals to fill these positions to the membership for approval at the APTA Annual Meeting.

This nominating season marks another important step in the evolution of APTA’s governance system. This second round of nominations under APTA’s amended bylaws will lead to another APTA first: the association’s first virtual Annual Business Meeting and Election.

We know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t APTA’s 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO coming to New Orleans, starting Oct. 2?” Absolutely! In fact, if you haven’t made your plans to attend yet, stop reading and click here right now to register!

The APTA Annual Business Meeting and Election was that half-hour session typically held at noon on the Sunday of the APTA Annual Meeting where the APTA chair and secretary-treasurer presented their formal reports on the state of the association’s business; the chair of the nominating committee formally presented the slate of candidates selected by the committee; and APTA members unfailingly approved the slate of nominees by acclamation.

Under the new APTA governance model, these formalities will be moved to a virtual meeting to be held about four weeks before the Annual Meeting and EXPO. With that complete, the newly elected APTA Board of Directors will begin work immediately at the Annual Meeting, with a Saturday morning orientation for new board members followed by a working session of the full board starting at noon.

Immediate Past Chair M.P. Carter, commissioner of the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), chairs the nominating committee, which will meet July 15 to select the slate of nominees.

APTA has electronically mailed a nomination letter to all members. The letter includes links to the nominating committee roster; the list of officer and director positions to be filled; and directions on accessing this year’s nomination and authorization form.

The nomination and authorization form itself has changed as well. Nominees will no longer have to fax in six or more pages of application materials as in years past. In keeping with APTA’s Sustainability Commitment, this year’s nominations will be submitted entirely online.

Even those letters of support that used to go out with more than a dozen hard copies—to be sure each member of the nominating committee received them—will be simplified. This year, those letters can simply be uploaded to the APTA web site for direct, immediate delivery to the full nominating committee.

All these documents and (we promise) easy-to-follow instructions are available online.

The APTA Executive Committee has set the following campaign guidelines to provide guidance to candidates seeking election to the APTA Board of Directors and Executive Committee:

* Personal letters, e-mails, personal conversations, and phone calls are acceptable campaign strategies;
* Campaign events and distribution of campaign materials are not permitted during or in conflict with any APTA meeting or conference event. Campaigning may occur before or after an APTA meeting or conference event; and
* APTA staff members or other APTA resources are not to play any role in campaign activities.

Questions regarding the election process, election guidelines, or eligibility requirements should be directed to Jim LaRusch.

The members of the nominating committee, appointed in accordance with the APTA bylaws and approved by the APTA Executive Committee, are:

* Chair: Mattie P. Carter, commissioner, MATA, Memphis, TN
* Jean-Pierre Baracat, vice president, business development, Nova Bus, Plattsburgh, NY
* Joseph Casey, general manager, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia, PA
* Mary Ann Collier, director of operations, Swayzer Engineering Inc., Dallas, TX
* Vida Covington, director, support services, Sound Transit, Seattle, WA
* Barbara Gannon, executive vice president, Eno Transportation Foundation Inc., Washington, DC
* Delon Hampton, chairman, Delon Hampton & Associates, Washington, DC
* Huelon A. Harrison, principal, Legacy Resource Group, Dallas, TX
* Jeanne Krieg, chief executive officer, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA
* John M. Lewis Jr., chief executive officer, LYNX-Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando, FL
* Karyl Matsumoto, board member, San Mateo County Transit District, San Carlos, CA
* Michael P. Melaniphy, vice president, public sector, Motor Coach Industries Inc., Schaumburg, IL
* Diana Mendes, senior vice president, director of strategic investments transportation, AECOM, Arlington, VA
* Mary Jo Morandini, general manager, Beaver County Transit Authority, Rochester, PA
* Rosa Navajar, board member, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Fort Worth, TX
* Pam O’Connor, board member, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, Santa Monica, CA, and Los Angeles Metro, Los Angeles, CA
* Frank Otero, president and chief executive officer, PACO Technologies Inc., Miami, FL
* John Plante, senior manager, emergency preparedness, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, IL
* Ralign Wells, administrator, Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore, MD

Nowakowski: Dulles Corridor Metro Unique in Funding Process

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA) Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is unique among major heavy rail projects in its manner of funding, Patrick Nowakowski, executive director of MWAA’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, said June 7 at the last APTA Transportation Tuesday program for the year. Eighty percent of the total $6.2 billion cost comes from local sources—more than half of that amount from Dulles Toll Road funds pledged for the purchase of bonds.

The breakdown is as follows: $975 million through a federal Full Funding Grant Agreement; $200 million from the state; and, of the remaining funds, 56 percent from tolls; 16.1 percent from Fairfax County; 4.8 percent from Loudoun County; and 4.1 percent in MWAA aviation funds. The federal funds are being used only for the first phase, while Loudoun County is funding only the second phase.

Nowakowski, outgoing chair of the APTA Rail Transit Committee and a past chair of the Commuter Rail Committee, noted that work is about 40 percent complete on the first half of the 23-mile Silver Line corridor in northern Virginia, serving the Tysons Corner area and terminating at Wiehle Avenue in Reston. The second phase of the project, also 11-1/2 miles, will serve Dulles International Airport and continue west.

Most of the stations on the new line will be located in the highly congested Tysons Corner area, he said, adding: “Development is underway around all the Tysons Corner stations despite the slow economy.” He showed slides of the different types of aerial structures being built in the area, describing how construction affects traffic flow on the Capital Beltway and the two major highways serving Tysons. This segment of the route also includes a short tunnel, he said, because Tysons Corner is the highest point in Fairfax County.

“The foundations are in place in the median of the Dulles Toll Road and the project is moving along,” Nowakowski continued. In addition to rail installation and station construction, the project will incorporate pedestrian bridges to connect stations with parking areas on the other side of the highway.

Another major issue the speaker raised is the ongoing question of whether the Metro station at the airport is constructed below or above ground. Both plans reach the same pedestrian tunnel that connects the terminal to a parking garage, but the underground station is closer to the terminal than the elevated structure would be.

Did Your Company Exhibit at the First EXPO?

APTA held its inaugural EXPO 30 years ago—in 1981—in Chicago. If your company exhibited at the first EXPO, we'd like to recognize you!

E-mail us by July 1. Include your company name and contact information and let us know if your company exhibited at the first EXPO!


Virginia Transit Association Honors Agencies for Marketing, Other Programs

The Virginia Transit Association (VTA) recognized the marketing and promotional efforts of six public transportation agencies in the state at a recent event in Portsmouth, VA.

Arlington Transit (ART) received the Outstanding Public Transportation Marketing Award for its “Car-Free Diet” campaign. According to ART, the Car-Free Diet is a lifestyle that encourages people who drive alone to try alternative transportation options such as public transportation, biking, bike sharing, walking, carpooling, vanpooling, car sharing, and teleworking—all of which can help them save money, improve their health, and clean up the environment.

Honorable mentions went to the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company (GLTC) and Virginia Railway Express. GLTC received recognition for efforts including its “Go Green! Ride Blue! With GLTC” branding campaign and creation of a Universal Access Pass Program for Lynchburg College students. VRE’s “Security is No Accident” program—reminding riders to be vigilant about suspicious objects or behavior—includes posters at stations and on board trains, a luggage tag, a die-cut bookmark used as a seat drop, and cling decals for the windows inside the trains.

VTA selected Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) as the recipient of the Outstanding Program Award for a Large System for its “Light Rail Safety Starts With You!” program. HRT introduced the campaign in August 2010 to educate the public about safe interactions with The Tide, Virginia’s first light rail system, set to open later this year. It includes outreach to places of employment, civic leagues, and schools, as well as online and broadcast public service announcements.

Blacksburg Transit (BT) received VTA’s Outstanding Program Award for its BT Bus Stop Database: a query-driven program that allows agency staff to access important information about any of the 239 bus stops in the system. Information contained in the database for each stop includes bus stop location, photo of the actual stop with identifying landmarks, historical ridership data for the stop, BT routes serving that stop, condition of the BT sign, stop amenities, and pedestrian amenities.

Loudoun County Transit (LCT) and ART earned honorable mentions in the program category. The planning process for LCT’s Loudoun Tysons Express, which connects Leesburg to Tysons Corner, incorporated two public meetings and an online survey. ART’s “ART Grows Up” effort dealt with increased demand for service through a complete change of fleet, route adjustments and additions, a bus safety educational campaign, and an aggressive customer complaint reduction program.

VTA presents the awards annually. The marketing awards honor public transit systems for implementing significant or exceptional marketing campaigns, while the program award notes agencies for programs that improve public transportation or the services or processes of the system.

LBT Opens Renovated Transit Hub

Long Beach Transit (LBT) in California celebrated the opening of the Long Beach Transit Mall—renamed “First Street Transit Gallery”—with a public event June 2.

The station serves as a major transit hub in the southeastern part of Los Angeles County, providing transit connections for approximately 25,000 people each day. In addition to LBT, Los Angeles Metro, Torrance Transit, and Los Angeles DOT provide bus service, along with Metro Blue Line light rail.

The Transit Gallery features mosaic tiled sidewalks, giant arching canopies, colorful nighttime lighting, and public art, as well as art exhibits by local poets and a local photographer. The facility also features new real-time electronic bus arrival displays and a touch screen information kiosk, plus new signage, bus benches, and landscaping.

LBT renovated the gallery site using federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Photo by Duke Givens Photography
Passengers await a Long Beach Transit bus at the new First Street Transit Gallery.


Montreal’s AMT Receives First Diesel-Electric Locomotive

The Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) in Montreal, PQ, took delivery June 9 of its first bimodal locomotive, which can operate with either diesel fuel or electricity.

AMT has a contract with Bombardier Transportation North America to provide a total of 20 of the vehicles, which will enable the system to upgrade its rolling stock, add engines for additional departures, and introduce service on the new Train de l’Est line. Bombardier plans to deliver the engines at a rate of about one a month.

“The acquisition of these all-new locomotives will open the door for some clear improvements throughout greater Montreal’s commuter train network," said Joel Gauthier, AMT president and chief executive officer. “Combined with the deployment of 160 double-decker passenger cars, these new bimodal locomotives will increase the rush-hour capacity of AMT commuter trains by 70 percent and make it possible to add as many as 43,000 commutes per day.”

AMT partnered with New Jersey Transit Corporation in the bid process for the new locomotives; the contract with Bombardier also includes options for up to 10 more locomotives. The investment totals $236.3 million (Cdn.), of which 75 percent comes from the Ministère des Transports du Québec and the rest from the agency.

AMT recently took delivery of the first of 20 bimodal locomotives from Bombardier.


AATA Joins in IT Partnership

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) has joined with the city of Ann Arbor, MI, and Washtenaw County to save on the costs of operating their respective computer networks.

Dan Rainey, the city’s information technology director, explained that a network of fiber optic cable installed several years ago connects the major municipal buildings in Ann Arbor and essentially brings together the city, county, and public transportation agency into a single computing network. Although the municipalities were separate at the time (e.g., separate firewalls), the IT directors of the agencies saw an opportunity to collaborate and share information technology infrastructure with the purpose of reducing overall costs.

Recently, the partners entered into an interagency agreement for collaborative technology.

Jan Hallberg, IT manager for TheRide, explained: “By sharing resources, we are not only saving by getting volume pricing, but we also are reducing redundant investments in infrastructure and services.” He added: “One of our upcoming projects will be to move our backup processes off-site and be able to back up server images, which we have not been able to do with our current backup system. This is an important requirement for our disaster recovery process.”

The three agencies have shared IT resources through multiple projects including web services, phone (VoIP) services, and co-location of the data centers. Future services to be offered may include web mapping applications and enterprise content management.

Metro-North Station Project Wins Honor in Infrastructure Category

MTA Metro-North Railroad has received the Greater New York Construction User Council’s 2011 Top Project honor in the infrastructure category for its Hudson Line Station Improvement Project at the Philipse Manor, Scarborough, and Ossining stations.

The just-completed, $89 million project included new inbound and outbound platforms, canopies, and shelters at all three stations, along with rehabilitation of the existing overpass at Philipse Manor; construction of a new overpass at Scarborough; and new elevators, stairs, and parking, along with a rebuilt elevated walkway, at Ossining. Permanent artwork was installed at all three stations under the auspices of the MTA Arts for Transit program.

Metro-North oversees 795 miles of track and infrastructure and operates more than 730 trains each weekday, serving 120 stations in Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, and Rockland counties in New York, and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut.

BART Opens Doors to Friends of Fallen San Francisco Firefighters

As hundreds of firefighters gathered June 10 in San Francisco to attend memorial services for two firefighters who died while battling a house fire, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) set aside the last car of each train for the use of the visitors.

Fire personnel rode in fellowship in the last car of each train, using it as a meeting point where large groups of firefighters could gather as they rode to and from Civic Center/United Nations Plaza Station, located about one mile from St. Mary’s Cathedral, site of memorial services for Lt. Vincent Perez and Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Valerio of the San Francisco Fire Department.

“While their names will be added to the state and national Fallen Fire Fighters memorials in Sacramento and at the U.S. Fire Administration in Maryland, their loss will be felt by all who knew them and shared by their brothers and sisters who have served in public safety,” said BART Board Vice President and retired Oakland Battalion Chief John McPartland. “The dedication, bravery, and selflessness of these two firefighters exemplify the very best in their profession. I want to personally express my condolences to the families.”

Taking Them Out to the All-Star Game

Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix introduced the first of six themed METRO light rail train wraps June 3 to promote the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and surrounding activities, coming to the area July 8-12. All-Star Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of eight players featured on the wrap, stands in front of the train. The other seven players are Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Derek Jeter, Josh Hamilton, and Ichiro Suzuki.



Public Transit, Access to Jobs: Escaping Our ‘Exit Ramp’ Economy


Are we ready for a “transit moment” in America?

In one way, it seems impossible. “Who cares” when three out of four of us still commute in a car, alone? And then there’s money: Federal transit assistance may well be on the chopping block of a cut-hungry Congress. State and local budgets are so pinched that regional bus and rail agencies already face serious service cuts and deferred maintenance.

But don’t despair—and think forward with hope. This was the message of a transit conference, sponsored in May in Washington by the Brookings Institution, as it unveiled a study of unprecedented detail on how transit functions in America’s top 100 metro regions.

The “transit moment” message is straightforward. Gas prices have careened back up to the $4-a-gallon range. Fuel costs for the average household will be roughly $825 higher this year than last, and this means more and more families looking for transit alternatives.

Concurrently, policymakers talk incessantly about generating new jobs to fix the country’s prolonged job deficit. The simple message they need to hear, says Brookings’ Robert Puentes: “It’s not enough to create jobs if people can’t get to them.”

But how well set up are America’s metros to maintain and expand transit?

Not very well, the Brookings study found. The economy has been decentralizing, with private employers (and often governments) spreading jobs farther and farther away from central business districts.

The result, says Bruce Katz of Brookings: We’ve created “an exit ramp economy,” distances becoming so long that “commuting has become a heroic act” with people obliged to reach jobs ever-farther from their homes.

There’s no question about transit demand—the share of Americans opting for local bus or rail, while still small compared to car use, now tops 10 billion trips a year. Public transportation demand grew in the last decade for the first time, literally, in generations.

The turnaround was driven not just by longer commutes but by ugly traffic congestion along the way. Plus aversion to higher gas costs. As well as people’s increasing interest in transit for education, shopping, recreation and health care—trends sure to increase as the retiree segment of the population balloons in the next years.

Officially, transit serves many parts of our metro areas—on average, 94 percent of cities proper, 58 percent in suburbs. But whether that transit operates well enough for commuting trips is another question. Overall, Brookings found, the typical metropolitan resident can reach only 30 percent of jobs in the metro region—and that allows for a transit ride of up to 90 minutes.

Ninety minutes is a figure middle-class folks would recoil at. But it may be the only choice for many low-income workers, many so pinched that they’re obliged to spend over 50 percent of their budgets on housing alone.

So where do we go from here? It’s time, says Puentes, for metros “to grow smart and align transport, housing, land and economic policy.”

Some ways to do that come clear from the Brookings study—unprecedented and massive, covering 100 metros, 371 transit providers and 500 gigabytes of data. Some regions do substantially better than others in connecting workers to jobs. And it’s not just a function of the size of transit budgets, modes of transit or total miles. The equally big issue is how a region is laid out—and how it has grown in recent years.

By this measure, metros in the Western states, on average, score highest in the share of working-age residents with job access by transit. The Northeast and Midwestern metros come in next. And the South, which has boasted of its big job gains of recent decades, comes in last.

Why the Western lead? It is because of urban growth boundaries such as Oregon’s, plus regions with new and expanding transit service, and a commitment to serve areas where growth is permitted, such as Salt Lake City, San Jose, Sacramento and Denver.

Bottom line for the West’s lead: smart and timely planning.

And why does the South lag so seriously? Call it anti-planning—failing to coalesce on a metropolitan basis. Such regions as Richmond, Atlanta and Chattanooga, for example, provide transit in their older, core cities, but scarcely any in the immediately adjacent suburbs.

Politely, Brookings notes that the Western cities are often hemmed in by mountains or water, conducive to more compact transit areas. And that the South has fewer natural boundaries.  But it’s also true that some Southern suburbs—those surrounding Atlanta and Montgomery, for example—deliberately shunned transit as a way of distancing themselves from poor and increasingly black inner cities. Now many have ample reason to regret their choice.

But it’s also businesses, across the U.S., which chose locations for inexpensive land or closeness to executive driving communities. Now in some locations, corporations are becoming smart advocates for transit accessibility in order to recruit the best possible work forces. It’s about time.
E-mail Neal Peirce.
©2011, The Washington Post Writers Group 


People on the Move

LuWanna R. Reed
PEORIA, IL—LuWanna R. Reed has joined the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District (CityLink) as its new assistant general manager.

Reed comes to CityLink from MetroLINK (Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District) in Rock Island, IL. She has 15 years experience as a coach operator, one year as a supervisor and radio technician and trainer, and six years as a transit planner.

John Langmore
AUSTIN, TX—John Langmore, chair of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) Board of Directors, has been reappointed to a second term on the board.

Langmore is the executive management appointee of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which voted to reappoint him to a three-year term. He has been a member of the Capital Metro board since January 2010.

Jack Ajrab, Jonathan Julse, Jason Jardine, Cathy Campbell-Wilson, Adrian Corlett, Marcela Diaz-Ruiz, Gustavo Garron, Stephanie Rice, Hugh Hawk
MARKHAM, ON—Delcan announced the promotions of Jack Ajrab, Jonathan Julse, Jason Jardine, and Cathy Campbell-Wilson to principal; Adrian Corlett, Marcela Diaz-Ruiz, Gustavo Garron, and Stephanie Rice to senior principal; and Hugh Hawk to vice president.

Ajrab is a senior structural engineer in Delcan’s Ottawa office with 15 years of experience in project management, planning, design, evaluation, rehabilitation, and construction of transportation structures and buildings.

Hulse, with more than 30 years of engineering experience, is a member of the firm’s Program and Project Management Division.

Jardine has 11 years of experience in transportation engineering and manages numerous traffic impact and area transportation planning studies for public and private sector clients.

Campbell-Wilson is a business development manager in the Kingston office who has 15 years of passenger rail transit experience.

Corlett has more than 20 years of design and project management experience in civil engineering infrastructure.

Diaz-Ruiz is division manager for Delcan’s Program and Project Management Division and has 18 years of experience in project management and controls, business case analysis, procurement, engineering coordination, and construction management.

Garron is a senior project manager who manages and leads the planning and design phases for local, regional, and interurban multimodal transit projects. He has nearly 30 years of experience in various areas of transportation planning and engineering.

Rice has worked on heavy and light rail projects in Canada, Israel, Malaysia, and Singapore during her more than 20 years of transportation planning and project management experience.

Hawk has more than 30 years of experience in the design of complex and unusual bridges. He is a member of the Structures Division.

Boris Fyerman, John Jacobsen
LOS ANGELES, CA—Parsons Brinckerhoff announced the hiring of Boris Fyerman as a senior supervising engineer and John Jacobsen as a supervising architect, both based in the Los Angeles office.

Fyerman has more than 40 years of experience as an electrical engineer for transit, power plant, and industrial applications. He will oversee traction power design and coordination for several Los Angeles area light rail and heavy rail projects.

Jacobsen will be responsible for developing detailed designs for transit and light rail projects. His extensive architectural and design experience includes projects with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District and Los Angeles Metro.

Jack Waldron, Bob Holt
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—URS Corporation announced the appointments of Jack Waldron, P.E., senior vice president and national director, transportation design-build projects, and Bob Holt, senior vice president and national director, program and construction management.

Waldron, previously a URS vice president, served as the firm’s vice president of design-build for the West Group since 2006. He originally joined URS in 1986 and served as the California Transportation Division manager until 2001, then was chief operating officer with T.Y. Lin for five years before rejoining URS.

Holt joins URS from Jacobs Engineering, where he was vice president of program and construction management.

Michael S. Burke, James M. Jaska, Alan P. Krusi, Nigel C. Robinson, Stephen M. Kadenacy

ORANGE, CA—AECOM has named Michael S. Burke its president. Burke, who joined the firm in 2005, was named chief financial officer in 2006.

The firm also announced the following appointments, effective Oct. 1: James M. Jaska as president, government; Alan P. Krusi as president, strategic development; Nigel C. Robinson as president, global geographies; and Stephen M. Kadenacy, succeeding Burke as executive vice president and chief financial officer.

William D. Colon, Gary G. Ficek
HARRISBURG, PA—Gannett Fleming announced the appointments of William D. Colon, P.E., as a vice president and director of transportation services in the Northeast Region and Gary G. Ficek, PMP, as a project manager

Colon will be based in the firm’s New York City office. He has more than 35 years of experience in the development, design, and construction/implementation of transportation infrastructure projects and programs.

Ficek will support teams with the management and oversight transit projects from the San Francisco office. He also serves as the subject-matter expert in the areas of security, quality assurance, and project controls. Ficek has 13 years of experience in the management of heavy civil and building construction projects in the U.S. and overseas.

Thomas F. Barry Jr.

ORLANDO, FL—Atkins has named Senior Vice President Thomas F. Barry Jr., P.E., director of operations for transportation in North America.

Barry joined Atkins in 2003, serving as business development director for transportation and earlier as head of the firm’s surface transportation sector. He spent almost 24 years with Florida DOT, ultimately as secretary of the agency.

Benson Fairow, Janeith Glenn-Davis, Daniel O. Hartwig

OAKLAND, CA—The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) has named three new deputy chiefs for the BART Police Department.

Benson Fairow has been with the Oakland Police Department for 21 years, serving the last five as a captain.

Janeith Glenn-Davis has 26 years of law enforcement experience, including more than 17 years with the Oakland Police Department and the last eight as chief of police for the California State University, East Bay Police Department.

Daniel O. Hartwig has served the BART Police Department for more than 28 years and has been security programs manager for BART.

Katrina Heineking
TUCSON, AZ—Katrina Heineking, general manager of Sun Tran and Sun Van in Tucson, received the Outstanding Transit Individual Award from the Arizona Transit Association (AzTA) and Arizona DOT. This award honors an individual who has provided outstanding leadership and contributions to public transportation programs to improve the quality of transit service.

Heineking joined the Sun Tran and Sun Van staff in 2004 and became general manager of both systems in 2006.

Marchelle E. Moore, Randy Rosser, Jamison Pack
COLUMBUS, OH—The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) announced the appointments of Marchelle E. Moore as vice president of legal affairs and general counsel; Randy Rosser as director of vehicle maintenance in the Operations Department; and Jamison Pack as director of marketing.

Moore joined COTA in 2005, serving first as senior legal counsel and more recently as interim vice president of human resources and labor relations. Earlier she served the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas as a staff attorney for the Honorable Guy L. Reece II.

Rosser came to COTA following a 27-year career in vehicle maintenance with United Parcel Service.

Pack was assistant director of marketing and communications with WOSU Public Media since 2007.

Jason McGlashan
ORLANDO, FL—Jason McGlashan, an employee of HDR since 1993, has been promoted to technical director of the transportation planning practice. McGlashan previously managed the transportation planning section for both the southeastern U.S. and the Orlando office and will continue to be based there.

He succeeds Jim Lee who became HDR’s technical director of transportation planning when HDR acquired his company, Transportation Planning Group, in 1999. Lee is remaining with HDR on a part-time basis, leading the company’s private land development market sector.

Victor Rodriguez, Raul Luzzaraga
HOUSTON, TX—The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro) has named Houston Police Capt. Victor Rodriguez to head its police department.

Rodriguez started his career with the Houston Police Department in 1985, rising to lead the department’s North Division. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and has participated in the FBI Executive Fellowship Program.

Also, Raul Luzzaraga returned to Houston Metro as vice president of human resources, a position he previously held from 2004 to 2006. More recently, he worked with Team Industrial Services, Coca Cola, 3Com, and Nortel/Williams Communications.

Robert R. Bidart
RENO, NV—Robert R. Bidart has joined Stantec as associate engineer in its Reno transportation practice, working with public and private clients in Nevada and northern California.

Bidart has more than 17 years of experience. Prior to joining Stantec, he was an engineering and project manager for a national engineering firm serving largely public-sector projects throughout the country.

Robert H. Wilson
RICHMOND, VA—The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has named Robert H. Wilson as chief of public transportation, overseeing the state’s public transportation, human service transportation, and transportation demand management programs.

Wilson has 20 years of experience in transportation, the last 13 of which he served as a chief executive for three separate agencies. Most recently he was executive director of the George Washington Regional Commission, the planning district commission for Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford counties in Virginia. He also was executive director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency in Stamford, CT, and president and chief executive officer of Long Island Transportation Management Inc.

John Trautmann, Douglas Conyers, Dirk Braxton
LOS ANGELES, CA—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the appointment of three employees in its Los Angeles office: John Trautmann, a senior supervising architect; Douglas Conyers, a senior supervising engineer; and Dirk Braxton, a lead mechanical engineer. They will all work on rail projects for Los Angeles Metro.

Prior to joining PB, Trautmann led his own firm, John Trautmann Architects, in Santa Monica, CA, for 15 years. He previously worked at several major architecture and engineering firms in Southern California.

Conyers has 25 years of experience in the design of transportation infrastructure and has worked on numerous transit and airport projects throughout Southern California.

Braxton joins PB after a 23-year career with MTA New York City Transit, most recently serving as a project mechanical engineer within the Capital Program Management Department.

Joseph P. McAtee
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Joseph P. McAtee, P.E., PLS, FCMAA, executive vice president with Urban Engineers, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Drexel University’s Construction Management Advisory Council (CMAC).

McAtee joined Urban Engineers in 1967 and became one of the principal owners of the firm in 1993. As executive vice president and chief operating officer, he has oversight responsibility for the firm's design, construction, and program management activities. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Drexel and is a past president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania, which earlier this year presented him with the Distinguished Award of Merit.