Passenger Transport - July 15, 2011
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NEWS HEADLINES

LaHood Cites Continued Public Transit Investment

DOT has announced the release of $776 million in 2011 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding under the State of Good Repair Initiative. This program, developed to shore up repair and maintenance backlogs within the nation’s transit systems, is all part of “helping provide better transportation options for all Americans,” according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

LaHood referenced the early July delivery of this grant funding as an investment that “make[s] sure that seniors and the disabled in cities and rural communities across America continue to have equal access to safe public transportation …. This is how we connect people to their communities and improve livability and sustainability.”

For example, Massachusetts DOT will receive $72.8 million to restore 50 miles of rail track and infrastructure between Springfield and East Northfield, MA. This improvement will cut almost 30 minutes from the travel time of Amtrak’s Vermonter line, which connects St. Albans, VT, and Washington, DC.

“These dollars are delivering more than 200 new jobs along with the purchase of 50 miles of American-made steel rails,” LaHood said. “Coupled with previous federal investments along the Vermonter line, these improvements will bring almost a one hour reduction in travel time for passengers traveling in Vermont and Massachusetts.”

As part of this initiative, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff recently examined aging infrastructure in Philadelphia and announced a $3.4 million State of Good Repair grant for paratransit vehicles in Toledo, OH.

During his July 11 visit to Philadelphia, Rogoff observed Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority facilities in significant need of infrastructure improvements. For example, City Hall Station in Philadelphia has undergone no major renovations since opening in 1928 and is experiencing tunnel leaks, deteriorating ceilings, crumbling platforms, and accessibility issues; a power substation at Jenkintown continues to operate with outdated circuits and electrical equipment from the 1930s; and a more than century-old bridge on the Norristown High Speed Line has extensive corrosion of steel components.

The grant to the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) will cover replacement of 43 paratransit buses. According to LaHood, most of the 56 vehicles currently in the paratransit fleet have outlived their expected service life, and the new ones will be safer and more fuel-efficient, able to carry as many as 12 people up to four wheelchairs. Five of the new vehicles will provide call-a-ride service to customers in the suburbs, including non-drivers as well as seniors and persons with disabilities.

LaHood, in noting that paratransit is the fastest-growing segment of TARTA’s service, then said: “Access to paratransit—available by appointment and on-demand—is crucial to the ability of transit-dependent Americans to get around …. If you are elderly or disabled and can’t use a standard bus, paratransit service is your lifeline to jobs, education, medical care, groceries, and just about everywhere you need or want to go.”

He added: “As gas prices fluctuate unpredictably, other transit agencies across the U.S. are experiencing similar hikes in ridership. And the FTA’s State of Good Repair grants are helping them maintain their fleets to meet this increased demand.”

 

 

FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, second from right, participates in examining a SEPTA rail bridge dating to 1906, part of his review of aging infrastructure. SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey is second from left. 

Rogoff presents $3.4 million in federal State of Good Repair funds to TARTA for the purchase of 43 paratransit vehicles. 

Proposed Hill Cuts = 141,000 Jobs Lost

BY CHAD CHITWOOD, Program Manager-Communications

The outline from the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee last week shows significant cuts to transportation and public transportation in the upcoming authorization. In response, APTA sprang into action to show members of Congress and their staffs exactly how a cut of more than 30 percent and the loss of 141,302 public transit jobs looks.

In response to the drastic cuts proposed in the committee’s outline, APTA has taken a number of actions including outreach to its network of public transportation advocates, riders, supporters of public transit, and Congressional staffers who need to know the real-world impacts of these cuts.

The Don’t “X” Out Public Transit initiative is one way public transit agencies can provide a context for what these cuts mean to their communities, riders, and schedules: by placing a red “X” on 30 percent of their trains, buses, shelters, facilities, or signage to illustrate how federal cuts might prevent the replacement or the continued operation of vehicles or facilities. APTA business members are also being asked to participate by placing a red “X” or signage in and on their facilities to show the impact on jobs.

This campaign, based on a successful event held last year by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, provides a stark visual of what would happen to public transportation systems, riders, and the community at large if such draconian cuts are implemented.

APTA also urges its members to contact their members of Congress and let them know the vital role that public transit systems plays in the daily lives of their constituents and in efforts to strengthen the economy. The members of Congress can then share with their colleagues examples of the importance of preserving and expanding public transit across their communities and why investment needs to be protected. A sample letter is available on the APTA web site.

APTA is garnering participation in its letter-writing campaign with the help of its more than 40,000 Facebook friends, the National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates, and 14,000 petition signers.

Finally, APTA is partnering with a Capitol Hill publication to host a briefing on the importance of transportation investment. APTA will leverage information from a nationwide APTA member survey that will offer real-world examples of the impact of a more than 30 percent cut in federal funding. This will provide an opportunity for Congressional staff to hear from a panel of experts on the state of the industry’s infrastructure, why APTA must continue to address surface transportation needs, and how allowing the nation’s infrastructure to bear the brunt of budgetary constraints leads to long-term repercussions.

House Proposes to Rescind ARRA High-Speed Rail Funds
Separate from cuts in public transportation funding in the T&I Committee’s outline for a long-term authorization bill, the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill being considered on the House floor would rescind unobligated funds that were provided for High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

While the bill does not specify an exact amount that would be rescinded, approximately $2.15 billion of the $8 billion in HSIPR funds appropriated under ARRA has not yet been obligated.

APTA has been working with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who chairs the Congressional Bicameral High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus, to speak out against the rescission.

FTA Seeks Climate Change Project Pilots

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced a new initiative focusing on adapting public transportation assets and services to the impacts of climate change.

“Subway tunnels, busways, rail tracks, and maintenance facilities are vulnerable to increased flooding from more frequent and intense rain storms, rising sea level, and storm surges,” explained FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan in a July 8 Dear Colleague letter. “Extreme heat can deform rail tracks, stress materials, reduce asset life, and jeopardize customer and worker health and safety. In fact, recorded weather data already shows increases in heat waves and heavy precipitation, which are affecting transit now.”

She continued: “While transit and other sectors can and must play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to lower the severity of impacts, because of the level of emissions already in the atmosphere, some climate changes are already in the pipeline and responsible risk management calls for adaptive responses to reduce vulnerability. FTA seeks to be a partner with the transit industry in responding to this challenge and we have a number of resources and opportunities available.”

FTA has issued a request for applications for transit climate change adaptation assessment pilots; the deadline is Aug. 25. Available funding totals $525,000, and FTA plans to make four cooperative agreement awards.

In addition, FTA is preparing a report that examines anticipated climate impacts on U.S. transit, climate change adaptation efforts by domestic and foreign transit agencies, transit adaptation strategies, risk management tools, and implementation considerations.

A series of workshops and webinars for transit agencies and FTA regional and headquarters staff begins Aug. 3 in Los Angeles, directly following the APTA Sustainability Workshop. Subsequent workshops are tentatively scheduled for September in Chicago and October in Washington, DC, while national webinars are scheduled for Aug. 8 and early November.

More information is available online, by clicking on “FTA Climate Change Adaptation Initiative.”

MARTA’s Dunham Testifies in D.C.

Wanda Dunham, police chief and assistant general manager, police services and emergency management, with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), testified about her agency’s collaboration with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at a July 12 hearing before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security.

Dunham pointed to the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) and other federal programs as “a significant resource in the development and implementation of key countermeasures against terrorist threats.” She noted that MARTA has invested approximately $31 million in federal transit security funding since 2003 in programs including implementation of security cameras in all 38 stations, with cameras soon to be installed in the bus and railcar fleet; increased access control systems at critical infrastructure sites; and acquisition of 15 bomb-detecting canine teams.

“Since our involvement with the TSA canine program, our canine teams have received numerous ‘Top Dog’ recognitions for their exemplary performance,” Dunham testified. “We have discovered that transit riders report feeling safer when canine units are present. Their presence and visibility has helped to prevent the introduction of explosive devices and deter criminal activity in the transit system, all the while providing a more secure environment for our customers.”

However, she added, U.S. transit systems must continue to extend their security efforts. “Much of the effort and focus of the investments to date has been in the area of infrastructure and target hardening,” she said, adding: “Many transit systems are experiencing the need for additional funding and broader funding guidelines to leverage existing capital investments with operational support.”

Dunham recommended that Congress reauthorize the TSGP at levels similar to those authorized under the 9/11 Commission Act and broaden the eligible use of funds as defined in the law. In addition, she called for the passage of legislation that would increase interoperability among public transit and public safety agencies.

During the hearing, the subcommittee also heard from representatives of freight rail, the trucking and airline industries, and other stakeholders.

Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-AL) chairs the subcommittee.

Phoenix METRO Serves All-Star Game Events


Photo courtesy of METRO light rail

Play ball!! METRO light rail in Phoenix provided service as an integral part of the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, July 12 at Chase Field. While the players traveled in trucks en route to the Red Carpet Parade and the game, light rail carried the crowds to the game and—more importantly—remained in service to help them get home. All trains that passed through the event had the lead car wrapped with MLB All-Star art.

Valley Metro Reopens Its Central Station

Valley Metro reopened its primary public transportation hub, Central Station, in Phoenix, July 4 following an 11-month refurbishment process. The “facelift” project, funded with $3.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), provides improved passenger amenities and more environmentally friendly features to the 14-year-old facility.

Phoenix Public Transit Director Debbie Cotton explained that the station overhaul moved forward despite a lagging state economy and declining sales tax revenues, citing a combination of long-term planning and the federal funding. “We were fortunate that our planning staff made Central Station’s refurbishment as ‘shovel-ready’ as possible before ARRA funding became available,” she said. “ARRA money was vital to getting this project done for our passengers, and staff planning was vital to getting that federal support.”

Transit users passing through Central Station will see such benefits as enhanced shade cover from shade trees and fabric canopies, bike lockers, more visible on-site signage, and improved nighttime lighting. New landscaping helps integrate the 2.6-acre site with its neighbors, a city park, and the downtown Phoenix campus of Arizona State University.

Green upgrades to the facility, originally built in 1997, include several changes aimed at garnering a future LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) EBOM (Existing Building Operations and Maintenance) certification. If successful, the Central Station project will become one of the first in Phoenix to meet that standard through refurbishment. These alternations include the addition of photovoltaic solar components, which can generate up to 35 percent of the energy needed to operate the facility, as well as light-emitting diode lights, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and programmable irrigation.

“Green features like these aren’t just frills for us in Phoenix,” said Mark Melnychenko, a principal planner on the project. “Water conservation and solar energy are really key to successful, sustainable projects.”

 

Passengers disembark from a Phoenix DASH downtown circulator bus at the newly renovated Central Station.


 

Brookings: ‘Clean Economy’ Promotes Transit Jobs

Employment in the public transportation field represents about 13 percent of the nation’s clean/green jobs and the largest share of green-collar employment, according to Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Jobs Assessment, a report released July 13 by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

Brookings worked with the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice to create the report, which it calls the first comprehensive study of the metropolitan geography of this economic sector, focused on the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.

“The clean economy sector is already an important source of industrial innovation, good-paying manufacturing jobs, and exports for a nation that needs them,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program and a co-author of the report. “Key segments show great promise for helping us use resources more efficiently, improving our national security, protecting our environment, and remaining competitive in rapidly-changing global markets.”

The report shows that the U.S. clean economy employs approximately 2.7 million people, more than the fossil-fuel industry and twice the size of the biosciences sector. It grew by 3.4 percent between 2003 and 2010—but newer clean energy and related segments of the clean economy grew by 8.3 percent during this period, nearly twice as fast as the rest of the economy. “Most clean economy jobs reside in mature segments that cover a wide swath of activities including manufacturing and the provision of public services such as wastewater and mass transit,” the report states. “A smaller portion of the clean economy encompasses newer segments that respond to energy-related challenges … the solar photovoltaic, wind, fuel cell, smart grid, biofuel, and battery industries.”

However, Muro said, other nations such as China and Germany have moved ahead of the U.S. in supporting clean economy development. He noted that China invested less than the U.S. in clean energy projects in 2004, but increased its funding to more than twice that of the U.S. in 2010.

Brookings also delineated the four main categories of clean economies in metropolitan areas: service-oriented, as in New York with its comprehensive public transportation system; manufacturing-oriented, more popular in the Midwest and South; public-sector, found disproportionately in state capitals; and multi-dimensional clean economies in such metropolitan areas as Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Portland, OR.

Accompanying the report are profiles describing the clean economy sector in all 50 states and in the nation’s 100 largest metro regions. A comprehensive mapping tool that allows users to see how the clean economy is distributed across the 50 states and in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, will also be available online.

The full text is available online.

Report: Invest More Wisely in Surface Transportation

The National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) of the Bipartisan Policy Center has released a report recommending changes to the federal surface transportation funding program to help promote “a thoughtful, equitable, sustainable, and well-targeted federal approach to transportation policies and investments that help our economy grow, improve the energy and environmental sustainability of our transportation system, and improve the safety and quality of life in our nation.”

The report, Performance Driven: Achieving Wiser Investment in Transportation, builds on NTPP’s 2009 report, Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy, to recommend practical near-term actions that will increase performance of the existing federal surface transportation program and make better use of non-federal resources. The earlier report proposed five key goals: economic investment; national connectivity; metropolitan accessibility; energy security and environmental protection; and safety.

“For years there has been overwhelming evidence that the U.S. is failing to maintain its highways, bridges, and transit systems, and consistently falling short in making the infrastructure investments needed to provide for the long-term needs of our growing population and economy,” the report states. “The recognition that we are under-investing in our transportation systems, however, has run headlong into a political and fiscal environment in which expanding federal expenditures for any purpose is increasingly difficult to discuss, much less to enact. In this context it is arguably more important than ever to ensure that all federal resources directed to transportation—albeit never enough to keep pace with the nation’s vast and growing transportation needs—are invested wisely.”

NTPP proposes that the next federal transportation authorization bill consolidate and reorganize programs into 10 focus areas:

* Asset Management, including half of the Surface Transportation Program and Fixed Guideway Modernization;
* Metropolitan Accessibility, incorporating the other half of the Surface Transportation Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality, Urbanized Area Formula Grants; and New and Small Starts;
* Freight Transportation Improvement;
* Safety Improvement;
* Federal Transportation, covering Indian reservation and public lands programs;
* Rural Connectivity, with transportation community and system preservation and formula grants for other than urbanized areas;
* Federal Support for Supplemental Revenue, such as the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act;
* State and Metropolitan Planning Program;
* Data, Research, and Education; and
* Essential Access, including Job Access and Reverse Commute and formula grants for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The full text of the report is available here.

 

MARTA’s Scott Sworn in to U.S. Infrastructure Advisory Council

Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., general manager/chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit District, was sworn in as a member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) of the Department of Homeland Security at its July 12 meeting in Washington, DC.

The purpose of NIAC is to provide the president, through the secretary of homeland security, with advice on the security of the critical infrastructure sectors. The president appoints members of the council from private industry, academia, and state and local government.

Scott served as APTA chair in 2008-2009. She is a designated transit system member director of the APTA Board of Directors and a member of the APTA’s American Public Transportation Foundation; Bus and Paratransit CEOs Committee; Human Resources Committee; Legislative Committee; Policy and Planning Committee; Rail Transit CEOs Subcommittee; Rail Transit Committee; and Standards Development and Oversight Council.

 

Photo by Susan Berlin

Nancy J. Wong, left, designated federal officer of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, welcomes Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D., to the council.


 

Pate Announced as New CEO of MV Transportation

MV Transportation Inc. has named Carter Pate as chief executive officer, effective Aug. 15. Pate also will be chief executive officer of all MV subsidiaries and will become a member of the company’s board of directors.

Pate has more than 33 years of consulting, management, and executive leadership experience. He comes to MV from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where he is the global and U.S. managing partner for the Capital Projects and Infrastructure practice and co-leader of the Global Government practice. He joined the firm as a direct admit partner in 1996.

From 1987 to 1996, Pate was the founding partner of Pate, Winters & Stone Inc., providing management and consulting services in the areas of restructuring management and corporate turnarounds.

Pate also is the author of The Phoenix Effect: Nine Revitalizing Strategies No Company Can Do Without, which is used in business school courses and has been translated into five languages.

“Mr. Pate has the vision, experience, and leadership ability to take MV to the next level; to help our clients through difficult funding challenges; and to ensure MV remains the best provider of passenger transportation in the world,” said Jon Monson, MV’s chairman of the board, who served as chief executive from 1999 to 2008.

The VTA Prevails with Rapid Fiscal Response to Economic Downturn

BY JENNIE LOFT, Communications and Outreach Manager, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA

Approximately 10,000 tech-related and manufacturer jobs have returned to California’s Silicon Valley in the past year. The economy is slowly moving in the right direction, the unemployment figures dropping from double to single digits.

These days, things are also looking up for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). In addition to steady ridership increases in the first quarter of this year, VTA is attracting new riders with its Commuter Express light rail service and plans to revamp its express bus service. Moreover, the VTA budget is balanced for the next two years—with a 15 percent funding reserve.

Two years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine the agency with a budget in the black. Like many other public transportation agencies, VTA was in financial trouble in 2009—when the U.S. economy bottomed out due to the housing financial meltdown—and its budget was in the red.

VTA depended on multiple funding sources, including local sales tax revenues and California State Transportation Assistance (STA) funds, to operate its bus and light rail lines. As the economy declined, so did local sales taxes revenues, and the state eliminated STA funding.

In response to bleak revenue projections, VTA General Manager Michael T. Burns acted quickly. He alerted the board of directors of the impending financial crisis, and the board immediately issued three guiding principles to help the agency navigate through the budget crisis: align cost-saving strategies with minimized service reductions, maintain investment in critical infrastructure, and preserve jobs to the extent possible.

At the time, Burns said: “To meet fluid economic realities, we must make fundamental business changes.”

Under his leadership, the VTA executive team immediately explored cost savings and implemented internal belt-tightening strategies through a soft hiring freeze, restricted travel, and improved applications of technology. The agency used its 15 percent operating reserves and deferred the purchase of Bus Rapid Transit vehicles.

Everyone pitched in: VTA staff stepped up and took unpaid furloughs and wage freezes while board members reduced meeting stipends. Fare increases were the last resort.

VTA executives implemented all these cost-saving strategies after introducing the “New Bus Service,” which realigned bus lines to core transit corridors and high service demand.

The agency realized that its old business model was not a good fit in the new volatile economic environment. Burns encouraged the board and staff members to be innovative—and they stepped up to meet the coming challenges.

They secured American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to help offset operating expenses and purchase new hybrid buses. VTA staff also found new revenue sources by wrapping advertisements on light rail vehicles, selling web ad space, and replacing a sales firm to generate more ad revenue on bus and light rail.

On the legislative front, VTA received a one-time STA allocation to help close the budget gap. Then gas tax swap legislation was signed into law, establishing a legislative framework for stable STA funding for the next few years.

The VTA board also took on the fiscal challenge, forming the Ad Hoc Financial Recovery Committee to explore long-term solutions to address the system’s structural deficit. Three board members lead the committee, which has accepted financial principles such as limiting the use of capital funds for operating-related purposes, controlling cost growth, and negotiating sustainable bargaining agreements. These and other principles are now incorporated into the current biennial budget.

“We were committed as an organization to deal with our problems,” said Burns. “We were very conservative and frugal in our assumptions and are now poised in a good place.”

SEPTA’s Getting ‘Lean’ Initiative: A Low-Waste, High-Efficiency Diet

BY ANDREW BUSCH, Press Officer, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia, PA

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is getting “lean” with a business plan that has all the characteristics of a good diet: Reduce unnecessary consumption, eliminate wasteful habits, and maximize energy use to improve short- and long-term health.

These are the values at the core of Lean, SEPTA’s initiative to increase productivity and improve customer service with fewer resources.

The scope of the program covers all operations-related facilities and offices throughout SEPTA’s multimodal system, which serves nearly one million riders each day throughout the Philadelphia region.

“Lean is a culture change—a change in the way SEPTA does business,” said John R. Jamison Jr., SEPTA’s assistant chief mechanical officer and chief Lean architect. “It isn’t a tactic or a cost reduction program, it’s a new way of thinking and acting for an entire organization.”

While Lean is larger than a specific effort to cut costs, Jamison said it will pay dividends for years to come through the efficiencies it creates. For example, a major component of the program includes simplifying work spaces for employees so they have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs. This helps increase productivity while also improving the quality of the work being done.

Lean events at SEPTA facilities over the last few years have consistently backed up the initiative’s core philosophy. In one instance, Lean observers saw a chance to achieve better results and reduce hours needed to rebuild the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system on a rail car. They suggested such minor adjustments as reorganizing tool kits to provide easier access to materials, replacing and adding certain materials, and eliminating a test on the unit performed at another shop. A follow-up inspection after the Lean recommendations were implemented showed a 32 percent decrease in staff-hours needed for the HVAC rebuild.

Additional Lean events at SEPTA repair shops and other facilities led to similar results. Lean recommendations also resulted in a streamlined bus inspection process.

“These efficiencies will help with SEPTA’s efforts to control and reduce costs,” Jamison said. “We’re also creating more value for our customers and using fewer resources to do so.”

Lean complements standard work instructions already available to SEPTA’s 9,000-plus employees, providing added resources to help them complete their tasks in an efficient manner.

“We’re all on the same page,” Jamison said. “Everyone—directors, managers, mechanics maintenance workers—they know what’s expected of them.”

Jamison said Lean is a constant work in progress and that he expects SEPTA’s talented employees to implement their own creative ideas and additions in years to come.

“We’re moving from an old way of thinking to a ‘lean’ way of thinking,” he noted. “This requires a complete transformation in how we conduct business, and that takes a long-term perspective and perseverance.”

 

 

John R. Jamison Jr., SEPTA’s assistant chief mechanical officer, conducts a seminar for the agency’s managers about the Lean initiative.

A SEPTA wire train crew at work on the regional rail system. The goal of Lean is to streamline processes throughout the transit system, repair shops, and offices to increase efficiencies.

 

FTA Webinar on Sustainability

The Federal Transit Administration will conduct a public 90-minute webinar on the Fiscal Year 2011 Sustainability Program on July 20, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. Topics will include the Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction and Clean Fuels programs. The presentation will include an address by Walter Kulyk, director, Office of Mobility Innovation, and information on TIGGER and Clean Fuels.

To register, click here. The call-in number is (888) 888-635-9298; the passcode, 210388; and the URL is here.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Midwest High Speed Rail Promotes ‘Superman 2050’ Tour

He’s faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, but where does Superman stand regarding high-speed rail? He’s for it.

This summer, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA) is promoting a tour of Superman 2050, an original work of Chicago-based Theater Un-Speak-Able, in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Chicago. The action of Superman 2050 takes place in a world where bullet trains provide easy connections among Midwestern cities.

The play recently completed a successful run at Donny’s Skybox Theatre, a Chicago space used by the Second City improvisational troupe, and will return to that venue in September.

“Throughout the entire tour, the group will travel exclusively by train,” said Madeline Grennan, MHSRA manager of education and outreach. “In each city, they are hoping to perform at a train station as well as in a theater venue. A list of venues and times will be released soon. Along for the ride will also be a documentary filmmaker who will catalogue every step along the way. At the end of the trip, he will edit together a documentary film that will tell the story of the current state of travel in the Midwest and just how important it is that we start pursuing high-speed rail as a region.”

More information is available online.

MTA Offers Rental Space at Four Historic Metro-North Stations

MTA Metro-North Railroad is seeking tenants for four 19th-century station buildings it owns, in Port Chester, Peekskill, Ossining, and Tarrytown, NY. Metro-North will reserve non-exclusive use of a portion of each building, including a waiting room, bathrooms, and access to platforms.

Because the buildings may require capital improvements, Metro-North may, in the course of negotiating terms of the leases, agree to help defray the tenant’s cost, if any, of installing utilities or other building upgrades.

Peekskill Station dates from 1874, with a view of the Hudson River and an adjacent outdoor plaza.  The Port Chester Station, on the New Haven Line, was built in 1890 and stands in what is now a highly visible downtown location with major retailers. Ossining Station, built in 1910, is walking distance from the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry landing. The recently renovated Tarrytown Station, the second busiest on the Hudson Line, opened in 1890 in a location now undergoing rapid development.

The requests for proposals are available here. Proposals are due Aug. 5.

OCTA Accepts County Sustainability Plan; Next Step Is at Regional Level

The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors in Orange, CA, has joined the Orange County Council of Governments in approving a local response to the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More than 40 public agencies and the community participated in creating the Orange County Sustainable Communities Strategy (OC SCS).

The OC SCS includes countywide transportation, land use, and sustainability strategies to help the region meet state-mandated emission reduction targets passed by the state legislature in 2008. That law, SB 375, calls for closer coordination of transportation and land-use planning.

“The strategy contains $40 billion in planned transportation improvements through 2035,” said OCTA Chair Patricia Bates, who also represents the Fifth District on the county board of supervisors. “The strategy is a multi-faceted approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that builds upon our efforts to support natural land restoration and protection, while at the same time providing necessary transportation improvements.”

Next, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will incorporate the Orange County plan into a regional strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SCAG is responsible for developing an overall strategy for the region including Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Imperial counties.

MTS Dedicates Station in Honor of Board Chair Emeritus

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) honored Board Chair Emeritus Leon Williams by dedicating the San Diego State University (SDSU) Trolley Station in his honor. More than 100 friends, family members, and elected officials attended the rededication ceremony.

Williams became the first African-American member of the San Diego City Council in 1969 and the first African-American on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 1982, retiring in 1994. He joined the Metropolitan Transit Development Board, predecessor to the MTS, at its founding in 1976, becoming MTS vice chair in 1985 and chair from 1994 until his retirement from the board in 2006. At that time, the board gave him the title of chair emeritus. APTA honored him as its Outstanding Transit Board Member in 2004.

“It is only fitting that we recognize Leon with the dedication of SDSU Station. Without Leon, the trolley may never have made it to campus. Leon insisted on an alignment that came to the heart of campus. And it has been a great success from the very first day,” said MTS Board Chair Harry Mathis.

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, also vice chair of the MTS board, described the specifics of the SDSU station, calling it “essentially a 30-story building that is lying on its side, midway along a 4,000-foot-long tunnel which at its deepest point is 60 feet underground. That’s quite a monument and it is a fitting one for a man who has helped bring monumental change to public transit and the greater San Diego community.”

After facilities staff unveiled the plaque, installed outside the doorway into the transit center’s mezzanine level, Williams said: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It was a pleasure to serve. It was hard. It was fun. And it was worth it.”

 

Leon Williams, third from left, and his wife Margaret, fourth from right, pose in front of the plaque honoring him at the SDSU Transit Center. From left are Anthony Young, City of San Diego Council president; San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts; Williams; MTS Board Chair Harry Mathis; Margaret Williams; Mary Mathis; Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer; and Jerry Rindone, former MTS vice chair.

 


 

 

AVTA Completes Renovation Projects

The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in Lancaster, CA, in collaboration with Los Angeles County and the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, recently completed two infrastructure projects funded with more than $425,000 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Major renovations to the Lancaster City Park Transfer Center ranged from the addition of solar lighting to the replacement of benches with four sheltered seating areas with tinted-glass shades. New safety features include extensive solar lighting throughout the parking area, directional signage, and a painted bus lane to deter pedestrians and vehicles from parking in restricted areas.

AVTA also completed construction of a full-service bus stop on Avenue M in Lancaster, across the street from the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse. The stop—located on previously vacant land—now offers a bus shelter, benches, trash can, and full 12-foot turnout with curb, gutter, and sidewalk. The new stop is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

AVTA recently completed construction of a full-service bus stop across from the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster, CA.

 

LBT Christens ‘AquaLink II’ Ferry

Long Beach Transit (LBT) in Long Beach, CA, and Catalina Express celebrated the arrival of “AquaLink II,” a sister ship to AquaLink I on June 27, just in time to begin service during the July 4 weekend. Summer service continues until Sept. 11.

The 68-foot catamaran, built by Kvichak Marine Industries Inc. in Seattle, ferries up to 75 passengers with express service from the Aquarium of the Pacific dock in downtown Long Beach directly to Alamitos Bay Landing restaurants. This new service complements the existing AquaLink I schedule that operates among the Queen Mary, aquarium, Belmont Pier, and Alamitos Bay Landing. Snacks and beverages are available on board.

 

LBT Board Member Barbara Sullivan George christens the agency’s newest ferry, AquaLink II.


 

APTA NEWS

NYPTA Inducts Millar into State Public Transit Industry Hall of Fame

The New York Public Transit Association (NYPTA) inducted APTA President William Millar into the New York Public Transit Industry Hall of Fame during its spring conference in Buffalo, NY. Although the association traditionally presents this honor during its fall conference in November, NYPTA leaders decided on an early induction to call special attention to Millar’s accomplishments and contributions to public transportation, specifically his role in dramatically increasing federal public transportation investment.

Millar has served as APTA president since 1996—part of a public transportation career spanning more than 40 years. He spent 19 years with the Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, the last 13 as executive director, and four years with Pennsylvania DOT.

“As an international figure in public transportation, Bill Millar’s reach and impact has been great,” said NYPTA President Carm Basile. “He has fought long, oftentimes hard, battles in support of public transportation; and has represented and championed our cause. We admire Bill as a leader and one of the very best of our profession.”

 

APTA President William Millar, left, accepts the New York Public Transit Industry Hall of Fame plaque from NYPTA President Carm Basile.

 

TCRP Releases Latest Reports

The Transportation Research Board recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) reports:

Research Results Digest 101—Funding for Infrastructure Maintenance: Achieving and Sustaining a State of Good Repair. This digest examines how bus and rail agencies and operators in several European cities develop community support for public transportation and how those communities implement sustainable funding strategies for transit assets, operations, and maintenance. It is based on the results of a June 2010 scanning mission conducted through TCRP’s International Transit Studies Program.

Research Results Digest 102—Public Transportation Systems as the Foundation for Economic Growth. This digest examines how transit investments are linked to economic growth and recovery in several cities in Turkey, Egypt, and South Africa.

These reports are available here.

30 Years, 10 EXPOs – Were You There?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first APTA EXPO, held in 1981 in Chicago. If your company exhibited at the first EXPO, APTA would like to recognize you!

E-mail us by Aug. 15. Include your company name and contact information and let us know if your company exhibited at the first EXPO!

Radio Documentary Series Now Available Online

Passengers, a four-part audio documentary on public transportation, is now available for listening or free download at the APTA web site. APTA sponsored the documentary, written and produced by David Freudberg, in association with WGBH/Boston.

The theme of the documentary is “What role can public transit play in building a more livable nation?” Among the public transportation industry representatives heard in the four half-hour programs are APTA Immediate Past Chair M.P. Carter and John Inglish, chief executive officer of the Utah Transit Authority.

COMMENTARY

Public Transportation: Part of a Larger Picture

Editor's Note: From east to west, U.S. communities see public transportation projects as part of a larger conversation as they move forward. Whether the issue is a new arena in Sacramento, improved air quality in the Atlanta region, or more public-private cooperation in Nashville, public transit plays a key role. Here are a few examples from the nation's editorial and op-ed pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

People on the Move

Howard Chapman, Christine Wilkinson
CHARLESTON, SC—Howard Chapman, founding executive director of the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), retired June 29. Chapman served as interim executive director of CARTA from its founding in 1997 until 1999, when he was named to the position on a permanent basis.

He helped with the transition of Charleston’s transit system from its operation by South Carolina Electric & Gas to the formation of CARTA, and earlier was director of traffic and transportation with the City of Charleston and County of Charleston.

Chapman chaired the Charleston County Transportation Committee from 1999 to 2006 and continues to serve on the committee.

CARTA named Christine Wilkinson interim executive director. She has served as CARTA’s transit administrator since its founding, and from 1995 to 1997 she served the city of Charleston in the same capacity.

Fernando Ferrer, Jonathan A. Ballan
NEW YORK, NY—Fernando Ferrer and Jonathan A. Ballan have joined the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors.

Ferrer was a member of the New York City Council from 1982 to 1987 before being elected Bronx borough president, a position he held until 2001. In 2005, he became the first Latino to win the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor. Ferrer is co-chairman and a partner at Mercury, a public strategy firm. In addition, he serves as a director of Sterling Bancorp, Sterling National Bank, and the Regional Plan Association.

Ballan is a member of the law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., where he heads the firm’s New York Public Finance practice group. He has also served in a variety of government positions.

Michael Lam
NEW YORK, NY—Michael Lam, P.E., has joined HDR's Manhattan office as Transit Systems section manager.

Lam joins HDR after 14 years with STV, where he was an associate and traction power manager. Before STV, he led a staff of 40 engineers as division engineer with MTA New York City Transit.

Jim Robinson, Stuart Strickland, Beth Kuntz
PITTSBURGH, PA—The Allegheny County Transit Council, an independent, rider-based advisory council, recently elected a new slate of officers: Jim Robinson, president; Stuart Strickland, vice president; and Beth Kuntz, treasurer.

The council works closely with the Port Authority of Allegheny County on transit issues and advocates for public transportation in the region.

Lynne Griffith
LAKEWOOD, WA—The Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington honored Lynne Griffith, chief executive officer of Pierce Transit, with its first Executive Master of Public Administration Outstanding Alumnus Award. Griffith is a 2009 graduate of the school.

The award recognizes the achievements and exceptional leadership of an alumnus, with particular attention to how the Evans School and the Executive MPA curriculum made a notable difference in the recipient’s work.


Steven Lorek, Michael Meroney
OMAHA, NE—HDR has promoted Steven Lorek, P.E., to Eastern Region rail manager, based in Cincinnati, and Michael Meroney to Texas Gulf Coast Transportation Business Group manager, based in Houston.

Lorek has been with HDR for 13 years. As the firm’s local railroad lead in Cincinnati, he was primarily focused on management and delivery of railroad projects for Class I railroads, short line railroads, public agencies, and private industry.

Meroney joined HDR in 2008 and has more than 22 years of experience with transportation design and planning projects. He served as deputy project manager for HDR's Houston Metro North Corridor transit design-build contract for Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County.

Kristin Jacobs, Steven Abrams
POMPANO BEACH, FL—Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs was elected chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Governing Board and Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams was elected vice chair. Both terms begin July 1 and run for one year.

Jacobs has represented District 2 on the Broward County Commission since 1998. Abrams has served on the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners representing District 4 since 2009 and was elected in 2010 to a full four-year term.


Dick Riddell, Alan Wapner
SAN BERNARDINO, CA—The Omnitrans Board of Directors has elected Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell as its chair, effective July 1. He succeeds Penny Lilburn, mayor pro tem of Highland.

Riddell is a 16-year member of the board who took over as vice chair in March 2011 following the resignation of Upland Mayor John Pomierski.

Ontario City Council Member Alan Wapner, an Omnitrans board member or alternate since 2000, was elected vice chair.

Carolyn Flowers
CHARLOTTE, NC—Carolyn Flowers, chief executive officer of the Charlotte Area Transit System, has been named one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s 25 Outstanding Business Women for 2011.

Flowers has almost 20 years experience working for transit agencies, including Los Angeles Metro, and joined CATS about 16 months ago.




Larry King
WASHINGTON, DC—Larry King has joined Delon Hampton & Associates, Chartered, as senior vice president, business development.

King has 30 years experience in consulting engineering, management, and client relations, serving in a number of leadership positions with local governments and engineering consulting firms.




Rick Pilgrim
DENVER, CO—Rick Pilgrim, P.E., has joined HDR as a vice president and senior project manager in the transportation business group. Located in the Denver office, he will have project and business development responsibilities for all transportation market sectors in the west and central regions.

Pilgrim comes to HDR from URS, where he served most recently as vice president and state and local market sector manager for the mountain region.

With URS since 1983, Pilgrim also served as Colorado transportation department manager, national transit and rail business line manager, central region manager, west region manager, and office manager.

For APTA, he is a member of the Light Rail Transit Technical Forum, Major Capital Investment Planning Subcommittee, and Policy and Planning Committee.

Debra A. Johnson
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has named Debra A. Johnson as its acting executive director/chief executive officer. She succeeds Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., who stepped down from the post.

Johnson currently serves SFMTA as director of administration, taxis and accessible services. She began her transportation career working in the private sector for an engineering-based consulting firm, later working for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.