Passenger Transport - August 12, 2011
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NEWS HEADLINES

New Fuel Savings Standards for Buses

President Obama announced new fuel efficiency standards Aug. 9 that will save American businesses that operate and own commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program. These work trucks, buses, and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will be required to meet fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for the first time ever beginning in 2014.

DOT and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with the president as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to create this program.

Under the comprehensive new national program, buses and trucks built from 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the administration’s car standards, this program—which, according to the administration, relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies—was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the state of California, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. 

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets specific to the vehicle types and purposes. It divides vehicles into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (including public transit buses and refuse trucks). Each of those categories contains even more specific targets based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type. The standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants that can lead to asthma, heart attacks, and premature death.

Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, in the long run the program will benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting both people and goods, and spur growth in the clean energy sector by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty for manufacturers.

Public transit industry experts note that these standards will clearly have an impact on bus manufacturers; key will be the costs involved in the required research and development. They add that the bus industry has been through several major engine changes in the last few years in the name of emissions and, while beneficial to the environment, each of these steps has been expensive. The industry looks forward to further guidance from DOT/EPA concerning test protocols and the establishment of baselines.

UTA Inaugurates Service on Two New TRAX Lines

In anticipation of the beginning of revenue service Aug. 7, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City celebrated the opening of the Mid-Jordan and West Valley TRAX light rail lines with events Aug. 2 in South Jordan and West Valley City, UT. The public had its first opportunity to ride the new lines on Aug. 3.

On the morning of Aug. 2, UTA launched the inaugural train on a special route that incorporated the two new lines and a section of the UTA mainline: beginning at Daybreak Parkway Station on the Mid-Jordan line, shifting to the UTA mainline at Fashion Place West Station, then heading west on the West Valley line to its end at West Valley Central Station.

“Today, we are prepared to open two new rail lines: nearly 16 miles of new rail for Salt Lake County,” UTA General Manager Michael Allegra announced at the West Valley Central Station event. “With this opening, UTA will operate 40 new low floor light rail vehicles.”

Allegra emphasized the importance of “strategic partnerships that kept these projects moving forward.” He continued: “We couldn’t have done it without our staff, the contractors, and local leadership—who all stepped up to the table with creative planning and programming to make it work.”

APTA President William Millar joined other speakers at grand opening ceremonies held at both Daybreak Parkway and West Valley Central stations. He called the two new lines “another example of how of UTA is leading the way: even in tough economic times, you continue to expand. And your community recognizes how key public transit is to their daily lives.” He noted that UTA expects an average annual ridership increase of 6 percent with the expansion of service and called the agency “an excellent example of how public transit is integral to a community and a state’s well-being.” 

The following day, UTA partnered with the Utah Food Bank to accept non-perishable food items in exchange for riding free all day on the two new TRAX lines, a program UTA called “Food as Your Fare.” According to the food bank, this one-day effort yielded almost four tons of food.

DOT Selects Six U.S. Agencies for Transit Management Pilot Program

The Federal Transit Administration is inaugurating its Transit Asset Management pilot program and has selected six U.S. public transportation agencies to participate. Those agencies are Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board in San Carlos, CA, operator of Caltrain commuter rail; Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA); the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City; Valley Regional Transit, Meridian, ID; and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The purpose of the program is to encourage urban, suburban, and rural transit agencies to find new, cost-effective ways to manage and maintain the condition of their systems—everything from railroad tracks and train stations to bus facilities and electrical equipment—resulting in improved safety and reliability. These agencies will share $4 million, taking a strategic and systematic approach to determining and anticipating when their equipment needs maintenance, repairs, or replacement.

Projects proposed by the grant recipients include prioritizing projects based on cost-effectiveness and their impact on safety, performance, and reliability; creating an Internet database of projects that maintenance staff and field workers can readily access and update; expanding and enhancing a software program that monitors railroad tracks, rail crossings, stations, and other facilities; and streamlining inspections and data collection methods.

For example, RTA began the process by creating an inventory of all its assets, from rolling stock and facilities through communication and fare collection systems. Now, it’s working to create a technology-based tool that would help the authority determine priorities for asset maintenance.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s most important and most effective as far as allowing us to keep the system going,” said Grace Gallucci, RTA chief financial officer and senior deputy executive director, finance and performance management. “We use our asset condition assessment [the inventory] as our baseline, then overlay criteria such as ridership impact, safety, and operating and maintenance costs so we can set priorities.”

Gallucci continued: “FTA is looking for agencies that can share what they’ve already done, work to develop something that would be helpful and meaningful to all transit agencies. With these funds, we can move forward in making a connection between prioritizing needs and translating those priorities into actual capital projects.”

The need for better asset management practices grew out of FTA’s in-depth research into the transit industry’s state-of-good-repair requirements—with the cost to bring the nation’s rail and bus transit systems into that condition estimated at $78 billion. FTA learned that most public transit agencies lack effective methods and tools for both assessing the condition of their assets and planning and budgeting for the future.

“UTA will be using the grant to develop a system to inventory and assess current operations and conditions, and to budget and plan for preventative maintenance to ensure a state of good repair for all critical assets (such as vehicles, buildings, right-of-way, and power systems) in the future,” said John M. Inglish, chief executive officer.

California to Receive $179 Million in Federal Rail Funds

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has announced $179 million for the state of California to continue building a statewide passenger rail network incorporating both high-speed and intercity service.

“California voters and train passengers have said it loud and clear: they want access to a world-class rail system in California.” said LaHood. “These projects ensure passenger rail is built to support a thriving California economy in the 21st century while creating thousands of new construction and manufacturing jobs today.”

The federal funding will support these three projects:

Central Valley High-Speed Rail, $86.4 million to the California High-Speed Rail Authority. This funding will allow extension of the current 110-mile segment for an additional 20 miles to Merced and Bakersfield, advancing completion of the backbone of the Los Angeles-San Francisco corridor.

Regional Equipment Pool, $68 million for new intercity trains. This money is part of a multi-state procurement that includes California, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington State, maximizing the purchase of next-generation American-made trains. Along with $100 million from a previously awarded grant to California, it will allow for the purchase of six new locomotives and 40 new passenger cars.

Pacific Surfliner Signaling/Safety, $24.9 million to Caltrans. These funds for the line between San Diego and San Luis Obispo will cover installation of Positive Train Control between San Onofre and San Diego. This signaling system is expected to increase railroad safety and efficiency by monitoring and controlling train movements.

Through federal investments and voter-approved state investments, California is laying the groundwork for the nation’s first 220 mph high-speed rail system. The rail dollars will also be used to improve existing intercity service throughout the state.

“With 20 million more people expected to be in California within the next 40 years, we can’t build enough highways and airport runways to accommodate the demand,” said Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. “Passenger rail will play a much greater role in how Californians move throughout the state to ensure California’s economy keeps moving forward.”

Transit-Related Tax Measures Pass in Michigan

Voters in five out of six Michigan municipalities approved property tax measures to support public transportation on Aug. 2, resulting in an 83 percent success rate for the day. During 2011, U.S. voters have passed 12 out of 14 measures for a total success rate of 85 percent.

In Crawford County, 78 percent of voters supported a 0.7027-mill increase to the current transportation levy for five years in order to pay for the operating costs of the Crawford County Public Transportation System (Dial-A-Ride).

Similarly, 79 percent of voters in Iosco County approved the five-year renewal of a 0.0967-mill levy to support operations of the Iosco Transit Corporation, expected to generate $109,704 in its first year.

Voters in both Escanaba and Gladstone approved millage renewal requests for the Delta Area Transit Authority, 0.6 mills for five years. The vote was 67 percent in favor in Escanaba and 62 percent in Gladstone. In Maple Ridge Township, the same measure lost by a margin of 32 percent in favor and 80 percent opposed.

Fifty-eight percent of voters in Port Huron Township supported a property tax increase and renewal for Blue Water Area Transit service. The four-year, 0.875-mill tax—an increase from the current 0.675 mills—is expected to generate $220,450 in its first year.

MTI Reviews Ballot Initiatives for Rail Projects

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has released a research report that presents an updated analysis of a 2001 report on transportation tax elections in urban areas across the U.S. The report, Revisiting Factors Associated with the Success of Ballot Initiatives with a Substantial Rail Transit Component, is the second update of what was originally released in 2000.

The new report includes an analysis of transportation tax elections in 11 urban areas across the nation and identifies 17 community-level factors that may affect the success of ballot measures for sales tax increases to fund transportation packages with substantial rail components.

MTI noted that trends observed in the more recent case studies were generally highly consistent with the findings from the original study. Thus this analysis reaffirms the importance for community consensus amongst the business, elected, and environmental communities, and accompanying depth of financial support.

The compilation also includes an exploration of “rebound” elections—cases when defeat of a transit measure is quickly followed by success of another—and the factors that seem linked to achieving success in such instances.

The report is available for free download.

Building America’s Future: Invest in Infrastructure

The U.S. must pass a six-year surface transportation authorization bill and “develop a national infrastructure strategy for the next decade that makes choices based on economics, not politics,” according to Falling Apart and Falling Behind, a report released Aug. 8 by the advocacy organization Building America’s Future, established by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Our parents and grandparents built America into the world’s leading economic superpower. We have a responsibility to our own children and grandchildren to strengthen—not squander —that inheritance, and to pass on to them a country whose best days are still ahead,” the report emphasizes. However, it noted that the U.S. has fallen behind many other countries around the world in planning and implementing updated transportation networks.

“Unless we make significant changes in our course and direction, the foreign competition will pass us by, and a real opportunity to restore America’s economic strength will be lost. The American people deserve better,” the report states.

The report begins with a section entitled “A Mounting Crisis,” which shows how U.S. infrastructure has slipped from first place in the World Economic Forum’s 2005 economic competitiveness ranking to its current 15th place: “We have let more than a half-century go by without devising a strategic plan on a national scale to update our freight and passenger transport systems.” Next comes “Losing Ground to Our Global Competitors,” focusing on the unprecedented national investments in transportation infrastructure in other parts of the world.

The third section, “Recommendations for Reform,” provides suggestions for how the U.S. can maintain its competitive edge in the 21st century. It promotes a 10-year national plan at a level comparable to that of other nations, which would spur investment of at least $200 billion each year and would lead to the creation of almost five million jobs over the decade—as well as a possible increase in the federal gas tax while indexing it to inflation.

The text of the report is available here.

CH2M HILL Acquires Part of Booz Allen Hamilton

CH2M HILL has completed its acquisition of Booz Allen Hamilton’s State & Local Government Transit Consulting (S&L Transit) business.

Booz Allen Hamilton has provided consulting services to transportation clients since 1915. The majority of the more than 150 employees in the S&L Transit business have accepted offers of employment with CH2M HILL in the company’s expanded Transit and Rail group.

Headquartered near Denver, employee-owned CH2M HILL provides consulting; design; design-build; operations; and program management for government, civil, industrial, and energy clients.

MBTA’s Davey to Succeed Mullan at MassDOT

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has announced that Richard A. Davey, general manager of Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) since 2010, will become secretary and chief executive officer of Massachusetts DOT effective Sept. 1. He will succeed Jeffrey Mullan, who has announced his decision to resign and return to the private sector.

“Rich has a proven record of commitment to safety and customer service, along with an energetic leadership style that will allow him to hit the ground running in continuing to implement transportation reform at MassDOT,” the governor said. “I look forward to working with Rich, and want to express my deep appreciation for Jeff Mullan’s passion and outstanding service to the citizens of the commonwealth.”

In his new role, Davey will be responsible for day-to-day management of the transportation organization created by the Transportation Reform legislation signed by Patrick in June 2009. MassDOT began operation on Nov. 1, 2009, governed by a five-person Board of Directors appointed by the governor and including four divisions: Highway, Rail & Transit, Aeronautics, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Before taking the helm as MassDOT's first ever secretary and CEO, Mullan was undersecretary and general counsel of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and the final executive director of the Mass Turnpike Authority. He oversaw implementation of the state’s landmark transportation reform law, including consolidation of seven state agencies and the merging of multiple departments and cultures. 

Strachan Moves to London to Help with Olympics

Peter Strachan, chief executive officer of TransLink Transit Authority in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, will leave that post in October to join the United Kingdom government as director-general in the Department of Transport. He will be responsible for major projects in London—including the 2012 Olympic Games next summer.

“It is a credit to Peter and a strong recognition of our public transport system that he has been appointed to such a senior role,” said Queensland Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“The Southeast Queensland public transport network and Translink’s achievements under Peter’s leadership have been recognized both nationally and internationally,” she continued, citing significant service and infrastructure upgrades and implementation of a five-year funding strategy. “However, perhaps his biggest achievement has been to lead a fully cohesive public transport network consisting of 20 service delivery partners and contractors.”

Business Networking—Coming to New Orleans!

APTA’s 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO, Oct. 2-5 in New Orleans, is an outstanding opportunity for APTA’s business members to meet potential customers and show off their latest products and services to the industry. It also allows business members to network with each other and explore potential partnering and new business-to business-relationships.

“With all the key companies doing business in the transit industry under one roof, it’s the best opportunity you will ever find to identify new business partners and sub-suppliers,” said Michael Melaniphy, chair of the APTA EXPO committee—and APTA president-elect.

"And to facilitate those business-to-business conversations,” he added, “we’re reserving time on Tuesday afternoon at EXPO for exhibitors to get to know each other. It is a unique opportunity for business members to talk business with each other.”

To that end, access to the EXPO floor from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 4 will be limited to exhibitors.

Charles R. Wochele, chair of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors, said: “Business-to-business networking has been an important new initiative for APTA’s business members in the last two years. Highly successful networking breakfasts have been held at APTA’s bus and rail conferences, bringing large companies together with smaller companies and DBEs [Disadvantaged Business Enterprises] to talk about doing business. More than 300 companies have participated in these events, and the networking at EXPO will bring even more companies into these discussions.”

Join in APTA’s Oct. 1 Tribute to William Millar

As William Millar completes his 15-year tenure as president, APTA invites participants in the 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO to celebrate his more than 40 years in the public transportation industry at a gala reception and dinner Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel, prior to the beginning of the meeting.

The event incorporates a reception from 6:30-7:15 p.m., followed by a dinner, program, and entertainment. All net proceeds will benefit the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF), which provides scholarships, fellowships, public transit education, and research programs for students and professionals involved in, or entering, the public transportation field as a career. Millar is a longtime champion of APTF and is an Eight-Star Diamond in the APTF Fellows Program, established to provide continued funding of the APTF Scholarship Awards Program.

Persons wishing to attend the event must purchase tickets by Sept. 26; tickets will not be available for sale at the door. Individual tickets cost $175, of which $50 is tax-deductible as a charitable contribution to APTF, and can be picked up Oct. 1 at the APTA registration desk and at the event.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to APTA members only, on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Yvette Conley for more information. Please note that each reserved table includes 10 tickets.

Questions can be addressed to Ann-Marie Glanville.

APTA Member Participation Needed for Advocacy Outreach

As the Sept. 30, 2011, deadline nears for extension of transportation authorization legislation and the federal gas tax, the path Congress will take to pass a bill or extension is unclear. APTA will therefore support two critical advocacy outreach efforts emphasizing the need for federal funding; both are nationwide programs that will provide opportunities for member participation.

Transportation Works
In early September, APTA and its members will mobilize around an effort called “Transportation Works,” a program developed by the APTA Marketing and Communications Committee to demonstrate the value of federal investment in public transportation and highlight the connection between public transit and jobs. “Transportation Works” will raise public awareness of how federal dollars are being returned to the community in investments in public transit infrastructure.

To assist transit and business members in joining this program, APTA developed a toolkit that includes a fact sheet on public transit spending and jobs; print ads for placement in local markets; and a press release template. The messages focus on the impact of the lack of investment on real businesses, job creation, and the public transit user.

Public transportation agencies can use the ad templates on the sides of buses and in high visibility public transit centers. APTA members can create events and hold meetings with members of Congress.

A strong component of the effort will be to direct riders to visit the web site to learn more about the importance of federal funding.

Don’t ‘X’ Out Public Transit
In late September, “Don’t ‘X’ Out Public Transit Day,” local transit advocates—in conjunction with Transportation for America, transit unions, APTA members, and staff—will organize rallies and press events in communities nationwide.

The day’s activities will feature release of a statement outlining the impact of transit funding cuts on communities throughout the country; national advertising; and the placement of Xs on vehicles in areas with participating public transit systems. The unions will encourage drivers to wear T-shirts, buttons, or armbands signifying the day. All the partners will also organize social media and take action messages.

For more information, contact Mantill Williams.

Gov. Carey Dies; Worked to Keep NYC Subways Running

Hugh Carey, the former New York governor who died Aug. 6 at age 92, served at a time—the 1970s and 1980s—when New York City was facing a financial crisis. He realized that the poor condition of the city’s public transportation system was part of the problem, and that rescuing transit would be part of the solution.

“Who would believe,” Carey said in 1982, “that a state that couldn’t get to market, a city that couldn’t get to market, where we couldn’t even get $750 million to keep the city afloat and alive in 1975, in one night’s work, in one program alone, could launch the program for the capital improvement of the subways of $8 billion in 1981. You don’t get there by accident.”

As reported on the Streetsblog New York City web site, Carey worked with Richard Ravitch, whom he appointed to head the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), to keep MTA New York City Transit’s subways operating. In the words of blogger Noah Kazis: “The city’s safe, clean, and widely-used transit system was the result of a purposeful, hard-fought effort by Carey and his administration to reinvest in the subways, buses, and trains after decades of neglect.”

Carey proposed a state bond issue in 1979 that provided nearly $800 million for transit, backed by sales tax revenues. Another of his plans, introduced in March of 1981, included a minimum annual appropriation from the state and exemptions from various state regulations for the transit authority.

An advisory panel proposed increasing the sales tax in the MTA service area and using a statewide tax on oil companies to further fund transit. The state legislature passed a variant on his panel’s plan—which Carey vetoed, stating that the legislature “failed to resolve the critical financial problems of mass transit.”

In 1982, the MTA again faced a shortfall related to cuts in federal transit funding. Carey supported a measure for a new tax on corporate profits downstate, which passed by the end of the year.

“Over a two-year period,” Kazis wrote, “Carey and the legislature had put together a set of dedicated funding streams that by 2006 were providing nearly $1.7 billion a year for downstate transit.”

DOT Helps with ‘Feds Feed Families’ Drive

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has announced the participation of his department and its employees in the third annual Feds Feed Families food drive, through which federal employees collect as much non-perishable food as possible for area food shelters.

“The goal of the overall 2011 drive is to collect two million pounds of food,” LaHood stated. “While that’s an ambitious benchmark, we believe it’s attainable—especially when the federal workforce exceeded its 2010 goal.”

The secretary noted that DOT has set a goal of 58,100 pounds of food for this year’s drive, and has launched an intra-agency competition to see which agency in the department can collect the most food.

“Regardless of which intra-agency team wins each year, these donations remind us of how fortunate many of us are, and how important it is to help those who are struggling. I’m proud to see the tremendous generosity of the DOT family and the entire federal workforce,” he added.

The government-wide effort is led by the Chief Human Capital Officers Council in partnership with the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Agriculture.

 

 

As part of its efforts for Feds Feed Families, DOT invited teams from each of its agencies to take three hours to build creative structures using donated food. The Federal Railroad Administration won this year’s Can Castle Competition, using 6,000 items of food to create a train scene.

The federal workforce exceeded its goal in the 2010 food drive, and DOT hopes to collect 58,100 pounds of food this year.

 

Report Examines Planning for Regional Economies

A new report from the Mineta Transportation Institute examines the possible economic impact if local governments do not conform with state-mandated regional efforts to lower greenhouse gas levels—including the impact on public transportation. The report focuses on the Sacramento, CA, region.

California law requires regional governments to develop land use and transportation plans or Sustainable Community Strategies to reduce greenhouse gas levels, primarily through cutting vehicle miles traveled. Local municipalities in the state have authority over land development decisions, however, and are not required to conform to the regional plan.

The study uses a spatial economic model to examine the possible impact of this lack of conformance. It covers four scenarios in which the effect of a jurisdiction’s nonconformity to the regional plan resulted in different combinations of centralization or decentralization of employment and housing in the region.

The text of Potential Economic Consequences of Local Nonconformity to Regional Land Use and Transportation Plans Using a Spatial Economic Model is available online.

APTA NEWS

McMillan Speaks on Sustainability Issues at Los Angeles Workshop

Speakers including Therese McMillan, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, addressed such issues as energy efficiency and socially responsible development processes in public transportation during “The Value of Sustainability,” APTA’s Seventh Annual Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, held July 31-Aug. 3 in Los Angeles.

The conference provided opportunities for participants to learn about ways that public agencies and private companies can save money and improve efficiency, lessen environmental impacts, and promote strategies that include public transit use. Participants heard from a variety of presenters with real world experience, including signatories of the APTA Sustainability Commitment, and discovered firsthand how the Los Angeles region is becoming more livable.

Presentations showcased positive models for creating local, regional, and state partnerships on sustainability issues and opportunities for partnering with the federal government. The conference closed with a luncheon panel focusing on the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities and a roundtable session.

The Aug. 1 International Plenary Session included remarks from John M. Inglish, representing the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), Walter Hook of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and Clinton S. Bench of the International Transit Studies Program. Kevin Desmond, chair of the APTA Sustainability Committee, chaired the session.

Los Angeles Metro, host system for the conference, presented four Sustainability in Action Tours: the Support Services Center, which boasts the largest solar installation in the city; the El Monte Station, the first piece of a planned “transit village” development; transit-oriented development along the Metro Red Line; and a multimodal examination of the Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit line and bikeway.

 

 

Participants in the APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop took advantage of the opportunity to bicycle along a bikeway in the Los Angeles Metro system. 

Speakers at the Aug. 2 luncheon, "The Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities," are, from left, Leslie Rogers, FTA Region IX administrator; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; Andre Villasenor, southern California sustainability coordinator for EPA; and Ophelia Basgal, HUD Region IX administrator. 

 

TCRP Releases Reports

The Transportation Research Board recently released the following Transit Cooperative Research Program publications:

Synthesis 88 - Strollers, Carts, and Other Large Items on Buses and Trains. This synthesis documents the state of the practice of transit agencies managing capacity on vehicles carrying customers with large items. It also includes a discussion of vehicle designs to accommodate these various large items.

Synthesis 89 - Public Strategies for Transit. This synthesis documents the state of the practice in terms of public participation strategies to inform and engage the public for transit-related activities. It also provides ideas and insights into practices and techniques that agencies have found to be most successful, and discusses challenges relating to engaging the public.

Report 146 - Guidebook for Evaluating Fuel for Post-2010 Transit Bus Procurements. This report is designed to help those considering the deployment of, or conversion to, alternative fuel buses. The guidebook and life-cycle emissions model spreadsheet (FuelCost2) are intended to aid individuals who, while being knowledgeable about the transit industry, may not be familiar with alternative fuels and implementation issues.

The guidebook and FuelCost2 provide tools to simplify the process of developing an alternative fuel strategy by clearly identifying the issues, costs, and benefits associated with the conversion to various available alternative fuel technologies.

FuelCost2 life-cycle costs and life-cycle emissions spreadsheet are available for download in a Microsoft Excel format. Appendix C of TCRP Report 146 is the user’s guide for the tool. The spreadsheet includes additional instruction for using FuelCost2.

This report additionally updates, expands on, and replaces TCRP Report 38: Guidebook for Evaluating, Selecting, and Implementing Fuel Choices for Transit Bus Operations.

Legal Research Digest 37 - Legal Arrangements for Use and Control of Real-Time Data. This digest is designed to help transit officials understand the legal options and limitations for real-time data ownership, protection, and use.

 The reports are available here.

Seeking Papers on Rail Transport

The Rail Transportation Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers is accepting abstracts through Oct. 1 for its 2012 Joint Rail Conference, April 17-19 in Philadelphia. APTA is one of seven co-sponsors of this major, multidisciplinary North American railroad conference that will cover all aspects of rail transportation and engineering research.

The conference theme, “Technology to Advance the Future of Rail Transport,” includes freight and passenger rail, encompassing commuter, regional, and intercity systems.

The program covers railroad civil, mechanical, electrical, and systems engineering, as well as safety, planning, design, operations, maintenance, and management.

Specific topics include, but are not limited to:
* Track 1, Railroad Infrastructure Engineering;
* Track 2, Rail Equipment Engineering;
* Track 3, Signal and Train Control Engineering;
* Track 4, Service Quality and Operations Research;
* Track 5, Planning and Development;
* Track 6, Safety and Security; 
* Track 7, Energy Efficiency and Sustainability; and
* Track 8, Urban Passenger Rail Transport.

The other co-sponsoring organizations are the Land Transportation Division of the Vehicular Technology Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; the Rail Transportation Committee of the Transportation and Development Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers; the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association; the Transportation Research Board; and Informs-Railway Applications Section.

More information is available here.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Los Angeles Metro Board Approves ‘Green Construction Policy’

The Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors voted Aug. 4 to adopt a Green Construction Policy. Under this policy, the agency must identify and mitigate the impact of emissions on human health, the environment, and climate for on-road and off-road construction and equipment used by Metro.

Metro is one of the first transit agencies in the country to institute such a comprehensive policy aimed at reducing harmful emissions from construction equipment used in the course of the agency’s transportation projects.

“The board’s adoption of Metro’s Green Construction Policy will go a long way towards reducing emissions during the course of constructing a host of vital transportation improvement projects planned for the region,” said Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy. “It solidifies Metro’s commitment in being a transportation industry leader in sustainability practices,” he added.

The policy will be incorporated into the requirements of all future procurement contracts, but is not retroactive. Metro will phase it in through a collaborative process and will develop a technical assistance program to provide needed support to local jurisdictions as they implement it.

EPA Promotes Public Transportation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promotes the use of public transportation in its newest public service announcement, with the help of NASCAR race car driver Leilani Munter.

Munter—who has a degree in biology—is participating in  EPA’s “Pick 5 for the Environment” campaign, which invites individuals to take five steps toward improving the environment. Her five actions include implementing bicycle and public transportation into the daily commute to cut down on her carbon footprint.

Using public transportation, carpooling, and human-powered modes of transportation such as walking and bicycling are among the measures listed on the Pick 5 web site.

“Environmental action can mean doing different things in different places, but it begins by taking the simple steps where you live,” EPA stated. “Doing your part means doing what you can do. By choosing five or more of these ideas and sharing your own, you are joining thousands of others who are doing the same. Together we can make the biggest difference, so make your actions count today.”

UMass Introduces Certificate Transit Management Program

UMass Transit Service, the public transportation system serving the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is teaming up with the College of Engineering’s Transportation Center and Connecticut Transit in Hartford to offer a certificate program in transit management and operations.

The purpose of the program—funded with a federal grant for $127,284 through the Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program—is to prepare the next generation of the transit workforce with training in many aspects of management. The certificate program is expected to draw student employees of the university’s own bus system. It may also help them with something even more coveted among students, especially those about to graduate: employability.

Allan E. Byam, general manager of UMass Transit Service, said the program is ideal for students who become interested in public transit after working for UMass Transit.

“We employ about 200 students, and there are also some who get the ‘transit bug,’” he said. “We had a handshake agreement with transit agencies whereby students get experience and jobs in maintenance, finance, and other areas. The industry loves UMass Amherst grads. This program will help us formalize that.”

Byam said the program will not require the addition of new courses when the university launches it next year.

SamTrans Gathers Input for Its Ridership Service Plan Effort

The San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) in San Carlos, CA, has begun collecting data from its riders as part of its Service Plan effort. The agency conducted five public meetings in July to gather input.

So far, SamTrans has discovered that approximately 40 percent of its ridership consists of people between ages 13 and 24—who may be more likely to keep riding because of their early introduction to public transportation. Other concerns raised at the meetings include changes to the SamTrans web site to make it more user-friendly; late-night service to college campuses; and improving connections with other public transit services.

SamTrans plans to work with the data it has already gathered and present it at community workshops in September.

The ultimate purpose of the plan, due for completion early next year, is to design improved transit service in San Mateo County, both in the short term (two to five years) and the long term (15 years). Specific goals are to:

* Maintain service quality, particularly safety, along with any service modifications;
* Maximize efficiency while maintaining high-quality service;
* Maintain core services to markets that serve transit-dependent populations, seniors, and persons with disabilities;
* Invest resources where they will have the maximum benefit to customers; and
* Increase efficiency and effectiveness of SamTrans service.

COMMENTARY

Transit Secrets: Learning From Hong Kong

BY ALEX MARSHALL

This article originally appeared Aug. 5, 2011, at Citiwire.net.

There is really no denying that transportation makes money. Just consider the huge shopping malls perched around interstate off-ramps, the office parks positioned close to airports, the skyscrapers next to subway stations.

But transportation itself is usually a money loser. We pour billions of public dollars into highways, airports and transit systems, while others, the home builders, the department store mavens, make the money that comes from those public investments.

Hong Kong’s metro system, MTR, has changed this equation, and that is why it’s worth looking at.

If you are ever lucky enough to visit Hong Kong, which is Manhattan-like with its narrow streets lined with high rises, you will see that the MTR’s services are excellent. You may ride the gleaming new high-speed rail line from the new airport that takes you into the new central rail station. Or one of the nine rail and subway lines, including the special train that goes to Disneyland Hong Kong.

What’s amazing about the agency that runs these lines, MTR, is that it actually makes money. So much money that it’s listed on the stock exchange, although the government still owns a majority share.

The Hong Kong’s metro system has been in the news in the New York City region because the chief of New York City’s transit agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, shocked the region by announcing his departure to lead Hong Kong’s system for a million-dollar plus annual salary. He left at a particularly bad time, breaking a seven year contract just as the MTA was facing yet another round of funding gaps and necessary cuts.

Given the perennial money-losing nature of most transportation departments, from highways to rail, it bears asking: how does Hong Kong do it?

The answer is that Hong Kong’s MTR doesn’t let private developers be the only ones that perch next to its stations. It builds its homes, offices and stores. In short, MTR acts as a real estate developer and business company, as well as a train operator. It owns, among other things, 12 shopping malls built around its stations. These properties and businesses produce substantial cash, which keep the transit agency as a whole in the black.

Hong Kong’s MTR is unusual in that it is also actually making money from its fares as well. How it can do this relates in part to the uniqueness of running trains on an intense few strips of land filled with development. But for our purposes it’s worth looking at its actions as a developer, and as a model for transportation agencies and departments in this country.

By many standards, MTR is an unusual company.

The MTR only began service in 1979. But once cash was flowing (through development around stations), the government “graduated” MTR to become a private company, still majority owned by government, so that it could raise funding through capital markets and more nimbly enter into joint ventures with private investors.

In 2000, the Hong Kong government converted the public MTRC into the private MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), although the government maintains a majority stake. Shares are traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Wikipedia reports that MTR also invests in railways in different parts in the world, and has obtained contracts to operate rapid-transit systems in London, Stockholm, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Melbourne.

Could transit and highway departments in the United States ever do something equally innovative? Why shouldn’t a highway department make money on the shopping malls built around its exits? Shouldn’t it at least get a cut?

While it may seem extraordinary to have a transit company operating like a profit-making company, it’s not novel. A century ago private streetcar lines made money more on the homes and shops built around their tracks, on company-owned land, than the nickel fares they received.

While retaining public control of vital infrastructure systems—a crucial point—governments can facilitate new versions of these old arrangements.

Let me be clear here. I don’t want the transit agencies or highway departments to be only concerned with making a profit for their shareholders, which is how private businesses act. I want them to make a profit for the public, so that roads can be maintained well and taxes and fares kept down.

It’s a long way from anywhere in the United States to Hong Kong, but there’s no reason we can’t learn from it.

Alex Marshall is a regular columnist on transportation for Governing Magazine. He is a senior fellow at the Regional Plan Association, the seminal urban planning group in New York City, where he edits a bi-weekly e-mail newsletter, Spotlight on the Region. He teaches classes on infrastructure at the Architecture School of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Jennifer MacDaid, Lee Mocon
KINGSTON, ON—Two employees of Delcan, Jennifer MacDaid and Lee Mocon, have obtained Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute.

MacDaid is a project management and technical writing professional with 10 years of public transit industry experience. Her areas of specialization include the development of management and technical documentation. She also serves as marketing coordinator, identifying, developing, and evaluating marketing opportunities and strategies.

Mocon is a project management and technical writing professional with more than 12 years of experience, specifically in procurement management and oversight of subsystem suppliers and preparation of technical publications.


Ray Friem, Linda Yaeger, Brian Weiler
OSAGE BEACH, MO—Ray Friem, chief operating officer of Metro Transit in St. Louis, received the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Region VII Transportation Manager of the Year Award during the recent annual banquet of the Missouri Public Transit Association (MPTA). Region VII includes Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Friem, who has served in the post since 2003, is responsible for managing the Operations and Maintenance divisions of MetroBus, MetroLink light rail, and Metro Call-A-Ride paratransit van service.

Also at the event, FTA recognized Linda Yaeger, executive director of OATS Inc., with the Missouri State Leadership Award; and MPTA presented Brian Weiler, former multimodal operations director for Missouri DOT, with its Friend of Transit Award.


George Walton
ORLANDO, FL—Parsons Brinckerhoff has promoted George Walton to area manager of the Orlando office of Parsons Brinckerhoff, overseeing operations in Central and North Florida. He previously served as the company’s southeast planning manager.

Walton has experience in transportation and environmental planning, project development, public involvement, and conceptual engineering.




Darrell J. Smith
WASHINGTON, DC—Darrell J. Smith has joined Amtrak as chief, business line planning and strategy.

Smith has nearly 20 years experience in public transportation service planning and financial analysis, including working at Amtrak previously between 1992 and 1998. He is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2002.


Kristen Treadway
COLUMBUS, OH—The Central Ohio Transit Authority announced the appointment of Kristen Treadway to the position of vice president of human resources and labor relations, effective July 20.

Treadway has 15 years of experience in human resources, serving since 2002 as director of human resources for the city of Gahanna, OH. She was responsible for creating the city’s first Human Resources Department.


Amanda Green Hawkins
PITTSBURGH, PA—Amanda Green Hawkins has joined the Port Authority of Allegheny County Board of Directors. She has represented District 13 on the Allegheny County Council since 2008 and will serve as the council’s representative on the Port Authority board.

Hawkins is director of the Civil and Human Rights Department and assistant general counsel for the United Steelworkers, and has represented the union throughout the United States federal court system.


Lou Ann Hock, Inez Evans
CINCINNATI, OH—Metro in Cincinnati announced the appointments of Lou Ann Hock as chief financial officer and Inez Evans as chief operations officer.

Hock has more than 30 years of transit experience, including 11 years in executive transit finance, and has served in her new post on an interim basis since August 2010. She was chief financial officer for Professional Transit Management and, earlier, worked in St. Louis for Rustman Bus Company and as regional vice president of Ryder Student Transportation.

Evans has served as director of paratransit for Star Tran Inc., a service provider to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, TX; general manager with Veolia Transportation in San Jose, CA; regional vice president with MV Transportation in Fairfield, CA; and director of transportation for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. She has worked in public transit for more than 20 years and is a member of the Leadership APTA Class of 2011.

Joseph Fox
NEW YORK, NY—Joseph Fox, a 30-year veteran of the New York Police Department, has been named chief of transit, overseeing security in the MTA New York City Transit subway system.

Fox previously commanded Patrol Borough Queens South, Office of the Chief of Internal Affairs Bureau, Office of the Deputy Commissioner Training, and the 71st Precinct. He succeeds Raymond Diaz, who retired after a 41-year career with the NYPD.