Passenger Transport - August 26, 2011
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority brings the “See Something, Say Something” message to its buses and Trinity Railway Express commuter trains.
MBTA's poster campaign makes passengers part of the security solution.
Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) in Hampton, VA, reported that opening-day ridership on The Tide light rail system in Norfolk shattered expectations: more than 30,000 customers boarded the trains on Aug. 19. Crowds began gathering at Tide stations before service began at 6 a.m. and long lines remained throughout the day.
“What a terrific start to light rail in Virginia,” said HRT President and Chief Executive Officer Philip Shucet. “I could not be prouder of the men and women who worked so hard and for so long to bring this project to completion. I know the entire region appreciates the wonderful effort that brought light rail to Norfolk.”
Trains ran at capacity for much of the day and into the evening; HRT began the day with six trains in service, adding two more as demand intensified. The agency also brought in buses to provide special connections for people who could not wait long in line or could not find seats on the train.
Platforms remained full because of numerous events on the light rail route, such as an evening baseball game at Harbor Park and special deals at businesses celebrating the introduction of service. The Tide operated free throughout the weekend, providing more than 75,000 rides, with revenue service beginning Aug. 22.
The day before the beginning of service, Therese McMillan, deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, addressed a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at MacArthur Square Station.
“As residents in Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region will soon discover, when light rail comes to town, wonderful things happen,” McMillan said. “Property values rise. New housing, retail, and business opportunities spring up in neighborhoods served by new transit route.”
Also at the ceremony, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said that The Tide has long been envisioned as the first leg of a regional rail transit system offering congestion relief and mobility options for thousands of local residents.
The line extends from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center complex through downtown, east to the Norfolk-Virginia Beach border at Newtown Road. Eighteen bus routes will provide service to six of the 11 Tide stations. HRT estimates average weekday ridership of about 2,900.
Photo by Tom Holden, HRT
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Senate has approved a nationwide Moment of Remembrance on Sept. 11. The moment will occur at the same time across the U.S.: 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, noon Central Daylight Time, 11 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time, and 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
“Our local, state, and national institutions—including state and local governments, military and veterans’ organizations, the news media, houses of worship, and sports teams—have been called upon to mark this minute with bells or sirens to honor the victims,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). “During these 60 seconds, the only sounds heard across our country should be this patriotic chorus as we remember the victims and confirm our determination to stop terrorist attacks before they occur.”
He continued: “Make no mistake: 9/11 changed our country forever, and a tragedy of this magnitude requires every American to stop and remember—and show the world how strong we are when we stand together.”
He invites public transportation agencies to participate by blowing whistles, ringing bells, or making announcements.
More information about the Moment of Remembrance is available here.
The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program has released a study showing that nearly 700,000 households in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas do not have access to either public transportation or a private vehicle.
In contrast, more than 90 percent of the 7.5 million zero-vehicle households in these regions live in neighborhoods with access to public transit service—although on average they can reach only 40 percent of jobs within 90 minutes when using transit.
The report, Transit Access and Zero-Vehicle Households, uses data from the American Community Survey and 371 public transit providers to reach this conclusion.
According to Brookings, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA, corridor has the highest coverage rate for no-car households, 99.1 percent, while the Atlanta region has the lowest, 68.5 percent.
“If you’re going to keep afloat during the recession, you have to be able to get to work,” said Adie Tomer, senior research analyst and author of the report. “We knew there were pockets of households who are economically hampered by the fact that they own no car and have no access to transit, but we didn’t fully understand the true scope of the problem until now.”
Tomer placed the figure in context by noting that 700,000 households is a larger number than the population of Columbus, OH, or San Antonio, TX. “These people are terribly constrained in earning a living, getting to the store, or taking their kids to day care,” she continued. “If this many people were facing a public health scare, this country would be in crisis mode. We need to approach this problem with similar urgency.”
Transit Access and Zero-Vehicle Households is the first in a series of three studies following the release in May of Brookings’ Missed Opportunity report, which found that transit services fall far short in connecting workers to jobs. The next two studies will focus on access to transit from public housing and how transit serves employers’ needs.
The full text of the report is available online.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced more than $200 million in Fiscal Year 2011 federal transit security grants as part of more than $2.1 billion for 12 preparedness grant programs.
“In today’s tight fiscal environment, we are setting clear priorities and focusing on the areas that face the greatest risk to maximize our limited grant dollars,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The FY 2011 homeland security grants are focused on mitigating and responding to the evolving threats we face.”
Available DHS grant funds for FY 2011 were $780 million less than the FY 2010 enacted level, a decrease of nearly 25 percent.
Funding under the Transit Security Grant Program goes to owners and operators of public transit systems to protect critical surface transportation from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.
DHS also announced more than $22 million for the Intercity Passenger Rail Program, nearly $5 million for the Intercity Bus Security Grant Program, and more than $7 million for the Freight Rail Security Grant Program.
Further information on DHS preparedness grants is available here.
The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has released a technical report intended to serve as a template for individual states to use in the development of their Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government (COOP/COG) plans. This type of planning ensures that state DOTs can continue their essential functions through a wide range of emergencies and disasters.
The report, titled Generic Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government Plan for State-Level Transportation Agencies, describes the necessity of states to anticipate major catastrophic disasters, including natural and technological hazards and enemy attack, by setting out emergency procedures and specific responsibilities. The term “continuity of government” has been defined as the preservation, maintenance, or reconstitution of the civil government’s ability to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.
“The current threat environment and recent natural, technological, and human-caused emergencies demonstrate the need for COOP/COG capabilities and plans at the local, regional, state, and federal levels,” MTI states. “This planning is recognized as a ‘good business practice’—part of the fundamental mission of all federal, state, and local agencies as responsible and reliable public institutions.” It includes a succession to office procedure with accompanying authority in the event a disruption renders agency leadership unable, unavailable, or incapable of assuming and performing their authorities and responsibilities of office.
The full document can be downloaded.
The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Board of Directors in San Rafael, CA, has named Farhad Mansourian as its general manager permanently. Mansourian had been serving in the post on an interim basis.
“After an extensive search of the most qualified applicants in the country, the SMART Board of Directors believes the best candidate for the job is already on the job,” announced SMART Chairwoman and Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown.
Mansourian has spent 31 years working for Marin County, most recently heading the Department of Public Works. He managed the operation of the county’s public transportation agency for 12 years and was executive director of its Congestion Management Agency for 14 years. He also was a key figure in working towards the passage of county-wide sales tax Measure A.
Tom Phillips has joined the Lakeland Area Mass Transit District (Citrus Connection), Lakeland, FL, as its new executive director, effective Aug. 29. He is the third executive director in the almost 30-year history of the agency.
Phillips comes to Lakeland from PACE Suburban Bus in Arlington Heights, IL, where he was a senior project manager for paratransit operations support. He has a fixed route background from earlier employment.
He has a degree in sociology, with a minor in psychology, from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston has named Jonathan Davis, the agency’s deputy general manager and chief financial officer, as acting MBTA general manager and MassDOT rail and transit administrator as of Sept. 2. On that day, current General Manager Richard Davey becomes secretary and chief executive officer of MassDOT.
Davis has served MBTA in his current position for more than 10 years, directing the authority’s financial management and accounting functions, managing the operating and capital budgets, and overseeing collection of all revenue. Prior to joining the agency in 1995, he worked in the private sector for 25 years at H.P. Hood Inc.
“The [MBTA] Board [of Directors] will continue to rely on Jon’s wisdom and counsel as the MBTA confronts both immediate and future challenges,” said Board Chairman John Jenkins.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has released proposed changes to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) regulations governing the installation of positive train control (PTC) systems. The amendments will provide greater flexibility to railroads and FRA in assessing the need for PTC without adversely affecting the safety of America’s rail lines.
However, these amendments would not affect existing requirements to install PTC on lines used to provide intercity and passenger rail service. They will only affect the installation of PTC for freight railroads while carrying hazardous materials.
The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires certain passenger and freight railroads to install PTC systems on lines meeting certain thresholds. Nationwide deployment of PTC is expected to eventually yield substantial benefits from the use of advanced train control technology for safety and business purposes.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) appeared in the Federal Register on Aug. 24, 2011, and FRA will accept comments until Oct. 24. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent possible without incurring additional expenses or delays. The text of the notice is available here.
Robert W. Batchelder, 66, of Chula Vista, CA, a 15-year employee of APTA who retired in 1996 as chief counsel and deputy executive vice president-government affairs, died Aug. 12 in San Diego.
Batchelder joined APTA in 1981 as staff counsel. He was promoted in 1983 to chief counsel and executive director-management services, and to his final post in 1989. He retired from APTA due to illness.
Batchelder also worked to help business members become more involved in association policy and led the industry through implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Before coming to APTA, Batchelder joined the former Urban Mass Transportation Administration (now Federal Transit Administration) in 1975 and rose to assistant chief counsel for litigation and opinions. He came to DOT in 1974 through its Honors Program, which brings successful recent law school graduates to the department for two years. In 1977, he received DOT’s Lawrence Schneider Award, presented annually to the department’s most promising young attorney.
The family suggests that memorial donations be made to the American Public Transportation Foundation.
The Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) in Riverside, CA, will benefit from a $1.2 million federal Department of Energy grant to the University of California, Riverside (UCR), to retrofit paratransit vehicles with technology to reduce fuel consumption and enhance service delivery.
The technology, to be installed by UCR researchers this fall, will monitor real-time driver behavior, vehicle performance, and fuel consumption. By analyzing schedules and roadway and traffic conditions, the system has the potential to make the route more efficient. It notifies drivers of excessive idling, speeding, or accelerating, and uses a scoring system to reveal which vehicles, drivers, and routes are the most efficient.
“RTA has been at the forefront of clean-fuels technology for more than a decade, and this latest step reflects our pledge to continually push the limits of service efficiency,” said RTA Chairman Bob Buster.
The grant is part of a $175 million plan over the next three to five years to support development of advanced vehicle technologies. The funding, which will affect 40 projects across 15 states, is designed to help automakers achieve new fuel efficiency standards.
The Partnership for Mobility Management, which includes APTA, recently held its first official Mobility Management Conference in conjunction with the Community Transportation Association of America’s EXPO in Indianapolis, IN. More than 300 people attended.
The two-day conference presented innovative and effective programs in the mobility management field. It also helped mobility managers make connections with their colleagues and learn about resources that could support their efforts to coordinate with human services programs and public transportation.
The opening plenary session, “Mobility Management Goals: Where We Are and Where We Are Headed,” focused on how mobility management practices have affected different types of communities, from densely populated cities to rural areas. Other topics included diversification and sustainability, non-emergency medical transportation, and brokerages and statewide leadership perspectives.
During the closing session, mobility management professionals described their visions of the future in terms of professional development and training, events, resources, and peer interaction.
APTA will host next year’s Mobility Management Conference in Long Beach, CA, concurrently with the 2012 Bus and Paratransit Conference. Program development is underway, based on feedback from the 2011 conference. APTA’s Mobility Management Committee—chaired by Ron Barnes, national business development manager, public transportation, Total Transit—also will play a major role in planning next year’s conference.
The partnership is a joint effort of national organizations that work with national, local, state, and regional leaders and organizations to realize the possibilities of improving transportation options for all Americans wherever they live, and to assist those especially in need of alternative transportation options. APTA is one of eight founding partners in the organization.
Photo courtesy of CTAA
It’s traveled around the world, but the EXPO Rally Towel that took the top place in APTA’s Facebook-based contest never left its own hometown.
Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix received the grand prize—one round-trip airfare to New Orleans and one room at the EXPO host hotel for three nights during the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO, along with one Annual Meeting registration—for showing METRO light rail staff from all departments (and the towel) playing tug-of-war with one of the system’s 50 light rail vehicles at the Operations and Maintenance Center.
Three other public transportation agencies each earned $100 American Express Gift Cards for their entries. These photos will appear in subsequent issues of Passenger Transport.
Public transit professionals entered the contest by clicking “like” on APTA’s Facebook page and uploading photos that included the Rally Towel. Among the other notable settings for the towel were the Great Wall of China, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Colosseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Grand Cayman Island.
All entries can be found here.
BY NEAL PEIRCE
Each year, Americans travel about three trillion miles in their autos and trucks. Four million miles of roadways have been built for our vehicles.
We drive practically everywhere—to work, to school, to health care, recreation, much more. Cars and truck fleets are a huge part of the American economy.
So what’s not to like about all this motorized world?
One answer: Our overwhelming dependence on foreign oil that depletes our cash reserves and entangles us in trouble-plagued regions of the world.
But we pay an even bigger personal price for a motorized world. It’s our health; it’s our longevity.
Look what rises when the number of miles that people drives goes up, notes transportation expert Todd Litman. Fatal traffic accidents increase. Total air pollution emissions, related to asthma and other diseases, rise. And people's rate of personal obesity, linked clearly to diabetes and heart problems, goes up.
These risks, says Litman, help explain why residents of the United States have life spans that average 1.5 years less than most other advanced industrial countries—even though we spend 2.5 times as much per capita on health care.
And there are big social costs—severe limitations, in a public transit-short nation, on the mobility of millions of our poor, elderly, people with disabilities, and youth whose access to jobs and educational opportunities is limited.
America needs a full “rethink” of its transportation policies, according to a new report— “Transportation and Health,” written by a Partnership for Prevention including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a safe-transportation research center at the University of California at Berkeley, and the engineering firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
The panel confirms a range of common-sense ideas. Examples: Increase public transit services, to provide alternatives to auto use. Cut tailpipe emissions, chief villains in health impacts. Change the makeup of our vehicle fleet so that our cars are smaller and rely less on high-carbon power.
And then, to cut back radically on the motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities that darken so many Americans’ lives, the expert panel suggests even more efforts to reduce DUI crashes, to increase seat belt use, and to cut back the speeding that everyone knows can so easily kill. In tune with the times, it also endorses expanded steps to cut back on the growing phenomenon of distracted driving caused by cellphone conversations and texting.
It’s a good idea, the Partnership insists, to focus substantial federal transportation assistance on such areas as bicycle lanes and paths, medians, crosswalks, and narrower street designs to reduce traffic speed. It endorses both the Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets programs—the very types of transportation “enhancements” currently under attack by leaders in the new Republican U.S. House majority.
But would all these steps be sufficient unless ones are taken to actually reduce our use of motor vehicles? In a “free wheels” mentality America, the question’s almost unpatriotic. But it’s precisely the point that Litman (interestingly, a resident of Canada) makes in critiquing the Partnership report.
Global evidence, he argues, suggests that reducing actual vehicle miles traveled, combined with “smart growth” local land use policies that focus on concentrated and less spread-out development, is a long-term, effective route to reduced road carnage that can’t be ignored.
One piece of evidence: a study by researchers of 280 U.S. counties rated by how sprawled-out their development is. The survey showed that the 10 counties highest in “smart growth”—i.e., compact and mixed forms of development—had less than a quarter the per capita traffic fatality rates than the 10 with the most scattered and single-use growth patterns.
That’s more than a statistic: It’s a gauge of personal safety that is naturally a top concern for American families. Yet in all the debates about smart growth, it’s rarely if ever raised.
Ironically, while Americans grouse constantly over the cost of fuel, research also shows that pump-price increases actually cut back on traffic crash deaths and air pollution deaths.
And there’s a whole array of potential (and still unrealized) reforms that would likely provide significant safety benefits. One example would be “Pay-As-You-Drive” vehicle insurance (premiums based directly on annual vehicle mileage). Or making workers pay directly for parking that their employers provide.
Whatever the method, the point’s the same. Driving involves dangers to our lives, livelihoods and personal health that the familiar remedies, from seat belts to auto safety standards, can only partly relieve. We need to redesign our roads and elevate safety measures for cyclists and pedestrians. And most important, the time is at hand to recognize that the compact, mixed-use communities celebrated these days as “smart growth” represent a huge potential for safer and less accident-scarred lives.
E-mail Neal Peirce.
© 2011, The Washington Post Writers Group
LOS ANGELES, CA—Philip Klinkon, AIA, has joined HNTB Corporation’s West Division as transit studio leader. He will lead the division’s transit architecture team while also coordinating with the transit group in New York.
Klinkon has more than 26 years of experience designing and managing public transit projects including heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, Bus Rapid Transit, monorail, streetcar, and maglev stations designs, as well as multimodal facilities.
Earlier, Klinkon led IBI Group’s west coast transit architecture practice in Seattle.
LOS ANGELES, CA—Sam Schwartz Engineering, PLLC (SSE), has named Eric Widstrand, P.E., PTOE, as vice president and general manager of its new Los Angeles office.
Widstrand has worked in both the public and private sectors for almost 20 years. He spent the last five years with Seattle DOT.
SANTA MONICA, CA—The Swedish Institute recently honored Paul Casey, senior service planner for Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, with its Swedish-American Bicentennial Fellowship.
The Swedish Institute, a government agency that values culture and education, administers the Swedish-American Exchange Fund for non-academic research and professional enrichment.
Casey joined Big Blue Bus in 1999 and also worked with Los Angeles DOT.
Gary Gonzales, Arthur Lomenick
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the appointments of Gary Gonzales as a senior principal engineer in the Denver office and Arthur Lomenick as sustainable development practice leader in the PlaceMaking group, based in Dallas.
Gonzales has more than 20 years of experience working on projects for Colorado DOT and Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). For the past four years, he served as Colo. DOT’s Program Engineer and liaison to the RTD FasTracks program. He has also served as the traffic and Intelligent Transportation Systems manager for the agency’s multimodal, design-build Transportation Expansion project.
Lomenick is a nationally known expert in the field of urban development with 25 years in the mixed-use development and advisory field. He joins PB from Trammell Crow Company, where he served as a managing director and founder of its subsidiary High Street Residential.
Scott J. Diehl
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Urban Engineers Inc. has promoted Scott J. Diehl, P.E., P.T.O.E., A.I.C.P., to vice president. He joined the firm in 2007.
Diehl has more than 18 years of experience to the position and also will continue as the firm’s chief traffic engineer.