Passenger Transport - August 26, 2011
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Lack of Federal Investment Harmful to Public Transit Businesses

Almost three quarters (74 percent) of private-sector businesses serving the public transportation industry incurred flat or declining business over the past year because of uncertainty in federal investment, a down economy, and a lack of investment on the state and local level, according to a new APTA study.

The report, Impacts of the Recession on Public Transportation Businesses, shows a 25 percent average decline among reporting businesses. Over half (56 percent) lost business from their public sector transit clients; 52 percent expect to lay off employees or cut back hiring as a result.

“This is further evidence that tells us now is the time to invest in our public transit infrastructure to create jobs and boost our economy,” said APTA President William Millar. “Cutting money to public transit systems simply means the loss of jobs, most of which are in the private sector.”

A proposal currently in the House of Representatives would cut federal investment in public transportation by more than 35 percent. According to the Senate Banking Committee, these proposed cuts could lead to the loss of 141,000 jobs.

Uncertainty because of the delay in passing a federal transportation authorization bill is also a big factor, with 74 percent citing that and 67 percent naming the current weakness of the U.S. economy as having a negative impact on business revenue. One respondent’s statement was typical of many: “It is one thing to make cuts, see their magnitude and make business adjustments. It is a completely different story when even the cuts are up in the air—nothing can be planned for!”

Public transportation businesses are facing challenges, just as transit agencies are. So the case for more investment in public transportation applies not only to public sector agencies, but also to the private sector businesses that support them.

The text of the report is available here.

10 Years After 9/11, Security Is Still Agencies’ Top Priority

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

September 11: a comparatively new date that will also live in infamy. Before the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, the Pentagon, and western Pennsylvania, the public transportation industry already had a broad range of security programs and activities in place. But the 9/11 attacks—and subsequent ones on public transit systems around the world—led to an enormous partnership effort by the industry, APTA, and the federal government to put additional tools and resources into place that would strengthen the security of the public transit services provided.

But implementing security measures while still maintaining an open infrastructure presents an ongoing challenge. Unlike aviation, for instance, public transit must continuously move large numbers of people over short distances in an urban environment. Just consider that New York’s Penn Station handles the same number of people during a morning peak period that Chicago O’Hare International Airport handles in two and one-half days.

Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), like many agencies, has developed a “continuity of operations” plan. “This plan ensures if one of our critical systems or piece of infrastructure is impacted by terrorist or other threats, we have plans in place to ensure continual operations to serve our customers,” said Director of Security Initiatives Randy Clarke.

In addition, many resources are available nationally, including the Public Transit Information Sharing Analysis Center (ISAC) managed by APTA; APTA’s security standards, including standards on infrastructure security, security risk management, emergency management, and cyber security; National Transit Institute training courses such as “Security Awareness Training for Front Line Transit Employees”; and research reports published through the Transportation Research Board, including “Use of Dogs in a Transit Environment,” “Emergency Response Mobilization Strategies,” and “Legal Jurisdiction for Conducting Searches of Customers in a Transit Environment.”

So, what have public transit systems done in these past 10 years?

In general, they have markedly increased customer awareness through a variety of public information campaigns; “hardened” physical structures to make them more secure and better able to withstand explosive devices; initiated protection against cyber security hacking; introduced new levels of technology; and dramatically increased policing programs, department size, and training for all employees. Further, agencies continue to conduct drills to test the capabilities of their personnel, procedures, and technologies.

What follows is just a snapshot of efforts taken nationwide by the public transportation industry in the last decade.

Public Information Campaigns
Nine years ago, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) developed its now award-winning “See Something, Say Something” campaign—since emulated around the country and the world and introduced last July by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano as the department’s campaign.

“We know that our customers are the first line of defense,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay H. Walder, “and have worked to sharpen their awareness for security.” This campaign will continue to appear on television and in print throughout 2011 and 2012.

Across the country, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in Oakland, CA, implemented its “Eyes and Ears” poster campaign—which draws on the “See Something, Say Something” effort. New BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey’s community-oriented policing philosophy encourages all the people who work for the agency, ride the trains, or in any way benefit from BART to participate because helping keep the system secure is in their best interest.

“We’re living in a different world than 10 years ago,” said Rainey. “Whether you’re paid to help run the trains or you pay to ride them, we are trying to create a culture amongst BART staff and our riders that the job of keeping the system safe and secure can’t be done by our officers alone—it’s now everyone's business.”

“The key is, we really rely on the public to work collaboratively with us,” said Marc Littman, spokesperson for Los Angeles Metro. “We’re really pushing the ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign. We’ve made a lot of improvements and we continue to enhance security, but it’s a collaborative effort: the critical component is the public’s cooperation.”

In Boston, MBTA places a heavy focus on its “See Something, Say Something” effort but, according to Clarke, the next phase will concentrate on the latter part of the campaign, encouraging more people to talk to MBTA employees.

This campaign is aimed at the riding public. On the other hand, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) developed an internal program for its employees, “Not on My Shift.”

"Our employees are our first line of defense, so we are telling them: be aware of your surroundings, be diligent, and take pride in the fact that nothing will happen on your shift,” said Wanda Dunham, MARTA assistant general manager for police services and emergency management.

Strengthening Infrastructure and Technology
In the jargon of security, “hardening” means “strengthening”—whether it’s physical hardening, such as New York MTA spending hundreds of millions of dollars hardening its tunnels, bridges, and other infrastructure, or MARTA and MBTA raising the height of their fences, or technological hardening, such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) implementing a chemical, biological, and radiological detection process whose goal is to mitigate the consequences of a release of an agent into the Metrorail system. That process consists of a combination of sensors within rail stations plus hand-held portable detectors carried by all transit police officers.

According to chief spokesperson Dan Stessel, WMATA is the first public transit agency in the U.S. to equip every member of its police force with the detector—roughly the size of a pager.

MARTA has instituted THOR or Target Hardening Operation Response, coordinated through DHS. This term refers to unannounced and unexpected sweeps at stations with MARTA officers and those from other jurisdictions, with canines, through railcars and buses—to talk to people. “It’s a ‘shock and awe’ show of force,” said agency spokesperson Lyle V. Harris.

CCTV Coverage
With the possible exception of the exponential number of transit police hired, the biggest expansion in systems across the country seems to be camera systems and closed-circuit television (CCTV). Los Angeles Metro installed surveillance cameras on its entire bus and rail fleet, rail stations, and other facilities—and most of these are state-of-the-art, pan-tile-and-zoom cameras.

Partnering with the New York Police Department, MTA integrated its efforts to place surveillance cameras at three key transit hubs: Penn Station, Grand Central Station, and Times Square. More than 507 cameras are already online and connected to NYPD’s Command Center. Together with the 900 fare control cameras added throughout the system, MTA now has more than 3,700 cameras online and operational, helping to protect the subways, and several hundred more on the commuter rails and bridges.

WMATA expanded its CCTV deployment, which included installing cameras at each of the 153 station entrances in addition to a comprehensive network of cameras within the system itself.

MBTA also enlarged its CCTV coverage by well over 50 percent. “MBTA has significantly increased physical security systems throughout the transit system to ensure a more robust situational awareness for transit police and the operators control center,” said Clarke.

Taking advantage of the digital age, BART has begun standardizing and digitizing its camera system, with the aim of uniformity.

MARTA’s Live View CCTV program lets agency employees view any rail station at any time. “Before 2008,” said Dunham, “we had about 600 antiquated black-and-white technology cameras. We now have over 1,200 color, state-of-the-art [cameras], and plan to expand our CCTV coverage to 2,000.”

While cameras are still inanimate objects, their latest capability may have some people wondering if they aren’t somewhat human. Through video analytics, they have the capability of alerting personnel to suspicious packages or people. A light will blink and an alarm will sound—one that increases in volume until an official responds. “Its intrusion detection capacity will determine immediately if someone unauthorized is in a secure area,” said Dunham, “so we’re excited about that technology.”

“A lot has been done in the past 10 years in Los Angeles County to enhance safety on buses and trains and in our facilities,” said Los Angeles Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy. “From installing sophisticated surveillance cameras in our rail stations to deploying canine bomb-sniffing dogs and other measures, it’s definitely safer.”

New Programs/Departments/Teams
Many systems have created specialized teams or departments that focus solely on security. In 2009, WMATA added a 20-member anti-terror team devoted to disrupting or deterring a terrorist attack within the Metrorail system. The team conducts surveillance, performs frequent security sweeps of tunnels and stations, increases the visibility of the force, and monitors intelligence, working with law enforcement partners at both federal and state levels.

The Washington system also added an Office of Emergency Management in 2008 that focuses on emergency planning and preparedness, responding to incidents and participating in recovery and mitigation activities. This office works in conjunction with emergency responders throughout the national capital region, providing training for first responders on how to respond to an incident on the Metro system.

Another specialized WMATA team concentrates on explosive ordnance detection team, responding to suspicious packages or bomb threats. Its tools include a bomb robot and portable X-ray machines as well as canines. Also, a Metrobus enforcement division includes 20 officers with responsibility for patrolling bus garages and bus routes in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. In addition to their routine patrol activities, they conduct terrorism awareness training classes for bus personnel.

In the San Francisco Bay area, BART created the On Duty Watch Commander, so a single person is responsible around the clock (in shifts) to report and track security-related information. The people in that position inform the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. BART also developed Critical Asset Patrol Teams, devoted solely to patrolling trains.

Another BART creation is the Integrated Security Response Center, funded by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which replaced and expanded what is customarily called dispatch. It is the day-to-day command center where employees “watch over and make sure of the safety and security of our customers—and the system,” said BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.

Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) purchased the GIA Tracking Bomb Detection Robot—a state-of-the-art explosives and radionuclide detector that detects gamma rays. “In a sense,” said Jerri Williams, chief press officer, “it’s a bomb-sniffing machine—the only one of its kind.”

Discovery of an unattended package on a SEPTA vehicle or property triggers deployment of a Special Operations Response Team that uses the GIA Tracker-XRC to analyze the chemical makeup of the package. SEPTA is working with the manufacturer, Clear Path Technologies, to increase the tracker’s sensitivity.

“Post-9/11, SEPTA’s Transit Police Department has enhanced communications with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and implemented training to enable officers to respond to threats anywhere throughout our 2,200-square-mile system,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “While we hope our officers never have to put their response capabilities on full display, they are ready to do so at a moment’s notice.”

Public transit systems nationwide are using specially trained canines to aid in security efforts, particularly prevention. To name one major example, New York MTA formed the Explosive Detection K-9 unit, which currently deploys 50 K-9 teams throughout the system.

In Washington, explosive detection dogs—trained to detect a variety of odors connected to explosives—work with handlers to conduct random sweeps of trains, stations, and Metro facilities. WMATA received a five-year grant that will enable the system to keep the five canine teams it has now while also adding another five teams.

Los Angeles Metro has a strong uniformed and undercover police presence, augmented by teams of bomb-sniffing dogs and even the nation’s first chemical-sniffing dog.

In 2004, Auburn University’s Canine Detection Training Center launched Vapor Wake Canine, an innovative program using dogs. Auburn, located in Georgia, asked MARTA to be the pilot for this new training.

This program was highly secretive because “no one knew originally if it would work,” Dunham explained. While the standard behavior for a drug explosive detecting dog is for the dog to sit down when it sniffs explosive material, the Vapor Wake Canine receives special training to alert the handler in a non-noticeable way, so there are no disruptions to the public and only the handler will know what the dog has found.

This training, Dunham cautioned, must be partnered with human behavior detection. For example, if a dog indicates explosive material but the individual is wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt—no vest, no backpack, no briefcase—then those cues would likely indicate that a bomb is not present.

This year, Auburn University graduated a class of vapor wake dogs that will be deployed across the country. With TSA having accepted (“embraced,” said Dunham) this technology, from now on every TSA canine will have that capability. MARTA, having hosted the pilot, is working closely with TSA to help develop policy procedures and protocols to roll out this program nationwide.

Across the country, public transit agencies have increased their policing capability—in both personnel and training. The New York MTA Police Department has grown by more than 40 percent, from 543 members to 768 today. This department has also significantly increased its presence on trains and at stations: in 2010, officers patrolled over 5,100 commuter rail trains and conducted over 47,000 random station inspections.

In the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks, WMATA’s police department has grown from 320 to 458 officers. In Atlanta, the number of authorized sworn positions increased from 243 in 2001 to 321 today; in Boston, from 217 to 251.

Transit police officers now receive an array of training in such areas as behavioral detection methods for suicide bombers and how to respond to disasters through the National Incident Management System. BART’s Critical Asset Patrol Team, for example, “has a lot of flexibility and specialized training,” said Sgt. Edgardo Alvarez, supervisor of the team. Also at BART is Lt. Kevin Franklin, acting manager of security programs, whose primary focus is to identify security vulnerabilities and create strategies to shore them up. These strategies could include new training.

Los Angeles Metro’s Transit Services Bureau (TSB) is part of the Sheriff’s Department Homeland Security Division. With a dramatically increased number of officers—such as 44 sergeants today, compared with 26 in 2003—TSB deputies and special units (including K-9) receive training in such areas as Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings, Transit Awareness, and Urban Terrorism.

All these efforts and more by public transportation agencies can best be summed up by New York MTA’s Walder, who said: “The safety and security of our customers has always been the MTA’s top priority, and since 9/11 that has taken on new meaning.”

“Washington was one of the targets on 9/11,” said WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Richard Sarles. “We know from intelligence that transit properties need to remain vigilant in the post-9/11 world, and we are focused on ensuring the safety and security of our customers through a layered approach that uses a combination of police, employees, and technology to keep our customers safe.”

Greg Hull, APTA director-security and operations support, contributed to this story.



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. 

‘The Tide’ Comes In Strong in Norfolk, VA

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

Opening-day crowds for The Tide pack the platform at Newtown Road Station.


Senate’s ‘Moment of Remembrance’

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.

Brookings: 700,000 U.S. Households Lack Transit and Auto Options

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.


DHS Announces $200 Million in Transit Security Grants

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.

MTI Releases Template for State Continuity Plans

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.

SMART Hires Mansourian

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.

Phillips Heads Citrus Connection

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.

Davis Is Interim GM at MBTA

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.

FRA Proposes Changes to PTC Regulations

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.


Batchelder Dies; Former APTA Counsel

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.

Riverside, CA, Receives Federal Energy Grant

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.


APTA Among Sponsors of Mobility Management Partnerships Conference

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

FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff addresses the recent conference of the Partnership for Mobility Management.


EXPO Rally Towel Contest Winner: Around the World and Back Home

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.


Fighting Traffic Deaths: Incomplete Without Smart Growth


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


Philip Klinkon
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.

Eric Widstrand
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.

Paul Casey
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.