Passenger Transport - October 21, 2011
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Lhota to Chair New York MTA; Fernandez, Rae Receive State Appointments

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced Joseph J. Lhota as his nominee to serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA); Nuria Fernandez as chief operating officer of the MTA; and Karen Rae as deputy secretary of transportation in the governor’s office.

Lhota’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate, but he is expected to join MTA as interim CEO within the next month.

“I am pleased to accept the recommendation of the extraordinary search committee and nominate Joe Lhota to be the next chairman and CEO of the MTA,” Cuomo said. “Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers. I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service for New Yorkers.”

Lhota served as the New York City deputy mayor for operations under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and has been a member of the MTA board. He currently serves as executive vice president, administration, for The Madison Square Garden Company.

Fernandez is currently senior vice president of CH2M Hill. She previously served as commissioner for the Chicago Airport System and earlier held executive positions at DOT, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Chicago Transit Authority.

Rae has served as deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration since 2009. She has been deputy commissioner of policy and planning at New York State DOT, deputy secretary for local and area transportation for Pennsylvania DOT, and director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.


Blumenauer: ‘You Are Driving This Effort’ to Rebuild America; Addresses Rail~Volution in Washington, DC

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), one of the founders of Rail~Volution, praised attendees who promote sustainable and livable communities through rail when he addressed the Oct. 18 Opening Plenary Session in Washington, DC.

“I meet people who ask me, ‘You’re still doing this. Why?’ I’m still promoting this cause because of the energy we see here,” Blumenauer told the audience. “You are what is driving and animating this effort around the country.”

He reported on the challenges caused by the current economic situation, stressing that “Rebuilding America is the fastest way to put people to work and help the economy.” He said the reason the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did not work better in jumpstarting the U.S. economy is that it was not ambitious enough, adding: “We’re not borrowing too much money, we’re spending too little.” To make the point, Blumenauer noted that both Presidents Reagan in 1982 and Clinton in 1993 instituted gasoline tax increases as part of a deficit reduction strategy.

APTA President William Millar, who followed Blumenauer at the podium, said to him: “We all come to Rail~Volution to get recharged. Thanks for reminding us of why we’re doing what we’re doing.” Millar announced his Oct. 31 retirement from APTA as president and chief executive officer and introduced his successor, Michael P. Melaniphy, making clear that “APTA will continue to be very supportive of Rail~Volution.”

After noting that the current conference is the 14th one in which he has participated, Millar looked back to 1997, the last time Rail~Volution convened in Washington. “You’ve changed the image of what cities and transportation can be,” he said. “Now, when I sit in a restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue and watch people make their daily commute, I see bicyclists as well as buses and cars.” He also referenced the connection between public transportation and employment: “When more people start to use public transit, that’s because more people are traveling to and from work.”

Millar also picked up on Blumenauer’s comments about government investment in public transportation. He pointed to regions where rail systems have exceeded expectations: The Tide light rail in Norfolk, VA, is seeing ridership levels well above estimates only two months after entering operation, and rider numbers aboard the A Train in Denton County, TX, show that Texans will set aside their personal vehicles if public transit provides good service. Another Texas system—Dallas Area Rapid Transit, headed by APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas, who was in the audience and who Millar recognized—opened its 28-mile, 20-station light rail Green Line in December 2010.

“Politicians say people don’t want more taxes, but is that true?” Millar asked. “At the same time that voters elected many more conservative members of the House, they also voted to raise taxes to support new public transit service; to renew transit taxes; and to purchase bonds that have to be paid back with tax funds.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke about how livability efforts have led to the return of streetcars—which he recalled from his childhood in Peoria, IL. He also reported on the need for federal investments in rail, the importance of freight rail in improving passenger rail service, and plans for true high-speed rail (operating at 200 mph) in California.

“One way to get America back on its feet is to get Congress to pass the American Jobs Act,” LaHood said. “We would hand the American people jobs because that’s what we owe the American people.” The need for rebuilt infrastructure is not a partisan issue, he added: “There’s no such thing as Republican or Democratic roads, bridges, or transit systems. We need to rebuild the next generation of transportation for our friends and neighbors.”

Grace Crunican, general manager of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, served as emcee of the plenary session.



Photos by Susan Berlin

Speakers at the Opening Plenary Session of Rail~Volution 2011, from left: BART General Manager Grace Crunican, who moderated the session; APTA President William Millar; Rep. Earl Blumenauer; and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

From left: APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas, APTA President and CEO-elect Michael P. Melaniphy, and APTA President William Millar talk before the Opening Plenary Session at Rail~Volution.



DOT: $928.5 Million for Public Transit Projects

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Oct. 17 the release of $928.5 million in federal funds to more than 300 public transportation projects in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Funding for the grants comes from the Federal Transit Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Alternatives Analysis, Bus Livability, and State of Good Repair programs.

“Investing in America’s transit systems, rails, roads, ports, and airports will generate tens of thousands of construction-related jobs and put more money in the pockets of working Americans,” said LaHood. “But we must do more. Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act so we can continue to invest in critically needed projects like these, to repair and rebuild our nation’s transportation system.”

“By passing the American Jobs Act.” said FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, who joined LaHood at the announcement, “Congress can accelerate these efforts and give the American people the opportunity to keep more of their paycheck in their wallet rather than hand it over at the gas pump.”

Alternatives analysis projects selected for funding include:

* $1 million to review public transit options for Valley Metro’s five-mile South Central Corridor in Phoenix, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), modern streetcar, and light rail;

* $1.2 million for LYNX in Orlando, FL, to examine the key 21.5-mile east-west segment of State Route 50 between the University of Central Florida and West Oaks Mall, passing through downtown Orlando and connecting with two future SunRail stations; and

* $1 million for possible enhancements to the eastern edge of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s service area, using either Red Line heavy rail or HealthLine BRT.

Bus livability projects include:

* $9.7 million to Los Angeles Metro to reconfigure Patsaouras Plaza in downtown Los Angeles to provide a busway station for El Monte Busway passengers, which will include stairs connecting directly to the city’s Union Station;

* $5 million to Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority to restore the 110-year-old 33rd Street and Dauphin Street bus facility, which is in a state of disrepair; and

* $2 million to St. Louis Metro for the purchase of articulated buses to replace older 40-foot buses on the heavily traveled Grand Boulevard route. The larger buses would provide 30 percent more passenger capacity while avoiding the increased emissions that would result from adding to the number of buses on the route.

State of good repair projects include:

* $30 million to the Chicago Transit Authority to replace buses that are beyond their useful lives with new diesel-hybrid vehicles;

* $15 million to Gold Coast Transit in Oxnard, CA, to fund construction of a new administrative, operations, and maintenance facility to replace the current one, which the agency has outgrown; and

* $1.5 million to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for development of an integrated asset management system that will allow the system to track the condition of its fleet, facilities, and equipment.

FTA selected the grant recipients from 839 project applications representing $4.9 billion. The complete list of selected projects can be found here.

LaHood Won’t Stay for Second Obama Term

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that he will not remain in that post if President Obama is re-elected to a second term.

LaHood told the Chicago Tribune that he will not run for public office again, saying he anticipates “wonderful opportunities” in the private sector after he leaves government. He spent 14 years as a Republican member of the House representing Peoria, IL, and is the sole Republican in the president’s cabinet.

“I serve at the pleasure of the president, and it is an honor to look out for the safety of the American public when it comes to planes, trains, automobiles, and more,” LaHood said in a statement. “Throughout this term, we have also focused our efforts on creating jobs as we rebuild our roads, rails, and runways, and I look forward to working with Congress to pass the American Jobs Act so we can put Americans back to work.”

Metro-North Wins International Rail Design Prize; Seven U.S. Agencies Receive Brunel Awards, Commendations

MTA Metro-North Railroad is the first American railroad to receive the 2011 Jury Prize for Overall Design Excellence, given by The Watford Group and the Center for Industrial Design in Transportation, in the 26-year history of the honor. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood presented the award to Metro-North representatives at the Brunel Awards ceremony Oct. 14 in Washington, DC.

The Brunel Awards are open to all passenger and freight railways throughout the world and recognize and promote the best in railway design and engineering. This year, 43 railways from 15 countries on three continents entered 150 projects in this year’s international competition. In addition to the Jury Prize, the ceremony included the presentation of 20 Brunel Awards and 24 commendations to rail organizations representing 11 countries.

This competition recognizes excellence in railway architecture; engineering; landscape and environmental, locomotive and car, and product design; graphic arts; and corporate branding. The Jury Prize is open only to railroads that enter projects in all five categories: Rail Stations; Technical Infrastructure; Freight and Railroad Support Buildings; Industrial Design, Corporate Branding, Graphics, Furnishings; and Rolling Stock.

Metro-North received the Brunel Award for its Croton-Harmon Locomotive and Coach Shops in the Freight and Railway Support Buildings category.

Its other entries were for Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station (Rail Stations); Operations Control Center (Technical Infrastructure); M8 Rail Cars (Rolling Stock); and MTA Arts for Transit “The Home of the Stars” at Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station (Industrial Design, Corporate Branding, Graphics).

“Considering the caliber of the competition, it was certainly a thrilling and rewarding experience,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut, who accepted the Jury Prize from LaHood. “It was truly gratifying to be recognized for our customer focus, since excellent customer service has always been our most important goal. Everything we do, from designing employee uniforms and enhancing customer amenities to building stations, facilities, and rail cars, is geared toward the goal of providing our customers with the best transportation experience possible.”

APTA President William Millar spoke at the award ceremony event, noting the importance of public transit agencies learning from one another.

He recognized James N. Michel, senior vice president of Marsh USA’s global rail practice and a member of the Brunel Awards committee, and noted that all the winning U.S. rail organizations—including Amtrak, Philadelphia’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, D.C. DOT, Union Pacific, and Norfolk Southern—and four of the honored international agencies—East Japan Railways, Central Japan Railways, German Rail DB, and SNCF in France—are APTA members.

The list of Brunel Award winners and commendations is available online.

Founded in 1963, the Brunel Awards are sanctioned by the Watford Group of International Railway Designers, an organization comprising railway design professionals from 20 countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Honorary co-chairs of the awards committee are Joseph Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administrator, and AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger.


Photo courtesy of Joseph Rago, Amtrak

Representatives of MTA Metro-North Railroad accept the 2011 Jury Prize for Overall Design Excellence at the Brunel Awards ceremony in Washington. From left: Jury Prize Chairman Prof. Ronald Kemnitzer; MTA board member Susan Metzger; Center for Industrial Design in Transportation Chairman James Michel; Metro-North President Howard Permut, holding the prize; Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood; Metro-North Capital Programs Senior Director Timothy McCarthy; recently retired Harmon Shops Project Manager Michael Sickenius; General Chairman, International Association of Machinists, John Lacey; Capital Programs Director-Special Projects Mari Miceli; and Maintenance of Equipment Assistant Chief Mechanical Officer Michael Yaeger.



Capitol Hill Staffers Provide an Inside View of Process

BY CHAD CHITWOOD, Program Manager-Communications

Four senior Congressional transportation staffers offered an inside view of public transportation-related issues at the federal level before an overflow crowd at the “View from Capitol Hill” session during the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans.

Representing the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee were Jim Tymon, Republican staff director, and Jim Kolb, Democratic staff director. From the Senate side were Homer Carlisle, majority professional staff member with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Shannon Hines, minority senior professional staff member for the same committee. J. Barry Barker, executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY, moderated a lively conversation.

Barker kicked off the session by telling the crowd: “We must turn our potential into kinetic energy and work with the elected officials.”

Carlisle, who works with Senate Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD), emphasized that Johnson is a strong supporter of public transportation in many forms, including rural and tribal operations. The senator, he added, also recognizes the vital need for public transportation investment in urban areas.

“Will we rise to the challenge? Sen. Johnson wants to pass a strong, multi-year [surface transportation authorization] bill,” Carlisle said. He continued: “A two-year bill doesn’t do enough and we need to double or triple spending [levels] to get public transit to a state of good repair.”

Hines works with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the banking committee. She admitted that there has not been much movement on the Hill with respect to a long-term authorization bill but added: “Sen. Shelby is adamant that a two-year bill is not the answer.” She said the senator is “drafting a bill with hopes for a full bill and not a two-year extension … [but] Right now though, everyone continues to wait on pins and needles for the report of the [12-member] Super Committee [considering deficit reduction issues].”

Tymon spoke on behalf of both Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of the full T&I Committee, and Subcommittee Chair John Duncan Jr. (R-TN). He called Mica “one of the biggest Republican advocates of transit,” and told the audience, “you are in a good place with him there.” According to Tymon, Mica is working to craft a fair bill but must take into account remaining deficit neutral and not increasing taxes.

“Transit is an easy cut for [House] freshmen because they often don’t hail from cities,” Tymon told the audience. “Bring them out and show them what you do.”

He also said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and others in the House want to re-evaluate and make a robust transit bill reflecting near-current funding levels, but that this effort will require reconciling the position with the rest of Congress.

Kolb, representing both T&I Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), focused on the shift away from bipartisanship, saying that elected officials have reached a point where “compromise is a bad word and everything is driven by crisis.” He stressed that “we need to have an honest discussion of where we go since the Senate two-year bill is the current high-water mark.”

Speaking to the need of public transit advocates to  be involved in outreach, Kolb said: “Transit is number six on everyone’s top five issues list in Congress. They care, but end up focused on other issues.”

While the opinions differed among the four panelists, they all agreed that Congress must pass a long-term surface transportation authorization bill and that transportation advocates must be active in demonstrating to their members of Congress what they need and how the transportation bill will affect them, the communities they serve, and the businesses that supply them.


Panelists in the “View from the Hill” session, from left: Jim Kolb, Jim Tymon, Shannon Hines, Homer Carlisle, and moderator J. Barry Barker.


Desire for Streetcars Powers Recovery in New Orleans

BY STEPHANIE BRUNO, Special to Passenger Transport

At the Oct. 5 Closing General Session of the APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans, a panel of public transportation professionals delivered the message that the city’s rebuilt and growing public transit system is helping to advance economic and physical recovery in the area.

Speakers included Justin T. Augustine III, chief executive officer of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA); Winsome Bowen, associate vice president, AECOM, Atlanta; M. Pres Kabacoff, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of HRI Properties, New Orleans; and Dr. John Renne, director of the Transportation Center at the University of New Orleans’ College of Urban and Public Affairs.

“Before Hurricane Katrina [in 2005], audits of the RTA were causing some concern and there was a question if the system would be able to continue to receive federal funds,” said Sherry Little, former acting administrator and deputy administrator, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and co-founder, Spartan Solutions, Alexandria, VA, who introduced the speakers. "Ridership was declining and the bus fleet was aging. But in a few short years, thanks to a group of visionary local developers and leaders, the system has become a success story.” Little noted that FTA has made the recovery of public transit in New Orleans a priority.

New Orleans currently has three streetcar lines—St. Charles Avenue/South Carrollton Avenue, Riverfront, and Canal Street, with a spur connecting to the New Orleans Museum of Art—compared to the more than 220 miles of streetcar lines that once served the city. Augustine noted that New Orleans operates the oldest U.S. streetcar line, a source of envy for the rest of the nation. “Even [Transportation Secretary] Ray LaHood said it: ‘When other cities see what New Orleans has, they want it too,’” he said.

He described several new streetcar lines planned for New Orleans, with the aim of serving and re-energizing neighborhoods while continuing the city’s post-Katrina revitalization efforts. For example, a new line already under construction on Loyola Avenue will connect the bus and train hub at the Union Passenger Terminal with Canal Street, the business district’s main artery.

The $45 million Loyola Avenue project received federal funding through a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Title I grant, Augustine said. He added that the new line is expected to generate $1.1 billion in economic activity, such as the $240 million renovation and reorientation of the Hyatt Hotel, closed since Hurricane Katrina.

Augustine said a $75 million RTA tax revenue bond will fund a second proposed streetcar line, the French Quarter loop, which will connect with the Loyola Avenue line at Canal Street. No funding sources have been identified yet for a third proposed project, an extension of the existing Riverfront Streetcar Line that would serve the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Kabacoff expanded on Augustine’s theme of connectivity by demonstrating precisely which city assets will be linked by the streetcar projects. “This city grew around streetcar lines,” he explained. “When most of them were removed in the 1960s, neighborhoods started to decline.”

The French Quarter loop will tie together key city assets including the Municipal Auditorium, Congo Square, Armstrong Park, and the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, Kabacoff said, and will provide service to even more destinations if the line extends downriver along St. Claude Avenue. Neighborhoods including Faubourg Marigny, Faubourg St. Roch, Tremé, and the French Quarter would be linked together by the streetcar line, as they were before streetcars were replaced with buses.

“The ultimate goal is urban connectivity,” Kabacoff said.

Another economic boon for the city, according to Bowen, could be the construction of a streetcar construction and maintenance facility that would serve the nation. “Currently, New Orleans is the only city in the nation with the capability of building and maintaining streetcars,” she said.

The session concluded with a presentation by Renne, author of a recent book on transit-oriented development. Echoing the philosophies of his colleagues at the podium, he argued that the presence of public transit drives sustainable urban development rather than vice versa.

“Transit is the key to reshaping our cities into livable, walkable communities, the kind we seek when we go on vacation,” Renne said. “The goal is to be able to abandon the automobile.”

Citing a study by the Downtown Development District of New Orleans, Renne said that 82 percent of New Orleans residents under the age of 30 want walkable, transit-friendly neighborhoods and 50 percent of the general population say they do.  He argued that ever-expanding suburbia is an approach of the past and that the trend now is to live closer to work and to transit hubs.

“If we build the transit, it will draw residents,” he concluded. “We have a shifting of priorities away from suburbia toward transit corridors and the inner city. The trend is not to build new communities farther and farther away from the city center, but toward infill.”


Photo by Ken Bordelon

Panelists at the Closing General Session, from left: Justin T. Augustine III, Winsome Bowen, M. Pres Kabacoff, and Dr. John Renne.



APTF Adds 2 Scholarships

The American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) raised $50,000 for a scholarship in the name of APTA President William Millar, who leaves his position Oct. 31, at the Oct. 1 “Tribute to Bill Millar” that preceded the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans.

In addition, Bombardier has become the first company to join APTF’s “Take Us There” campaign to increase the number of named scholarships.

Raymond Bachant, president of Bombardier Transportation North America, provided a generous check to the foundation during the meeting, fully funding the APTF “Bombardier Transportation Scholarship.” Bachant challenged other companies to join the campaign.


Photo by Linda Reineke

APTF announces during the “Tribute to Bill Millar” that the event had raised $50,000 to support a scholarship in honor of William Millar.


More Scenes from the Annual Meeting and EXPO



Photo by Linda Reineke
BEFORE: EXPO exhibitors unpack and set up their booths before the show floor opened Oct. 3.

Photo by Ken Bordelon
AFTER: Thousands of public transportation professionals visited EXPO during its three days of operation in New Orleans.



Photo by Ken Bordelon
Ann Tardy, founder and chief catalyst of The LifeMoxie Consulting Group, energized the crowd at the Oct. 5 breakfast co-hosted by APTA and WTS. Tardy uses a combination of management skills and behavioral economics to influence change in organizations and individuals. Tectrans sponsored the session.

Annual Meeting and EXPO participants packed conference sessions throughout the program.


It’s Been a Great Ride!


So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu.

You know, no matter what language you use, it’s never easy to say goodbye.

I have to tell you I’m finding it tough to acknowledge that this is the last time I’ll write a commentary for Passenger Transport.

It’s been an incredible journey—these last 40 years in transit, and especially the last 15 at APTA.

I’ve made life-long friendships; I’ve been fortunate to work with thousands of talented people, and sincerely hope I have left a positive mark on public transportation across North America.

To APTA members …
I’ve loved visiting with many APTA members as I traveled to your systems and gone to your offices and manufacturing facilities to meet with you and the fine people who work, govern and use public transportation.

Because, by doing that, I got to see the real backbone of our industry.

I was privileged to see what all of you do—every day—to keep our industry moving forward.

I have also been fortunate to work with hundreds of APTA members who make APTA work. All volunteers, to be sure, and what giving volunteers they are!

I have served under 16 APTA Chairs, 78 different Executive Committee members —and hundreds of APTA Board members, and regular APTA members participating in committees, subcommittees, working groups, technical forums—not to mention such things as awards and EXPOs.

I certainly appreciate your service to our organization. But more than that, I appreciate your guidance, your suggestions, your frankness and your friendship. We accomplished great things together!

To APTA staff …
I also want to thank my incredible APTA staff who work tirelessly year after year to serve our APTA members.

It has been an honor to lead you—and to work alongside you.

I shall miss our all-staff meetings, our office events, our fundraisers—from Toys for Tots to Suited for Change. But most of all, I shall miss my day-to-day interaction with you—from helping advance advocacy campaigns to planning conferences and workshops to strategizing on authorization funding. And just plain talking and laughing with a terrific group of people.

I take pride in …
As you might imagine as I retire from APTA, I have been asked, “What are you most proud of?”

Top of the list—when we honored Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks with our first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. That was a huge moment for me personally—and for all of us in the industry and the nation.

Then there was securing record federal funding for transit investment in TEA 21 and SAFETEA-LU and ARRA. When I started at APTA, annual federal funding was less than $4 billion a year. Last year, even with the tight federal budget, it was more than $10 billion.

So I am very proud to have been part of the process of elevating the status of public transportation on the local, state, and federal level. Proud to have helped make it part of the nation’s conversation.

Proud that we increased the standing and effectiveness of APTA in Washington. Proud of the excellent relationships we have built with FTA, FRA, RITA, TSA, NTSB, and other agencies.

Proud that we expanded APTA’s reach with the 1999 move when our members voted to change the “T” in our name from “Transit” to “Transportation.”

Proud that we grew APTA membership from less than 1,100 to more than 1,550 while shrinking the growth of APTA’s administrative costs and stabilizing the dues rate for five years.

Proud to have delivered 15 balanced APTA budgets—in good times and in bad.

Proud of our advocacy efforts, accelerated through the Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow, or PT squared.

Proud that we took an idea from APTA Chair Les White and turned it into Leadership APTA.

Proud that we have developed and published more than 200 standards to guide our members’ operations.

Proud that you changed APTA bylaws to give business members full membership benefits.

Proud of our contribution to transportation exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Building Museum.

Proud that we expanded EXPO, so it is now the largest public transportation exhibition in the world.

Proud that we have a new focus on high-speed and intercity passenger rail.

Proud of the coalition building we have done with: AASHTO, COMTO, CTAA, ENO, WTS, ARTBA, TRB, AGC, Chamber of Commerce, ITS America, AARP, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of American Bicyclists, and a host of others.

Proud of our workforce development efforts that include reaching out to youth to promote careers in public transportation with Youth Summits, this year’s “Careers with a Purpose” at EXPO, and numerous other activities.

Proud of our international relationships with CUTA, ALAMYS, UITP, ANTP, ASSTRA, and others.

Yes, I’m proud of all these actions and more, that we have done together.

And so, I “bequeath” to the extremely capable Michael P. Melaniphy—your next President and CEO—a solid, strong, focused, forward-looking APTA.

Michael, you have my full support, and that of the excellent APTA staff.

As I begin this new chapter in my life, I will have more time for sailing—one of my passions, which is why I want to share with you some words from Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

That’s what my wife Barbara and I expect to do.

My heart is full, my thanks are many, and—my time here is over.

It’s been a wonderful public transportation ride.

I wish all the best for all of you. Keep up the good work and keep in touch.

Editor’s Note: Bill can be contacted here.


California’s Montebello Bus Lines Celebrates Eight Decades of Public Transit Service

In 1931, a loaf of bread cost 8 cents, gas was 10 cents a gallon, and passengers on the new Montebello Bus Lines paid a nickel to ride one of four buses in the fleet in the city of Montebello, CA, an agricultural community located eight miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The agency has undergone numerous changes on the way to its 80th anniversary. For example, its fleet is 16 times larger than in 1931, serving more than 22,000 passengers each weekday.

Montebello Bus Lines commemorated the anniversary milestone by rolling out three new buses with updated exterior graphics and compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered engines, purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. The remaining funds in the $6.1 million ARRA grant will support construction of a new CNG facility.

The 80-day anniversary celebration has as its theme “80 years of innovative thinking ... an infinite future of green.” Activities include a video and essay contest and an art competition, promoted through social media and interior bus cards.

“We have a deep commitment to the environment, and to providing our customers with the most modern and sustainable transit equipment and technologies available today,” said Aurora Jackson, Montebello Bus Lines director of transportation.

During the anniversary celebration, Montebello Bus Lines received certificates of recognition from the Federal Transit Administration and the city. In addition, the agency presented a special commendation to 86-year-old passenger Helen Cota for being its longest-riding passenger—since 1959.


Displaying one of Montebello Bus Lines’ new CNG-powered buses are, from left, motorcoach operator Mary Mentloe; Helen Cota, a rider on the system for more than half a century; Assistant Director of Transportation Alva Carrasco; motorcoach operator Tony Tucker; and Norwalk Transit General Manager James Parker.


HART Partners with Movie Theaters for Free Rides

Thanks to a partnership with a local multi-screen movie theater, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa, FL, is providing free rides on its TECO Line Streetcar System when the passenger shows his or her ticket stub.

The HART program with Muvico Centro Ybor 20 theaters continues through Dec. 8, and the free ride need not be the same day as the movie. Each ticket stub can be used for a one-trip ride on the streetcar.


It Takes Great People to Move People

BY JERRY PREMO, Global Transit Director/Executive Vice President, AECOM, Orange, CA

Fellow Vermonter and former President Calvin Coolidge said: “The most common commodity in this country is unrealized potential.” When it comes to public transit, he could not have been more right.

But while many believe the key to unleashing unrealized potential in public transit is greater funding or advanced technology, I believe that an equally huge challenge the industry faces has little to do with either of those concerns. The one element the transit industry needs most is already in plentiful supply in our nation: people.

Public transportation is booming. Ridership in the United States is back up above 10 billion trips per year on public transit, the largest number in 50 years.

In addition to posting ridership gains in traditional transit-oriented cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, public transit now also features prominently in cities like Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and St. Louis, to name a few. But perhaps the most striking transformation has taken place in Los Angeles, where a still-evolving multimodal transit network now efficiently moves hundreds of thousands of people—in what is arguably the world’s car-culture epicenter.

From subways to rail to commuter rail to light rail to bus to Bus Rapid Transit, U.S. public transportation has seen a remarkable resurgence over the past quarter century or so. But the change is not just in scope.

Today’s public transit industry is definitely not yesterday’s industry. Systems around the country and around the world are gaining in sophistication by leaps and bounds. New technologies and methods are supplanting dearly held ideas, systems, and practices.

In Vancouver, BC, for example, driverless SkyTrain transit vehicles now ply the city’s transit rails; SkyTrain is among the largest automated operating systems in the world. And one might think that promoting driverless systems would help alleviate the shortage of skilled personnel (the oft-cited human-capital challenge). But that’s not always the case. Because of their sophistication, advanced systems can actually exacerbate the problem of acquiring and retaining the skilled staff needed to operate and maintain those systems.

More sophisticated systems require even better-trained professionals to run them. From engineers and planners to operations and maintenance people, public transit professionals need the training and experience to innovate, operate, and maintain today’s—and tomorrow’s—highly advanced transit systems. And. at a time when our systems demand more from public transit professionals than ever before, transit systems around the country are facing workforce shortfalls that are worse than ever before.

With many long-standing transit professionals retiring, the loss of veteran transit personnel and the intellectual capital that goes with them is palpable. In addition, we haven’t really figured out how to captivate the best and the brightest and draw them into the public transit field. Fortunately, that is changing.

Several progressive organizations have taken the lead in attracting and developing transit talent. APTA serves as a prime example: each year, its Leadership APTA program works to “develop and support the next generation of leaders” for the public transportation industry.

After selecting 25 individuals from among member applicants, APTA immerses them in a year-long program that includes intensive workshops, conferences, class leadership projects, teleconferences, online meetings, and web-based events. The goal: to create a “diverse, broad-based group of industry professionals.”

To date, Leadership APTA has graduated 14 classes with more than 350 graduates. Its mission could not be more vital, especially when you consider a stunning observation made by one of its members.

“Back in 2007, I was part of the Leadership APTA team that proposed strategies for reaching out to the next generation,” explained my AECOM associate Jason Schiedel, who currently serves on APTA’s Human Resources Committee. “Through our research, we discovered that a lot of people in public transportation ended up here by accident.

“When people think of transportation jobs, they think bus drivers and subway conductors,” he continued. “But they don’t really understand the depth and breadth of occupations and opportunities in public transportation. We’re trying to raise awareness about careers in public transportation. We want to generate word of mouth among young people by showing them that public transportation offers many opportunities for a fulfilling career. We want to eliminate the ‘happy accident’ that is the most common route for people to enter public transportation careers. We want young people to choose public transportation.”

Schiedel believes strongly in this issue. In addition to his work with Leadership APTA, he was instrumental in helping lead another initiative called the EXPO High School Program, where APTA partnered with AECOM, Junior Achievement, Veolia Transportation, and the ACE Mentor Program of America to teach 75 New Orleans-area students how to make constructive career and life decisions. This important work was part of APTA’s successful 2011 Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans—and is at the very heart of what needs to be done to enhance the talent pool for public transportation careers.

Another organization making very significant inroads in this regard is the Eno Transportation Foundation, a policy and people development group based in Washington, DC. I’m fortunate to be on the Eno board, so I know firsthand that the organization has been at the forefront of staff development for many years.

Eno has a remarkable leadership training program designed to advance professionals to the upper echelons. And it works: several Eno graduates have gone on to become general managers and deputy general managers at public transit systems across the country. Eno also boasts a new program for mid-level professionals that promises to be a game-changer for that critical stratum.

So strongly do we at AECOM believe in Eno’s work, in fact, that more than a dozen of our transportation professionals have graduated from Eno programs to date.

In addition, the National Transit Institute at Rutgers University conducts specialized classes in a wide variety of activities, ranging from environmental analysis and procurement to financing and project management for engineering projects. The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials also has a superb development program. As previously mentioned, the ACE Mentor Program does a stellar job of providing an introduction and guidance for young people entering the architecture, construction, and engineering fields. The American Public Transportation Foundation has granted a large number of scholarships to advance 21st-century transportation through human development.

Recently, Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, announced 11 grants totaling more than $3 million for people development and training. So, many determined individuals are working to improve the situation, to fight the human-capital predicament. Is it enough? Not by a long shot.

Though public transit is improving throughout the nation, demand is increasing as well. While many systems have new components, other elements are aging rapidly. And not only do system elements need replacement, they need to be transformed to handle this century’s ever-increasing transit challenges.

In addition, all of these systems need live transformation; they need to be upgraded while they continue to serve their ridership. That is going to take a unique combination of executive and technical development, as well as innovative operations and maintenance training—across every aspect of the profession. The challenges are substantial.

Many organizations and individuals are fighting to put public transit on the educational and developmental agenda, but it is still not enough. As transit professionals, we all must do more. Without question, we need to support these current initiatives.

But we also need to create new programs. Empower young people to join with us veterans to speak out. Young people harbor a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm. We need to respect that energy and guide it properly. Working as one, academia, the private sector, and federal, state, and local governments must all step up and create new and exciting programs to develop our young people, who in turn will make the U.S. the world leader in public transit.

Nearly 90 years ago, Coolidge said, “The most common commodity in this country is unrealized potential.” When it comes to the public transit industry, he could not have been more right. But it is up to us to make sure we harness this remarkable human resource and use it properly. We must spread the gospel of human-capital development.

As transit and transportation professionals, we are in the best position to recognize and express the urgent need to have tomorrow’s best and brightest choose our profession. We must develop and train the young people of this nation so that we can realize the transit and transportation potential that exists within our shores.

Premo just completed a term on APTA’s Executive Committee, is a designated business member director on the APTA Board of Directors, and is an emeritus member of the Leadership APTA Committee. He also serves on the Eno Transportation Foundation Board of Directors.


APTA Releases 'Public Transportation Vehicle Database' for 2011

APTA recently released its 2011 Public Transportation Vehicle Database report. This comprehensive, annual report examines revenue vehicles by such fleet characteristics as date of manufacture, manufacturer, model, length, and equipment, representing almost 250 U.S. transit agencies and 15 agencies in Canada.

The report—available in Adobe PDF, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft Excel formats—includes summary tables that group vehicles by mode and list by manufacturer, size, year built, and equipment, as well as a special section on the new vehicle market with orders, planned orders, prior year deliveries, and vehicle costs.

Three more updated APTA reports will be published later this year: the 2011 Public Transportation Fare Database, 2011 Public Transportation Infrastructure Database, and 2011 Public Transportation Wage Rate Report. In the meantime, earlier versions of these reports are still available.

Publications are available through the statistics page of the APTA web site. More information on APTA statistical publications is available from Christie Dawson.

Submit Photos for APTA’s 12th Annual Photo Invitational

Calling all photographers…
Are your public transit photos so good you think they should be on display somewhere important? Then enter the 2011 APTA Photo Invitational. The deadline to submit entries is Nov. 4, 2011, and the winning entries will be featured in the 2012 APTA Calendar.

The invitational seeks photos that depict public transportation’s significance, value, and benefits of opportunity, access, freedom, and mobility, which enable people to accomplish what is important to them, all while making their communities stronger and more vibrant.

Whether it is supporting and creating jobs, forming more livable communities, providing access to older Americans and persons with disabilities, or one of the many other benefits public transportation provides, such as energy independence or environmental advantages, we have a great story to tell—and we need your help to tell it.

How to Take a Winning Photo
Winning photos should show the benefits of public transportation, such as people getting to work, appointments, school, events, or countless other destinations; communities rallying around public transit at events; or the economic benefits of new construction and transit-related jobs.

The best photos depict public transportation vehicles in action with the community and transit employees, in a variety of natural working conditions and seasonal activities, promotions, special events, and diverse types of weather.

Finally, photos should capture human emotion and make the connection of how people or communities benefit from public transportation.

And finally, be creative and have fun!

Remember, the deadline for entering is Nov. 4, 2011. All photos must be submitted via our online entry form. If you have questions, please contact Lesa Rair. For complete details, click here.


Terry Wilcox
JACKSONVILLE, FL.—Terry Wilcox has joined RS&H as vice president and intermodal market leader for its national Transportation Program.

Wilcox has more than 25 years of experience leading marine and intermodal-related programs throughout the U.S., for clients including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Amtrak, and Conrail.

David Morita
ST. LOUIS, MO—St. Louis Metro announced the appointment of David Morita as vice president of sales and marketing. He will lead the agency’s marketing efforts for Metro Transit and its tourism and hospitality businesses.

Morita has more than 20 years of domestic and international advertising, sales, and marketing experience, most recently as senior marketing director for financial services with Wal-Mart. Earlier, he spent more than a decade at the McDonald’s Corporation, rising to the position of vice president of marketing, public relations, and product development in Hong Kong.

William M. Gough
HARRISBURG, PA—Gannett Fleming has named William M. Gough, P.E., a vice president. Based in the firm’s corporate headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., Gough is a project manager in the Transportation Division.

With more than 34 years of experience, Gough is responsible for the design, inspection, and rehabilitation of highway and railway bridges and viaducts.

Jason Ross

BURLINGTON, MA—Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. has promoted Jason Ross, P.E., to director of transit noise and vibration. He previously served the firm as principal engineer and senior consultant.

Ross is currently managing the update of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment Guidance Manual and preliminary engineering of noise and vibration mitigation for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line Extension Project.

James Shao
NEWARK, NJ—James Shao has been named a senior supervising engineer in the Newark office of Parsons Brinckerhoff. He is responsible for the design and specification of power distribution systems for rail and transit facilities and infrastructure.

Shao has close to two decades of transit sector experience, providing electrical design and construction support services for electrical and communications projects on behalf of commuter rail operations for Amtrak, MTA Long Island Rail Road, MTA Metro-North Railroad, MTA New York City Transit, New Jersey Transit Corporation, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and Port Authority Transit Corporation.

David A. Steele

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Urban Engineers Inc. announced the promotion of David A. Steele, P.E., LEED® AP, to vice president.

Steele has more than 20 years of experience and joined Urban Engineers in 2006.

Jeff Mack

DENVER, CO—CH2M HILL announced the hiring of Jeff Mack as director of construction management in the Transportation Group.

Mack joins CH2M HILL from Milender White Construction Company, where he was vice president and manager of work procurement. He has more than 25 years of design-build and construction management experience.

Linda J. Morgan

WASHINGTON, DC—Linda J. Morgan, a former chair of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), has joined Nossaman LLP as a partner in the Infrastructure Practice Group.

Morgan was appointed by President Clinton as chair of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1995, oversaw the transformation of that agency into the STB in 1996, and chaired the board until 2002. Her career also includes serving as general counsel for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and chair of the Transportation Practice Group at Covington & Burling LLP.

Patrique O.W. Lindahl

SAVANNAH, GA—Veolia Transportation has named Patrique O.W. Lindahl chief development officer for the Chatham Area Transit Authority in Savannah.

Lindahl, a native of Sweden, joined Veolia in 2000 and worked as a metro driver and traffic controller for the Stockholm Metro. He was promoted in 2005 to marketing officer for Veolia Transport Northern Europe, based in Stockholm, and in 2008 he joined the Strategic Marketing Team at the company’s headquarters in Paris.

Ahmed A. El-Aassar

HARRISBURG, PA—Ahmed A. El-Aassar, Ph.D., INCE, ASA, has been named a vice president with Environmental Acoustics Inc., an affiliate firm of Gannett Fleming specializing in noise and air quality. Based in the firm’s Lemoyne, PA, office, he serves as a project manager for noise and air quality projects.

With more than 13 years of experience, El-Aassar develops and implements all phases of acoustical analyses, including noise monitoring, impact and mitigation analyses, and noise barrier design for highway and transit and rail projects.

Larry Breeden

OVERLAND PARK, KS—Larry Breeden has been appointed senior vice president of Transportation Certification Services Inc. (TCS).

Breeden comes to TCS after 32 years with Union Pacific Railroad; for the past 10 years, he managed operating practices for the entire rail system. He has also served as president of the International Association of Railway Operating Officers.

Aida Douglas, Dottie Watkins

AUSTIN, TX—Two employees of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro)—Aida Douglas, business development manager/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) officer, and Dottie Watkins, vice president of bus and paratransit services—have been named to the 2011 “Top 40 Under 40” list by Mass Transit Magazine.

Douglas joined Capital Metro in 1999, after multiple years in the government and non-profit sector. She manages million-dollar revenue projects for the agency through transit advertising and development of public-private partnerships, and fosters partnerships with the small business community through the DBE program. She is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2007.

Watkins leads the agency’s new Contracted Services Department, which that will oversee all bus and paratransit contractors and ensure a smooth transition to a new labor structure as mandated by state legislation. She joined Capital Metro at age 19 in 1994, driving a campus shuttle bus part-time while attending the University of Texas at Austin. Most recently she was interim general manager of StarTran Inc., a Capital Metro service provider. Watkins is a graduate of the 2006 class of Leadership APTA.

Michael Hennessey

ORANGE, CA—Michael Hennessey has joined the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors for a four-year term. He succeeds Peter Buffa, who left the board in May after more than five years as a director.

Hennessey has more than 20 years of experience in the Southern California real estate industry. He is currently the principal of Hennessey Group, a real estate development and consulting firm.

Gail Charles-Wright, Martin J. Tompkins, Wendy Williams

LANCASTER, CA—The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) announced the appointments of Gail Charles-Wright as director of finance and administration; Martin J. Tompkins as director of operations and maintenance; and Wendy Williams as marketing manager and public information officer.

Charles-Wright has 26 years of management experience, coming to AVTA from Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA, where she served as chief administrative officer and later as legal regulatory compliance manager. She is an active member of the State Bar of California and has more than 15 years of experience in the transportation industry.

Tompkins has worked closely with AVTA since 2006 as the general manager of Veolia Transportation, the agency’s contracted fleet provider. He has almost 25 years experience in the public transit industry.

Williams has a background in broadcast journalism and video marketing and a longtime resident of the Antelope Valley.

Marlene Connor, Jim McLaughlin
BUFFALO, NY—Wendel announced the hiring of Marlene Connor as director of public transportation planning and Jim McLaughlin as public transportation specialist.

Connor has more than 30 years of experience in both the public and private sector, including serving as administrator of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority in Springfield, MA. Since joining the private sector, she has led many comprehensive transit projects including statewide, regional, and local transit system analysis as well as operational, financial, and organizational plans.

McLaughlin has 10 years experience in the private sector following public sector work for several agencies in the Los Angeles area, including Los Angeles DOT and Los Angeles Metro.