Passenger Transport - November 18, 2011
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BREAKING NEWS

Obama Signs Transportation Appropriations; Congress Takes Actions Before Thanksgiving Break

BY CHAD L. CHITWOOD, Program Manager-Communications and Marketing

Congress had multiple committees and conferees meeting the week of Nov. 14 on public transportation-related issues including appropriations, security, and the economic future of America.

Obama Signs Appropriations Package Including DOT
President Obama signed the three-bill appropriations package covering Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Commerce, Justice, Science on Nov. 18, one day after the full House and Senate approved the legislation. That completes the DOT budget process for Fiscal Year 2012.

The legislation includes an extension of the current continuing resolution to Dec. 16, preventing a partial government shutdown that would have occurred Nov. 18. Congress needed to pass this extension, and Obama to sign it, to avoid a potential showdown of federal agencies not included in the bill package.

The proposal provides the Federal Transit Administration with $10.6 billion, a 3 percent increase over last year’s appropriations level, and increases funding for formula and bus grants while also raising New Starts funding levels 22 percent.

Public Transit Security
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence approved two bills by voice vote, sending them on to the full committee.

The bill with larger implications for public transit systems is H.R. 3140, introduced by the ranking member of the subcommittee, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). If approved by the full committee and Congress, this legislation would direct the secretary of homeland security to prioritize the assignment of officers and analysts to certain state and urban area centers to enhance the security of public transportation systems across America.

The second bill, H.R. 2764, addresses the need to maintain weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technical expertise in DHS’ intelligence division and create better intelligence sharing among homeland security organizations to protect and support state, local, and tribal authorities in security matters dealing with WMDs.

America’s Fiscal Future and Infrastructure
The Senate Budget Committee was also busy during the week, holding a Nov. 15 hearing addressing the economic effects of fiscal policy choices. Dr. Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified at the hearing, which focused on short-term spending issues.

Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) also addressed long-term infrastructure spending. He discussed the impacts of infrastructure spending, with Elmendorf conceding that, over the longer term, infrastructure investment is a more favorable policy option.

Speaker, House Committee Chairs Announce Five-Year Surface Transportation Bill to Be Funded Through Energy Exploration

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his support for a five-year surface transportation authorization bill on Nov. 17. He was joined by a number of Republican House members including Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA).

The bill is framed as a jobs bill encompassing energy as well as public transportation and highways. Details as to when this bill may be debated in the T&I Committee are unknown, although many reports indicate that House Republicans aim to have the bill on the House floor before the end of the year. Details on the spending levels and revenues are also not available.

Republican leaders have indicated that the bill would use energy revenues from a variety of domestic production initiatives to support the Highway Trust Fund. Uncertainty remains concerning the political prospects of attaching infrastructure to oil and gas drilling.

For more information, refer to the APTA Legislative Alert available here.

DOT Announces More than $100 Million for Innovative and Clean-Fuel Transit Projects

On Nov. 17, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today announced $112 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding for 46 innovative transit projects selected for their capacity to help cut the nation’s dependence on oil and create a marketplace for 21st -century “green” jobs.

FTA selected the projects through its competitive Fiscal Year 2011 Sustainability Initiative, which includes funding from the Clean Fuels Grant Program and the TIGGER III (Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction) Grant Program. Clean Fuel Grants support projects that will help communities achieve or maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and carbon monoxide while supporting emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses. TIGGER III grants go to projects that can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while providing a return on the investment.

“The Federal Transit Administration is tapping into American innovation and ingenuity to develop and build leading edge energy efficient transportation technologies,” said FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff. “These continued investments help combat the pain commuters feel at the gas pump and curb the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that pollute the air we breathe.”

The complete list of successful proposals can be found here.

SunLine Transit Agency Unveils Seventh-Generation ‘American Fuel Cell Bus’

The SunLine Transit Agency in Thousand Palms, CA, unveiled the “American Fuel Cell Bus,” a seventh-generation hydrogen-fueled vehicle that the agency notes is the first such vehicle to meet Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Buy America requirements, at ceremonies Nov. 14 at its headquarters.

FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan, keynote speaker at the event, said of the vehicle: “We now have a prototype that can continue to advance in the areas of global warming and energy independence. We’re very excited to see that happen.”

The 40-foot fuel cell bus—with an exterior design of flowing stars and stripes, representing its U.S. birthplace, and the bald eagle, symbolizing strength and freedom—will operate on various SunLine routes, serving passengers throughout the Coachella Valley.

“SunLine’s leadership in hydrogen technology continues today with the unveiling of the American Fuel Cell Bus, marking a significant milestone for the agency and for the entire nation,” said SunLine General Manager C. Mikel Oglesby. “Commercialization of these advanced technologies is part of the agency’s ongoing strategy to lead this industry and serve our communities in the Coachella Valley and beyond.”

While Buy America certification only requires 60 percent domestic content, the new vehicle features more than 90 percent American-made components.

Private and public funds for the development of the American Fuel Cell Bus came from BAE Systems, FTA, the California Air Resources Board, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and El Dorado National as well as the transit agency. CALSTART is serving as contract administrator for the federal funds used in the project.

SunLine has invested in seven generations of hydrogen fueled vehicles in addition to other infrastructure efforts that include onsite hydrogen production and fueling capabilities. Further, the California Division of Measurement Standards is conducting a Type Evaluation Program of SunLine’s hydrogen dispensing system that may establish the agency as a commercial public fueling site for hydrogen.

 

Posing in front of SunLine Transit Agency’s American Fuel Cell Bus are, from left, SunLine board members Glenn Miller, Yvonne Parks, and Chairman Eduardo Garcia; FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan; SunLine General Manager C. Mikel Oglesby; and board members John J. Benoit and Bill Powers.

 


 

Washington, Prendergast Join APTA Executive Committee

During the 2011 Executive Committee retreat in Savannah, GA, the APTA Executive Committee named Phillip A. Washington, general manager of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), and Thomas F. Prendergast, president of MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit), as members-at-large of the committee.

They succeed Jay H. Walder, who stepped down Oct. 21 as chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and will become chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors of the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong on Jan. 1, 2012, and James Weinstein, executive director of New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit), who stepped down from the executive committee following the election of NJ Transit board member Flora Castillo as vice chair.

RTD named Washington its general manager in December 2009, a position he held on an interim basis for the previous six months. Prior to that, he was the agency’s assistant general manager of administration for nearly 10 years.

Washington earlier served 24 years in the U.S. Army, retiring with the rank of command sergeant major (E-9)—the highest non-commissioned officer rank an enlisted person can achieve.

Prendergast was a former president of MTA Long Island Rail Road and senior vice president of subways with NYC Transit before assuming his current post in 2009. He has more than 30 years of transportation experience, beginning with the Chicago Transit Authority and working at the Federal Transit Administration before originally joining the New York City agency in 1983. He worked in the private sector from 2000 to 2008, then became chief executive officer of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink) in Vancouver, BC, before returning to NYC Transit.

APTA Members, Staffer Honored for Achievements in Public Transportation

More than 30 APTA members were honored recently for their professional achievements. Metro Magazine profiled the “Top 10 Women in Transportation”—leaders who excel in their field—as well as 24 “Movers and Shakers,” which the magazine defined as “influential people in the public transportation industry on both the public and private sides, from small businesses to large municipal agencies,” in its recent September/October issue.

Included in the former category of this annually presented showcase is Rosemary Sheridan, APTA vice president, communications and marketing; included in the latter category is APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Melaniphy.

Sheridan joined APTA in 1998 after many years with New Jersey Transit Corporation, where she started in the 1980s as a publications writer—and left as head of its press and media relations office. While there, she helped implement an emergency response team, an effort that won APTA’s Innovation Award in the early 1990s.

Since her arrival at APTA, Sheridan has focused on advocacy and information outreach, setting a goal of increasing APTA’s visibility and highlighting the importance of public transportation nationwide.

Out of the 24 movers and shakers, all are APTA members. Of the Top 10 women, eight are APTA members.

Below are the individuals honored by Metro Magazine. All the “movers and shakers” are APTA members.


Public Transit “Movers and Shakers”
* Justin T. Augustine III, vice president, Veolia Transportation, New Orleans, LA
* J. Barry Barker, executive director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY
* Doran Barnes, executive director, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA
* Jeffrey Boothe, partner, Holland & Knight, Washington, DC
* Joseph A. Calabrese, chief executive officer/general manager/secretary-treasurer, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland, OH
* Flora Castillo, board member, New Jersey Transit Corporation, Newark, NJ
* Debbie Cotton, public transit director, City of Phoenix, AZ
* Julie Cunningham, president/chief executive officer, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Washington, DC
* Joni Earl, chief executive officer, Sound Transit, Seattle, WA
* Carolyn Flowers, chief executive officer/public transit director, Charlotte Area Transit System, Charlotte, NC
* Huelon Harrison, principal, Legacy Resource Group, Dallas, TX
* Angela Iannuzziello, vice president, transit and transportation planning, GENIVAR, Markham, ON
* Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, San Diego, CA
* Arthur T. Leahy, chief executive officer, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles, CA
* Guillaume Mehlman, managing director, Alstom Transportation North America, New York, NY
* Michael P. Melaniphy, president-chief executive officer, APTA, Washington, DC
* Jerome Premo, executive vice president, global transit/rail director, AECOM, Orange, CA
* Elizabeth Presutti, general manager, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, Des Moines, IA
* Michael J. Scanlon, general manager/chief executive officer/executive director, San Mateo County Transit District, San Carlos, CA
* Patrick Scully, chief commercial officer, Daimler Buses North America, Greensboro, NC
* Paul Smith, executive vice president sales and marketing, New Flyer Industries, Winnipeg, MB
* John Somers, vice president, transit business development, Clean Energy, Seal Beach, CA
* Gary C. Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dallas, TX
* David L. Turney, chairman and chief executive officer, DRI Corp., Dallas, TX

“Top 10 Women in Transportation”
* Vasti Amaro*,
senior vice president of eastern operations, Tectrans, Los Angeles, CA
* M.P. Carter*, commissioner, Memphis Area Transit Authority, Memphis, TN
* Terry Garcia Crews*, chief executive officer/general manager, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, Cincinnati, OH
* Katrina Heineking*, general manager, Sun Tran/Sun Van, Tucson, AZ
* Janlyn Nesbett-Tucker, chief executive officer, Topeka Metro, Topeka, KS
* Karen Rae*, deputy administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, Washington, DC
* Donna Shaunesey, executive director, JAUNT, Charlottesville, VA
* Rosemary Sheridan*, vice president, communications and marketing, APTA, Washington, DC
* Judie Smith*, regional vice president for southern California, MV Transportation, Fairfield, CA
* Patricia Ziska*, vice president of sales and marketing, private sector, Motor Coach Industries, Schaumburg, IL

*APTA members

MATA Celebrates Opening of Airways Transit Center

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) celebrated the grand opening of its environmentally friendly Airways Transit Center, at the intersection of Airways Boulevard and Brooks Road in Memphis, TN, on Nov. 8.

The new 30,000-square-foot facility is a hub and customer center in that portion of the city for MATA buses. It also is the new Greyhound intercity bus terminal for Memphis, replacing its decades-long home downtown on Union Avenue.

Greyhound Lines Inc. has moved its entire operation from the downtown facility to the new site.

“This beautiful new facility represents a great step forward for MATA, as well as the city of Memphis,” said William Hudson, MATA president and general manager. “We are proud of the features and conveniences this building offers visitors and the enhanced routes we now can deliver to MATA customers.”

Hudson called the transit center “a plus for our ridership today and a glimpse of what is to come in the near future, with links to the Memphis International Airport nearby and intercity travel available in the same building.” In the future, MATA may add shuttle service to and from the airport, which is less than two miles away.

MATA owns the terminal. Greyhound Lines Inc. is the major tenant and will manage the facility, which also includes space for the Memphis Police Department.

The total cost of the project, including property acquisition, demolition, and design, is about $15 million. The construction cost is approximately $11.5 million.

Initially, about four routes and 200 MATA buses will enter and exit the center on a typical weekday. The site includes four canopy-covered bus berths for MATA, as well as 16 berths for Greyhound.

The facility houses a large passenger waiting lobby, restrooms, a MATA customer service center, Greyhound’s administrative offices, driver operations area, and meeting rooms. Another amenity is a food court area with both full-service and self-serve availability for customers.

Green Innovations
MATA is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the building through the United States Green Building Council. If successful, the project will become one of the first public LEED-certified buildings in Memphis.

Designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, the transit center features flooring made from recycled glass, a roof designed to reflect heat during the summer, landscaping that requires small amounts of water, low-flow lavatories and water closets, and interior lighting controlled by sensors to reduce usage.

Situated on approximately nine acres, the facility offers 70 spaces of free customer and employee parking, with room for expanded parking if demand grows. Space is also provided for taxis.

The décor of the Airways Transit Center includes public art procured through a collaborative partnership with the Memphis Urban Art Commission. The art, a montage that hangs from the ceiling and features displays of unique shapes and colors, greets visitors as they enter the front.

The artwork was created by Walter Kravitz, a professor of painting and drawing at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, who is nationally noted for his work involving public commissions and exhibitions.

Lhota Joins New York MTA as Executive Director

Joseph J. Lhota joined New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as its executive director on Nov. 14.

“The MTA is the engine that drives our economy and makes our way of life possible here in New York, and we have a responsibility to operate our service as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Lhota.

He noted the agency’s fiscal and operating challenges, including funding for vital capital programs and continuing service improvements in tough economic times. “My focus in the next couple of months,” he continued, “is understanding this organization from top-to-bottom, and listening to our employees, customers, and community leaders as we work together to shape an agenda and improve this vital service for all New Yorkers.”

Most recently, Lhota was executive vice president, administration, for The Madison Square Garden Company. He was deputy mayor for operations under New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, overseeing day-to-day management of the city and supervising city agencies, and has served on the MTA board.

Holcomb Promoted to CEO in Bridgeport, CT

Douglas Holcomb, an 11-year employee of Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT) in Bridgeport, CT, has been promoted to chief executive officer. His previous position was planning and service development officer.

Holcomb succeeds Ron Kilcoyne, who left GBT in July to become general manager of the Lane Transit District in Eugene, OR.

“We’re very pleased to have someone of Doug’s caliber to lead GBT,” said Laurie Goodsell, chairwoman of the GBT Board of Commissioners. “Public transportation is becoming an increasingly important part of the job creation, economic development, and sustainability initiatives in our region, and Doug’s background, experience, and commitment to the region will be a tremendous asset in expanding mobility options for the region’s residents.”

Holcomb began his 25-year career in public transportation in Boston at the Central Transportation Planning Staff, part of the Boston area Metropolitan Planning Organization. He also worked for the Greater Hartford Transit District in Hartford, CT.

He has served on the Connecticut Public Transportation Commission and is a member of the Connecticut Association for Community Transportation, Transit for Connecticut Coalition, the American Institute for Certified Planners, and the Board of Directors for Leadership Greater Bridgeport.

MacNeil Heads South Carolina’s Pee Dee RTA

The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA) in Florence, SC, has named Charles (Chuck) MacNeil as its executive director. He succeeds Janice Baroody, who retired following 16 years with PDRTA, five of them as executive director.

MacNeil most recently served as deputy executive director of operations at the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, NY, and earlier was administrator and chief executive officer of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority in Pittsfield, MA. He began his 30-year career in public transportation as a bus driver while an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts.

“We’re very pleased to have someone of Chuck’s caliber to lead the authority,” Baroody said. “PDRTA is experiencing record demand for public transportation, and we believe that Chuck’s background and experience will be a tremendous asset in meeting the need for increased transportation choices for Pee Dee residents.”

Dr. Rosalyn M. Simon Memorialized with Award, Plaque

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), in conjunction with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Easter Seals Project ACTION, and APTA, recently presented the first annual award in memory of Dr. Rosalyn M. Simon (1946-2011). The award will recognize transportation industry professionals who have made meaningful contributions to the advancement of accessible transportation through education, training, and advocacy.

WMATA Board Chair Catherine Hudgins explained: “Dr. Rosalyn Simon dedicated her life to the empowerment of people with disabilities, and she was a recognized leader, educator, and friend of the disability community. In recognition of her many contributions to the public transit industry, Metro has established a special award that will honor those who have followed Dr. Simon’s example in serving with distinction and promoting the accessibility of Metro to the Washington metropolitan area.”

Simon was a former WMATA employee and an internationally renowned Americans with Disabilities Act expert. Christian T. Kent, WMATA assistant general manager for access services, presented the first Dr. Rosalyn M. Simon Award to Monica Simon, daughter of the award’s namesake and the “other half” of Simon & Simon Resources Inc.

“Dr. Simon was an inspiration to so many of us, and we are truly thankful for the opportunities we had to work with her,” Kent said. “We are the beneficiaries of her outstanding work and generosity of spirit, and this award ensures that her contributions will be remembered.”

As part of the ceremony, APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Melaniphy and Pamela Boswell, APTA vice president-program management and educational services, presented Monica Simon with a commemorative plaque.

“Through her commitment to addressing the transportation needs of people with disabilities, Dr. Simon brought together the disability community and the transit industry to focus on solutions to ensure accessible transportation for all,” said Melaniphy.

 

Monica Simon, center, receives a plaque commemorating the institution of the Dr. Rosalyn M. Simon Award from APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Melaniphy and Pamela Boswell, right, APTA vice president-program management and educational services.

 


 

Remembering Veterans in North America on 11/11/11


Photo by TTC/Mike DeToma
On Nov. 11, the Toronto Transit Commission commemorated Remembrance Day in Canada by providing free rides to decorated Canadian war and peacekeeping veterans who showed their service medals and ribbons. TTC veterans and pensioners who gathered in a subway station are, from left, Jim McGuffin, Gordon Paterson, Gord Break, Donald Elliott, Jack Knowles, Robert Massena, Cyril Hutchinson and current employee/vet Fern Taillefer.


The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (GDRTA) welcomed the Junior ROTC Color Guard from Trotwood High School—located in a city served by GDRTA—to conduct a Veterans Day flag-raising ceremony in the parking lot of the transit center in downtown Dayton, OH.

Aesch: Working Together Means Moving Forward

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

U.S. public transportation agencies find themselves trying to do more with less—and the future prospects are uncertain. How can they make the most of what they have and succeed in difficult times?

“They need to have the courage to make the decisions necessary in order to be a high-performance organization,” said Mark Aesch, who oversaw a shift from deficit to surplus during his tenure as chief executive officer of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority (RGRTA) in Rochester, NY—a position from which he retired earlier this year.

“You don’t run five straight years of surpluses, cut fares as we have, or reduce your reliance on taxpayer dollars by 36 percent if you haven’t changed the culture substantially,” Aesch stressed. “You’ve got to change that culture all the way through. Quite honestly, I couldn’t have imagined that the public employee unions would feel comfortable enough to connect their performance to their pay. Yet here we are; we’ve done it.”

Aesch also is taking his message beyond RGRTA. He authored Driving Excellence, which describes the process through which employers and employees can become partners in creating positive results.

He is straightforward in his aims: “My goal is to try to transform public-sector management to get agencies to work at a higher level.”

“So many public agencies—transit systems, school systems, city governments—struggle to figure out how to make ends meet; my book offers the opportunity to help people perform at a higher level,” he said. “I think the message of the book is this process isn’t unique to a transit system by any stretch. While I’m very proud of what we’ve done, the message is that the way we’ve managed this is easily applicable to others that have the courage to make the decisions necessary to become a high-performance organization.”

He explained that his journey toward writing the book began in 2008, after RGRTA made the counterintuitive decision to reduce its fares. “People were really starting to pay attention; many systems were raising fares and these crazy people in Rochester were cutting them,” he said. “I knew my personal passion was to try to get higher-performance public sector management generally. I thought that writing a book would be the best vehicle for sharing these ideas.”

Driving Excellence has been a success since its publication, according to Aesch. The book placed at the top of Amazon.com’s list of new business releases and fourth among all leadership books. In addition, it was cited by CNN Money as one of the Top 5 Business Books You Can Use for 2011.

“With people regularly saying public agencies should be run more like a business, this ranking from CNN Money shows that people are now saying that businesses have a model to be run more like a public agency!” Aesch said.

“The book has a message far beyond public transportation,” he emphasized. “It’s about high-performance management. I’ve received a great response from private-sector leaders, so clearly it’s a message that runs through management generally.”

Following his retirement from RGRTA, Aesch founded a consulting company called Envisurage and joined Parsons Brinckerhoff as a senior advisor.

“I want to get inside transit systems, counties, and cities and help them with their strategy development and performance management systems,” he said. “Then they can build toward sustained success and achieve wonderful things without having to ask the taxpayers for more money.”

APTA NEWS

BMBG to Hold Meeting Jan. 11-13 in Indian Wells, CA

APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors (BMBG) will hold its first meeting of 2012 Jan. 11-13 at the Hyatt Grand Champions Hotel in Indian Wells, CA.

”This is an important meeting not only for the board members, but for all interested APTA business members to attend,” said BMBG Chair Chuck Wochele. “We will be talking about the status of transit funding in Congress and what business members can do to influence those decisions that are critical to our industry. And there is a lot that business members can and need to do to get Congress to act on the funding that our industry needs,” he added.

The agenda also will include a discussion of the new focus areas that APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas and APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Melaniphy are working on—as well as an update from several transit CEOs in the region.

“We make time in our January meeting to hear from the APTA leadership and several transit CEOs so that we can better understand the issues that the industry is working on and how APTA’s private sector can be supportive of those efforts,” Wochele said.

In addition, there will be meetings of the business member government affairs, procurement, programs, business development, member outreach and liaison, and small business committees. All meetings are open to any interested APTA business member and, as before, private sector networking will be encouraged.

Hotel reservations must be made by Dec. 10 to ensure that APTA members can be accommodated in the room block. Registration and hotel information for the meeting is available here.

For additional information, contact Fran Hooper.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

Travel Channel Spotlights St. Louis Metro

The Travel Channel featured MetroLink, St. Louis Metro’s light rail system, in a recent episode of its series Off Limits. The show follows host Don Wildman as he takes viewers behind the scenes and inside U.S. locations and landmarks they would never be allowed to explore.

While the main focus of the program is the city’s historic Eads Bridge, co-owned by Metro and the city of St. Louis, it includes footage of Wildman on board MetroLink talking with Eric Fields, Metro senior project manager in engineering, and walking down the tracks toward the inner portions of the bridge.

Wildman, accompanied by a crew from Authentic Entertainment, rode MetroLink to the Arch-Laclede’s Landing Station and met with Fields, who shared the history of the Eads Bridge—which opened in 1874 and crosses the Mississippi River between St. Louis and East St. Louis, IL—and the role of the riverfront in the development of St. Louis. Wildman then put on a safety harness and climbed out on the bridge while dangling over the Mississippi River with a bridge inspector.


 

GCRTA Opens Rail Station in Slavic Village Neighborhood

For the first time, the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland has its own rail station—the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s (GCRTA) East 55th Street Rapid Station. In the past, residents had to cross a busy intersection and walk directly to the tracks to board GCRTA’s rapid transit vehicles.

The $9.4 million facility, accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, stands on the southeast corner of I-490 and East 55th Street, which is the same side of the street as the residential area. East 55th is unique because it is one of the few locations that serves the Red Line as well as the Blue and Green lines, connecting east side and west side transit, and also offers bus connections.

GCRTA received extensive community input for the design of the new station, which incorporates colors and details that echo churches and architecture in the area. The modern design looks to the future of the surrounding neighborhood, with a stone façade similar to the many churches in the vicinity.

Also new to the site are a parking lot; an entrance that allows buses and automobiles to drop off passengers right at the door of the station; a center platform, more than 800 feet long, that allows convenient transfer among the rail transit lines without riders having to cross the tracks; and a pickup/dropoff loop where cars and buses can connect with rail service.

Public art surrounds the facility, with the structure’s purple and cement façade serving as an artwork itself. Art featured includes a mural titled “Space, Speed and Time,” along with red figures that appear to move as a train arrives and departs the station.

Denver RTD Earns Regional Honor for FasTracks

The Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence (RMPEX) Program recently honored Denver’s Regional Transportation District with the Foothills Award for excellence in sound management and systems practices in its FasTracks program. RMPEX is a non-profit effort based on the national Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

For the past seven months, RTD provided information on how it manages the rail and bus expansion program, including interviews with FasTracks staff. RMPEX examiners evaluated the program on its key work processes, which include systems planning, procurement, quality oversight, project controls, public information, real estate management, and hazardous materials management.

RTD has received a written feedback report detailing what the RMPEX examiners believe are the program’s strengths and opportunities for improvement.

COMMENTARY

Transit Systems in Peril: Why Care?

BY NEAL PEIRCE

Why should we spring for the multibillions of hard-to-find dollars that the experts say are necessary to patch up America’s essential—but often deteriorating—public transportation systems?

It’s straightforward, argues the New York-based Regional Plan Association (RPA). Transportation, it asserts, isn’t just a question of patching a few potholes or cleaning dirty subway cars. It’s a matter of the national future—whether our economy hums or shrinks, carrying our standard of living down with it.

Illustrating its point, RPA cites the case of America’s top 10 transit regions, among them New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta. Collectively, the 10 regions represent a third of America’s economic output and a quarter of our population. And they’re projected to grow 26 percent—90 million people—in the next 30 years.

But most of them are seriously in arrears in vital transit system maintenance and upgrading. That’s dangerous because today’s congested roadways have made transit indispensable to people’s movements and the regions’ economies.

And that’s not just true for New York, long America’s transit leader, which went through a “near-death experience” in its fiscal crisis of the 1970s. It later recouped with massive transit investments, yet now lacks a transit capital program for the next three years.

In Chicago, where the transit system provides over a half billion rides a year, funding is so thin that about 40 percent of the stations and 68 percent of its railcars are technically past their useful life. In Boston, just paying off the debt service on bonds equals all fare revenues. Atlanta’s MARTA system will see its backlog of essential system upgrading rise from $1.3 billion to $3 billion if the region fails to pass a transportation referendum in autumn 2012.

Overall, RPA board chair Elliott “Lee” Sander told a Washington Post Live conference on transportation this month, the transit backlog of the top cities is about $50 billion—with only $5.4 billion a year being spent to deal with it.

Let the transit systems slip too far, the RPA warns, and future development will be diverted to outer-ring suburbs accessible only by highways, adding to congestion and energy consumption—a “failure profound for the United States in terms of global competitiveness, job growth, livability, equity and climate change.”

The cause of U.S. transit systems both large and small has long been championed by the American Public Transportation Association, which reports that despite last year's nationwide transit increase of 85.7 million rides, to 5.2 billion, about 80 percent of systems were forced to raise fares or cut service.

Today’s tea party-impacted Republican majority in the U.S. House shows little sympathy. Recently the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee proposed a 37 percent cut in federal transit assistance. Should it pass, notes [former] APTA President William Millar, lack of job access will have a “chilling effect” on economic recovery.

But now RPA plans a first-ever “regions-up” campaign to work with transit officials, business and civic leaders in the 10 lead transit regions to promote robust local funding strategies for their systems. Beyond that, it plans to lobby opinion leaders and the states’ members of Congress to note the dangers in reduced major transit system service.

The stakes are nothing less, RPA President Robert Yaro insists, than reversing the disinvestment in the top regions that are so deeply dependent on transit: “These regions are the centers of the nation's entrepreneurship, economy and science. Letting them fail through mobility failure would take a big chunk of the nation's economy down with them. We can't let it happen.”

And there are real fears. “We’re in danger of a slow agonizing slip to the bottom,” Richard Sarles, CEO/general manager of the regional agency which runs the Washington region’s Metro system, told the Post Live conference. “We have a $6 billion commitment” for improvement from the local governments, he said, “but without federal help that’s just Band-Aid repairs”—especially in a region expecting an added 1.5 million people in the next 30 years.

But waiting for today’s Congress to react creatively may be like waiting for Godot. And it’s not just the tea party: Note, for example, bipartisan political cowardice to raise the gas tax (even while gyrations in global oil prices dwarf any likely increase anyway).

But there is wealth in the regions. If Congress is stalemated, regions need to gin up their own constituencies to pay more. Los Angeles, with its 2008 vote to fund 13 transit and 15 highway capital projects, set a model. Landmark state bond measures in New York and Illinois have helped. Georgia broke with a history of anti-urbanism to allow next year’s Atlanta transit sales tax vote.

Bottom line: A fresh tide’s flowing. With luck, the RPA national campaign will add new momentum.

Contact Neal Peirce.
©2011, The Washington Post Writers Group

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Charles Frazier
WEST PALM BEACH, FL—Charles Frazier has joined Palm Tran as its assistant director.

Frazier began his career with Palm Beach County 11 years ago in the Department of Community Services, moving to Information System Services in 2004 and, most recently, serving as director of electronic services and security for facilities development and operations.


Percival Buxhoeveden
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Percival Buxhoeveden has joined SYSTRA as assistant chief engineer/director of systems.

Buxhoeveden has more than 26 years of leadership in the development of new client relationships, both market/business development expansion and team leadership. He will provide technical direction to SYSTRA’s Systems practice, which encompasses train control, communications, and systems engineering.

He comes to SYSTRA after serving as a principal-in-charge/signal designer with a major engineering consulting firm. His clients included MTA Long Island Rail Road, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and New Jersey Transit Corporation.

Randy M. Stedman
PORTLAND, OR—The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) announced the appointment of Randy M. Stedman as executive director of labor relations and human resources.

Stedman comes to TriMet from Workplace Practices Group in Lake Oswego, OR.



Norma Navarro, Nevin Grinnell

DALLAS, TX—Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has appointed Norma Navarro vice president, commuter rail, and Nevin Grinnell vice president and chief marketing officer.

Navarro began her career with DART in 1990 and has served in several capacities, most recently assistant vice president, commuter rail administration.

Grinnell joins DART after more than 20 years in marketing, primarily in the food and beverage and consumer products sectors. Most recently he was senior vice president of marketing for the NCH-Retail Product Group, responsible for company strategy and new product innovation.

Pattie Antich, Melissa Cutter, Tina Moschetti
LOS ANGELES, CA—Stantec has named Pattie Antich as senior project manager, Melissa Cutter as project engineer, and Tina Moschetti as California transportation chief of staff and contracts manager.

Antich has extensive experience with project management, construction management, engineering management, quality control, and permitting within design-bid-build and alternative design-build delivery methods. She has worked on numerous Los Angeles Metro projects.

Cutter has served on a variety of Los Angeles-area public transit, highway, and road projects, including a number of major design-build projects.

Moschetti has more than 25 years of project management, business, contracts, cost, and finance experience, working most recently for a major engineering and management firm as program manager serving the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Joseph Bonaduce, Bryan D. Clarke, Bradley J. Clarke
VALLEY FORGE, PA—Joseph Bonaduce, Bryan D. Clarke, and Bradley J. Clarke have joined Gannett Fleming Transit & Rail Systems.

Bonaduce, based in the firm’s Philadelphia office, is a signal and system integration services manager. He has 36 years of experience in systems engineering and integration with an emphasis on design construction supervision and installation of railroad and transit systems.

Bryan Clarke, a signals project manager in the Valley Forge office, has 37 years of signal system development and management experience.

Bradley Clarke joins the Newark office of Gannett Fleming as a signals project manager with 34 years of experience in transit and railroad signal system designs, engineering, and engineering management.





Charlie Clarke
SALEM, OR—Salem-Keizer Transit announced the appointment of Charlie Clarke as fixed route operations manager.

Clarke comes to Salem from the Lane Transit District in Eugene, OR, where he was operations supervisor for six years.
 

Chris Hines

SEATTLE, WA—Zonar announced the hiring of Chris Hines as executive vice president.

Hines has more than 25 years of financial and technological experience in the transportation industry, working most recently as president and chief operating officer of the Celadon Group. He also was president and chief executive officer of Tripmaster Corporation (now Mix Telematics) and earlier was president and chief executive officer of Atipical Holdings, a business he founded, focusing on transportation finance and technology mergers and acquisitions.


Mike Birch

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—IndyGo has promoted 16-year employee Mike Birch to director of human resources.

Birch joined IndyGo as a road supervisor and worked in a variety of positions including human resources and, most recently, director of security, safety, and training in the Operations Division.

Matthew Cahill
WASHINGTON, DC—B&I Transportation Consulting LLC has named Matthew Cahill manager of business development.

Cahill has a background in transportation research and strategic marketing, including experience at the Federal Transit Administration.



John Danish, Robert Strauss, Loretta Ellerbe, Richard Carrizales
DALLAS, TX—Irving attorney and longtime community leader John Danish has been elected chair of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors. He succeeds Bill Velasco of Dallas.

Danish was appointed to the DART Board in 2005. An attorney in private practice, he is a former Irving city councilman, deputy mayor pro tem, and former chairman of the Irving Planning and Zoning Commission.

Board members also elected Robert Strauss vice president, Loretta Ellerbe secretary, and Richard Carrizales assistant secretary. Officers serve one-year terms.

Strauss, a 2005 Dallas appointee to the Board, is a partner in the Texas-based law firm of Strasburger & Price, LLP. His primary areas of practice are real estate, housing, and finance.

Ellerbe was named to the board in 2008 by the Plano City Council, of which she is a former member. She chairs the Operations Committee of the DART board.

Carrizales joined the board in 2010, representing Dallas. He is past president of the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas and a past board member of the Dallas Volunteer Center, Dallas Bar Association, and Dallas County Youth Village Foundation




Robert A. Dennison III

ALBANY, NY—VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture, P.C., has named Robert A. Dennison III, P.E., former New York State DOT chief engineer, as its New York regional director for transportation design services.

While at New York State DOT, Dennison was third in command responsible for the state’s $1.6 billion annual capital construction program. He has worked in the field for more than 35 years and received the Federal Highway Administrator’s Public Service Award for 2011.

Raymundo Delgadillo
FORT WAYNE, IN—Raymundo Delgadillo has joined Citilink as its maintenance manager.

He previously served as maintenance manager for Fairfax County, VA, and earlier held several maintenance positions with the Chicago Transit Authority.




John Ravasio
CINCINNATI, OH—Metro in Cincinnati has named John Ravasio its labor relations and employment law manager.

Ravasio previously worked since 2005 as an attorney for Veolia Transportation, focusing on labor law, grievance arbitration, and client counseling. He has been a lead negotiator for numerous public transit labor contracts throughout the U.S.


Claire Celsi
DES MOINES, IA—Claire Celsi has been named to the new position of director of marketing and community partnerships for the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART).

Celsi has experience marketing businesses, government entities, and nonprofits throughout the Des Moines region. In addition to her marketing and public relations career, she has served on the boards of multiple civic organizations and has taught business and public relations at Drake University, her alma mater. Most recently she owned and operated her own business, The Public Relations Project LLC.

Robert Saldana, Carl Weckenmann, Rosa Villarreal
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—The Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority announced the appointments of Robert Saldana as director of procurement; Carl Weckenmann, AICP, as director of planning; and Rosa Villarreal as director of operations.

Saldana come to the agency with experience from the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Agency, and Aramark Uniform Service.

Weckenmann has 10 years of experience in transit planning, most recently as transit system planner for the Fort Worth Transportation Authority. He has also worked for public transit systems in central Oklahoma and north Texas.

Villarreal previously served the system as director of human resources and was senior human resources analyst for the city of Corpus Christi. She has almost 15 years of human resources experience.