Passenger Transport - December 16, 2011
Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Cincinnati Metro’s Glenway Crossing Transit Center are, from left, Metro operator Orlando King; Troy Miller, president, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627; Terry Garcia Crews, Metro CEO and general manager; Sean Rugless, board chair, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA); Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls; Jessica Pauley, representing Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young; Greg Hartmann, president, Hamilton County Commissioners; Joe Vogel, Ohio DOT; Dr. Margaret Gutsell, SORTA board vice chair; Mark Policinski, executive director, OKI Regional Council of Governments; and Metro operator April Cruse.
On Dec. 15, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a total of $511 million in grants for 46 transportation projects—29 percent public transportation-related—through the third round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER III) program. The announcement comes months ahead of schedule.
Public transportation projects receiving funds are: Chicago Transit Authority, $20 million for Blue Line rail; Charlotte Area Transit System, Charlotte, NC, $18 million to expand LYNX light rail; VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, $15 million for development of the city’s first multimodal transportation hub; Illinois, $13.8 million for an intermodal transportation center adjacent to the Alton High-Speed Rail station; Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, $12.5 million for infrastructure support; Cincinnati, $10.9 million for a streetcar project; Philadelphia, $10 million to upgrade 100 transit signals on three transit arteries; Seattle’s Sound Transit, $10 million for extension of a light rail line; and Hennepin County (MN) Regional Railroad Authority, $10 million for a new station and passenger platform.
These funds are in addition to direct appropriations to the public transit program.
Photo by Beth Berkemer
On Dec. 9, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus donated back to the community 49 bikes that had been left on buses over the past several months. After 60 days, COTA tags the bikes for pickup by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, a local nonprofit that feeds the hungry and addresses other basic needs. During the holiday season, local firefighters spruce the bikes up as part of the “Firefighters 4 Kids” program before distributing them as Christmas gifts. Firefighter Doug Smith displays several of the bikes in the COTA bus garage.
For the first time in nearly 45 years, New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) is hosting ferry service at its historic Hoboken Ferry Terminal—part of NJ Transit’s Hoboken Terminal, the largest multimodal terminal in the New York City metropolitan area.
The two-story, 29,000-square-foot ferry terminal opened in 1907 and was designed by architect Kenneth M. Murchison in the Beaux-Arts style. Constructed by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, the terminal building has an ornate copper-clad façade and, in the large main waiting room, stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The terminal combines commuter rail, light rail, ferry, bus, and pedestrian facilities.
However, the ferry terminal facility fell into disrepair following the shutdown of ferry service in November 1967; it was added to the National and New Jersey registers of historic places in 1973. Its reopening for service is the culmination of a nine-year, $120 million redevelopment and rehabilitation project managed by STV Inc.
The process wasn’t an easy one: each step had to comply with the secretary of the interior’s standards on modification of historic buildings and all work required approval from the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.
The design team provided architectural and engineering services for the rehabilitation of the Hoboken Ferry Terminal in three phases, beginning with underpinning and replacing the north wall in anticipation of renewed ferry traffic.
In Phase Two, completed in 2008, the team provided design services that restored the highly ornate copper-clad east and south exterior façades of the ferry terminal and replaced the historic clock tower, which had been removed in the 1950s because of structural deterioration.
The goal of Phase Three was to incorporate infrastructure components that would allow for ferry operation while preserving the historic character of the building. These features include gangways, barges, a steel and glass wind screen system, and ferry operations support spaces—all designed with a raw, industrial character in keeping with the tone and feeling of the historic building interior.
The carbon footprint of high-speed rail can be up to 14 times less carbon-intensive than car travel and up to 15 times below that of aviation, even when measured over the full life-cycle of planning, construction, and operation—according to two new research reports conducted by Systra for the International Union of Railways (UIC) that also demonstrate the speed, reliability, comfort, and safety benefits of high-speed rail.
The primary report, High-Speed Rail and Sustainability, examines the social, economic, and environmental aspects of high-speed rail performance and makes a compelling case for the mode’s major advantages in all three areas. The accompanying background report, Carbon Footprint of High-Speed Rail Lines, considers carbon emissions as part of case studies of four high-speed rail lines, two each in Europe and Asia, assessing each route in the planning, construction (track and rolling stock), and operating phases.
For example, UIC shows that carbon dioxide emissions on the high-speed Méditerranée line from Valence to Marseille, France, average 11 grams per passenger kilometer, compared with 151.6 grams for a car and 164 grams for air travel. The environmental “payback” time for this route—the length of time it takes for the emissions saved by the impact of the new high-speed services to overtake the additional emissions produced through the line’s construction—is just 5.3 years.
The reports also present how high-speed rail supports and helps economic development in the cities linked by its routes. The French city of Lille reported a 15-fold increase in the number of tourists in the 13-year period after construction of a new inner-city high-speed station to help stimulate regeneration of the city.
The text of High-Speed Rail and Sustainability can be found on the UIC web site, while Carbon Footprint of High-Speed Rail can be found here.
Nearly 90 percent of U.S. residents over age 65 want to “age in place”—stay in their homes for as long as possible—but they need transportation options if their plans are to succeed, according to Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices, a new report from AARP and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
AARP and NCSL worked together to identify the state transportation policies, as well as those governing housing and land use, that can make this choice work best for them. Specifically, Complete Streets measures enacted in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico can provide improved access for all street users, regardless of age and ability, and states such as Idaho and Montana have instituted policies that ensure access to services in rural areas
“State legislators will continue to grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented by significant growth in the older adult population,” the report states. “Without changes in how communities are constructed and services are delivered, older adults may find it increasingly difficult to live in their communities and may have to consider institutional care. This could mean increased costs for states. State policy makers may consider the above strategies to facilitate aging in place, which people overwhelmingly prefer.”
The full text of the report is available here.
Ansaldo STS (ASTS) has named Thomas P. Lawton as its new president and chief executive officer, based at the company’s North American headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA. He succeeds Dr. Alan E. Calegari, who is leaving the company.
Lawton is a veteran member of the ASTS USA executive management team who has served as its general counsel since 2001.
This change comes as a result of an April 2011 reorganization of the company, focusing on streamlining efficiencies globally to better serve customers in an increasingly competitive global rail transportation market.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit in Colorado Springs, CO, has named Craig Blewitt its permanent director. He had served on an interim basis since the start of 2010.
Blewitt formerly served the city of Colorado Springs as comprehensive planning manager and transportation planning manager. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Illinois.
St. Louis Metro, in partnership with the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC), is operating the Holiday Magic Train through Dec. 31. Joining Snowflake the snowman—CVC Holiday Magic mascot—outside the specially decorated MetroLink light rail train are Metro President & CEO John Nations and CVC President Kitty Ratcliffe.
From the challenges of higher fuel costs and decreasing revenue to the efforts to obtain a long-term, multimodal surface transportation authorization bill, this has been a formidable time for the public transportation industry. To cite just a few examples, this was a year when:
* Los Angeles Metro became the largest bus fleet operating exclusively with alternative fuels when it retired its last diesel bus.
* Proterra completed construction of its first all-electric bus at its facility in Greenville, SC.
* The Brookings Institution recognized Honolulu for its extensive public transportation coverage for working-age residents in its report, Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America.
* MTA Metro-North Railroad became the first U.S. railroad to receive the 2011 Brunel Awards Jury Prize for Overall Design Excellence in the 26-year history of the honor.
* Following tornadoes in mid-April, St. Louis Metro donated 1,000 transit passes to St. Louis County for distribution to residents left without means of transportation.
This was also a year when we said farewell to Bill Millar, APTA’s president for more than 15 years, and we welcomed Michael P. Melaniphy, APTA’s newly elected president & CEO.
Inside this Passenger Transport Year in Review issue, you will find stories that cover industry events and actions; photos from throughout the year; contributions from several APTA Executive Committee members; and a page devoted to new APTA members. A new feature highlights a specific benefit APTA offers—in this case, forums that encourage online member participation.
And with that, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!
BY CHAD CHITWOOD, Program Manager-Communications
Throughout 2011, APTA and its members worked hard to increase federal investment in public transportation.
APTA’s legislative agenda focused on enactment of a multi-year, multimodal surface transportation authorization bill. The 2010 elections had brought a divided Congress that meant significant changes in Washington; however, APTA fought to make sure that the public transportation industry was front and center on the federal agenda.
To get the full picture of 2011, however, the lay of the land begins with the elections that brought a new majority to the House of Representatives and installed new rules and committee chairs. The election of a Republican majority in the House and a six-seat loss by Senate Democrats, who retained a 53-47 majority, set a new tone in both houses of Congress with much greater focus on spending reductions.
Between the 2010 elections and the start of the new year, Congress passed another appropriations Continuing Resolution (CR) and another extension of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) authorizing legislation, both of which extended existing law through March 4. The one bright note for transit advocates during the lame duck session was passage of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act, which extended through the end of 2011 an alternative fuel tax credit used by public transit systems and the transit commute benefit at the $230 monthly level.
The new Congress convened in January 2011 and APTA initiated a 100-day plan to help educate the more than 90 new members of the House on the benefits of, and need for, adequate investment in the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure. It was a focal point of APTA’s annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, in March, with APTA members making an unprecedented effort to visit all members of the new Congress.
In February, President Obama released a budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2012, including a surface transportation authorization proposal that would dramatically increase federal funding for public transit programs to $22.4 billion and provide $8 billion for high-speed and intercity passenger rail. Also that month, APTA participated in meetings with Rep. John Mica (R-FL), the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I).
In March, Congress passed, and the president signed, the seventh extension of SAFETEA-LU, continuing the federal transit program at FY 2010 levels for the balance of the fiscal year, through Sept. 30. Congress also passed several more appropriations CRs, finally passing a full FY 2011 omnibus appropriations bill in mid-April, which funded public transportation programs at $10.3 billion. This appropriations bill reduced funding for the New Starts program to $1.6 billion, a cut of $400 million, but it also maintained funding for the public transit formula programs funded from the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund at the previous year’s level of $8.3 billion.
On a related topic, APTA and its members continued to advocate vigorously on issues related to a requirement in current law to implement positive train control (PTC) on the nation’s commuter railroads, explaining the need for federal funding to implement PTC systems that are as yet largely untested. In March, testifying before the House T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, APTA made a strong case for federal funding for PTC implementation, also noting the difficulties in obtaining radio spectrum and functioning technology in time to meet the law’s deadline.
APTA representatives also testified on authorization issues before the T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and before the T&I Railroads Subcommittee on the need for increased federal funding.
In April, the House passed an FY 2012 budget resolution that would have restricted overall spending available to T&I for a new surface transportation authorization to funding levels that could be supported by Highway Trust Fund revenues, which are deposited into separate Mass Transit and Highway accounts.
The following month, the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) issued a joint statement on a draft surface transportation authorization proposal to fund public transit and highway programs over six years at $339 billion, essentially the current funding level with modest inflationary increases. In June, EPW Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) proposed an alternative two-year bill rather than fight funding constraints linked to a six-year bill.
Meanwhile, the House T&I Committee proposed the outline for a bill consistent with the House-passed budget resolution that prohibited any revenue increases, which would have required a cut of 30 to 35 percent in the federal public transit and highway program over the next six years.
June and July were long months in DC, with almost all the debate focused on raising the debt ceiling and reducing annual budget deficits. The debate ended with the creation of a Super Committee and a November deadline for legislative budget cuts. The Super Committee failed to meet its deadline and it is unclear if or when the “trigger cuts” will be implemented.
As discussions continued to evolve, Mica also announced that he had begun work on a six-year bill that would fund public transportation at or near current levels. A proposal to use oil fees was also being considered as part of the process of drafting this bill.
In September, Congress passed a six-month extension of the long-overdue surface transportation authorization bill, through March 31, 2012. This was a positive step forward and APTA continues to urge Congress to pass a well-funded, long-term authorization as quickly as possible.
A session at the 2011 APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans featured a panel of senior legislative staffers from the authorizing committees in Congress. APTA’s members used the opportunity to discuss what is happening on the ground with those who work with members of Congress on a daily basis on funding and regulatory issues.
Michael P. Melaniphy was unanimously elected as the new APTA president & CEO, effective Nov. 1. He quickly got up to speed on legislative issues in meetings with Mica, T&I Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman James Duncan (R-TN) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Tom Latham (R-IA), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. Melaniphy also has met with Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a member of the committee.
In addition to these Capitol Hill meetings, APTA staff held many meetings with major transportation coalition partners, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-based Americans for Transportation Mobility, to ensure the continuation of advancing long-term authorization legislation.
November also saw the EPW Committee marking up the highway title of a surface transportation bill. Boxer has set passage of this bill as a top priority for the committee in the coming months. While progress has been made, passage of the bill before the end of the calendar year will not occur.
Finally, as Passenger Transport went to press, APTA continues to work with Congress on end-of-year tax extenders legislation, including the extension of the larger transit commuter tax benefit and extending the alternative fuels tax credits.
Looking ahead to 2012, the second session of the 112th Congress will reconvene in late January, pushing most major legislative work into February. APTA anticipates the House moving forward with its version of a surface transportation bill and expects to see a rail title coming out of the Senate Commerce Committee early in the year.
The current extension of SAFETEA-LU expires March 31, 2012, making it imperative for Congress to pass a long-term surface transportation authorization bill or else face a vote on a ninth extension.
Rob Healy and Joni Zielinski Carlton contributed to this story.
BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor
The Communications and Marketing Department contributed in making the case for how critical public transportation is to all Americans and how it benefits everyone. In a down economy, and as gas prices fluctuated, APTA took the opportunity to create a variety of materials and events including advertisements, petitions, surveys, and brochures, and held an array of activities—all focused on the message that public transit creates and supports jobs, and can help bolster the economy.
Social Media Outreach
Throughout the year, APTA expanded its social media presence to reach out to even more people and disseminate its message.
This Spring the association launched a new Facebook page – Public Transportation – and in just a few months the page soared to more than 100,000 “likes.” These followers are passionate, engaged, and ready to act. Our Twitter handle – @APTA_Transit – has more than 1,300 followers.
All this means that APTA has instant access to tens of thousands of people who have expressed a strong interest in public transportation advocacy. It also greatly expands APTA’s outreach capabilities through such initiatives as sending letters to Congress and participation in local events. For example, APTA generated thousands of letters to Congress speaking out against cuts in public transportation.
APTA partnered with the American Road & Transportation Builders Association to launch a radio and television ad campaign featuring former Presidents William J. Clinton and Ronald Reagan. The commercials, which were distributed nationally and locally in the Washington, DC area, took a bi-partisan tone and were aimed at inserting transportation investment into the ongoing congressional debate about the federal budget and future investment priorities.
Gas Prices Study/Radio Media Tour
APTA held a national radio media tour featuring several public transportation general managers who discussed an APTA study, “Potential Impact of Gasoline Price Increases on U.S. Public Transportation Ridership, 2011-2012.” This outreach garnered stories in more than 20 major national and local print outlets, including 24 segments on radio stations from Los Angeles to Atlanta.
Don’t X Out Public Transportation Day
“Don’t X Out Public Transportation Day” was the advocacy effort of a national rally day and call to action highlighting the drastic effects a 35 percent cut to federal transit funding would have and the need for increased investment in public transportation.
Working with our partners Transportation for America, Reconnecting America, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and the Transport Workers Union, rally events were held in more than a dozen locations, including major hubs at Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Providence. Media coverage included The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Hill, Streetsblog, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Progressive Railroading.
Public Transportation’s New ‘Green’ Stamp
Public transportation’s “green” contributions to the nation were recognized with a new stamp released by the United States Postal Service. APTA partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency on the commemorative stamp to raise awareness of simple actions everyone can take to conserve natural resources and promote the health of their environment.
Online Buyers’ Guide
APTA introduced its new Online Buyers’ Guide, a user-friendly tool for the public transportation industry that provides instant access to vendor resources.
The interactive guide—available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—allows public transit professionals to easily locate APTA members’ products and professional services geared to bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services, high-speed rail, and more by providing hyperlinks, multiple search capabilities, and rich search results. Additionally, the guide will help increase supplier exposure in the marketplace.
Dump the Pump
APTA held its 6th Annual National Dump the Pump Day in June. More than 125 public transit systems, state transit associations, and vendors highlighted the environmental, economic, and energy-saving benefits of taking public transit.
APTA also produced its annual Green Travel Forecast. The summer edition surveyed more than 34,000 people nationwide about their summer travel plans and intent to use public transit. Survey results received frequent media coverage in travel stories, enabling APTA to reach new audiences. APTA continued its monthly outreach with the Transit Savings Report promoting the use of public transit as the demand for services increases.
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), managed by APTA, continued its outreach and dissemination efforts this year by exhibiting at more than 40 venues, including state association conferences, the Community Transportation Association’s EXPO, and Rail~Volution.
The program also selected 18 new ambassadors to serve as liaisons to the industry by participating in events and visiting transportation providers to inform them about the wide variety of solution-based research products TCRP makes available. The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials manages the TCRP Ambassador Program. Lastly, TCRP’s Dissemination Program will have a fresh look in 2012 with a new web site design and marketing materials.
BY PETRA MOLLET, APTA Vice President-Strategy, and RICH WEAVER, APTA Director of Planning, Policy, and Sustainability
This year, APTA’s focus on “greening” the public transportation industry continued to gain ground as increasing numbers of members participated in the APTA Sustainability Committee and annual workshop.
The committee, headed by Chair Kevin Desmond, general manager, King County Metro Transit, and Vice Chair Susannah Kerr Adler, vice president/national director-transportation facilities, URS Corporation, aims to support the adoption of sustainable principles (economic, environmental, and social) in the industry and to articulate public transit’s contributions to local, regional, state, and national sustainability and livability objectives.
Recently, the committee developed a draft White Paper to communicate what the “Social Pillar of Sustainability” means to the public transportation industry.
Its latest focus is on eco procurement: incorporating sustainability into procurement practices. One specific area of focus is how a transit agency can convey its sustainability needs for a particular project or product in a Request for Proposal.
A major effort of APTA’s sustainability work has been developing the APTA Sustainability Commitment launched in 2009—a volunteer agreement to lay the foundation for a solid sustainability program within an organization. To date, more than 80 APTA public transit agency and business members have signed on. To support signatories, committee members are developing standards on how to measure key sustainability indicators (metrics) such as carbon emissions, energy, and water use.
This year, TransLink, the regional transportation authority in the Vancouver, BC, metropolitan area, became the first signatory to the APTA Sustainability Commitment to achieve gold status. Clean electricity, new equipment, an increase in ridership, and a brand new rapid transit line that met its marks within weeks of opening all contributed to the agency’s achievement.
TransLink’s successes included cutting diesel fuel use by 1.28 million liters, largely based on its Idle Free campaign that had drivers turn off their buses at depots/exchanges when stopped for longer than three minutes, and curbing energy use in facility by 16 percent (per passenger kilometer) through energy retrofits and other changes to improve energy efficiency.
BY ART GUZZETTI, APTA Vice President-Policy
As much as any year in recent memory, 2011 posed policy and funding challenges to public transportation providers and businesses. Even as a tough economy kept budgets tight, public transit systems across the country saw ridership gains, system growth, and positive results at many ballot boxes. The public transportation industry again demonstrated a sense of resiliency, culminating in a year of much advancement.
Transportation Considered a National Issue
The Obama administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget on Feb. 14, calling for a doubling of the annual federal investment in public transportation and investment of $8 billion a year in high-speed and intercity passenger rail. Policy themes reflected in the budget included program consolidation, state of good repair, performance management, expedited program delivery, and innovative financing.
APTA worked closely throughout the year with the administration and provided input in each area, hosting joint webinars to discuss these issues and to help members understand programs in the president’s proposed American Jobs Act.
During a major speech on America’s energy strategy March 30 at Georgetown University, President Obama acknowledged public transportation as a central part of a national strategy.
Ballot Initiatives, Funding, and Public-Private Partnerships
Throughout 2011, voters around the country endorsed the need for public transportation in their regions, approving 22 of 28 transit ballot questions, a success rate of 79 percent. The November election included transit victories in Clark County, WA; Cincinnati, OH; Durham, NC; and a statewide measure in Washington State. The results complemented earlier wins in communities including Grand Rapids, MI; Raleigh, NC; and Stark County, OH.
One of the largest federal loans ever to a transit project—$280 million—went to Denver’s Eagle P3 project pursuant to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). This project is the first of its type to encompass a comprehensive public-private partnership that includes design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of the project.
APTA also developed “An Inventory of Criticisms of High-Speed Rail: Suggested Responses and Counter Points,” which provides information to counter any misinformation.
With the decline of Congressional earmarks, uncommonly large amounts of discretionary funding have become available over the past several years. DOT awarded more than $2.6 billion across modes through its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. Public transit systems also competed for funding through other discretionary programs. This new business climate brought the need for public transit agencies to be more proactive in their pursuit of discretionary funding opportunities.
Several surveys conducted by APTA throughout the year confirmed how challenging 2011 was for transit systems and businesses.
A March survey assessing the continuing impact of the tough economic times found that 80 percent of public transit systems were forced to implement fare increases or service cuts due to flat or decreased local and state funding. Meanwhile, nearly three out of four private sector businesses’ activity decreased or remained flat based on lack of public transit investment, with more than half of those companies reporting that they would lay off workers or cut hiring. Another survey helped gauge the adverse impacts caused by the absence of a long-term surface transportation authorization bill. Still another looked at the would-be impact of cuts proposed at the time by the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In addition, APTA’s new vehicle database demonstrated a continuing trend toward cleaner energy. APTA summarized its various databases in the annual Transit Fact Book and published funding information in the Transit Funding Primer.
New APTA reports released during the year helped highlight new regional governance models for public transportation, quantified the contributions of public transit to reduced congestion, and identified ways the TIFIA program could work better for transit.
Projects sponsored by APTA’s business members in 2011 included “The Case for Business Investment in Public Transportation” and “The Case for Business Investment in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail.” Why should investors look to public transportation businesses to make investments? These reports show that market trends over time have been quite favorable and point to a future of considerable growth.
Federal policy for high-speed and intercity passenger rail has been enacted in pieces through a series of federal bills. These include Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and several federal transportation appropriations bills.
Because advancement of a national system of high-speed and intercity passenger rail requires enactment of longer-term legislation that authorizes a federal program, APTA adopted a set of principles for such legislation and developed draft legislation based on that bill. The principles address federal formula funding, the grants process, and other aspects of the federal program.
New Policy Initiatives
The National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA) has an expanded network that regularly receives information updates and delivers webinars and action calls. NAPTA also awarded a total of 17 advocacy grants to local transit coalitions to help them promote the need for transit in their communities. Networks to most states are also in place through APTA’s State Affairs Committee, which convenes a conference call each month.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) launched its Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative this year, enlisting APTA as a partner in helping shape the program and communicate its objectives. APTA also partnered with the Mobility Management and Metropolitan Planning Capacity Building initiatives, as well as with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for its sustainable communities initiative. The transit industry, through APTA, provided comments to DOT in a number of federal rulemaking efforts, including Project Management; New Starts/Small Starts; Environmental Justice; and Title VI (Civil Rights).
APTA’s policy focus in 2011 was reflected throughout the year in the content of the association’s conferences and workshops. In addition, APTA staff organized specialized workshops and webinars covering transit-oriented development, transit referenda, public-private partnerships, and economic sustainability. In September, a workshop conducted in cooperation with APTA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and the Federal Highway Administration focused on performance-based planning and advancing best practices.
In June, APTA and the Center for Transportation Excellence brought together many communities considering transit elections for a conference in St. Louis, MO, site of a successful 2010 ballot initiative. This year, FTA co-sponsored APTA’s Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop, convening a special session on adaptation to the impact of changing weather patterns.
Both rail and bus modes of public transportation saw notable advances during 2011. Actions affecting U.S. public transit systems included federal funding for specific projects, ridership growth, and action toward implementing high-speed rail.
Significant FTA Support
On Dec. 12, Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), visited Draper, UT, to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) awarding $116 million to the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) for a 3.8-mile extension of TRAX light rail. The event was held at the site of the future Draper Town Center TRAX Station.
The new light rail line will extend from downtown Salt Lake City into the suburb of Draper; construction is already underway and expected to be completed in December 2013.
FTA began 2011 by advancing $182.4 million in New Starts funding for seven public transit projects already under construction in New York, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Northern Virginia for heavy, light, and commuter rail.
The funding was as follows: $44.3 million for MTA Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access project; $40 million for MTA New York City Transit’s Second Avenue Subway; $22.7 million for Sound Transit’s University Link light rail line in Seattle; $20.6 million for the Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) Mid-Jordan light rail project; $19.8 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Dulles Corridor heavy rail line from Tysons Corner to Reston, VA; $17.8 million for Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Northwest/Southeast Light Rail; and $16.5 million for UTA’s FrontRunner North commuter rail line.
In a February media conference call, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff recommended new public transportation projects for funding in FY 2011. That list included six new projects eligible for New Starts funding, in Denver; Honolulu; Minneapolis-St. Paul; San Francisco; and New Britain-Hartford, CT. It also added four new projects eligible for Small Starts funding: bus rapid transit (BRT) in Oakland, CA, and along Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco; BRT for Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, NY; and BRT for West Seattle.
Midyear, the FTA provided more funding through existing FFGAs: Denver’s West Corridor light rail line, $40 million; MTA Long Island Rail Road East Side Access, $215 million; MTA New York City Transit Second Avenue Subway Phase I, $197 million; DART Northwest/Southeast light rail minimum operating segment, $86 million; UTA, $100 million for Mid-Jordan light rail and $80 million for Weber County-Salt Lake City commuter rail; Northern Virginia, Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Extension to Wiehle Avenue, $96 million; Seattle University Link light rail extension, $110 million; and St. Paul-Minneapolis Central Corridor light rail, $45 million.
What follows is an overview of the continual progress in strengthening and extending the reach of public transit in communities across the country.
Hampton Roads Transit in Virginia Beach, VA, opened its TIDE light rail system with 7.4 miles of track, and Denton County Transportation Authority in Lewisville, TX, opened its A Train system with 21 miles of track across northern Texas.
DART in Dallas expanded the Green Line by 24 miles last December. When their new extension is included, the result is that Dallas has the largest light rail system in the country.
Salt Lake City had two extensions: as of August, there were more than 15.7 new miles of track on the Mid-Jordan and West Valley Lines within the TRAX system. Both these extensions were delivered ahead of schedule and under budget, and have shown strong ridership.
These alone accounted for 68 miles of new rail!
Rogoff visited St. Paul, MN, April 26 to present a ceremonial check for half the cost of Metro Transit’s Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The FFGA between FTA and the Metropolitan Council contractually committed the federal government to paying $478 million, or half the total cost of $957 million.
The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) in Portland celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first light rail line, Eastside MAX, with events Sept. 1 in Portland and Gresham, OR. The 15-mile Eastside MAX line was the first built in the region and only the third modern light rail line in the U.S. when it opened in 1986, compared with about 30 U.S. light rail systems today.
Seattle’s Sound Transit invested $377 million, funded with Build America Bonds, for light rail projects including the initial Central Link line and the Airport Link and University Link extensions.
And this month, Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro) was notified it would receive $900 million in federal funds for light rail expansion under two FFGAs.
Streetcars showed themselves to be an increasingly appealing mode of public transit, with the FTA announcing funding for five projects through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program: $63 million for a modern streetcar in Tucson, AZ; $45 million for New Orleans’ Union Passenger Terminal/Loyola Loop Streetcar; $25 million for Detroit’s Woodward Avenue Light Rail; $23.2 million for street reconstruction in Portland, OR; and $23 million for the Downtown Dallas Streetcar. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood participated in ground-breaking ceremonies for the New Orleans project.
MTA New York City Transit activated “countdown clocks” in 100 subway stations. These clocks, formally called Public Address/Customer Information Screens, provide up-to-the-minute next train information that takes the guesswork out of how long the wait time will be.
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.
BRT and Other Bus Services
New and extended rail lines were not the only advances public transit agencies saw in 2011. More agencies moved forward with BRT systems and other innovations in bus service.
The “bus” year began with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority celebrating its introduction of service on its second MAX BRT line, the Troost MAX Green Line, on New Year’s Day. The new line joined Main Street MAX, also known as the Orange Line, which entered operation five years ago and has seen its ridership double during that time.
The Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority introduced “Rapid” BRT service, a line connecting Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore, CA, on Jan. 24.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority installed a locally manufactured solar-powered canopy at a bus garage near Atlanta. The Laredo Garage solar canopy, funded with a $10.8 million federal grant, is the largest structure of its kind in Georgia and the second largest within a U.S. transit system.
Sun Metro in El Paso, TX, joined with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in March to mark the opening of the new, $13 million Glory Road Transfer Center. The facility offers a variety of amenities to enhance the rider’s experience, such as free Wi-Fi, a heated and air-conditioned waiting area, real-time bus arrival displays, an automated teller machine, a change machine, vending machines, and concession/retail space.
At the end of September, Omnitrans in San Bernardino, CA, launched construction on the region’s first BRT project, the E Street Corridor sbX line.
FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, right, and UTA General Manager Michael Allegra meet Dec. 12 in Draper, UT, following Rogoff’s signing ceremony for a light rail Full Funding Grant Agreement.
BY JAMES P. LARUSCH, APTA Chief Counsel & Vice President-Corporate Affairs
This was the transition year for APTA’s governance model. The new board of directors, elected at last year’s annual conference, immediately embraced its new status. The board held its very first virtual meeting on Jan. 7, and adopted a new paradigm for its relationship with its executive committee, a communications strategy to make working among 106 directors manageable, and a series of strategic issues to tackle over the course of the upcoming two years.
The board built on that communications strategy and accomplished its primary strategic goal on July 26. In a meeting that seamlessly combined live and virtual attendance, the board unanimously selected Michael P. Melaniphy as APTA’s new president & CEO.
Keenly aware of the need to facilitate committees’ ability to bring important policy issues to the board, the board’s communication strategy envisioned a path for committee chairs to raise important issues. That strategy was tested and proven over the course of the year as the Business Member Board of Governors asked the board to consider whether APTA should create a connected Political Action Committee. The board heard a report on the matter, directed the executive committee to gather additional information from throughout APTA and beyond, received the report, and decided the issue over a period of just two months, proving its agility and ability to act outside the confines of semi-annual live meetings.
BY CHERYL PYATT, APTA Program Manager-Program Management and Educational Services
Throughout 2011, APTA’s leadership and the Executive Committee have been actively encouraging career development and youth outreach initiatives in conjunction with the development and implementation of recommended initiatives of APTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Workforce Development. In response, the Program Management and Educational Services Department presented held key programs this year, both new events and ongoing activities.
National Transportation Career Day
APTA held its first APTA Public Transportation Career Day on April 22 to highlight a national workforce development initiative to introduce students, grades K-12, to the public transportation industry. More than 20 APTA member public transit systems and organizations participated in this event and reached out to more than 1,200 schoolchildren.
APTA’s Youth Summit: Generation Green on Board
Held at Trinity Washington University, the youth summit brought 50 junior and high school senior students from across the country to explore the environmental benefits of public transportation; how communities as a whole can prosper with increased services; the role local and federal policies play in public transit use; and career opportunities in the industry. The summit was sponsored by APTA, APTA business members (including AECOM, which conducted several programs), and the Federal Transit Administration. Students representing 17 states were given access to a dedicated Facebook page prior to the summit and provided with ideas for presentation topics which they worked on and presented to senior APTA staff on their last day.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff spoke to the students, who also toured the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s WMATA’s Carmen Turner facility.
Student Day at 2011 APTA Annual Meeting & EXPO
APTA provided a unique opportunity for students to network and interact with a variety of professionals within the industry. At the Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans, APTA welcomed students from the New Orleans area community colleges, technical schools, and 4-year colleges and universities to get a first-hand introduction to public transportation. The program included an EXPO tour.
Promoting Transit Careers
APTA’s Marketing and Communications and Human Resources committees joined forces to produce a new YouTube video that speaks to the next generation workforce. The video features 20 Generation Y public transit staff members who are excited to tell their transit career story to the next generation workforce. APTA premiered the video in New Orleans.
BMBG Workforce Development Activities
To better understand what skills are needed related to the development of high-speed rail, APTA’s business members commissioned a survey of rail engineering curricula from key higher education programs in the U.S. and abroad to examine the differences between U.S. transportation courses and international engineering programs.
BY GARY C. THOMAS, President/Executive Director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and Chair, APTA
One of the great parts of our business is there’s always a new opportunity. New buses are coming on line, new rail service is being introduced, and new destinations are being established that will help us introduce transit to even more customers.
One of the great challenges of our business is doing those things with tight or diminishing financial resources. I don’t know if there’s a transit agency that hasn’t experienced those things this year. The good news is we’ve managed to work through those challenges and make strong steps forward.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) began 2011 riding the momentum of an historic light rail project, the completion of the 28-mile, 20 station Green Line. Now at 72 miles and the nation’s longest system, DART Rail continues attracting new customers and creating new connections to major employment, education, and entertainment centers. Work went on through the year on even more new rail. The first two sections of the Orange Line, which will go west from the Green Line, are scheduled to open in July and December 2012. An extension of the Blue Line, northeast of Dallas, will also open in December 2012.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 on the final section of the Orange Line, which includes a station at DFW Airport. We'll open that station in 2014. We’re also making good progress on additional Blue Line extensions that will create a new rail connection to the Dallas campus of one of our area’s fastest-growing colleges, the University of North Texas. DART is advancing plans for even more rail service, including a second line through downtown Dallas and an east-west connection that would link the Red and Green Lines to DFW Airport.
Buses Remain the Backbone
More customers use our buses daily than any other single group. Their ride is due for a significant upgrade. During 2011 we finalized preparations for our new bus fleet. The first article of our new 40-foot buses built by North American Bus Industries just rolled off the assembly floor. Not only did I get to see it, they even let me get behind the wheel. We'll introduce this state-of-the-art compressed natural gas bus to our customers in early 2012 and I can't wait for them to see it. We'll also introduce a new fleet of smaller buses manufactured by ARBOC Specialty Vehicles in 2012. It's part of our ongoing effort to put the right sized vehicles in place and deliver more efficient service.
Customer Service Starts with Communication
Our customers expect to know all about their trip all the time. They want information on their desktop, their laptop, and their cell phone and tablet. This summer we completed an update of our main internet web site. The updated architecture puts customer information front and center in a new and inviting way. It also makes it easier than ever to connect with our social media platforms and to register for service updates.
Desktop versions of DART’s “Where’s My Bus?”® and “Where’s My DART Stop?”®, were developed by our staff for customers who have enjoyed using those tools on their web-enabled mobile phones and tablets. “Where’s My Bus?”® gives customers a near-real time estimate of when their bus will arrive. They can use it to follow the progress of their bus via a Google map as it approaches their stop. “Where’s My DART Stop?”® helps them locate the nearest stop and transit service. This desktop version is based on an interactive Google map with street view to show the stop and its surroundings. Customers enter an address and city to obtain results providing route information and estimated and scheduled times for the nearest transit service to their location.
2012 Will Be Busy
So much has been done in DART's comparatively brief history, but we have so many more things we want and need to do. Not only will we continue to deliver the service our cities expect, we're being challenged to help cities outside of our service area connect to transit. This will be a major topic of discussion in our region during the year. Leaders in those communities are coming to realize what we've known all along: public transportation takes us where we want to go.
For many agencies, local funding is uncertain or limited. For all of us, federal funding remains a struggle. Our industry deserves a well-funded, multi-year, multimodal transportation bill. After so many extensions we're way past due. I know our industry will work hard to secure the funding our systems need and our customers deserve.
BY FLORA M. CASTILLO, CHIE, Board Member, New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT), and Vice Chair, APTA
For NJ TRANSIT, 2011 marked the year of the Scorecard, a new, innovative management and reporting tool that represents one of the agency’s most significant initiatives to date and places a priority focus on five strategic areas: customer experience, safety and security, financial performance, employee excellence, and corporate accountability. By making key statistics and performance data readily accessible to the public for the first time, Scorecard provides an ongoing measurement of NJ TRANSIT’s performance, enabling the agency to make informed strategic decisions that will maximize resources and optimize the overall customer experience.
As part of Scorecard, NJ TRANSIT conducts quarterly customer surveys to target specific improvements, all with an eye toward increasing customer satisfaction. The Scorecard initiative, together with the ongoing customer surveys, has made it very clear that every area of NJ TRANSIT—from the rail, bus, and light rail operating divisions, to customer communications, to fare collection, to capital construction—has a direct tie-in to the customer experience. To that end, NJ TRANSIT this year introduced a number of improvements intended to reflect Scorecard’s strategic areas of focus and ultimately increase customer satisfaction.
NJ TRANSIT kicked off 2011 by opening the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail 8th Street Station in Bayonne, bringing light rail to a new neighborhood via a one-mile extension and new station. Other completed construction projects this year included major improvements to make Somerville, Ridgewood, and Plauderville stations accessible to customers with disabilities; as well as restoration of the historic Hoboken Ferry Terminal, which returned ferry service to the original ferry slips for the first time in more than four decades.
The agency continues to find ways to put technology to work for its customers, particularly for how they access travel information. This year, NJ TRANSIT expanded the reach of its My Transit alert system by integrating it with Twitter, launching 13 automatic My Transit alert “feeds” for rail, light rail, and bus service. And, following the successful launch last year of “My Bus,” which enables bus customers to receive schedule information for a specific stop via text message, NJ TRANSIT this year launched “My Light Rail” to provide a similar service for Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Newark Light Rail, and River Line customers. And, for rail customers, NJ TRANSIT partnered with a third-party text engine called “CooCoo” to offer an additional trip-planning tool.
NJ TRANSIT also tapped into technology to enhance security on the system. This summer, the agency introduced a new and convenient way for customers to report suspicious activity or unattended packages: text messaging. Through this initiative, called “Text Tips” or “Text Against Terror,” customers may report suspicious activity, packages, or vehicles around NJ TRANSIT facilities or onboard the system by sending a text message to NJTPD (65873), transmitting information directly to the NJ TRANSIT Police Department. The accompanying public awareness campaign, funded by a Department of Homeland Security grant and created by NJ TRANSIT’s in-house Creative Services division, garnered a Gold MarCom Award from the Association of Marketing & Communications Professionals this fall.
Also in the area of technology and security, NJ TRANSIT is purchasing additional bus on-board camera equipment to equip the agency’s entire bus fleet with Drive Cam technology to enhance customer and employee security.
In 2011 and beyond, NJ TRANSIT continues to explore new, cutting-edge technologies for the benefit of its customers. This fall, NJ TRANSIT became the first public transportation agency to partner with Google Wallet, Google’s recently released contactless payment system. With Google Wallet, NJ TRANSIT rail and bus customers have the option to use their smart phones to tap and pay for transportation tickets at select locations, including New York Penn Station ticket vending machines and ticket windows, Newark Liberty International Airport Rail Station (AirTrain), and on some bus routes.
This year also marked the expansion of NJ TRANSIT’s Quiet Commute program to rail lines that serve Hoboken Terminal, completing a systemwide rollout to peak-period trains. Quiet Commute cars are intended to provide a subdued environment for customers who wish to refrain from using cell phones and are willing to disable the sound feature on pagers, games, computers, and other electronic devices. We piloted the program last year on our busiest trains to test its feasibility. After receiving overwhelmingly positive customer and employee feedback, NJ TRANSIT expanded the program to additional trains that begin or end their trips at New York or Newark Penn Station at the beginning of this year, and introduced the amenity to Hoboken lines this summer.
Moving forward, NJ TRANSIT remains focused on making New Jersey’s public transit system an even more attractive and convenient travel option, tapping into new technology where possible and introducing new customer amenities across the system. Using Scorecard as the standard by which we get measured by the people who use our system every day, NJ TRANSIT has empowered itself to make strategic decisions to maximize our resources, best serve our customers, and provide the greatest return to our taxpayers.
BY MICHAEL J. SCANLON, General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, San Mateo County Transit District, and Executive Director, Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, San Carlos, CA, and APTA Immediate Past Chair
In a year when bad news seems to be unrelenting, the San Mateo County Transit District has been able to advance several important projects that will benefit its riders for years to come.
The transit district operates SamTrans bus and paratransit service and serves as the managing partner for Caltrain, the Peninsula’s commuter rail system. It also manages the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, which administers revenue from a half-cent sales tax for transit and transportation programs and funds shuttles that provide a vital link between major employment centers and Caltrain and San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District stations.
New Operating Contractor
In August, the Caltrain Board of Directors unanimously approved TransitAmerica Services Inc. to operate the commuter rail system. The approval followed an extensive competitive bidding process that took more than 15 months and included a team of more than 35 subject area experts who conducted detailed proposal evaluations.
The major components of Caltrain’s new five-year contract, with five one-year options, include the daily staffing and operations of trains; track inspection and maintenance; the passenger rail vehicle fleet; rights of way; structures; the signaling and communication network; stations; and other facilities.
As part of the contract, Caltrain has secured a new innovative clause that will require TransitAmerica to achieve certain performance standards around management, safety, on-time performance, and other critical tasks that are imperative to the operation of the railroad prior to receiving its full management fee.
Amtrak had been the operating contractor for Caltrain since 1992 and submitted a bid for the contract in partnership with Bombardier. Caltrain is now working with TransitAmerica to ensure a smooth transition for the new operator, which is expected to be completed early next year.
In October, Caltrain awarded a contract for a new, modernized signaling system known as the Communication Based Overlay Signal System (CBOSS). The $230 million project, scheduled to enter operation in 2015, will allow more efficient coordination of train movements and schedules; it will improve the safety and reliability of all passenger rail operations that use the corridor—Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, and Capitol Corridor.
CBOSS incorporates Positive Train Control (PTC), required by federal law to be installed by 2015 on all corridors where passenger and freight rail operations share tracks. PTC protects passengers and railroad workers by maintaining safe separations between trains, preventing train speeding and train collisions.
SamTrans Service Plan
SamTrans currently operates 48 routes that serve nearly 50,000 riders on an average weekday. The public transit system is taking a close look at how to best meet the community’s changing needs while making the most of its resources; it last took an in-depth look at its service about 10 years ago.
The SamTrans Service Plan will analyze existing fixed route bus service and identify areas for improvement and new markets for future growth.
At a recent series of community workshops, people were asked to consider three possible scenarios and weigh the tradeoff between increasing service on some routes and reducing service on others. These comments are being incorporated into a draft service plan to be presented in the spring.
Elimination of Paper Fare Media
At the end of the year, most SamTrans paper monthly passes will be a thing of the past. Earlier this year, the public transit agency began the transition to the Clipper, an all-in-one reloadable transit farecard.
To get the word out that the monthly pass program ends Dec. 31 for the majority of customers, SamTrans is running a “Goodbye Paper Pass. Hello Clipper” advertising campaign on the sides of buses, in bus shelters, and in newspapers—not to mention getting the word directly into the hands of the customers by printing the message on the December Monthly Pass.
Regionally, Clipper fares account for more than 600,000 weekday transit boardings, which in turn accounts for more than a third of all daily transit trips in the San Francisco Bay area.
All these projects are the result of years of thoughtful planning and diligent work.
BY THOMAS F. PRENDERGAST, President, MTA New York City Transit, and Executive Committee Member-at-Large, APTA
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the midst of a customer communication revolution. There are a number of initiatives underway that aim to improve the availability and accessibility of real-time transit information that are customers want most. Two such projects that were launched this fall are the On the Go! Travel Station pilot and the new Weekender web site.
The On The Go! Travel Station is a six-foot, interactive touch screen offering up-to-the-minute travel information to subway and commuter rail customers. From the introduction of the five pilot units, customers have been drawn to the colorful, high-definition displays that offer current service status; planned reroutes; elevator and escalator status; itinerary planning; digital maps of the system; and the nearby neighborhood; and detailed information on local attractions.
Tall, highly visible, and enclosed in a sleek stainless steel display, the units feature information often found on paper notices taped to station walls. Aside from reducing station clutter, the On the Go! units allow riders to request information by line and all with the touch of a finger.
Additionally, the units can be customized for a specific location or time of day. For example, units located at Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal default to subway information during the morning rush period, but display commuter train service for the evening commute.
On the Go! is an integral component of the MTA’s philosophy of offering information to its customers in attractive, easy to access formats. New York City Transit is striving to keep our customers informed, as they plan their trips, from their desktops at home to Countdown Clocks and On the Go! units in stations.
Developed in cooperation with Cisco as part of a pilot demonstration project, On the Go! utilizes the corporation’s Interactive Services Solution, a flexible and scalable platform enabling interactions through rich media, live video, real-time information, and user-friendly management tools.
While the lion’s share of the information available at On the Go!, such as TripPlanner, service status, and maps, is sourced from the MTA’s web site—mta.info-- information focusing on neighborhood history and local dining options comes from applications created by outside providers, as well as third party applications developers using MTA data.
In addition to the two commuter railroad hubs, units have also been installed at the Bowling Green subway stop in Lower Manhattan, Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street in Downtown Brooklyn, and the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue stop in Queens.
Designed by Antenna Design New York Inc., the stainless steel enclosure and its components are extremely durable and easy to clean and maintain. Depending on customer acceptance and success of the pilots, On the Go! may eventually be installed in stations throughout the system. Importantly, with their bright clear display, On the Go! Travel Stations have the potential to generate significant advertising income, which would help to defray the costs of installation.
The other major customer communication improvement launched this fall was “The Weekender,” a feature of mta.info intended to transform the way riders navigate the subway system on weekends. The Weekender takes over the front page of mta.info each weekend, making it easy for subway riders to visualize exactly how weekend work will affect subway service. New York City Transit does an incredible amount of construction work on the subway every weekend; this work is critical to keep a 24/7 system going.
The centerpiece of The Weekender is a subway diagram displaying the service to be provided each weekend, including all service changes. Stations impacted by service diversions are highlighted by blinking icons. The Weekender presents weekend service diversion information in a visual way and an interactive way for the first time
Users click to choose one of three ways to view service change information using the map:
Service by Line: Click on a subway line symbol to get a line diagram showing an overview of the line's service changes, as well as text summaries of the changes.
Service by Borough: Click on a borough for text-based information about any service changes impacting a borough.
Service by Station: Select a station for details on any service changes impacting that station, or click on the map to zoom to a detailed area.
The diagram used as the base of The Weekender is designed to illustrate service diversions at a glance. It is inspired by the 1972 New York City subway map designed by world renowned map maker and designer Massimo Vignelli. This updated diagram, first unveiled in 2008, was designed by Vignelli and his associates, Beatriz Cifuentes and Yoshiki Waterhouse. Supplementing the base diagram, The Weekender provides for the first time an electronic venue for the popular MTA Neighborhood Maps that are posted inside subway stations. These maps show the precise locations of subway station entrances within the street grid, along with locations of popular area destinations.
Taken together, the On the Go! Travel Station and The Weekender demonstrate the MTA’s commitment to transparency when it comes to providing our riders with service information about our network – both before they enter and while they are in our system.
BY JEFF HIOTT, APTA Senior Program Manager-Standards Program
Since 2005, one of APTA’s key efforts has been to bring together public transit agencies, business members, and the federal government to write consensus-based and voluntary standards or best practices for the public transportation industry. These documents are designed to improve safety, reliability, performance, and efficiency of agency operations, planning, and equipment.
APTA members, along with their partners at the Federal Transit Administration and Transportation Security Administration and hundreds of volunteers, participated in dozens of working groups, devoting thousands of hours to craft and codify industry best practices in these categories:
* Bus Transit
* Commuter Rail
* Information Technology
* Rail Transit
* Sustainability and Urban Design
* Universal Transit Fares
Each standard, recommended practice, technical specification, and report written to date has made an impact on how we do business. In the past year, the Standards Program has published more than 40 documents, all of which are available free via the APTA Standards portal.
The Security Program remains very active, publishing approximately 15 documents from four working groups: Infrastructure Security, Risk Management, Emergency Management, and Cyber Security.
For example, a document on “Random Counterterrorism Measures on Transit Systems” describes a modular, scalable security measure that uses random patrol and visibility tactics to create uncertainty in the planning process used by potential terrorists and deter possible attacks on bus and rail transit systems.
The Rail Transit Program posted the first edition of APTA’s standard light rail vehicle procurement guideline, including both procurement terms and conditions and technical specifications. Many public and private sector APTA members worked together to develop this document.
Two new standards have been completed and will be published in 2012: “Roadway Worker Protection Requirements” and “Electronic Device Distraction Policy.” A new standard on “Fitness for Duty” is currently being developed.
The Sustainability and Urban Design Standards Program published several documents from its two working groups. “Why Design Matters for Transit” describes the importance of design to the success of a project. Another document introduced “Transit Sustainability Guidelines” for designing and operating sustainable public transit that both reduces a community’s environmental footprint from transportation and enhances quality of life by making travel more enjoyable, affordable, and timely.
The Bus Transit Program has published a compendium of documents for Bus Rapid Transit planning, operations, and design. In addition to training syllabi for mechanic training, the program also published “Architectural and Engineering Design for a Transit Operating and Maintenance Facility.” There will be new and continued efforts in 2012 with documents being produced on brakes and chassis, passenger environment, and bus operations and safety.
In addition to its current efforts, in 2012 APTA will inaugurate a new program to work on best practices for asset management and State of Good Repair. This program will examine what we, as an industry, can do to help agencies with respect to better managing their assets and keeping their assets in a state of good repair so their service life is maximized.
For more information or to learn about becoming involved in the standards process, contact Jeff Hiott.
Photo by Josh Nunes, Natural Light Photography
Photo by Steve Barrett
Photo by Steve Barrett
Official White House Photo by David Lienemann
Photo by Steve Barrett
Photo by Ken Bordelon
photo by todd parola photography
Interns at the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore took to the streets—specifically, the mouth of I-83, the main transportation feeder road into the city—during rush hour to share the Dump the Pump message. They derived their inspiration from the iconic cover of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album.
Photo by Josh Nunes, Natural Light Photography
Photo by Jerome Holmes
Photo by Linda Reineke
APTA spearheaded a media campaign in the fall of 2011 stressing the need for a long-term surface transportation authorization bill.
Photo by Ken Bordelon
Photo by Pat Ryan, Business Visuals
Photo courtesy of AECOM
New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) dedicated a memorial plaque on the banks of the Hudson River in Hoboken, NJ. The text honors both the men and women who were lost in the attack on the World Trade Center and the NJ Transit employees who helped with evacuation efforts. Visible in the background is the World Trade Center Freedom Tower, under construction in lower Manhattan.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority held a rally Sept. 20 to show support for the “Don’t X Out Public Transit” campaign.
Photo by Jerome Holmes
Over the past year, the public transportation industry said goodbye to transit agency chief executives and board members, a past APTA chair, and a former APTA deputy executive vice president.
In chronological order of their deaths, here is how they were remembered in the pages of Passenger Transport.
Bertrand (Bert) Gagne, 78, co-founder and former chairman of TDG Transit Design Group Inc. in Mississauga, ON, died Oct. 6, 2010. Gagne worked in the rail industry for more than 40 years, remaining active following his retirement in 2005, providing contributions to many industry standards.
Patricia M. Nielsen, 62, vice president of paratransit services for Oahu Transit Services Inc. in Honolulu, HI, operator of TheHandi-Van, died Dec. 25, 2010. She also spent 20 years with the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, during which time she received awards from National Easter Seals Project ACTION and the National Transit Institute.
Lou Parsons, 76, APTA chair in 1991-92 and a two-term chair of GO Transit in Toronto, died Dec. 29, 2010. Parsons chaired the GO Transit Board of Directors from 1980 until 1993, appointed by the Ontario provincial government, and later served as president of Orion Bus Industries.
Cameron Beach, 62, a longtime employee of the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) who joined the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors in 2007, died March 18. Beach’s 44-year career in public transportation included 25 years with RT, where he served first as a consultant; he was named chief operating officer in 1991. In October in New Orleans, APTA honored Beach posthumously with its Local Distinguished Service Award, and SFMTA renamed the San Francisco Municipal Railway’s (Muni) Geneva Yard, home of the F Market & Wharves historic streetcar fleet, in his memory.
Joseph DiJohn, 67, professor of transportation at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the founding executive director of Pace Suburban Bus in Arlington Heights, IL, died March 19. He began his teaching career at UIC part-time in 1988 while working at Pace, becoming a full-time faculty member and researcher after retiring from the bus system in 1998.
James Barbour, 84, a 34-year board member of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District in Stockton, CA, died March 24. He chaired the board four different times, and received APTA’s Outstanding Public Transit Board Member Award in 2003.
Robert H. Glines, 70, a 40-year employee of General Railway Signal Company (now part of Alstom), died March 26. Following service in the U.S. Navy, Glines joined General Railway Signal in November 1962 as a commercial engineer and retired early in December of 2003. He served 22 years on the APTA Business Member Board of Governors.
Charles McGlashan, 49, vice chairman of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Board of Directors, died March 27. He had served on the Marin County Board of Supervisors since 2005.
Doris Powell, 69, a board member and former chairwoman of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority Board of Directors, died April 13. She had served on the board since 2005.
James F. (Jim) Bender, 80, a public transportation professional for three decades, died April 21 in Pensacola, FL. Bender began his transit career in Pittsburgh with the Port Authority of Allegheny County and joined the former American Transit Corporation in 1972 as a marketing specialist, eventually becoming regional vice president. He also operated his own consulting services company, JFB Enterprises.
Robert W. Batchelder, 66, of Chula Vista, CA, a 15-year employee of APTA who retired in 1996 as chief counsel and deputy executive vice president-government affairs, died Aug. 12. Batchelder joined APTA in 1981 as staff counsel and was promoted in 1983 to chief counsel and executive director-management services before assuming his final position.
Patricia M. Nielsen
Robert H. Glines
Robert W. Batchelder
Do you have advice for your peers? Do you have a vexing issue that you need to take care of but just can’t quite figure out? Just curious about how other agencies handle situations?
In the APTA Forum pages, you can take a moment to help your fellow peers and answer a question or you can ask your own question.
What follows are just some of the discussions happening now in the APTA Forums.
A Great Plains member asks about public transit agency training programs: “I am looking for samples of Transit Agency Training Programs that strategically cover the main aspects of training for all modes and indicates the following: Training requirements by operational classifications, training frequency and course list and descriptions among other criteria … testing Assessment Policy & Procedures, OSHA or Safety mandated courses (i.e., Fatigue Awareness, environmental, etc.).”
An APTA member asks about school paratransit: “Does anyone have any experience in working with your local schools to provide accessible transportation for eligible students with disabilities going to and from school events or programs (i.e., in accordance to Section 504)? If so I am very interested.”
Also in Legal Affairs, another member asks about bus operation standards: “I am looking for standards from large transit companies regarding bus operators proceeding after passengers have boarded, but are not seated. It would be helpful to know what the policies of different companies are in connection with trial results and settlement amounts of cases involving passengers who were injured under these circumstances.”
Still in the same forum, a Midwestern member asks about the sale of scrap rail cars: “CTA is in the process of sending out a solicitation for the Sale of 42 Scrap Rail Cars. We are looking for additional bidders. For those who have had to sell your scrap rail or bus cars, is it possible to get your bidders list, recommend someone and provide me with those firms who have won a contract with your agency, in regards to the subject above?”
An Ohio member asks about energy procurement: “SORTA is planning to compete out its natural gas and electricity in the near future. I'd be interested in getting solicitation documents from anyone who has done a similar procurement.”
A Connecticut public transportation agency asks about Americans with Disabilities Act paratransit-fare collection policies: “The Greater Hartford Transit District (GHTD) ADA Paratransit in Hartford, CT appreciates your assistance in the past in sharing your best practices and policies regarding ADA paratransit matters. GHTD is in the process of reviewing their fare collection policy for riders. GHTD would like to know if your agency allows riders to pay for their pickup and return rides or multiple trips for the same day, when the rider boards the vehicle for their first trip of the day. In addition, if you have a fare policy that you can share with us we would appreciate it. We thank you in advance for your time and attention to this subject.”
A West Coast member has a question about external website products: “I work as the Information Systems Manager [in a Washington State system]. We are considering some modifications to our web site and were wondering what other transit agencies are using for the creation of their web site?
1) What platform are you using?
2) How long have you used it?
3) Are you satisfied with the platform?”
Transit Board Members
A representative of Caltrain asks about Policy Advisory Committees: “Caltrain, in Northern California's Bay Area, serves three counties along the San Francisco Peninsula. Over the past year, we have heard requests from an advocacy group and a business leadership group to initiate a policy advisory committee to review and make recommendations on policy-oriented decisions to our board of directors. I believe the vision for this group would be that it have a representative from each of the 17 cities through which we travel. Policy would come before them at a meeting in advance of the regular monthly board meeting, and they would make recommendations to staff and board members…. Do any agencies have a similar structured group and, if so, could you provide best practices, bylaws, and roles and responsibilities?”
These excerpts represent just a small sample of the questions on the Forums currently under discussion. So log on here and click on “APTA Forums” now and take part in the conversation!
APTA and the International Union of Railways (UIC) have issued a call for papers for the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail, July 10-13, 2012, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Abstracts must be received by Feb. 1, 2012, for review by the scientific committee.
Overall themes of the congress are:
* Social environment, economy, finances;
* Rolling stock;
* Operations, safety, security;
* Engineering and project management; and
Details on each theme can be found here. More information on the submittal process is available.
The UIC Scientific Committee will select the speakers and presentations during February, March, and April 2012, and will notify applicants of its decisions by e-mail no later than April 10, stating whether an applicant has been selected, not selected, or is on a waiting list.
Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2012 APTA Legal Affairs Seminar, Feb. 19-21 in Tampa, FL.
This seminar is unique: it’s the only place practitioners can go to focus solely on the legal issues facing public transportation agencies and the businesses that support them. The APTA Legal Affairs Committee’s conference planners have been hard at work for months selecting the most important topics for the year, identifying the speakers best able to address those topics, and bringing it all together for an intense two-and-a-half-day seminar.
The timely, interactive sessions, covering the gamut of public transit-related legal issues, will benefit both in-house counsel from public transit agencies and businesses and outside counsel who support those agencies and businesses. This seminar is the one-stop shop for updates on the most important issues facing this industry, and attendees can earn continuing legal education credits.
The early-bird discount closes Jan. 6, 2012, so make your plans today! Conference registration and hotel reservations are available here.
APTA members have great communities and people supporting them. This year, the 2012 APTA Calendar highlights 14 outstanding systems. Featuring winning photos from the annual APTA Photo Invitational, the calendar highlights the benefits public transportation provides to the nation, communities, and individuals.
The following APTA member public transit systems appear in the 2012 calendar:
* Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ;
* Montebello Bus Lines, Montebello, CA;
* Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, IL;
* Community Transit, Snohomish County, WA;
* Denton County Transportation Authority, Lewisville, TX;
* Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Submitted by URS Corporation), Los Angeles, CA;
* Triangle Transit, Durham, NC;
* Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, San Jose, CA;
* Pierce Transit, Lakewood, WA;
* Virginia Railway Express, Alexandria, VA;
* Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Austin, TX;
* Portland Streetcar (submitted by United Street Car), Portland, OR;
* Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, KY; and
* Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Washington, DC.
Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all those APTA members who participated in the contest.
APTA wishes to welcome its newest members, who joined between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2011:
2g Transit Solutions, Inc.
Tracy Greene, Vice President
Architect for Life, PC
Lolalisa DeCarlo King, AIA, NCARB, MBA, LEED-AP, President
Auto Parts Solutions dba APS
Edward N. Brown, Jr., CEO
Bluways USA, Inc.
Robert Del Core, Director of Product Management
Bracton So Safe
Louis Diaz, Business Development Manager, US/Latin America
Austin, TX 78748
Rick Nozel, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
CDA Services, Inc.
Elyce Lukowiak, President
Community Transportation Association of Idaho
Kristin McGee, Executive Assistant
Countermeasures Assessment and Security Experts, LLC
New Castle, DE
Ernest R. Frazier, Sr., Esq., President
William J. Deville
New Orleans, LA
Anders B. Eklov, CEO
Deborah E. Miller, President
(814) 825-6650 x (101)
Gatekeeper Systems, Inc.
Abbotsford, BC V2T 6H1 CANADA
Doug Dyment, President/CEO
General Steel Products Co., Inc.
Steven Y. Meltz, National Sales Manager
Las Vegas, NV
J.F. Finn, III, AIA, Managing Director
Global Integrated Supply
Charlotte Hitchcock, President
Hands On, LLC
Patrick Washington, CEO/President
Rainer Hombach, P.E.
Phil Graves, Executive Vice President
Jeremy Shaffer, Vice President
Integrated Systems International, LLC dba ISI Energy Controls
Greg Hayes, Managing Member, VP Business Development
Kinetic Traction Systems Inc. (KTSi)
Chandler Williamson, Chief Marketing Officer
(818) 812-9629 x (205)
London, SE1 1EU UNITED KINGDOM
Ben Whitaker, CEO
Meyers & Associates, LLC
Larry D. Meyers, President
Falls Church, VA
Mims Construction Company
Lyndell Mims, President
Mountain Rides Transportation Authority
Jason Miller, Executive Director
(208) 788-7433 x(101)
Natural Resources Defense Council
Deron Lovaas, Federal Transportation Policy Director
Anthony Karwowski, Manager
David Bushey, Senior Program Manager
PDI Rail Solutions
San Antonio, TX
Robert C. Andrews, Jr., President & CEO
Public Facilities Investment Corporation
Los Angeles, CA
Jeffrey H. Tamkin, President
Aarjav Trivedi, Vice President, Operations & Technology
Robin Stevens Consulting, Ltd.
New York, NY
Robin C. Stevens, President
Saratoga & North Creek Railway
Edwin E. Ellis, President
Sil-Air® Silicone Foam
Zach Hubbs, Vice President
New York, NY
Donald R. Allman, President & CEO
TMG Consulting, Inc.
New Orleans, LA
Bonnie Garrigan, Senior Analyst, Economist
(504) 569-9239 x(29)
Transit & Paratransit Company
Jeffrey Cassell, President
Transportation Diversity Council
New York, NY 10008-3362
Dwayne C. Sampson, President/CEO
Watson Furniture Group
Meghan Christensen, Sales Coordinator
Westermo Data Communications
Brett Wright, Sales Manager
Austin, TX 78748
Yuma County Intergovernmental PTA
John Andoh, Transit Director
Z. Wayne Johnson, President/CEO
Editor's Note: Public transportation was increasingly in the news this past year--from being considered a part of a national energy strategy to helping keep the environment clean and safe. Here are just a few examples citing the need for and importance of this form of transport.
MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has begun a Quiet Car pilot program on select peak hour trains on the Far Rockaway Branch. Four morning and six evening rush hour trains that operate between Far Rockaway and Atlantic Terminal will have a designated quiet car.
For customers seeking an environment during their commute that is free of cell-phone conversations, sound from other electronic devices, and loud conversations, LIRR will reserve the last car on the morning trains and the first car on the afternoon trains as quiet cars. Customers can converse in the Quiet Car but they must use subdued voices.
LIRR noted that a similar pilot conducted last summer by MTA Metro-North Railroad on its West-of-Hudson Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines in conjunction with New Jersey Transit Corporation led to the expansion of the program to all peak hour Metro-North trains.