Passenger Transport - January 27, 2012
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BREAKING NEWS

House T&I to Mark Up Authorization Bill

Action in both houses of Congress on surface transportation authorization legislation is expected to heat up next week as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plans to mark up its version of the bill on Thursday, Feb. 2. Committee leaders announced Jan. 26 that the draft bill would be made available on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Other committees in the House must also act to advance the final package to the House floor, and staff has indicated that the leadership has worked with those committees to plan out a markup schedule that will allow the multiple measures to be completed in time for floor action.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is also planning a markup—likely for Feb. 2—of federal public transportation programs under its jurisdiction. Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) have been working to come to a bipartisan agreement that will allow for smooth passage of their bill that day.

Additionally, the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the revenue, financing, and trust fund elements of the surface transportation bill, is tentatively planning to meet next week, although no markup has been formally scheduled.

LaHood: Compromise Possible on Transportation Bill

According to the political reporting web site Politico, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made positive comments this week about the bipartisan efforts in the Senate regarding a surface transportation authorization bill. He recognized the work of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee—specifically Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK)—in moving toward a two-year bill.

LaHood earlier was quoted at this week’s Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting that such a bill might not pass before 2013 because of differences of opinion on funding and the length of time covered.

Sun Tran Opens New Bus Facility

Sun Tran in Tucson, AZ, celebrated the grand opening of its Northwest Bus Facility on Jan 26. The new facility, built in three phases, can operate and maintain 250 buses for use throughout the service area. Read more in the February 13 issue of Passenger Transport.

NEWS HEADLINES

NPRM Proposes Changes to New Starts and Small Starts

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Jan. 25, 2012, Federal Register that proposes a new framework for how FTA will evaluate and rate major new transit investments in the New Starts and Small Starts programs.

The NPRM was published concurrently with a Notice of Availability of proposed guidance that proposes new measures and methods for calculating the project justification and local financial commitment criteria specified in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Comments are due no later than 60 days after the release of the notice.

The NPRM contains many changes to streamline the project delivery process, including simplification of measures for evaluating projects. Many provisions support and reflect the transit industry comments submitted by APTA in August 2010.

Among the significant and beneficial changes proposed by FTA are:

* A simpler approach to cost-effectiveness that will measure cost per trip taken on the project;

* Use of the no-build instead of a Transportation System Management baseline for analyzing alternatives;

* Betterments that would now be excluded from the cost side of calculating cost-effectiveness; and

* Expanded use of pre-qualification criteria (warrants) to advance project development.

“Our process for selecting big capital projects is historically successful—but at times painfully and unnecessarily complicated,” said FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff. “We’re aiming to make common-sense changes that will make a big difference to communities throughout the United States that need more mobility, and better access to jobs, sooner rather than later.”

The changes also would yield such benefits as increased transparency and continued rigorous scrutiny of each project proposal. By giving greater emphasis to evaluation criteria concerning environmental benefits and local economic impact, it would be possible for FTA to consider a variety of smaller-scale projects that might better meet a community's needs, including streetcars and rapid bus services.

The New Starts and Small Starts program is one of the largest discretionary grant programs in the U.S. Government. FTA’s final Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation includes more than $2 billion in capital projects requested by President Obama under FTA’s capital investment program. Proposed projects such as rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, Bus Rapid Transit, and ferries are evaluated and rated on a number of measures at several steps in the process as they seek FTA approval for a federal funding commitment to finance project construction.

FTA has scheduled three informational sessions this month—Feb. 15 in Dallas, Feb. 16 in San Diego, and Feb. 23 in Atlanta—and a webinar on Feb. 28. More information is available from FTA.

The text of the NPRM is available online and the Notice of Availability is here.

 

Obama: Increase Infrastructure Investment

President Obama emphasized the need for increased U.S. infrastructure investment as part of the Jan. 24 2012 State of the Union Address.

“So much of America needs to be rebuilt,” the president said. “We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges; a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.”

Obama pointed to the creation of the Interstate Highway System as one of several “great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today,” and announced his plans to sign an executive order “clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.” He emphasized the importance of worker training and called on Congress to use some of the funds freed up by the end of the war in Iraq “to do some nation-building right here at home.”

He also spoke at length about federal investment in clean energy and announced an administration plan to allow its development on enough public land to power three million homes and called for incentives to encourage manufacturers to minimize energy waste in their facilities.

In a statement following the speech, APTA President and CEO Michael P. Melaniphy said: “I applaud President Obama for his focus on investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, including public transportation, as a way to fulfill the president’s goal of ‘building an America to last.’” He pointed to Obama’s emphasis on job creation through infrastructure investment in his agenda, adding that “one of the most effective jobs bills would be to pass a multi-year, fully funded transportation bill.”

APTA Members Attend White House Roundtable on Transit Technology

Representatives from public transportation systems and businesses participated in a Jan. 19 White House Roundtable on Real Time Transit Applications in Washington, DC. APTA helped organize the meeting, aimed at discussing ways to advance the implementation of real-time public transit information in communities across the nation, leading to greater convenience and ease of use.

White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra said the roundtable was part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to enhance government openness, transparency, and collaboration and help citizens make the right decisions.

Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari said the use of technology would help to make sure that public transit was “firing on all cylinders.”

APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy said the implementation of real-time information will demystify the customer experience and attract more riders to public transit.

The event demonstrated that open data allows innovative Americans—from the college student to the weekend tinkerer in the garage—the opportunity to create real-time applications that could increase public transportation ridership.

Roundtable participants included representatives from the Centre Area Transportation Authority, State College, PA; City of Chicago; Chicago Transit Authority; Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority; Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority; and New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as well as Clever Devices, Google, NextBus, RouteMatch, Trapeze, Open Plans, the University of South Florida, and Intelligent Technology Society of America.

 

Participating at the White House Roundtable from left are APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy; Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari; White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra; Chris Horsman, chief information officer, Chicago Transit Authority;  Chris Vein of the White House;  and Hugh Mose, general manager of the Centre Area Transportation Authority.

 

Barker Honored with TRB Sharon Banks Award

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) presented J. Barry Barker, executive director of the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, KY, with the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation at the Jan. 25 Chairman’s Luncheon during its 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

TRB established this award in memory of Sharon Banks, who was general manager of AC Transit, Oakland, CA, from 1991 until her death in 1999 and chaired the TRB Executive Committee in 1998. The honor recognizes innovative and successful leadership in people-oriented initiatives in transportation, sustained over an extended period of time, that exemplify Banks’ ideals of humanity and service.

Barker received the award in recognition of his career-long commitment and contributions to “improving transportation access—and the quality of life—for the poor, elderly, and people with disabilities” and for a management approach that looks “beyond specific transportation modes to a customer focus where travel and access needs of customers are paramount and transportation options are designed accordingly,” according to a TRB statement. He has more than 30 years of public transportation experience, joining TARC in 1994 after serving as general manager of METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH.

He has long been active in TRB and is a past chair of the Transit Cooperative Research Program Oversight and Project Selection Committee. Barker formerly served on the APTA Executive Committee and currently chairs the board of the National Transit Institute.

Former APTA President William Millar received two honors during the TRB Annual Meeting: the Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Research & Education, presented by the Council of University Transportation Centers and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and the TRB Thomas B. Deen Distinguished Lectureship.

 

Photo by Steve Barrett

J. Barry Barker, fourth from right, displays the TRB Sharon D. Banks Award to APTA staff, from left, Petra Mollet, vice president-strategy; Rosemary Sheridan, vice president-communications and marketing; Pamela L. Boswell, vice president-program management and educational services; Robert Healy, vice president-government affairs; former APTA President William Millar; APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy; and Brian Tynan, director-government relations.

 

INIT Opens New Business Venture in Chesapeake, VA

INIT Innovations in Transportation Inc. has partnered with Simtech LLC, a supplier of customized electronic products to launch a new business venture: Superior Quality Manufacturing (SQM), which opened its facility in Chesapeake, VA, on Jan. 18.

SQM will produce a variety of electronic modules and devices featuring components such as computer boards and LED panels. The 13,000-square-foot facility houses a production area, test and repair facility, warehouse, and administrative offices.

Initially, SQM will manufacture such devices as variable message signs, mobile data terminals, Global Positioning Satellite devices, and equipment racks for INIT’s U.S. public transit customers. Longer-term growth plans include manufacturing for third parties, as well as building specialized high-quality electronics in small and medium-range quantities.

“This achievement represents a perfect model of how different international companies can locate a business in Chesapeake and grow together to form a successful venture,” said Chesapeake Mayor Alan P. Krasnoff. "Having two German companies, INIT Inc. and Simtech LLC, choose Chesapeake for their new manufacturing partnership proves our city is a great place for foreign investment.”

 

Cutting the ribbon at the opening of SQM in Chesapeake, VA, are, from left: Christian Mueller, production manager; Hans-Georg Simanowski, owner of SimTech; Dr. Gottfried Greschner, owner and president of INIT GmbH; Roland Staib, president and chief executive officer of INIT Inc.; Chesapeake Mayor Alan Krasnoff; Robert Brown, City of Chesapeake council member; and Michael Eberhardt, supply chain manager, INIT GmbH.

 

Turkmenistan Transportation Officials Visit Dayton

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (GDRTA) in Dayton, OH, recently hosted a high-level delegation of transportation officials from Turkmenistan, arranged through Wright State University’s International Visitors Leadership Program and the U.S. Department of State.

Program advisor Joy Ndiangui said Dayton was selected for the visit mainly because of the city’s unique public transit system, and that the members of the delegation—comprising four transportation officials and two translators—had very specific goals for their visit with agency officials. GDRTA is one of only five U.S. cities that operate electric trolleybuses as part of their public transit fleet, along with diesel and hybrid diesel vehicles. The system also received Ohio’s only five-star Ohio Green Fleet designation from Clean Fuels Ohio for its emission reduction efforts.

Executive staffers presented a special overview of the agency and conducted tours of the headquarters, the bus garage, and the maintenance facilities. Delegation members also rode on GDRTA’s hybrid buses and electric trolleybuses.

“Coming to RTA was the highlight of their visit to Dayton,” Ndiangui said. “Dayton was among a group of other community organizations in the U.S. to put in applications to host visitors under the program. The State Department evaluated the resources we presented in Dayton and found them a good fit with the visitors’ interests.”

GDRTA Executive Director Mark Donaghy added: “It was a great pleasure and honor to host the delegation’s visit to the Dayton region. We were all impressed by their desire to learn about our business firsthand.”

 

GDRTA Executive Director Mark Donaghy, third from right, poses with officials from Turkmenistan in front of one of his system’s buses.

 

COTA Promotes Stitt to President/CEO

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) Board of Trustees has appointed W. Curtis Stitt as the agency’s president/chief executive officer effective Feb. 1. Stitt joined COTA in 1999, serving as legislative and government affairs counsel, vice president of legal and government affairs/general counsel, and most recently as senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Stitt succeeds Bill Lhota, who is retiring after seven and a half years at COTA.

“Curtis Stitt possesses the business and management skills, experience, and strategic vision to take COTA to the next level,” said Linda Mauger, COTA board chair. “We have been impressed with Mr. Stitt’s measured and deliberate management style that is bolstered by his passion for COTA and public transit in our community.”

Lhota added: “Curtis has made significant contributions to the agency and has emerged as a strong leader inside COTA as well as an informed and enthusiastic transit advocate among our industry peers and community stakeholders.”

Rep. Stutzman Attends Vehicle Dedication in Fort Wayne, IN


Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), left, recently visited Citilink in Fort Wayne, IN, for the dedication of eight new Glaval Titan II buses manufactured by Glaval Corporation in Elkhart, IN. The new light duty public transit vehicles will replace more than half of the system’s current Access paratransit fleet when they enter service. The cost of the bus order was $750,000, of which 80 percent came from federal funds. At right is Citilink General Manager Ken Housden.

AROUND THE INDUSTRY

DCTA Showcases New Rail Facility, Next Generation Diesel Railcar

The Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) in Lewisville, TX, held an open house in January for local and regional officials to mark the opening of its 47,000-square-foot rail operations and maintenance facility and to introduce its new generation Stadler GTW 2-6 Diesel Multiple Unit rail vehicles.

The $17 million facility, located on an 80-acre site, is the last remaining component of DCTA’s A-train project. It houses more than 30 employees including DCTA rail operations staff and the maintenance and operations staff of the agency’s operations contractor, Herzog Transit Services Inc. It also houses a regional center to serve as dispatch for the A-train and backup dispatch for Trinity Railway Express commuter rail, which operates between Dallas and Fort Worth.

DCTA has officially accepted four of the 11 rail vehicles it ordered and anticipates that the remainder will arrive by this summer. Each of the vehicles, manufactured by Stadler Bussnang AG, a Swiss company, can seat 104 passengers and has a total capacity of 200. Though up to three vehicles may be run as a unit, DCTA plans to run two coupled vehicles on 20-minute headways during peak service.

The agency has spent the last two years working with Stadler and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to modify the vehicle to comply with American safety standards and to eventually operate concurrently with FRA-compliant equipment through an Alternate Vehicle Technology crashworthiness waiver. Modifications include changes to the fuel tank design, emergency exits, and passenger and operator seats. Other advanced safety features include braking and crash energy management systems.

BART Offers ‘Freedom Passes’ on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In conjunction with its efforts to transport riders to events Jan. 16 commemorating the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in Oakland, CA, made available 5,000 special commemorative flash passes to the event’s organizing committee for free distribution to groups or individuals who made advance reservations.

According to BART, the event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, “Renewing the Dream,” was the largest commemoration of King in northern California.

BART also co-sponsored the 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Musical Tribute, Jan. 15 at the Oakland Paramount, and hosted its own 25th annual celebration of King’s life on Jan. 18, with former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. and BART Board Member Lynette Sweet among the speakers.

 

 

SFMTA Installs 15 New Bike Corrals

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all surface transportation in the city, has increased the number of on-street bicycle parking corrals in the city to 24 with the completion of 15 new corrals over the past year. At the same time, the agency unveiled a new standard bike rack with a circular profile, which will be used in place of the previous standard inverted U rack.

The new bike corrals provide approximately 150 bike racks or 300 bike parking spaces.

On-street bicycle parking corrals are bicycle racks placed in the parking lane at locations where demand for bike parking is greater than can be accommodated on the sidewalk. These facilities benefit the community and the transportation system by:

* Increasing parking capacity and creating potential customers for businesses by converting one motor vehicle parking space into 8-12 bicycle parking spaces.

* Encouraging bicycling as a mode of transportation in accordance with the city’s Transit First Policy.

* Increasing visibility and safety at intersections when bike corrals replace regular parking spaces at those intersections.

* Creating opportunities on the sidewalk for café seating or other street furniture uses.

* Accommodating bicycle parking without cluttering the sidewalk.

“Bicycling is an important part of San Francisco’s transportation system,” said SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan. “Through the city’s Bike Plan, the SFMTA will continue to add dozens of new bike parking spaces and work closely with businesses and neighborhoods to help them bring bicycle facilities to their doorsteps.”

Cubic Announces More than One Million Clipper Cards in Service in 18 Months

Cubic Transportation Systems, has announced that more than one million of its Clipper® contactless regional smart cards are in circulation in the San Francisco Bay area 18 months since it rebranded the card from its previous name, TransLink. The Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) in Oakland, CA, administers the card.

“We’re excited for MTC and its customers that Clipper is winning over new fans who recognize how much easier it makes their commutes,” said Matt Newsome, Cubic’s vice president and regional director for the West Coast.  “Clipper has something for everyone—particularly seniors, youth, and the disabled—who can benefit from discounted fares that are only available with the contactless Clipper card technology.”

Participating public transportation agencies promote the replacement of paper tickets with the modern Clipper card through educational campaigns, stressing such benefits as one-card convenience for all agencies in the region; the capability to add value online; and special fare discount programs for some riders.

The regional Clipper fare collection allows riders to use the Clipper smart card on any of the regional services now linked via the Clipper system.   Participating operators include the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco Municipal Railway, AC Transit, Caltrain, the San Mateo County Transit District, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and Golden Gate buses and ferries.

Cubic took over the contract for the original TransLink regional fare collection system in 2009 and, less than a year later, helped MTC launch the new Clipper system. Cubic operates the customer call center, Clipper Card fulfillment and distribution, technical help desk, the retail merchant network, and the transit benefits system for employer/employee management of transit subsidies.

Temple Owls Ride SEPTA to Big Win


Photo by Andrew Busch/SEPTA

En route to its upset 78-73 victory over the number 5-rated Duke Blue Devils in early January, the Temple University Owls basketball team used the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) Broad Street Line subway for the trip to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. The Owls usually play in a smaller arena in North Philadelphia, but interest was high for the nationally televised game against Duke. Temple Coach Fran Dunphy, left, and SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey talked basketball aboard a subway train before the game. Dunphy said the ride helped keep his team focused: “These are our roots. People from Temple take SEPTA every day. It’s who we are.” The coach said the team plans to use the subway for any future games in South Philadelphia.

 

APTA MEMBER PROFILE

Meet Meg Kester!

Margeurite “Meg” Kester
Marketing and Communications Manager
Intercity Transit
Olympia, WA

How many people work at your agency? 306.

How long have you worked in the industry? 17 years.

How long have you been an APTA member? Intercity Transit has been an APTA member at least as long as I’ve been here.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?

Public transportation is very relevant and very important, and it’s work I find meaningful. I could be marketing gadgets in the private sector, but I think public transportation is good government and it’s something I feel good being connected to—it’s rewarding to me personally as well as professionally.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?

Certainly the networking and the information exchange opportunities. Beyond conferences, there’s the abundance of information available through APTA staff and the web site. I do think that the marketing, communications, and media relations support that APTA provides is of tremendous value, as is the legislative work. I think it’s really important for transit to have a voice, especially in this day and age. And finally, I think the Leadership APTA program is very valuable.

Please explain why or how this has helped.

It is through receiving information about best practices, having the exchange of information, and taking advantage of training opportunities that we achieve agency improvement.

I’m also referencing the broader industry improvement, because the “old transit” is a thing of the past. Transit today has to be and is much more innovative in how it delivers its services. When we have APTA supporting the messaging, then what we try to do as a singular transit agency in our community becomes a much bigger and more impressive message that gets greater attention and an increased response—so we are leveraging that information.

It helps us be successful, not only in ridership, but also with education and awareness—on the value of public transportation.

We also value the legislative activities that APTA organizes and leads. What might be happening on a national or state level does indeed help us on our state and local levels. It both gets attention paid to our issues and brings us funding for capital projects and purchasing new buses.

For example, when APTA presented Intercity Transit with its Outstanding Public Transportation System award, we got a whole lot of traction out of that. Our local elected officials and members of the public in our own community stood up, took note, and celebrated. And the reason we won that award is the community was using our system in record numbers, plus we were getting record levels of federal funding to improve our facilities, and in the midst of all that we were implementing new and innovative programs.

With all those kinds of things happening, in part because of our APTA membership and the benefits that come with it, it results in success and a major award—and becomes almost an affirmation: not only for Intercity Transit, but also for the community that supports it.

What do you like most about your job?

What I love about doing meaningful and important work is that I get to do it with interesting and great people—both at Intercity Transit and people involved in transit across the board. People who are passionate and committed and knowledgeable and talented—and have a motivation to contribute—is motivating and rewarding to me.

What is unique about your agency/business?

One thing that people might be surprised to know is that Mike Harbour, our general manager, was named Boss of the Year last December by the Thurston Chamber of Commerce. With 500 people in the room, he got a standing ovation! People know, respect, and are very fond of him, and his staff thinks the world of him—and his specially prepared breakfasts and homemade cookies, not to mention his riding a stationary bike for an hour to benefit United Way.

Another thing: Intercity Transit was one of the first agencies to sign on to APTA's Sustainability Commitment and has a robust sustainability program.

Something else unique … we’re a mid-sized system, but in the last few years, even with budget constraints, we’ve had three staffers go through Leadership APTA training (including me!)—and there’s a fourth staffer in the current class.

Editor’s Note: Meg participated in this interview while snowbound in her home during the worst snow/ice storm the Pacific Northwest has experienced in 100 years.

Make sure you see Meg's video now that you've read this!

MEET THE APTA STAFF

Meet Clarissa Peterson!

Clarissa Peterson
Web Manager
Information Technology
 
What are the three job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
 
My job is to find the ways we can use online tools best to meet our business goals—whether through helping our members or staff do their jobs more efficiently or by promoting public transportation to the world at large. Three of the main areas I focus on are:

* Keeping all web site content up-to-date.

* Working to improve the functionality of our web properties (such as coming up with new content or making it easier to access existing content).

* Working with vendors on large web initiatives, such as redesigning PublicTransportation.org (last year) and the TCRP web site (this year).
 
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the two most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
 
Yes, I often help members when they have web site questions. For example, we recently changed how we do abstract submissions for the Call for Papers process. A member was having difficulty completing the online submission form, so I walked him through the entire process on the phone.

Also, at the Bus and Rail Conference Planning Subcommittee meetings last month, I made a short presentation and distributed a handout on how to complete abstract reviews online so reviewers could better understand this process.

An important part of our job in the IT Department at APTA is that, as the world relies more on technology, we need to be sure our members are able to use the tools we make available to them and provide help if they are having problems.
 
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
 
There are several efforts I’m particularly proud of.

We completed an overhaul of the Meetings & Conferences section of apta.com. We’ve been able to add a lot of new information to make it much more useful—from details about the different types of registrations to letting people know what benefits they would receive from attending. Having a more informative web site lets potential attendees make better decisions as to whether a conference or workshop is right for them.

We’ve converted a lot of paper forms into online processes, such as the nominations for executive committee and board of directors as well as APTF scholarship and Leadership APTA applications.

I’ve also done a lot of work in finding ways to make our web sites more accessible to people with disabilities. This is important not only because it benefits people with disabilities, but also because the changes will benefit all of our users by making the sites easier to use. This concept of universal design is an important area of focus throughout the public transportation industry.
 
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
 
I started at APTA two years ago. I had worked for APTA’s IT director, Jeff Popovich, at a previous job, and it just happened that he was looking to fill the web manager position at the same time I was looking to move to a new job.

I’ve been here two years, although I’ve worked in the web field for about 10 years.
 
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
 
No, but I’ve worked at other nonprofits and advocacy organizations, and there’s a lot of overlap. For example, my last job was at a civil rights advocacy organization, so I know how a lack of access to public transportation can affect many aspects of people’s lives. I’m also very interested in the connections between public transportation and sustainability, and when I arrived at APTA I was excited to learn about APTA’s Sustainability Commitment.
 
What professional affiliations do you have?
 
Usability Professionals Association (UPA), Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and DC Information Architects.
 
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
 
I once rode in Al Gore’s motorcade when he was vice president.

Make sure you see Clarissa's video now that you've read this!

COMMENTARY

Why Buckhead and the Balance of Its 10-County Region Should Support the Transportation Tax

BY SAM MASSELL

An abbreviated version of this article appeared Jan. 17, 2012, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Transportation is more than a dollars and cents proposition, and is more than a statistic on a graph. It is mobility—this fifth freedom—a social concept, if you wish, for which the benefits cannot be measured with numbers. They must be personally evaluated—by people. The greater the growth and prosperity of a city, the greater the deprivation imposed upon those who are without satisfactory means of transportation. As a community expands geographically and as society expands culturally—as more and more facilities are provided by government and private enterprise to the benefit of the general public, the more absolute is the imprisonment of those who lack mobility.

Yes, I’m addressing the benefits of mass transit—safe, clean, and dependable rail and bus service; the benefits of appropriate roadways—efficient turn lanes, synchronized traffic lights, and adequate signage; the benefits of connectivity—reasonable ways to get from point A to point B in a relaxed state of mind, all summed up in one word: MOBILITY, and the related referendum scheduled for July.

My first paragraph, however, is quoted from a speech I made in 1971 as mayor of Atlanta, in Pittsburgh, to the International Conference on Urban Transportation. It was about our planned referendum on MARTA for mobility needed 40 years ago! The vote for part of the route passed, and traffic congestion was reduced on several major arteries brought about by substitution of a modern rail and bus system—by a 1 percent sales tax—for privately-driven automobiles.

Our “region” then consisted of five counties with slightly over 800,000 registered motor vehicles. Time marches on, and we have grown to a region of 10 counties with 3,205,461 vehicles, and congestion is back, and what we espoused then holds true again today, and needs public support. But, it’s understandable that when asked to vote yourself a tax, it’s reasonable to ask “what do I get in return?”

It is important that we see the big picture—the region, if you wish, as you can be certain that its image affects decisions of individuals and businesses when considering relocation. If rankings for the region are favorable, you can count on positive impact on the parts within. The Buckhead Coalition, which represents only a very small segment of the region, is on record as endorsing the referendum. This community is the center of the 10-county area, and finds itself in charge of safe and comfortable mobility for those traveling through as well as for those residing within.

With $50 million committed for roadway and transit improvements on Piedmont and Roswell roads from the Lindbergh MARTA station to the Sandy Springs city limits, one of Buckhead’s most congested arteries will be greatly improved. Add to that $1,713,450 improvements earmarked for Peachtree Road, plus $525,375 road work on Northside Drive through Buckhead, and the quality of life of the many automobile drivers who live in or visit this community will personally benefit.

Perhaps the impact of greatest magnitude on sustainability of the economic health of Buckhead included in this Transportation Investment Act, is the little talked about Clifton Corridor Transit (MARTA rail service between Buckhead’s Lindbergh Station and Emory University/Centers for Disease Control), at a total funding commitment of $700 million!

The east/west corridor, traversing these two major population centers of the City of Atlanta and the County of DeKalb, is presently one of the least efficient connectors in the metropolitan region. To provide rail transportation between these two destinations, connecting Atlanta’s major Buckhead Community and DeKalb’s major Emory Community, is expected to generate dynamic and dense rail patronage, predicted to reach 2,652,000 annual ridership within a couple of years of completion.

The overall economic impact of the University on Atlanta is more than $5.1 billion a year! Emory’s president, Jim Wagner, states “Innovation and creativity are vital to building a 21st century economy that will be able to provide job opportunities for generations to come.” To me, the economic impact of this improvement itself should pay us back the penny sales tax many times over.

With our current limited two-lane Lindbergh/LaVista connection, this is a prime example of two influential communities that can be expected to meld with such a long missing handshake. With three MARTA stations in Buckhead, with a total current ridership of 4,853,273, the various other MARTA improvements totaling $1,383,540,000 will benefit the present riders and is expected to attract new patrons, also to Buckhead’s benefit.

These facts are rather impressive, but, as I said 40 years ago, “transportation is more than a dollars and cents proposition, and is more than a statistic on a graph. It is mobility—this fifth freedom.”

Sam Massell is president of the Buckhead Coalition, and served as mayor of Atlanta from 1970-74 when he structured the 1 percent sales tax funding to win the MARTA referendum.

APTA NEWS

Award Programs Offer Opportunities to Excel

APTA wants all its members to excel and be recognized—and that’s why the association offers a variety of award and competition programs. From safety and customer service to vehicle safety and maintenance skills, APTA provides numerous opportunities for its individual and organizational members to shine.

Call Center Challenge
For example, APTA’s annual Call Center Challenge, held during the Marketing & Communications Workshop, honors the outstanding efforts of APTA member transit system call center personnel to handle real-life scenarios. Robert Nedrow, a senior customer service representative with Seattle’s Sound Transit, said winning the 2011 APTA Call Center Challenge was the most memorable experience of his public transportation career.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something truly sensational,” he said, “and I felt honored just to be chosen to represent Sound Transit. Winning was just an added bonus because it was the people who truly made the entire event successful and meaningful.” He received extensive recognition from fellow employees, the board of directors, and followers of Sound Transit’s Twitter feed, as well as local news media and Passenger Transport.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) employs two earlier Call Center Challenge winners, Iris Bernard-Glover (2010) and Robyn Jeoffroy (2009).

Bernard-Glover called her experience in the competition “enjoyable, uplifting, and quite exhilarating,” noting the truth of dealing with the “outrageous or humorous questions and situations we experience within the transportation industry.”

Jeoffroy described how the competition brought her together with leaders in her field. “I personally enjoyed observing how other call center professionals handled difficult calls and resolved customer’s concerns,” she added. “I have taken the knowledge gained from the Call Center Challenge experience to improve my skills. I use the experience and knowledge daily to provide the best customer service for my customers…each and every call.”

APTA Award Program
Each year at the APTA Annual Meeting, the association presents a slate of awards honoring excellence in the public transportation industry on both the individual and organizational levels. APTA named Hugh A. Mose, general manager of the Centre Area Transportation Authority in State College, PA, its Outstanding Public Transportation Manager in 2010.

“Receiving the 2010 Public Transportation Manager of the Year award has absolutely been the high point of my career,” Mose said. “The award has resulted in more recognition from my industry colleagues than I ever imagined, generated praise in my own community that still continues a year later, and became an ongoing source of good-natured ribbing from my family and friends….It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me professionally in the 35 years in the transit industry.”

AdWheel Awards
The AdWheel Award competition, now in its 33rd year, honors outstanding marketing and communications efforts. It encompasses print, broadcast, campaign, social media, and special event categories for various sizes of public transit agencies and business members.

“Any kind of national recognition that the SFRTA/Tri-Rail receives only enhances our stature within our local community and validates the efforts of the authority’s professional team,” said Bonnie Arnold, public information officer, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), Pompano Beach, FL. “At a time when marketing and communications budgets are being slashed by agencies across the nation, our budget has remained consistent, in part because of winning awards like AdWheel. We proudly house our AdWheel Awards in a display case in our lobby and the entire agency takes pride in them because they represent a team effort by numerous departments, not just marketing and communications.”

Richard Maxwell, assistant vice president of marketing, Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Fort Worth, TX, agreed with Arnold. “I love the excitement of competing against my peers. First and foremost, I want to do good work that will make a difference for my agency and community, i.e. increasing ridership or awareness, etc. But secondly, AdWheel gives me feedback on how successful my efforts are compared to other peer agencies in terms of best practices and creativity, and that helps me to improve whether I win or not. I have been fortunate to win awards but still the most important aspect of AdWheel is the sharing of ideas within our industry. I get more new ideas by seeing the other entries than anything else I do.”

Other award programs under the APTA umbrella include the International Bus Roadeo and International Rail Rodeo, which honor the best of the best bus and rail operators and maintenance teams, as well as the Bus Operator Customer Service Challenge, and the Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards.

APTA Marketing Workshop to be Held Feb. 26-29 in Miami

The 2012 APTA Marketing & Communications Workshop, Feb. 26-29 at the Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel in Miami, FL, will consider a number of timely and important topics for public transit marketing and communications professionals.

The workshop serves as an important educational forum, offering sessions on all aspects of public transit marketing and communications including social media; research; crisis communications; creating partnerships; and successful ridership initiatives.

The opening session keynote address will be delivered by John R. Patterson, author of Wired and Dangerous, focusing on how the Internet and technology have changed how public transit riders interact with and view organizations.

The workshop kicks off Feb. 26 with a special session to introduce attendees new to the public transit industry to the resources and people who can ease their entry into the industry. The conference program also will include activities—such as the Marketing Exchange, roundtables, and networking opportunities—designed to bring together marketing and communications professionals for discussions in an informal setting.

Information on the workshop, including the preliminary program, registration form, and hotel registration, is available here.


Top: Heads of municipal public transportation agencies in the Los Angeles area gathered recently for a general managers’ meeting at Los Angeles Metro. At far left is APTA President & CEO Michael P. Melaniphy, who also toured Metro’s facilities during his visit, bottom, with Arthur T. Leahy, left, Los Angeles Metro chief executive officer, and Nick Madanat, director of vehicle maintenance and engineering.

 

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Simon Siew
IRVINE, CA—Simon Siew has joined HID Global as managing director, identity and access management, for the Asia Pacific Region, based in Hong Kong.

Siew joins the firm after five years as managing director of a major security systems, access control, and locking systems company, and a long career in sales and marketing.

Michael Brainard
OMAHA, NE—Michael Brainard has joined HDR as director of government compliance.

Most recently, Brainard was founder and president of the Brainard Group LLC, which he founded in 2007. He has more than 30 years of experience guiding corporations through the government contracting process.
  
Katharine Eagan
TAMPA, FL—Katharine Eagan, chief of service development at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) since 2009, has been promoted to chief operating officer.

Eagan came to HART after directing service development at the Maryland Transit Administration in Baltimore.



  
Jacob Craig
CINCINNATI, OH—Jacob Craig, P.E., has joined HDR as a senior rail engineer/project manager based in the Cincinnati office. His responsibilities include managing rail construction oversight projects for Class I railroads and regional and short lines covering Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee.

Craig joins HDR after serving as a project manager with Anderson and Associates Inc. His 14 years of industry experience also include serving as a staff liaison to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit as manager, programs.
  
Jessica Mitchell
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—IndyGo has named Jessica Mitchell its new manager of communications.

She previously worked for the South Bend Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Michiana Area Council of Governments.
  
Cliff Hall
DALLAS, TX—Stantec hired Cliff Hall as a principal in the company’s Dallas-based transportation practice.

Hall has more than 27 years of domestic and international experience in bridge, light rail transit, airport, major freeway interchange, railroad, and road projects. Prior to joining Stantec, he played a significant role in the development of several key projects for Texas DOT.




Angela Miller
OCEANSIDE, CA—Angela Miller, chief technology officer and chief sustainability officer for the North County Transit District (NCTD), has been named one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 Information Technology Leaders for 2012. IDG’s Computerworld is a leading publication for the information technology industry.

Miller left a Global Fortune 100 company four years ago to work at NCTD because she wanted to do more than “make widgets because they were cool.” Instead, she said, “I wanted the opportunity to work as part of a high-performing team that could deliver creative projects for customers.”

Among her accomplishments, Miller secured competitive funds to install four solar projects on NCTD property, built a unique Green Data Center, and oversaw the launch of wireless Internet and electronic ticketing systems on Coaster commuter rail and real-time arrival information for the Breeze bus system.
  
Elizabeth G. (Libby) James
GREENSBORO, NC—Elizabeth G. (Libby) James, public transportation manager for the city of Greensboro, was named Public Official of the Year by the North Carolina Triangle Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

James received recognition for her oversight of the new, 66,000-square-foot Greensboro Transit Authority Operations/Maintenance Facility and Administrative Offices, the first public municipal building in the city to achieve LEED Gold status.



  
Gary Slagel
DALLAS, TX—Former Richardson Mayor Gary Slagel has been appointed to represent the municipalities of Richardson, Addison, Highland Park, and University Park on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors.

Slagel, elected to the city council in 1987, served as mayor from 1991 to 2007, then again from 2009 to 2011. He is currently president and chief executive officer of CapitalSoft, a company that develops and implements program management software for the public and private sector construction markets.



  
Roy Kienitz, Rick Capka
NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) announced the appointments of Roy Kienitz, former DOT undersecretary for policy, as a senior advisor in the New York City office, and Rick Capka as area manager-construction services in the Seattle office.

While at DOT, Kienitz assisted Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in formulating national policies affecting surface transportation and aviation. He also has served as deputy chief of staff for former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell; secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning; and executive director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

Capka most recently served as a construction manager for Sound Transit, working on several underground construction contracts associated with the University Link light rail in Seattle. Earlier he was a resident engineer for PB, working on the Beacon Hill tunnel and station of Sound Transit’s Central Link light rail.


Frederick L. Daniels Jr., Barbara Babbit Kaufman, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Harold Buckley Sr.
ATLANTA, GA—The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Board of Directors elected Frederick L. Daniels Jr., representing DeKalb County, as its chair for 2012. He is executive vice president of Citizens Trust Bank. Vice chair is entrepreneur Barbara Babbit Kaufman (Fulton County); secretary, Juanita Jones Abernathy (Atlanta), former educator and retired sales director; and treasurer, Harold Buckley Sr. (DeKalb), owner/broker, Precision Realty.

Fran O'Connor
EDISON, NJ—Fran O’Connor has joined Atkins as a principal project director for its national tolls sector.

O’Connor worked for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority in management capacities for 16 years, ultimately serving as the deputy director of electronic toll collection (ETC). He also was vice president of operations for Electronic Transaction Consultants Corporation (ETC Corporation) and held several senior toll customer service positions with Affiliated Computer Services Inc.



   
Vincent C. Ewing
OAKLAND, CA—AC Transit has named Vincent C. Ewing its general counsel.

Ewing holds a law degree from Howard University School of Law and has 12 years of California municipal law experience. He is a former deputy city attorney for Los Angeles, assistant city attorney for Santa Rosa, city attorney for East Palo Alto, and a prosecutor of violent crimes for the city of Los Angeles.
  




Mike Martinez

AUSTIN, TX—Mike Martinez, chairman of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors since 2010 and a member of the Austin City Council, has been named “Government Leader of the Year” by the Alliance for Public Transportation.

Martinez has served on the board of directors for more than four years and was elected to the city council in 2006. He is a retired firefighter and former president of the Austin Firefighters Association.
  


Charles F. (Chuck) King

NEW YORK, NY—Charles F. (Chuck) King, P.E., has joined Urban Engineers as vice president and manager of the New York City office.

King brings more than 35 years of diverse experience in the transportation industry to this position.
  
Kathi Thompson
EDMONDS, WA—HDR has promoted Kathi Thompson to director of real estate services from her previous position as assistant director of real estate services.

Thompson has more than 25 years of transportation experience. She joined HDR in 2007 as part of the company’s acquisition of real-estate consulting firm PHAROS Corporation. Before joining PHAROS, she was Sound Transit’s commuter rail senior representative for real estate services.

Pat McCarthy, Aaron Reardon, Julia Patterson
SEATTLE, WA—The Sound Transit Board of Directors elected Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy to serve as its chair for the next two years.

McCarthy succeeds Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, who will become one of the board’s two vice chairs along with longtime board member Julia Patterson of the King County Council. The outgoing vice chairs are Fred Butler of the Issaquah City Council and Claudia Thomas of the Lakewood City Council, who has served on the board for 10 years.

David Cangany
CINCINNATI, OH—Cincinnati Metro has named David Cangany station manager for the agency’s Queensgate and Bond Hill operating facilities, with responsibility for day-to-day operations.

Cangany has more than seven years of experience in the transit industry. He comes to Metro from the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky in Fort Wright, KY, where he was manager of special services. He also worked as transportation supervisor for IndyGo in Indianapolis, IN, and began his public transit career as an operator for Indiana University Campus Bus Service and Bloomington Transit while a student at Indiana University in Bloomington.

  
Rob Bryans
ATLANTA, GA—Rob Bryans has joined RouteMatch Software as international sales director.

Bryans most recently was director of sales and marketing for TranSched Systems. Earlier in his career, he was a key account manager at Trapeze Group.




  
Richard P. Whitwell
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Richard P. Whitwell, B.Sc, has joined Gannett Fleming as a senior project manager in the Program Management Practice, based in San Francisco.

Whitwell has more than 20 years of experience in electronic controls and measurement systems in the machine tool industrial sector, coupled with an additional 20 years in rapid transit.



  
Erin McGrath
SAN RAFAEL, CA—Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) announced that Erin McGrath has returned to her former position of chief financial officer. She previously left SMART in 2010 to spend more time with her family.

McGrath’s extensive experience includes almost 10 years working in finance for the City and County of San Francisco.