Passenger Transport - April 20, 2012
FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, second from left, announces a $38 million grant for Capital Metro’s MetroRapid BRT program. Joining Rogoff are, from left, Austin City Councilman and Capital Metro Chairman Mike Martinez; Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell; and Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson.
AC Transit in Oakland, CA, joined a coalition of regional public transit partners serving seven million residents of the San Francisco Bay area on April 10 to open the region’s newest hydrogen production and dispensing station. The facility in Emeryville, CA, will provide fuel to the latest generation of zero-emission fuel cell buses operating in AC Transit’s service area.
“For over a decade, AC Transit has been developing the most comprehensive, zero-emission, fuel cell transit program in North America, and operating zero-emission buses in real-world service. Now, with increased fueling capacity, we have a greater capability to offer clean, quiet, zero-emission transportation to the communities we serve,” said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo.
The new on-site energy station, engineered by Linde North America, Jacobs, and EPC and built by W.L. Butler Construction, demonstrates the use of “renewable” hydrogen produced using Proton OnSite’s solar-powered electrolyzer. Engineering and construction firm Cupertino Electric Inc. installed a 510-kilowatt DC solar photovoltaic system for AC Transit that will generate energy to help fuel the public transit system’s hydrogen-powered buses running throughout the region.
The station also features advancements in compression and dispensing technology that will allow buses to refuel at rates up to 5 kilograms/minute—a time comparable to refueling diesel buses.
Because of a major grant from the California Air Resources Board, one dispenser at the fueling station is accessible to the public for use with hydrogen fuel cell electric passenger cars.
Rather than burning the fuel they use, fuel cells operate by electrochemically combining hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity and emit only water vapor. AC Transit operates 12 40-foot hybrid-electric, zero-emission fuel cell buses.
In recognition of AC Transit’s investment in solar installations at its facilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) presented the agency with a check representing what will amount to more than $500,000 in rebate incentives from PG&E through the California Solar Initiative program.
Fueling one of AC Transit’s hydrogen fuel cell buses at the new facility in Emeryville, CA, are, from left, Jaimie Levin, AC Transit fuel cell program manager; AC Transit General Manager David Armijo; and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) has released a report focusing on the current status of U.S. transportation infrastructure—including rail networks, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and seaports—and the competition for scarce dollars to fix or maintain them all.
The April 18 S&P CreditWeek Special Report is titled “U.S. Infrastructure: How To Break The Logjam For Funding.”
“We're facing an almost perfect storm,” said Jodi E. Hecht, S&P’s credit analyst in the Infrastructure & Renewable Energy Group. “Gas tax revenues at both the state and federal levels, which fund highway construction, are flat. There's gridlock in the U.S. Congress over long-term transportation funding. The private sector is looking for ways to invest in this sector, but the U.S. public-private partnership model is still evolving. All of this is compounded by a weakened economy rebounding from the recession and the ever-growing need for infrastructure repair and maintenance because of a growing population.”
Topics addressed in the publication include:
* U.S. Transportation Infrastructure Falls Into Disrepair While Washington Bickers Over Funding;
* U.S. Transportation Infrastructure: Increasingly Unpredictable Federal Funding Could Stall Projects;
* Infrastructure Spending Keeps Rails And Trucks Moving In The U.S.; and
* Credit FAQ: Standard & Poor’s Approach To Analyzing U.S. Department of Transportation TIFIA Debt Instruments.
The reports are available here to subscribers of RatingsDirect on the Global Credit Portal. Non-subscribers can purchase copies by calling (212) 438-7280 or sending an e-mail. Ratings information can also be found on Standard & Poor’s public website by using the Ratings search box located in the left column.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was among the dignitaries participating in ground-breaking ceremonies April 12 for the $196.6 million Sun Link modern streetcar project in Tucson, AZ.
The 3.9-mile line will directly connect thousands of commuters with Tucson’s major downtown employers, health care facilities, the University of Arizona, and regional attractions. It will serve a population of more than 85,000 people who live and work within walking distance of 17 planned stops.
The service also will fill a gap by offering direct, high-capacity public transit connections among downtown Tucson, the university, the Arizona Health Sciences Center, and other points in between. Travel times between the University District and downtown should significantly over current bus service once the line enters service.
“Tucson is joining a growing list of American cities—from Portland, OR, to Charlotte, NC—where the modern streetcar is spurring economic development, revitalizing downtown neighborhoods, and attracting a new generation of riders,” LaHood said.
The streetcar project is expected to create an estimated 1,200 construction-related jobs. Oregon Iron Works Inc./United Streetcar, a U.S. manufacturer of modern streetcar vehicles, has been awarded the contract to build the cars.
DOT has committed $78.7 million to the $196.6 million project thus far, including $63 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) funds awarded in 2010 and $15.7 million from other funding sources.
Photo: US DOT
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) in Aspen, CO, broke ground April 14 for its Bus Rapid Transit service, “VelociRFTA.” The service takes its name from the velociraptor, the fastest of the land dinosaurs featured in the book and movie Jurassic Park.
Peter M. Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, attended the ceremonies.
The $46.4 million line will connect Aspen and Glenwood Springs in a one-hour trip when it enters service next year, with 14 new stations at nine locations along the route. The stations with the highest use will offer such amenities as public art and gathering places, Wi-Fi, ticket vending machines, food and drink vending machines, and restrooms.
The service will use 18 low floor buses powered by compressed natural gas. It will operate at least 14 hours per weekday, every 10 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours and every 15 minutes at other times.
Photo by Leslie Healy
U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group released a report showing that U.S. residents—especially those ages 16-34—have been driving less since the middle of the last decade.
The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, illustrates that the average American in 2011 was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004—the first decline since World War II. However, the average American between ages 16 and 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than in 2001.
In addition, the percentage of young Americans without driver’s licenses rose from 21 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2010.
“For the first time in two generations, there has been a significant shift in how many miles Americans are driving each year,” said Phineas Baxandall, senior transportation analyst for U.S. PIRG Education Fund and a co-author of the report. “America needs to understand these trends when deciding how to focus our future transportation investments, especially when transportation dollars are so scarce.”
U.S. PIRG suggests that the trend away from steady growth in driving may be long-lasting, even once the economy recovers. The report cites many reasons why young people are driving less, such as higher gas prices; new licensing laws; improvements in technology that support alternative transportation; and changes in their values and preferences.
The report is available for download.
The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) recently published Model-Based Transportation Performance: A Comparative Framework and Literature Synthesis, a research report that links transportation performance measures with data from simulation tools, develops a common framework by which to compare many of the measures, and synthesizes the types and results of these measures as implemented to date.
“In a time of serious fiscal and environmental constraints, there has been a renewed call to identify transportation investments and related policy decisions that will optimize transportation, environmental, economic, and equity outcomes,” said Caroline Rodier, Ph.D., principal investigator on the report.
The study demonstrates that many performance measures can be used to quantify impacts of various transportation policies, but it is often unclear how those measures relate and how they can be measured with existing modeling tools. Among the findings:
* Most of the recommended performance measures have not been implemented in transportation and land-use planning studies in the United States. More of them have been used in Europe;
* The survey showed little commonality in the equity measures implemented in studies to date;
* Few economic performance measures have been implemented in the U.S. Regional governments and community groups have evaluated the financial cost of transportation plans but rarely their cost-effectiveness; and
* Environmental performance measures related to energy, air quality, and climate change have been frequently evaluated.
The 103-page report is available here.
MTI also released Carnage Interrupted: An Analysis of Fifteen Terrorist Plots Against Public Surface Transportation, which examines several factors in 13 plots that authorities uncovered and foiled between 1997 and 2010 before attacks could be carried out. It also presents an additional two cases in which terrorists attempted to carry out attacks that failed.
Seven of the plots took place in the U.S. and four in the United Kingdom. Although motive was not critical to the selection of the plots, all but one involve individuals or groups inspired by al Qaeda’s ideology of violent global jihad against the west. The exception is the 1997 Flatbush plot, in which two terrorists, both of them with connections to Hamas and angered by events in Palestine, simply wanted to kill as many Jews as possible to express their opposition to U.S. support for Israel. Other sources suggest that the Flatbush plotters wanted to force the release of jailed Islamist terrorists in the U.S.
“Much can be learned from terrorists’ failures,” the report states. “They offer insights into what terrorists are thinking, how they view and select targets, and what countermeasures appear to be more effective.”
To download this report, click here.
MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit) has renamed its 100th Street Bus Depot in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, the World War II African-American military pilots and support personnel who made up the famed flight-training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Over the years, 12 former Tuskegee Airmen have been employed in the NYC Transit system; two are still alive: Reginald T. Brewster and Noel R. Harris.
The dedication ceremony at the renamed Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot included the unveiling of a bronze commemorative plaque newly installed in the entryway. A logo, bearing an artistic rendering of three Tuskegee Airmen and the red-tail P-40 Mustangs they flew, has been incorporated in the plaque, while depot signage has been installed and decals affixed to each bus assigned to the depot.
“The Tuskegee Airmen overcame so much to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of the War, thanks to the numerous civil rights organizations that convinced the Army to create this iconic African-American pursuit squadron,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “These heroes included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance, and support staff. We see a very similar dynamic at the bus depot: bus operators, mechanics, and other personnel all working together toward one common goal. That is what makes today’s dedication ceremony that much more special.”
The state-of-the-art bus maintenance and storage facility opened in 2003 with a total building area of 349,500 square feet on four fully enclosed floors and a mezzanine. It currently houses seven bus routes, 130 buses, and 460 employees.
Two former members of the Tuskegee Airmen—Reginald T. Brewster, foreground left, and Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, center—attend the renaming ceremony for NYC Transit’s 100th Street Bus Depot to the Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot. At right is Darryl Irick, president of MTA Bus and senior vice president, NYC Transit's Department of Buses.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) Board of Commissioners in Las Vegas has promoted Tina Quigley from deputy general manager to general manager of the agency. She succeeds Jacob Snow.
Quigley joined the RTC in 2005 as deputy general manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations and administration of the agency. She helped launch the RTC’s Bus Rapid Transit projects and oversaw the building of three park-and-ride facilities, a state-of-the-art transit facility, a unique traffic management facility, and a bus maintenance facility.
She has more than 20 years experience in transportation; before coming to RTC, she was assistant director of planning and construction for the Clark County Department of Aviation.
The National Association of Women Business Owners recently recognized Quigley with its 2011 Woman of Distinction Award for Government Services.
Director of Business Development
Leadership APTA Class of 2011
How many people do you employ/how many people at your business?
Proterra has approximately 110 employees.
How long have you worked in the industry? 14 years
How long have you been an APTA member? 12 years
What drew you to a career in public transportation?
I’m an environmentalist and I strongly believe in the social good of public works. Beyond that, to be honest, I love really cool high-tech propulsion technology—which I’ve found is often invented first in buses.
My enthusiasm for all things “public transportation” began while I was an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. I was studying mechanical engineering with a focus in hybrid car technology and had the opportunity to work with graduate students on a Georgetown University methanol-fueled FTA-funded fuel cell bus. That was my kick-start event and I was instantly hooked. After graduation, I had the wonderful fortune to join a startup in San Diego, inventing hybrid propulsion systems for buses and trucks.
What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource that helps you do your job?
What I find the most valuable is the unbelievable network of professionals within the industry that provides an excellent resource to members. Over the years, I’ve been able to call on these individuals for mentorship and industry knowledge and seen a direct impact on the ability to collectively get the job done of moving people via public transportation.
Please explain why or how this has helped.
When I was a young engineer, the public transportation industry was extremely receptive to me on a national scale. I was invited to conferences, asked to take part on committees, and even to present at national APTA meetings. Of course, that’s a somewhat personal perspective. Professionally, I found that APTA’s success in bringing together public and private partnerships—from the OEM through the vendors to the transit agencies with local, state, and federal regulators assisting—to be incredibly valuable. APTA maintains the role of facilitator and continuously strives to improve this collaboration, ensuring the riding public is well served.
Personally and professionally, being a part of the Leadership APTA Class of 2011 was both a special and a rewarding experience. It provided me with an opportunity to go beyond my current network of industry professionals and learn from knowledgeable mentors and transit industry veterans in highly educational sessions. Beyond education, we shared stories and lessons among this broad network of people—all for the common goal of bettering public transit. The ability to network—with other APTA leaders in my class and previous classes—was tremendous.
What do you like most about your job?
I appreciate the openness of public transit professionals—from general managers of the largest systems to the service workers of the smallest—to talk about their passion for this industry. All of us know we can make a difference in the daily lives of ordinary citizens getting to work, to school, to grocery stores, to doctors, or just to the movies.
I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of facilitating public-private partnerships. I’ve also had the chance to demonstrate locally, nationally, and internationally the revolutionary products I work with. I’ve been able to work on truly “industry-changing” projects, not only seeing change but being a part of it.
What is unique about your business?
We are continuing to move past demonstration into the production phase of 100 percent battery-electric buses capable of operating for up to 24 hours a day with less cost per mile than any other competing technology. This February, we completed testing at the Altoona [PA] Bus Research and Testing Center—a federal requirement of every new model transit bus. The testing assesses structural durability, performance, and reliability. Compared to zero emission, heavy-duty buses, Proterra’s EcoRideTM BE35 performed with the highest fuel economy and lowest exterior noise to date. At Proterra, we are truly making history, one bus at a time.
Make sure you see Joshua Goldman’s video, now that you've read this!
What are your primary job responsibilities?
I work directly for APTA’s Chief Financial Officer (and indirectly for others in my department). I develop my supervisor’s agenda for the day, which includes such items as any meetings she might have or documents that need signing. I develop the weekly online calendar and ensure that the entire department receives all the materials it needs each day—including the mail and printed checks to be signed. I’m also responsible for sending all contracts over $10,000 to our secretary/treasurer, and I maintain the original contract files.
Every other week I bring a smile to the faces of certain APTA staff—because I hand them their paychecks!
Do you have direct contact with APTA members?
I used to work with members nearly daily—but when my previous supervisor no longer dealt with committees, my contact with members was reduced. As I said, I communicate frequently with APTA’s secretary/treasurer, plus I work with the Budget Committee.
But here are a couple of stories about dealing with members over the years that stand out in my mind.
One member, a general manager, was calling APTA looking for information. He remembered my name from the bus roadeo, he found me online, and called me directly. I researched his question, then called and told him who he needed to talk to. Then he called me back and thanked me, because, he said, he finally got the information he wanted.
Another time, a member of the Financial Management Committee called me, concerned that she would not be able to attend the meeting. She was very concerned that she would lose out on the information exchanged at the meeting, which is why I arranged for a conference call so she could participate.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
When I first started at APTA, I created the International Bus Roadeo Handbook—a step-by-step set of instructions for how to compete in the roadeo. Instead of everyone receiving a bunch of Xeroxed pages about different aspects of the event, participants for the first time had what was basically an instruction manual. This covered everything from where they first needed to assemble, to when they had to finish their tasks, to where they could find the swap meet.
I really enjoy working on the roadeo. I handle the banquet ticket distribution for the participants, so I have the opportunity to interact with all of them. I used to know everyone’s names, but now, so many have retired … Even so, they all know my name!
I tell them that they are all winners because they’ve made it to the point of being at the actual roadeo. And when it’s over, I help them find the tables they want to sit at—which can sometimes be a delicate situation, since no one wants to be at the same table as a competitor!
How did you “land” at APTA?
I saw an ad in The Washington Post. I saw two ads, actually, and got offers for both of them. I chose APTA because it offered something different from what I’d been doing (at the State Department)—and when I found out it was public transit—I said hey! I need to be a part of that. When I came to APTA, Metro’s Red Line was just starting.
Initially, I worked for the Director of Rail and the Director of Bus—so I got to travel, something I hadn’t done before!
How long have you worked here?
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I sang in a church choir, starting at age 10. I won’t say how long I’ve been doing that … Also, I started Weight Watchers and have so far lost 17 pounds—in a month and a half.
Make sure you see Cheryl Edwards' video, now that you've read this!
Now’s your chance! Make sure to take the opportunity to attend the International Bus Roadeo competition at the 2012 Bus & Paratransit Conference—May 6-9 in Long Beach, CA. Bus operators and maintenance teams throughout North America will go head-to-head to select the “best of the best” at the annual event, which begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, May 6, in the Arena Parking Lot of the conference site, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.
In most years, the roadeo competition takes place at a location remote from the conference events. This year’s site is within walking distance of the Renaissance and Westin hotels, and Long Beach Transit will provide limited shuttle service from those hotels and the Hilton beginning at 7 a.m.
Maps and directions will be available at the roadeo and conference registration desks.
Also on the morning of May 6, APTA will hold a new session: the Mid-Level Managers Welcome & Orientation Breakfast Meeting, 7-8:45 a.m.
Mid-level managers play key roles in the public transit industry. Along with focusing on the needs of their organization, they need to broaden their skills and professional network. Roundtable discussions will give participants the opportunity to share their concerns and challenges and learn from their peers.
This event is free, but pre-registration is requested. Please e-mail your intent to attend to Jose Reyes by April 27. Onsite registration will be on a space-available basis.
More information about the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference is available at the web site.
Mary Childress has joined APTA as its chief financial officer.
Childress has more than 25 years experience leading the financial and administrative functions of associations and nonprofit organizations. Before coming to APTA, she was chief operating officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Previously, she held senior-level finance positions at the American Wind Energy Association, Optical Society of America, National Association for Home Care, and Partnership for Democracy organizations.
“Mary Childress brings a wealth of experience and expertise to APTA,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Her strong financial know-how and her diverse association background will be invaluable for our association.”
A graduate of the University of Maryland, Childress holds designations as a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Association Executive. She succeeds L. Samuel Kerns, who joined the American Forest and Paper Association.
Join APTA and other public transportation systems and businesses in celebrating the seventh annual National Dump the Pump Day on June 21.
Sponsored by APTA, National Dump the Pump Day is a public awareness day designed to encourage people to leave their cars at home and take public transportation instead. In light of high gas prices, the theme of this year’s National Dump the Pump Day is “Dump the Pump. Save Money. Ride Transit.”
To assist participants in conducting local activities, APTA has developed an online toolkit that includes such downloadable items as fact sheets, logos, ads, and button/sticker artwork. To access the toolkit, click here.
Finally, organizations participating in this year’s Dump the Pump Day are asked to contact Virginia Miller.
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) is accepting problem statements through June 15 for the Fiscal Year 2013 research program.
TCRP undertakes applied research and technical activities focusing on the needs of public transit operating agencies. This research covers all areas of transportation and is consistent with, and supportive of, the Federal Transit Administration’s strategic research goals and TCRP strategic priorities.
People who have previously submitted research problem statements that were not selected for funding, but remain relevant, are invited to resubmit these statements for consideration. Many good research topics are not selected each year due to the level of funding that is available.
For instructions and further details, click here or submit statements directly.
BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor
Earlier this year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) honored 17 public transportation and rail agencies across the U.S. for achieving the “Gold Standard,” or highest rating, on its latest TSA Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement.
What can public transportation agencies do to reach this level of security for both their employees and their passengers? Two of the honored organizations shared their experiences.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
John P. Joyce, chief of police for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, provided an outline to help public transportation agencies institute or improve their security efforts.
“I would suggest that the agency start with self-assessment. They should assess where they are and what their security posture is right now. Then they can identify the gaps between where they are and where they want to be,” he said, noting that a visit to the TSA website is a good first step.
Joyce suggested beginning by creating an umbrella emergency operations plan, “a system-wide plan that could deal with a whole host of possible scenarios, from natural disasters to terrorism.” Other preliminary efforts could include instituting access control to public transit facilities and implementing background investigations for employees.
Small public transit agencies with limited internal resources can look to TSA for help with their security plans, Joyce said. Additionally, agency representatives can contact federal Transportation Security Inspectors who have received training on both airport and public transit security measures.
Another partnership for public transit systems to forge is with municipal emergency management agencies. “You’ll need a place at the table,” Joyce said. “Work with these people so they understand what your security gaps are and that the problem is not only yours, but that of the whole region.”
Central Ohio Transit Authority
In Columbus, OH, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) responded to assaults on its bus operators in 2005 by creating a Security Committee with representatives of the agency’s security department and the Columbus Police Department.
“Some people would board the bus without the correct fare. When they were challenged, they would assault the operator—sometimes it was as simple as spitting at or throwing a drink on the operator—and then take off running,” said Stan Alverson, COTA director of safety and security. “Once the Security Committee started meeting on a monthly basis, we started placing uniformed officers on the affected routes during non-rush hours and plainclothes officers during rush hours.”
COTA also partnered with TSA to begin implementing Visual Intermodal Preventative Response teams (VIPRs), which deal with specific security concerns. A VIPR may include federal air marshals, TSA agents, behavioral specialists, bomb specialists, special duty officers, and K-9 teams trained to sniff out drugs or explosives.
“The teams set up in the busiest parts of downtown Columbus,” Alverson explained. “COTA operates 1,400 buses in downtown area every day, so the team will board the bus with its dogs. We’ve seen incidents when, as the bus pulled up and people on board would see the officers and the dogs, they would throw drugs and weapons out the bus windows.”
John P. Joyce, center, chief, GCRTA Transit Police, accepts the TSA Gold Standard Award from Fred Goodine, left, TSA assistant deputy general manager and branch chief for stakeholder relations, and Mike Young, TSA federal security director.
BY MICHAEL GILLIS, Media Relations Manager, Metra, Chicago, IL
Early on the morning of Nov. 3, 2011, a CN freight train derailed at an intersection with Metra’s Milwaukee West Line tracks near Bartlett, IL. The tangled mass of crushed freight cars and twisted rails made clear immediately that the Milwaukee West Line wouldn’t be operating normally that day—and that restoring normal service anytime soon would require a huge effort.
“I knew right when I heard there was a derailment at the Spaulding Crossing that we were going to gave trouble running service on the line,” said Don Orseno, Metra’s chief transportation officer.
Most of the line’s trains were trapped in the overnight storage yard to the west, prevented by the accident from making their trip east into Chicago.
And yet, less than 24 hours later, Metra trains were again rolling out of the yard to serve the line’s 12,000 passengers.
To make that happen, a lot of hands pitched in—from Metra as well as a variety of other agencies. Police and fire departments from Bartlett, Elgin, and nearby communities quickly and effectively contained the scene and enabled the cleanup to proceed rapidly. Metra worked closely with CN to get the debris untangled and remove it from the right-of-way. Several other state and federal agencies were on hand to assist.
Metra, of course, was concerned about more than just the cleanup. The Chicago commuter rail agency also had to address the disruption of service and run whatever trains and buses it could, plan for the eventual resumption of at least partial service, and keep riders as informed as possible throughout. It had to determine the best way to reestablish at least one track through or past the accident scene. And, since time was of the essence, it began preparations to do that before the debris was cleared.
The work began immediately following the derailment. In the early morning hours after the accident, key personnel put together a communications plan to try to provide all customers with e-mail alerts and information via Twitter that would save them a trip to their stations and allow them immediately to determine an alternate way to get to work that day.
Soon thereafter, Metra’s top executives convened in its Global Positioning Satellite system conference room downtown, which serves as an emergency operations center during times of crisis. Having key managers at a central location allows for decisions to be made quickly and relayed clearly and effectively. That group eventually included Metra Chief Executive Officer Alex Clifford; George Hardwidge, deputy executive director; Orseno; Joe Lorenzini, chief engineering officer; Marty Ryan, chief mechanical officer; Sharon Austin, senior corporate director, customer affairs; James Sanford, Metra police chief; members of our web, media relations, and customer communications teams; and other officials.
The first priority was to figure out what service Metra could provide to riders of the Milwaukee West Line. “The challenge was to determine how much equipment we had east of the accident, and to determine where we could borrow equipment from other lines without affecting those lines,” said Pete Zwolfer, the senior transportation department director who oversees the lines out of Chicago’s Union Station. “We wanted to accommodate as many people as we could, knowing we certainly couldn’t accommodate everyone with what equipment we had,”
Two Milwaukee West trains that had passed through the intersection before the accident were available, and Metra borrowed another train from another line. For the morning rush hour that day, those three trains operated very limited service between Bartlett and Chicago. Metra also set up buses to transport riders from the last three stops of the line in Elgin to Bartlett.
Metra made good use of an e-mail alert system it had introduced with the 2009 redesign of its web site. Riders who had signed up to receive notifications about the line were sent e-mails alerting them about the incident and about the limited service that Metra was able to offer. The agency used Twitter in a similar fashion.
Metra suggested it might make sense for some riders to use the UP Northwest or UP North lines, which run on either side of the Milwaukee West Line. Milwaukee West riders who live a little closer to Chicago were able to use the North Central Service Line where it shares tracks with the Milwaukee West. All information also was posted on Metra’s web site, including frequent updates. Metra notified Chicago’s media outlets about the plans so they could help inform riders.
Evening Rush Hour
The next step was to put together a plan for the evening rush, since it was clear the intersection would not be open by then. Using four sets of equipment, Metra arranged a limited schedule to Bartlett with buses providing connections beyond to the three Elgin stops. Again, it used various means to alert riders. In all, Metra sent more than 180 tweets and more than 90 alerts to riders of line in about a 24-hour period.
“The entire staff really pitched in,” Zwolfer said. “Everyone from managers to our union employees went above and beyond what was needed to keep things moving as best as possible. It was an entire team effort; that’s how we get through these types of situations, with everyone pulling together.”
While officials downtown were planning for service and informing passengers, other Metra workers were at the scene of the derailment to determine the extent of the damage and begin planning repairs.
“We had both of our mainline tracks torn up and out of service due to the derailment. Most of the rail and ties were mangled up under the derailed freight cars,” Lorenzini said. “The mainline crossing diamonds were damaged beyond repair with a pile of debris centered right over the crossing.”
Metra Engineering Department officials quickly decided the best way to reestablish service was to focus on a parallel track, usually used by freight trains, just to the south of two main tracks. It was also damaged and had upended freight cars blocking it, but they could see that clearing that track would be easier and faster than either of the two mains. When Clifford and Hardwidge arrived at the scene a few hours later to survey the damage, the plan to concentrate efforts on the parallel track was worked out with the CN and finalized.
Metra also had to coordinate with CN to make sure debris was removed from the parallel track first, and it had to wait for fire department officials to extinguish the stubbornly burning rolls of paper from one of the cars.
“As soon as we could get close enough to assess the damage and see how much rail and how many ties were destroyed, we started ordering equipment for repairs,” said Larry Powell, director of engineering for the Milwaukee West Line. Fortunately, most of the needed material and workers were nearby, “so they got busy immediately building 40-foot panels of rails and ties.” To repair the parallel track and both mainline tracks, about 280 feet of panels were ordered.
The parallel track was cleared of debris at about 7:30 p.m. But the fire was not extinguished until about three hours later, and that’s when the track repairs began in earnest.
Because the panels were already assembled, it was simply a matter of laying them down and connecting them to each other and to the parallel track. Four hours later, the new track was ready for trains—meaning that the Milwaukee West fleet was no longer trapped back in Elgin.
Next Morning Rush Hour
In anticipation of getting the track open overnight, Transportation Department officials made plans to operate Friday’s morning rush. Unblocking the intersection freed the fleet to serve the line’s riders, but the bottleneck created by the single track operation would still delay trains. That’s why, beginning the night of Nov. 3 and into the next morning, Metra informed riders through its web site, e-mail alerts, and the media that trains would be operating but could be delayed by as much as 30 minutes.
From those who repaired the track to those who planned, communicated, and operated the trains, workers from every department of Metra contributed to the successful resumption of service Friday morning, Nov. 4. At 4:17 a.m. that day, less than 24 hours after the accident, Milwaukee West train No. 2200 rolled out of Elgin on the line’s first run of the morning.
Sleepy riders were no doubt glad to board the train, even if they weren’t aware of the huge effort put out by Metra to deliver it to their station.
Emergency personnel examine the wreckage after a CN freight train detailed at an intersection with Metra tracks.
Metra cleared the parallel track the evening of the day of the derailment, but extinguishing the fire took three more hours.
While Metra officials in downtown Chicago made plans for service, other workers went to the scene to determine the extent of damage and begin planning repairs.
Ten thousand Girl Scouts from the St. Louis region recently gathered at the Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis University, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of America. The day’s activities included painting murals on both sides of a St. Louis Metro bus.
“We are thrilled to be working with Metro St. Louis on a project that is fun for our older girls, a great way to tell our story to the community, and an opportunity to invite everyone to celebrate our 100th anniversary all year long,” said Donna Martin, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.
Illustrator and graphic artist Steve Edwards designed the bus murals. “We’ll paint green, blue, and magenta girls all carrying the Girl Scout ‘100’ together. Just as each face is lit by the colors of the younger and older faces that surround it, we each carry a little bit of everyone else inside of us,” he explained. “Our community is strengthened both by what we have in common and by what makes us different. We can learn from one another, we can build one another up in ways that surprise us all, and we can celebrate our next century together.”
The mural will remain on the MetroBus for one year, serving various routes around the St. Louis area.
Bus operators, maintenance workers, and support staff from two locals of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) gathered April 7 at buses parked near three Kroger supermarkets in the Lansing, MI, area to collect nonperishable food items for the Mid-Michigan Food Bank. ATU Local 1039 represents the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) in Lansing, while Local 1761 represents Eatran in Charlotte, MI.
This year’s “Bust the Bus” food drive—which collected almost 2,900 pounds of food items and raised $1,950.20 in cash donations—was the fourth, according to Katie Kelley, treasurer of ATU Local 1039. Before the actual event, Eatran gave free rides to passengers who donated a canned good and CATA conducted a casual-Friday fundraiser.
ATU members participating in the “Bust the Bus” food drive include, from left, David Clark, vice president, Local 1761; Shaun Cox, Local 1039; Barb Lomax, president, Local 1761; John Whitmyer, Local 1039; Rachael Clark, finance secretary and treasurer, Local 1761; and Steve Soliz, president, Local 1039.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has implemented a messaging tool through which DART customers can connect to the public transit system’s police department via text message. The process is as simple as sending a short message with the keyword dartpolice to 41411.
According to DART, this service is not meant to replace emergency calls, but instead to assist crime fighting by public transit customers who are hearing impaired or do not wish to make a phone call if they see a crime or something else that makes them uncomfortable while on DART. In addition, the service may prove popular with customers who simply prefer texting over talking.
The text number, 41411, is the same one DART customers can use to find the next departure and arrival times for buses and trains at their stop or station. The only difference with the police text service is that users must start the message with the keyword dartpolice to make sure it is delivered to a DART Police dispatcher. The dispatcher will read it, gather more information and, if needed, send an officer. Including details in the message about the route/rail line, location, and direction of travel in the initial text helps the dispatcher assist the customer more quickly.
No images or videos will be accepted and, while there is no charge for this new service, standard data and text messaging rates may apply.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in Columbus has entered into a partnership with the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) to display art by area youth in COTA’s 300-bus fleet as part of the Poetry in Motion program. COTA and GCAC joined the Poetry Society of America (PSA) to select the specific poems that inspired the young artists.
Because COTA wanted to use the themes of “The Power of One” and the civil rights movement in its student art campaign, PSA selected poems that fit the theme and representatives of the two Columbus organizations made the final choices. The students—members of GCAC’s Transit Arts and Art in the House programs—then created art pieces that paired with the poems, and COTA and GCAC selected the final six to be displayed on the buses.
Public transit agencies in other cities have successfully implemented similar student art programs.
The winning artists were Bria Baldwin, 15, a senior at Columbus Africentric School, “To You” by Walt Whitman; Dezwuan Forrest, 19, a senior at Focus Learning Academy, “To You”; Jalen Anthony Cureton, 15, a sophomore at ACPA Arts & College Prep Academy, “Sympathy” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar; Isaiah Farmer, 12, a sixth-grader at Cols School for Boys, “Let There Be New Flowering” by Lucille Clifton; Sara Jai Haines, 10, a fourth-grader at Avondale Elementary, “Let There be New Flowering”; and Shaniah Dunlap, 7, a second-grader at Columbus Humanities Academy, “For Friendship” by Robert Creeley.
Photo by Jim Shively
LOUISVILLE, KY—Wolfgang Winzer has joined Motor Coach Industries (MCI) as vice president and general manager, aftermarket business, based in Louisville. He will lead MCI Service Parts, MCI Service Centers, and in-field technical support.
Winzer comes to MCI after serving as president of Champion Laboratories Inc., a manufacturer of filters, filtration products, and related services to the automotive, retail, fleet, heavy-duty, and petroleum dispensing industries. He was also president of Webb Wheel Products, which manufactures hubs, brake drums, and rotors for medium-and heavy-duty trucks, trailers, and buses. Winzer’s career included executive positions with Siemens VDO Automotive, where he started in international sales and rose to become vice president and general manager.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—IndyGo has promoted Mark Emmons to director of safety, training, and security.
Emmons has been with IndyGo for more than 14 years in numerous roles, beginning as a transportation supervisor. Most recently he was the agency’s risk and security manager in the Operations Division.
FARIBAULT, MN—ABC Companies announced the appointment of Sarah Ahlers as marketing manager. This position was created in response to the company’s continued growth and the need for additional leadership within this function.
Ahlers has nearly 10 years of marketing experience in a variety of industries, including financial services, technology, and association management.
PITTSBURGH, PA—Joseph Brimmeier recently joined the Port Authority of Allegheny County Board of Directors, appointed by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Brimmeier served from 2003 to 2011 as chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. Earlier, he was chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Ron Klink (D-PA) and Pennsylvania deputy auditor general.
Brian Pinckney, Pat Kelly
WINTER GARDEN, FL—ABC Companies has named Brian Pinckney senior account executive for Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Pinckney previously served the firm for 13 years and, with this position, is returning to his original territory in the Southeast Region.
Also, Pat Kelly has been named parts territory sales manager for a region including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He is a five year employee of the company, previously serving as customer service manager for ABC Parts.
Both Pinckney and Kelly are located in ABC Companies’ Winter Garden facility.
GREENVILLE, SC—Judy Dennis has joined Proterra as its regional sales manager.
Dennis has almost 10 years experience in the public transit industry and 20 years of sales experience. Most recently she worked at ISE Corporation in San Diego.
Brian A. Thompson
CHARLOTTE, NC—Brian A. Thompson, P.E., has joined Stantec as a senior railway engineer.
He has 21 years of experience in the design of mainline and industrial and railyard tracks, public transit design, and environmental and civil engineering for the railroad industry. At Stantec, Thompson will work throughout the Southeast and nationally, with a particular focus on building the firm’s rail-related services in North Carolina.
LAKE COUNTY, OH—Ben Capelle has joined Laketran as its operations manager. Capelle will oversee the daily operations of Laketran’s three core services: in-county fixed routes, commuter express service to Cleveland, and door-to-door Dial-a-Ride service.
He comes to Lake County after serving as general manager of Clermont Transportation Connection in Clermont County, OH. Earlier he was a bus operator at Kent State University and The Ohio State University, from which he graduated, and he worked for First Transit in Cincinnati.
Danny Crenshaw, Alan Rowland, Juan Gonzalez
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—The IndyGo Board of Directors has re-elected Danny Crenshaw as chairperson, Alan Rowland as vice chairperson, and Juan Gonzalez as secretary-treasurer.
Crenshaw joined the board in July 2003, appointed by the City-County Council. He is the founder of Crenshaw Insurance (in association with Farmers Insurance Group of Companies).
Rowland, appointed in June 2008 by the City-County Council, is business development manager for CompTIA’s education program that serves the academic and not-for-profit communities.
Gonzalez, appointed to the IndyGo board in September 2009 by Mayor Greg Ballard, is a vice president and senior business banking relationship manager at Key Bank.
LOS ANGELES, CA—Los Angeles Metro announced the appointment of Frank Alejandro as chief operations officer, overseeing the agency’s six rail lines and more than 1,800 peak hour buses with additional transit projects opening soon.
Alejandro began his career 34 years ago as a bus operator. Having worked through the ranks, he rose to hold top management positions at Los Angeles Metro; Metro Transit’s Hiawatha Light Rail Line in Minneapolis/St. Paul; and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
ST. LOUIS, MO—Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has named Aliah Holman to the Board of Commissioners of St. Louis Metro. Holman, a resident of St. Louis City, succeeds Lewis McKinney Jr., whose term expired.
Holman joined Express Scripts in 2009 and currently serves as a senior marketing manager, developing member-directed marketing materials and client-directed sales tools for new and existing products. She also has worked in fashion advertising, hospitality branding, and beverage promotions.
OCEANSIDE, CA—The North County Transit District (NCTD) has named Deborah Castillo, interim marketing manager, the agency’s new public information officer (PIO). She succeeds Alex Wiggins, NCTD’s chief of administration and PIO for about two years, who is taking a job at another public transit system.
Castillo has 23 years of experience in marketing, communications, and consultation throughout the area’s public sector. Since beginning her career in 1989 with the County of San Diego’s Office of Public Works, she has developed communications efforts as a manager and consultant for well-known area initiatives including the San Diego County Health and Human Services Housing Matters campaign, and the City of San Diego’s Think Blue campaign to prevent stormwater pollution. She joined NCTD in September 2011 as a specialist in business development responsible for increasing revenues through advertising enterprise contracts.
Ken Anderson, Trent Cino, Ryan Dawson, Nathan Gulash, Paula McAtee, Will Todd, Dominic Weilminster, Lisa Glass
DENVER, CO—RNL announces the promotions of Ken Anderson, AIA, LEED AP, to associate principal; Trent Cito, RLA, and Ryan Dawson, AIA, LEED AP, to senior associate; and Nathan Gulash, AIA, LEED AP; Paula McAtee, NCIDQ, LEED AP; Will Todd, Associate AIA, LEED GA; Dominic Weilminster, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C; and Lisa Glass, LEED AP, to associate.
Anderson is the studio lead for RNL’s Washington office. He has more than 15 years of experience as an architect and project manager in the design industry.
Cito, 3D/visualization manager for RNL, has worked in the field for more than 15 years.
Dawson is a designer who combines computer design, illustration, and presentation skills. The American Institute of Architects Colorado honored him as Intern Architect of the Year in 2011.
NEW YORK. NY—Adam Lisberg has joined the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as director of external communications, succeeding Jeremy Soffin.
Lisberg's most recent assignment was editor of City & State, a newspaper and website covering New York government and politics. Earlier he served as City Hall bureau chief for the New York Daily News.
RIVERSIDE, CA —Larry Rubio, chief executive officer of the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), has been named Manager of the Year for 2011 by the California Transportation Foundation (CTF).
Rubio joined RTA in 1988 as superintendent of maintenance. He later assumed roles as purchasing director, human resources director, information technologies director, and deputy general manager before becoming CEO in 2001.
Mike Birch, Samantha Cross, Phleace Crichlow, Bryan Luellen
INDIANAPOLIS, IN—IndyGo has announced some upgrades to position descriptions to include new titles.
Mike Birch is now vice president of human resources, overseeing recruitment, professional development, benefits, and employee relations. He has served IndyGo for 16 years, most recently as director of safety, training, and security.
Samantha Cross, an IndyGo employee for seven years, is now vice president of business development. Her duties include marketing, advertising, communications, planning, scheduling, and customer service.
Phleace Crichlow is now director of employee services within the human resources division. Crichlow has been employed with IndyGo for more than three years. She oversees benefits administration and human resource management and also manages the agency’s onsite clinic and wellness programs.
Bryan Luellen, who joined IndyGo two years ago as business development coordinator, is now marketing manager. He will manage advertising programs, develop strategic community collaborations and promotions, and oversee graphic brand management.