Passenger Transport - July 13, 2012
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Obama Signs MAP-21 into Law

At ceremonies July 6 in the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 4348—the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). This legislation reauthorizes taxes that support the Highway Trust Fund through Sept. 30, 2016, and authority to make expenditures from that fund through Sept. 30, 2014, also making major reforms to surface transportation programs. This bill provides road and transit funding for the next two years.

Obama emphasized that MAP-21 will provide employment for thousands of construction workers on the job in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

“My hope is this bipartisan spirit spills over into the next phase,” he continued, “that we can start putting more construction workers back to work—not just those that were already on existing projects who were threatened to be laid off, but also getting some new projects done that are vitally important to communities all across the nation and that will improve our economy.”

Obama reiterated that Congress should send him more bills like this one: “My message to Congress is the same thing I’ve been saying for months now—let’s keep going. Let’s keep finding ways to work together to grow the economy and help put more folks back to work. There’s no excuse for inaction where there’s so many Americans trying to get back on their feet.”

Among those in attendance were DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Michael Melaniphy, APTA president & CEO. 

“The signing of this bill provides a greater degree of certainty for public transportation agencies and private sector businesses to maintain, plan, and implement public transportation projects,” said Melaniphy.


Photo by Todd Parola

President Obama signs MAP-21 in White House ceremonies July 6.


Among the public transportation guests at the White House to witness President Obama’s signing of MAP-21 are, from left, Dr. Kendra Taylor, CH2M Hill; Robert Prince, AECOM; APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; Freddie Fuller, Cubic Transportation Systems; and Greer Gillis, PB.


LaHood Welcomes UIC to U.S. at Opening Session


History, partnerships, and promise for the future were among the common elements on which experts focused at the July 11 Opening Session of the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia. More than 2,700 high-speed rail professionals participated in the congress.

In an enthusiastic speech, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood noted that now is an exciting moment to spotlight high-speed rail. “It is happening right now and it has been for decades,” he told the audience.

“When [FRA Administrator] Joe Szabo invited me here today, he called this the ‘Olympics’ for high-speed rail in the world,” LaHood said. He also referred to the recent California decision, which he called an investment that will impact the lives of generations to come.

“America has always been a nation of dreamers and builders; that’s how this city started. We need to think big for a strong and prosperous nation,” he said.

Citing the Golden Gate Bridge, the Panama Canal, and the Interstate Highway System as precursors to U.S. high-speed rail, LaHood said: “What we are doing is what other generations have done for us—and many of these were done in tough financial times.”

He continued: “It is a historic time to be in our country. High-speed rail is not a pipe dream …. [it] has come to America. The train has left the station.”

UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux welcomed the more than 2,700 rail experts in attendance at the congress, representing 37 countries, and recognized the many dignitaries—both American and international—in the audience.

“Two years ago we said goodbye to China; today we say good morning America,” he said, referring to the last UIC congress, held in Beijing in 2010.

Loubinoux noted that the congress was possible because of APTA’s invitation, adding: “I truly hope this conference will become a milestone in the history of high-speed rail.”

This year’s meeting is occurring at a symbolic time, he added: UIC is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2012. The international association has 200 rail members from 91 countries with more than one million km of lines.

“The congress is a unique platform,” continued Loubinoux, who also served as the session moderator. “All over the world, high-speed rail means economic development, competitiveness, and growth; less congestion; less dependence on foreign energy resources; and fewer casualties on the roads. Conference participants over the next three days will see the value and benefits of high-speed rail and practical ways to implement it.”

Osamu Yoshida, Japan’s senior vice minister of land, infrastructure, transport, and tourism, told the audience how several years ago, then DOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta “on short notice attended a [UIC] congress. Today we have the current secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood [in attendance]. I feel a sense of destiny that this is being held in the United States.”

Yoshida also said he was looking forward, over the course of the congress, to learning from his fellow attendees and exchanging information.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy welcomed the attendees to the U.S. and to Philadelphia, which he recognized as a city of many firsts—and, as such, a most appropriate site for the first World Congress on High-Speed Rail that UIC has ever held in the country.

The U.S., according to Melaniphy, must remain economically competitive, and high-speed rail is an economically viable way to achieve this: its impacts on mobility and the economy are clear, and Americans understand and support it. The U.S. continues to make incremental progress and work is underway, he said, but much remains to be done.

Melaniphy cited the recent breakthrough in California, where the state senate passed a budget measure in favor of high-speed rail to reaffirm its commitment to the technology. “This vote and matching funds from the U.S. DOT mean that $6 billion will go into a 130-mile high-speed segment in the Central Valley region,” he told the audience. “This will contribute to a balanced transportation system, and we are thrilled it all came together right before you arrived for this Congress.”

He continued: “Your presence here in the United States—you, who are the world experts—will help us take our message and make it understood by those in Washington.”

Melaniphy also encouraged attendees to take time to talk to student volunteers who competed for the opportunity to attend the congress.

APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas, president/executive director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, noted that his agency operates the largest light rail line in the United States. “We do things big in Texas,” he said, but warned that along with doing big things always comes resistance.

“There was criticism of President Abraham Lincoln when he said the United States needed a transcontinental railroad,” Thomas said. “Critics called the proposed New York/New Jersey tunnel financially and technologically impossible to build.” And President Dwight D. Eisenhower faced tremendous resistance toward his Interstate Highway System plan—mainly in how to pay for it.

“Today, these ventures and others stand as examples of America’s success, showing how transportation projects make our daily life possible and keep our economy moving,” Thomas added. “Today, we remember and applaud the vision of the presidents and governors who made these projects a reality—and not their critics. I predict the very same will happen with high-speed rail.”

Thomas cited a recent APTA survey that showed 62 percent of Americans likely to use high-speed rail, with more than half of them very likely. The figure soars to 74 percent for U.S. residents age 18-24.

‘Energy and Convenience’
UIC Chairman Yoshio Ishida recounted the many benefits of high-speed rail, saying: “In all the countries where high-speed rail is operating today, much energy is saved and it provides convenience to those who live along these lines.” He added that his wish for the congress was to see people learning from each other and exchanging ideas and information so a brighter future for high-speed rail can become reality.

Ishida also recognized people instrumental in organizing the congress, including Michel LeBoeuf, SNCF, National Corporation of French Railways, and chairman of the Scientific Committee, and Ignacio Barron de Angoiti, UIC director of high-speed rail.

Since UIC convened its last congress in 2010, 3,577 km of new rail lines have entered service, with 5,806 under construction and 9,673 planned. He added that 15 billion passengers have traveled on high-speed rail—twice the population of the Earth.
 Yoshida likened Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed rail line to fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, who after “fighting and fighting and fighting won—and that was what we are all doing: winning.” He noted that Shinkansen, the world’s first high-speed rail line that began in 1964, has a safety record of zero fatalities. Further, it has made important contributions to the economy, jobs, and social development throughout Japan.

Huawu He, chief engineer and Chinese minister of railways, noted that his country’s trains can reach speeds up to 487 mph and they transported one million passengers last year. “In the next 10 years,” he said, “we will be focusing on technology and innovation. The Chinese government knows the importance of developing railways.”

Suleman Keraman, director general and chairman of the board, Turkish State Railways, said his government has invested $15 billion in the development of high-speed rail since 2003.

Vladimir Yakunin, president, JSC Russian Railways, said his country has a project in development that will link Moscow to St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg to Finland. He cited the need for partnerships, saying it is critical to collaborate with colleagues who already have experience in this field.

Mauro Moretti, chief executive officer of FS, Italian National Railways IT, and vice chairman of CER-Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies, called high-speed rail the key driver for a country’s economy because it accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars. He predicted that European high-speed rail ridership will triple by 2030, then cited the need for public private partnerships for success.

Marcel Verslyphe, executive director of the European Railway Agency, said one of the main characteristics of high-speed rail in Europe is that it is open and transparent and favors competition.

Marc Descheemaecker, chief executive officer of SNCB/NMBS, National Railway Company of Belgium, said his country’s densely populated economy means that “mobility is everything.” Brussels, the Belgian capital, is home to many international organizations, he explained, and it needs to stay competitive or these companies will leave. Additionally, the nation’s many ports necessitate good mobility, which high-speed rail has helped to achieve.

Guillaume Pepy, president of SNCF, National Corporation of French Railways, said his country currently has seven high-speed rail lines, with four more under construction. He noted that, while the system is high-speed rail, it is also compatible with conventional lines. Pepy also cited public-private partnerships as key to future success, adding that France has recently signed four such agreements.

Apolinar Rodriguez, director of internal affairs for RENFE, Spanish Railways, said that, one year after entering service, the Madrid to Seville line connects 27 cities. He cited quality of service as critical—but putting the emphasis on profitability is also key. He said public-private partnerships help to achieve this model.

LeBoeuf gave an overview of the full program for attendees before the session concluded and the trade show opened.


Photo by Todd Parola

Speakers at the Opening General Session of the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail include Apolinar Rodriguez, RENFE, at podium, and seated from left, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; UIC Chairman Yoshio Ishida; APTA Chair Gary C. Thomas; DOT Secretary Ray LaHood; Guillaume Pepy, SNCF; and Marc Descheemaecker of Belgium.



California Approves High-Speed Rail

On July 6, the California State Senate passed a budget measure in favor of high-speed rail. That vote, in addition to similar action by the Assembly earlier in the week, authorizes the country’s most populous state to provide $2.7 billion in funds that DOT will match with $3.3 billion—a total of $6 billion that will go to funding the initial, 130-mile high-speed segment in the Central Valley region.

This positive news came a week before experts from around the world gathered in Philadelphia for the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail, being held in the U.S. for the first time.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood termed the vote to move forward with high-speed rail “a big win for the people of California, and I congratulate the legislature on taking action today to strengthen and grow the California economy.” High-speed rail, he noted, “will ultimately deliver fast, efficient, reliable service between San Francisco Bay and the Los Angeles Basin in less than three hours. Californians have always embraced bold visions and delivered public projects that chart the way for the rest of the nation; today’s vote continues that tradition of leadership.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown lauded the vote. “In 2008, California voters decided to create jobs and modernize our state’s rail transportation system with a major investment in high-speed rail and key local projects in Northern and Southern California. The legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again,” he said.

“The travel needs of Californians and all Americans—today and in the future—require a balanced transportation system that will enable Americans to choose the travel option that works best for their travel needs,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy. “These investments will make the entire transportation system—air, road, and rail—work better as an interconnected system.”

L.A. Metro Completes Orange Line Extension

Los Angeles Metro marked the completion of the Metro Orange Line Extension—a four-mile addition to the popular dedicated busway between Canoga Park and Chatsworth—on June 29. The project, which was completed three and a half years ahead of schedule and $61 million under budget, entered service the following day.

With the opening of the extension, the Metro Orange Line is now 18 miles long.

Los Angeles Metro built the north-south busway extension on a former Union Pacific right-of-way it owns. The line includes four new stations, three new or reconfigured parking lots, a new busway bridge over active railroad tracks, two new busway bridges that cross waterways, new signalized busway/street crossings, street resurfacing improvements, a new bicycle/pedestrian path, and landscaping similar to the original Metro Orange Line.

The Orange Line Extension is the first public transit project completed under Los Angeles County Measure R, a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2008 to finance new transportation projects and programs. Construction began in 2009; prior to the passage of Measure R, completion was scheduled for 2016. The original $215.6 million budget is currently forecast to come in at approximately $154 million; the final project savings will depend on the closeout of the project, including the resolution of any final change orders with the contractor.

“Today we celebrate yet another Measure R transit milestone in Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also chairs the Los Angeles Metro board. “The busway extension will greatly expand the connectivity of the region’s transportation network, creating new linkages between Metro, Southern California’s Metrolink [commuter rail] system, and the statewide Amtrak network. It is the latest example of how Metro is creating a world-class, 21st -century transportation system in Los Angeles County.”

In addition to the Measure R funding, Metro secured support from other sources to help pay for busway construction. This freed up $182 million that had been earmarked for this transit project, which can be applied to another San Fernando Valley transportation improvement subject to Metro board approval.

“The Orange Line is the most successful busway in America,” added Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky. “With the opening of this new segment, the northwest San Fernando Valley will now be served by this very popular mass transit line.”

The line extension operated free June 30 and July 1. Community festivities June 30 at the Canoga and Chatsworth stations included food trucks, live music, and group bike rides.


Photo by Gary Leonard/Los Angeles Metro

The first Metro Orange Line bus crashes through a banner to commemorate completion of the line’s four-mile extension.


Mica Convenes Regional Philadelphia Session

Photo by Todd Parola

Rep. John Mica (R-FL), second from left, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I), convened a Congressional Roundtable in Philadelphia July 9, in anticipation of the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail. Joining Mica on the panel are, from left, Reps. Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the committee’s Railroads Subcommittee; and Shuster staffer Steve Martinko.

Mollet Named APTA Chief of Staff

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy announced that Petra Mollet, vice president-strategy, is now the association’s chief of staff.

She will be responsible for guiding and coordinating internal activities and working closely with the APTA Executive Committee, and will share responsibility with Melaniphy for strategic planning. She has been at APTA since 2008.

Also, James LaRusch, chief counsel and vice president-corporate affairs, will now provide oversight for APTA’s technology and administration areas.

HDR Acquires InfraConsult

HDR Engineering Inc., based in Omaha, NE, has acquired InfraConsult LLC, an infrastructure management and advisory firm with five offices in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Going forward, InfraConsult will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of HDR Engineering Inc.

HDR Engineering President Eric Keen said of InfraConsult: “They have a tremendous reputation, and we are excited about the services and expertise we can jointly offer our clients.”

Michael Schneider, Alan Wulkan, and Simon Zweighaft, InfraConsult’s managing partners, said: “Everyone at InfraConsult is excited about HDR’s ability to help us reach out to clients around the world. More importantly, we founded InfraConsult on the belief that projects are done by people, not companies. It was critical for us to join a company that shares our focus on client service through strong relationships and great people.”

Schneider, Wulkan, and Zweighaft will join HDR as senior vice presidents.

Ronis Dies; Longtime Cleveland GM, APTA Hall of Famer

Leonard Ronis, 90, of Beachwood, OH, a 60-year public transportation professional and member of the APTA Hall of Fame, died July 4.

“He was truly a pioneer who contributed greatly to shaping our industry,” said APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Ronis joined the former Cleveland Transit System (CTS) in 1946 after leaving the U.S. Army. Over the years he served as personnel director, operations manager, and assistant general manager; and became the last CTS general manager on Nov. 1, 1974.

After the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) was established in 1975, he was named its first general manager, serving until 1981. Beginning in 1984, Ronis was an associate consultant with Parsons Brinckerhoff—a relationship that lasted for 22 years.

Ronis served as APTA president in 1980-82 [at the time, APTA had both an elected president and an elected chair] and was named to the APTA Hall of Fame in 1990.

His affiliation with APTA and its predecessor organization, the American Transit Association (ATA), began in 1950 when he joined ATA’s Committee on Supervisor Development.

He also was a founder and past president of the Ohio Public Transportation Association, an organization that played a significant role in developing the state legislation that allowed the creation of regional transit authorities. The organization now presents an annual award in his name.

“Leonard Ronis is one of my all-time heroes,” said GCRTA General Manager Joe Calabrese. “He was a pioneer in this industry and always cared about the customer.”

In 2006, at age 85, Ronis announced that his attendance at the APTA Annual Meeting—his 60th—would be his last. Then-APTA Chair Howard Silver saluted Ronis during the meeting as “a legend in public transit, a man known for his strong vision and devotion to public transit. He certainly walks the talk.”

Photo by Jesse Karras
During the 2006 APTA Annual Meeting in San Jose, Leonard Ronis, right, received a plaque in recognition of his 60 years in the public transportation industry from then-APTA Chair Howard Silver.


Pfaff Dies; Akron Executive Director for 17 Years

Robert (Bob) K. Pfaff, 61, executive director of METRO Regional Transit Authority in Akron, OH, for the past 17 years, died July 2. He had earlier announced his plans to retire at the end of this year.

Pfaff began his 38-year career at METRO as a bus operator in 1974 and worked his way up through the ranks to the top position. During his tenure, the agency expanded its operations
county-wide, began Sunday service, and introduced service to and from Cleveland.

In May, METRO renamed the Transit Center in downtown Akron in Pfaff’s honor. During ceremonies at the Robert K. Pfaff Transit Center, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic called Pfaff one of the best individuals he’s ever worked with, proclaimimg May 16, 2012, Robert K. Pfaff Day in the city of Akron.

Pfaff also received a proclamation at the ceremony on behalf of Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH), a longtime admirer of the dedication and service he has shown the community.

The following month, the Ohio Public Transit Association recognized Pfaff with the Leonard Ronis Excellence in Transit Award.

He served on the APTA Mid-Size Operations Committee.


Robert K. Pfaff, right, executive director of METRO Regional Transit Authority, receives a proclamation from Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic as part of ceremonies in May to rename the downtown Akron Transit Center in Pfaff’s honor. Pfaff died July 2.


NJ Transit’s Woods Dies

Thomas J. (Tom) Woods, 55, chief of procurement for New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit), died July 7 at his home in Tinton Falls, NJ.

After beginning his career as an expeditor for an engineering firm specializing in nuclear construction, Woods joined the Procurement Department of NJ Transit in 1987. He held several senior management positions during his 25-year career with the agency. Woods managed NJ Transit’s first public-private partnership Design-Build-Operate-Maintain contract, which resulted in the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail System, then headed up light rail operations, contracted services, real estate, and advertising before returning to procurement as its chief.

He was a member of the APTA Procurement Steering Committee.


High-Speed Rail Leaders Bring Message to Washington

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

After a quick train ride from Philadelphia on Amtrak’s Acela—and a meeting with “Abe Lincoln,” the Washington Nationals’ mascot—high-speed rail experts from around the world assembled July 10 at Union Station in Washington, DC.

FRA Administrator Joe Szabo offered remarks on behalf of President Barack Obama and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “Three years ago,” he said, “the president declared a vision of an America transported by high-speed rail. This week you’ll hear about the remarkable progress we’ve made in a very short time.” He said that FRA “is thrilled to be a cooperating sponsor and part of the UIC World Congress convening in Philadelphia,” and he called the event in Washington “a terrific opportunity to bring together the talent and experiences of colleagues and world leaders worldwide.”

Michael Melaniphy, APTA president & CEO, noted in his welcome that the train on which they rode into DC is the “anchor in our own Northeast Corridor for high-speed rail.”

“We are here,” he said, “to demonstrate how and why high-speed rail is flourishing, and yes, still spreading in the rest of the world. We believe educational events like today on Capitol Hill will help speed the course in the United States as well.” He also called the recent legislative vote in California to support high-speed rail funding a “huge step for this country.”

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, director-general of UIC, the world rail association, thanked everyone “from the bottom of our hearts for this warm and enthusiastic welcome.”

He also mentioned the California vote, adding with a smile: “The decision made Friday [July 6] was symbolic in its timing [of the 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail convening in Philadelphia]—so, are we [UIC] a lucky charm?” Loubinoux said the Washington Day event presented “a unique opportunity to have all the prominent actors in high-speed rail gathered—all in one row [at the meeting].” 

Ed Hamberger, president & CEO, Association of American Railroads, recalled how “my heart leapt a few years ago when President Obama used the word ‘railroad’ in his State of the Union address.” Hamberger said, however, that any rail system should be one rail system, and that those who run both passenger and freight trains should figure out how to work together “to reach that dual goal of finding a world-class passenger as well as freight system.”

Other speakers included Joe McHugh, vice president, government affairs, Amtrak, who pointed out that Amtrak carries more people between New York City and Washington, DC, than all the airlines combined; Janet Oakley, director of policy and government relations, American Association of State Highway and Transportation  Officials, who remarked that “we have much to learn from your experiences—and value your time with us”; Thomas Hart, vice president, government affairs, and general counsel, U.S. High Speed Rail Association, who called Szabo “a soldier in this effort to bring high-speed rail to America”; and Charlotte Muller, operations manager, American High Speed Rail Alliance, who urged the audience to “use your experiences abroad to educate the people here.”

Following the welcoming remarks, attendees left in small groups to visit personally with nine Congressional representatives. They were Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), John Mica (R-FL), John Olver (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), David Price (D-NC), Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY), and Steven LaTourette (R-OH).


Photo by Kevin Allen
Posing at Union Station with “Abe Lincoln,” mascot of the Washington Nationals, are, from left, FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo; UIC Chairman Yoshio Ishida, vice chairman, East Japan Railways; Satoshi Seino, chairman, East Japan Railways; UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux; Suleyman Karaman, director general and chairman of the board, Turkish State Railways; and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy.


Exploring High-Speed Rail Worldwide—and at Home; Enthusiasm, Focus, Political Will All Cited as Critical Elements

BY SUSAN R. PAISNER, Senior Managing Editor

“I hope your enthusiasm will be contagious in our country … because we still have some political controversy here,” said Rep. David Price (D-NC), a member of the Congressional Bicameral High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus. He spoke candidly as part of the July 10 Congressional briefing of the Washington Day event, which included high-speed rail experts from around the world.

Calling Congressional support a partisan matter, Price said: “We are continuing to fight this battle over funding, year after year. The new House Republican leadership has simply eliminated funding for high-speed rail.”

On a positive note, however, he thought that public support was growing.

“We’ve come a long way in the last two years,” Price said, adding: “I still say a vision of a transportation system with high-speed rail is not a utopian fantasy.” It can become a reality, he said, but only with a “fundamental shift in our policy.”

He laid blame on “too many members of Congress who believe only in austerity.” Price and the members of the caucus “want to raise the visibility of these efforts and demonstrate convincingly to our fellow colleagues and citizens. Your good work here is going to be critical to that effort.”

UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux moderated the session, calling high-speed rail “a long success story since its first introduction in Japan 60 years ago and Europe 30 years ago,” and noting that these trains have transported twice the population of the earth since then. This mode of transportation, he said, “means less dependence on foreign oil, less casualties on roads, a better environment, and better interface with urban mobility.”

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy spoke about the positive benefits of building high-speed rail in America. He then presented excerpts from a just-released APTA report, The Opportunity Cost of Inaction: High-Speed and High Performance Passenger Rail Service in the United States.

“Although this may sound counterintuitive,” Melaniphy said, “the report shows that not building a high-speed rail program in the U.S. has a net opportunity loss of benefits of $26.4 billion over the next 40 years. It also emphasizes that it would be a mistake that will have an impact on generations to come if we fail to focus on the value high-speed rail brings to help sustain and complement our air and highway modes of transportation.”

Satoshi Seino, chairman, East Japan Railways (JR East), first joked through an interpreter how people often mispronounce his name as “sign no,” where it should be pronounced “say no.” He then reviewed the history of Shinkansen, JR East’s bullet train, saying that “without a doubt, it has served as an important part of Japan’s infrastructure.” Seino also highlighted what he called the most prominent fact in the train’s history—zero accidents since 1964—and called this mode of transportation “fast, convenient, and comfortable, and also feasible in other countries around the world.”

Guillaume Pepy, chief executive officer, French Railways (SNCF), cited three major achievements in the 30 years of high-speed rail operations in France, which posts bigger ridership numbers than any airline in the country. First, not only have the trains steadily increased their speed from 160 mph to 260 mph, but they also broke the world speed record in 2007 at 360 mph. Their second achievement is safety, serving more than two billion passengers without a single casualty. And the third is capacity, being the only system to operate high-speed double-decker trains that can carry more than 1,000 people each and depart every minute and a half. He added: “France has only one third of the European high-speed rail network, yet has captured half of the European market.”

Pepy’s final point was that high-speed rail should not focus just on “going from Station 1 to Station 2, but instead must become a sustainable alternative to car travel.”

Vladimir Yakunin, president, Russian Railways, and incoming UIC chair, said that, more than money or technology, the barrier to implementing high-speed rail in America is “a problem of mentality.” He summed up the thinking as: why spend money on rail when so many other travel options are available. “A possible answer to that,” he offered, is that “this is not just a means of transportation, it’s also a quality of life.”

Yakunin continued: “For us in Russia, the term ‘mobility’ is not abstract. To fund high-speed rail was the Russian decision. What will the American decision be? It depends on you. Because, when you start a project, you need before anything else a political vision and a political will.”

Yoshio Ishida, vice chair, JR East, and UIC chairman, echoed Yakunin’s focus on philosophy as a barrier to progress. He then emphasized the need to have secondary, connecting local transportation systems in place. No matter which comes first—which he called the “chicken and egg question”—the critical element is that they develop in lockstep. He said that, in looking at conventional line terminals in America, this is something that must be resolved before high-speed rail can become a viable system.

Other speakers included Mauro Moretti, chief executive officer, Italian Railways (FS Italy), who promoted putting “attractive” stations in the center of a city—“creating a new square”—but served by high-speed rail; and Apolinar Rodriguez, director, internal affairs, Spanish Railways (RENFE), who said the development of high-speed rail in 1986 was a political one, needed because the existing system was “too old.” But the most important point, he said, was that their system must be profitable.

Loubinoux ended the session by “concluding this world tour of high-speed testimony and experience.” What he culled from all the presentations, he said, was: “Where there’s a will, there’s a (rail)way.”

High-Speed Rail: A Week in Photos


Photo by Todd Parola

Public transportation leaders including, from left, UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority General Manager Joe Casey, in background; FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo; Amtrak Board Member Anthony R. Coscia; Joseph Boardman, president, Amtrak; David Carter, senior director of equipment design and engineering, New Jersey Transit Corporation; and APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy participate in a ribbon cutting in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station July 10 after spending the day in Washington, DC. 


Photo by Kevin Allen

Participants in the July 10 visit to Washington gather outside the U.S. Capitol. 


Photo by Todd Parola

A panoramic view of the conference hall during the July 10 Opening General Session.


Photo by Todd Parola

More than 2,700 high-speed rail professionals from around the world participate in the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail. 


Photo by Todd Parola

Cutting the ribbon July 11 for the International Trade Exhibition, from left: Melaniphy, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Loubinoux, Ishida, and APTA Chair Gary Thomas.


Photo by Todd Parola

A scene on the floor of the International Trade Exhibition that was part of the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail in Philadelphia.



Photo by Kevin Allen

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) meets with Min-Ja shi, left, assistant vice president, Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corporation, and Thomas Hart, vice president, government affairs & general counsel, U.S. High-Speed Rail Association, in her office on Capitol Hill.

Photo by Kevin Allen

UIC Chairman Yoshio Ishida, left, vice chairman, East Japan Railways, and Satoshi Seino, chairman, East Japan Railways, participate in the day's events in Washington. 



Photo by Kevin Allen

Mauro Moretti, left, CEO, Italian Railways, chats with Guillaume Pepy, CEO, French Railways, during the day's activities in Washington.

Photo by Todd Parola

Mark Yachmetz, Amtrak chief, corporate research and strategy, and Jolene Molitoris, president, US Railcar Company, visit during the Opening Reception at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. 



Photo by Todd Parola

Cesar Vergara, president and chief designer, Vergarastudio LLC, and Dian Wang, one of the student award winners participating in the UIC World Congress.

Photo by Kevin Allen

Janet Oakley, director of policy and government, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, addresses the July 10 luncheon program in Washington.



Photo by Todd Parola

Student particdipants in the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail prepare to board Acela to Washington from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

Photo by Kevin Allen

Peter Gertler, left, chair, high-speed rail, HNTB Corporation, and Simon Hughes, senior engineer, HS2 Ltd., U.K., arrive in Washington from Philadelphia on July 10.



Photo by Todd Parola

Karen Hedlund of FRA, foreground left, and Sharon Greene of Sharon Greene & Associates share a laugh at the July 11 Student Reception where Hedlund spoke.

Photo by Todd Parola

APTA Chair Gary Thomas, one of the speakers at the July 11 Opening General Session of the UIC 8th World Conference on High-Speed Rail.



Photo by Kevin Allen

Vladimir Yakunin, left, president, Russian Railways, and Bob Kollmar, Association of American Railroads, conclude their day in Washington by preparing to return to Philadelphia on board Acela.

Photo by Todd Parola

Joseph Casey, general manager of Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, served as chair for the July 12 Customer Expectations session.



Photo by Todd Parola

APTA Chair Gary Thomas talks with Tucker Smith from the University of Delaware during the Student Reception July 11.

Photo by Kevin Allen

At the end of their day in Washington, high-speed rail professionals board Acela at Union Station to return to Philadelphia/



Photo by Kevin Allen

Preparing to depart Washington on Acela and return to Philadelphia to attend the UIC 8th World Congress on High-Speed Rail are, from left, Melaniphy; Loubinoux; Inaki Barron de Angoiti, UIC director of high-speed rail; and Szabo.

Photo by Todd Parola

The International Trade Exhibition brought together providers of high-speed rail products and services with industry professionals.



Photo by Kevin Allen

Charlotte Muller, operations manager, American High-Speed Rail Alliance., offered welcoming remarks in the Columbus Room at Union Station. 

Photo by Todd Parola

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood speaks at the July 11 Opening General Session of the high-speed rail congress. 


Meet Terry Garcia Crews!

Terry Garcia Crews
Chief Executive Officer & General Manager
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority/Metro
Cincinnati, OH

How many people do you employ? 834.

How long have you worked in the public transportation industry? 26 years.

How long have you been an APTA member?
I’ve been a member of APTA for 26 years. When you associate with an organization like APTA and all that it offers, it made sense for every agency I've worked for to remain a member!

I currently serve as vice chair of APTA’s Medium-Sized Transit Operations Committee and have been asked to serve on the Workforce Development Task Force and the Nominating Committee. Previously, I served as an APTA regional board director and a member of several APTA committees, including the Diversity Council.

What drew you to a career in public transportation?
The challenge of delivering a critical service to our community sparked my interest in public transportation.

My first position was marketing director for Sun Tran in Tucson, AZ. I found it to be extremely challenging because it's a product you typically don't buy off the shelf like Kellogg's Corn Flakes. From a marketing standpoint, I found it satisfying to be able to convince the public that transportation is a viable alternative, and to see ridership numbers grow.

After being a communications professional for a while, though, I decided to be a consultant and found transportation to be my niche. I worked as a consultant developing marketing plans, advertising and public relations campaigns, and overall strategic plans for clients on both coasts. But that role required a lot of travel, which made it difficult on my young children, so when Sun Tran asked me to become their assistant general manager, I returned to the public sector.

From Tucson, I took on an interim assignment in Poughkeepsie, NY, and quickly hired a general manager after spending November and December in the snow. Next I went to Lexington, KY, and Austin, TX—all as the CEO/GM. And now I'm in Cincinnati, OH. My family doesn't like me to call a “family meeting” because they think we might be moving again!

All these opportunities have garnered me great professional development. I have found my experiences to be worthwhile. Working in multi-dimensional organizations results in financial sustainability, service improvements, organizational culture change, improvements in labor and employee relations, and growth in stakeholder support.

What have you found to be the most valuable APTA benefit or resource—that helps you do your job?
There are a lot of aspects and resources that are valuable. I find the Legislative Updates to be very timely and informative, and the marketing support that APTA provides extends our ability to market public transit. But most importantly, it's the power of APTA in bringing transportation systems together to address legislative and overall industry challenges.

Please explain why or how this has helped.
A prominent example of APTA’s value is the recent legislative battle we had with the transportation bill. When APTA rallied everybody together on a conference call and really put people into action—that made me take a moment to pause and say: “Wow!” We definitely have leverage as an industry and a group—and it was the collective effort led by APTA that made us so successful in changing mindsets.

What do you like most about your job?
I love the changing environment, of serving a multitude of stakeholders. I enjoy seeing our buses roll down our city streets, knowing that we are making a difference. We are the link to financial sustainability by connecting people to jobs and other transportation purposes.

In addition to our contribution to economic development, I especially appreciate our employees on all levels—they are an important part of our Metro team. I have an open-door philosophy, and I welcome the opportunity to talk with and mentor employees. It’s very rewarding to see employees grow and take on additional responsibilities as they develop their own role within our industry.

What is unique about your agency?
At Metro, we have a true culture of diversity. We feel so strongly about inclusion that we have a diversity statement endorsed by our executive team. Further, this effort is supported by our Diversity Council. Our hiring practices and career growth opportunities reflect our commitment to diversity.

We have three women in the top three positions in our organization: chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer. Although it’s unique in the industry right now, I think we are building the bridge to make it a more common occurrence in the future. But it is not just gender-based: Metro’s executive team represents a broad array of cultural backgrounds.

Make sure you see Terry Garcia Crews' video, now that you've read this!


Meet José Reyes!

José Reyes
Administrative Assistant
Program Management and Educational Services Department

What are your primary job responsibilities?
I am an administrative assistant for the Program Management and Educational Services Department, working directly for the director of educational services. I help coordinate Leadership APTA and employee staff training. I also work on BoardTalk, the quarterly publication of transit board members, plus I help with their webinars.

Prior to being hired full time by APTA, I worked on a temporary basis for the chief counsel, drafting contracts, updating the federal regulations section on our website, and submitting APTA comments from our members for regulatory matters. I still assist the chief counsel.

Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about the most recent times you’ve helped out a member.
The most recent set of activities for Leadership APTA took place during our 2012 Legislative Conference. I frequently talk with the members of the current class and alumni by phone or communicate by e-mail on such issues as logistics for upcoming events and conferences and deadlines for their projects. While our conversations are not necessarily about solving world conflicts … I really like the fact that I can get to know so many APTA members on an individual basis.

When we held our day-long Leadership APTA session in March, I spent the day with the class, and it was nice being able to put faces with voices and just in general to interact with them. That day included attending educational sessions, a class lunch, and a tour of the Capitol. It was rewarding to have all the things we’d worked on and planned go so well.

What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
I took pride in formatting the most recent issue of BoardTalk. I talked at length with the senior program manager about what she and APTA members wanted, and presented several possible versions of the publication. Once the APTA staffer and certain board members reviewed the options, they picked one and pronounced it “terrific.”

I also really enjoy working on contracts. This is a new area for me, and I find it fascinating. I like the process of it—starting at the beginning with nearly a clean slate, and ending with a document that will enable APTA to move forward. So while I’m officially in the Program Management and Educational Services Department, I still work with the chief counsel on this.

How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I began working here in March 2011 as a long-term temporary employee. I enjoyed working here so much that, when a full-time opening arose, I applied for it. So I officially became an APTA employee in mid-December of last year.

Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
There are several things(!) First, I am a native Washingtonian. What does that mean? Well, for one thing, it means I remember when we didn’t have a Metrorail system! Second, I am a firm believer in public transportation: I take three trains each day (from Baltimore) to get to work. And third, I am the founder and director of a Mexican dance company—Bailes de Mi Tierra (dances of my land)—based in Baltimore. I choreograph our dance programs and perform (with the other members of my troupe) throughout Baltimore at major Latino festivals. We also perform at such museums as the National Aquarium and the Children’s Museum during National Hispanic Heritage Month. I’ve been doing this kind of dancing since 2000 and, in the fall of 2008, I decided to form a dance company.

Make sure you see Jose Reyes' video, now that you've read this!


Rail Industry Launches Effort to Hire Veterans

In collaboration with various sectors of the rail industry, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced July 10 that the nation’s major commuter, intercity passenger, and freight railroads and rail supply companies expect to hire more than 5,000 veterans in 2012. The rail industry’s commitment is part of the White House Joining Forces initiative, a nationwide effort to recognize, honor, and support U.S. veterans and military families.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, White House Joining Forces Executive Director Capt. Bradley Cooper, and AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward R. Hamberger made the announcement during a joint press event.

“The commitment from AAR and companies in the railway industry to veteran hiring is exactly the type of effort we hoped to see when the First Lady and Dr. Biden launched Joining Forces last year—companies stepping up to hire our nation’s veterans. The railway industry clearly recognizes that hiring veterans is good for their companies’ bottom line and we are appreciative of their efforts to serve veterans as well as they have served this country,” Cooper said.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy added: “The nation’s commuter railroads are honored to join forces and hire veterans, thus benefitting from their valued leadership, technical, and teamwork skills.”

The nation’s passenger railroads, including Amtrak and commuter railroads represented by AAR and APTA, have targeted hiring approximately 500 veterans in 2012, based on the significant need to fill positions being made vacant through retirements as well as some growth and attrition. This represents a hiring target of between 12 and 14 percent of new hires going forward.

Freight railroads, including the country’s major Class I freight and shortline railroads, plan to hire at least 4,700 veterans this year, while dozens of U.S. rail supply and services companies have committed to hire at least 200 veterans during that time.

MBTA Railcar Commemorates Fallen Service Members

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company, which operates the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) commuter rail system in Boston, has introduced into service a “rolling memorial”: a train “wrapped” in an American flag and adorned with gold stars, each bearing the name of a Massachusetts service member who gave his or her life in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The train will operate on all 13 MBTA commuter rail lines as a reminder to the hundreds of thousands of riders who use the public commuter rail system every day of the sacrifices made by these brave men and women.

TransLink Signs ‘Charter of Vancouver’ on Children and Cycling

As part of Velo-city Global 2012, an international cycling planning conference held June 26-29 in Vancouver, BC, TransLink—a co-sponsor of the event—signed the Charter of Vancouver on Children and Cycling: a global agreement to enhance the cycling cuture and experience for children.

The charter takes its cue from the United Nations 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognizes the special ability cycling has in enshrining those rights. It encourages local governments to adopt practices toward cycling that keep those rights in mind, building infrastructure and providing services and programs so children grow up using their bikes as normal part of their travels in the community.

“If the goal is to have more than half of all trips taken by transit, cycling, or walking by 2040,” says TransLink Chair Nancy Olewiler, “we need to remember that the adults of 2040 are children today. Travel choices start at a young age, which is why the Charter of Vancouver is so timely and important.”

TransLink’s TravelSmart program sponsors the school bike-safety courses provided by HUB (formerly Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition), as well as other initiatives to promote responsible cycling.

Seven TransLink staff members made presentations during Velo-city 2012, such as a report on public bike-sharing as part of an overall transportation plan and a bicycle/transit integration tour.

The four-day event brought together about 1,000 delegates from around the world to share best practices for creating and sustaining cycling-friendly cities, where bicycles are valued as part of daily transport and recreation. Next year’s conference will convene in Vienna, Austria.

Capital Metro to Test Hydrogen Bus in University Shuttle Service

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro) in Austin, TX, has begun testing a prototype electric drive bus from Proterra, powered with hydrogen fuel cell technology, as part of its shuttle fleet serving the University of Texas.

During its year in operation, the bus will assist Capital Metro in promoting its green initiatives to the community, as well as a new environmentally friendly form of local transit. Funding for the bus comes from the Federal Transit Administration and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

ITS-New York Honors MTA, CDTA

The Intelligent Transportation Society of New York (ITS-NY) recently honored public transportation agencies in New York City and Albany with Outstanding Project of the Year Awards.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) received ITS-NY’s its Outstanding Project of the Year Award in Advanced Traveler Information Systems for its “On the Go! Travel Station.” The Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) in Albany earned recognition for its first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project as Outstanding Project of the Year in Advanced Public Transport Systems.

“On the Go!” is an interactive touch screen kiosk introduced last year at three MTA New York City Transit subway stations, Penn Station, and Grand Central Terminal.

The stainless steel enclosure supports a large screen with a colorful display, offering customers information about their entire trip, such as planning with Trip Planner+, real-time service status, escalator and elevator status, and local neighborhood maps. In addition, the MTA partnered with third-party developers to include added value applications like local history, shopping and dining options, and news and weather information.

Andrew Bata, NYC Transit chief for strategic improvements and best practices, received the ITS-NY Distinguished Member Award for his work on the On the Go! project.

CDTA’s “NY5” service is the first BRT project in upstate New York, operating along the 17-mile Route 5 corridor between downtown Schenectady and downtown Albany. The route carries both the highest arterial traffic volumes and the largest number of public transit riders in the region.

ITS-NY noted the contributions of Creighton Manning Engineering and IBI Group to the project, including such new technologies as light rail transit signal indications; transit signal priority; real-time passenger information displays; Global Positioning Satellite-based mobile data communication on the buses; closed-circuit television monitoring; and a gateway to the existing fiber network. The corridor also offers CDTA’s first exclusive bus queue jump lanes.

DART Partners in Street Improvements

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) recently joined the city of Dallas and the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind to improve a section of Capitol Avenue east of downtown Dallas.

The partners worked together to construct a lane long enough for up to eight paratransit vehicles to safely board and drop off students and customers at the Lighthouse, a safe right-turn lane, wider sidewalks for safer walking by users of canes, landscaping, benches, and three solar-powered bus shelters.

“At their core,” said Gary C. Thomas, DART president/executive director, “DART, the city of Dallas, and the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind have the same mission: to serve the public. And we joined hands to do just that on this venture.”

Marcel Brunel, board chairman of the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, pointed out the importance of the new safety features to the people he represents. “Just because someone lost their sight doesn’t mean they lost their opportunity,” he said. “Working, together we have created a better opportunity for 200 people to practice their happiness each day at Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind.”

Facility Opens in Greensboro, NC

The Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) in Greensboro, NC, dedicated its new operations/maintenance facility and administrative offices last month. The $18 million structure incorporates green design components. From left are Transportation Director Adam Fischer; Councilwomen T. Dianne Bellamy-Small and Nancy Hoffmann; GTA Board Member Wesley McGuire; Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter; Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC); Engineering Director Butch Simmons; FTA Deputy Regional Administrator Tom Thomson; Veolia Greensboro General Manager Burley Wilkins; Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC); North Carolina DOT Public Transportation Director Teresa Hart; Mayor Robbie Perkins; City Manager Denise Turner-Roth; Veolia Senior VP Bill McCloud; and Greensboro Public Transportation Manager Libby James.

Recognizing the MTI Graduates

Rashidi Barnes, right, director of procurement, Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, visits with APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy following the Mineta Transportation Institute’s (MTI) recent Awards Banquet and Graduate Convocation at San Jose State University. Melaniphy and the rest of the MTI board were guests at the annual event, which included a hooding ceremony for graduates of the master’s degree program in transportation management. This year, 17 transportation professionals received their diplomas.



BMBG Seeks Business Member Nominations

The APTA Business Member Board of Governors Nominations Committee is accepting nominations through Aug. 10 from individuals interested in representing APTA’s private sector members in leadership positions. The nomination form and information are available here.

The nominating committee will select APTA business members to fill the following positions this year:

* BMBG officers including chair, first vice chair, and second vice chair;

* Fourteen members to serve two-year terms on the BMBG; and

* Other positions on the board of governors that might become vacant during the next year.

The term for these positions will become effective at the end of the APTA Annual Meeting, Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Seattle. The slate of nominees will be voted on in an election that will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30, at the APTA Annual Conference.

The BMBG sets the course and direction for APTA Business Member activities and normally meets four times per year, usually in conjunction with major APTA meetings. In selecting nominees to represent business members on the BMBG, the Nominating Committee will consider the nominees' prior record of participation on APTA committees and attendance at BMBG meetings. Diversity on the board is encouraged.

The members of the 2012 BMBG Nominating Committee include Pete Cannito, Frank Martin, Vickie Porter, and Stan Rosenblum. Sharon Greene, immediate past chair of the BMBG, chairs the Nominating Committee.

Nominations must be returned to APTA no later than 5 p.m. Aug. 10. No late submissions will be accepted.

Information regarding the nomination process is available from Fran Hooper, BMBG staff advisor.

Plan to Attend Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop

Public transportation planners and schedulers will benefit by participating in the 2012 APTA Multimodal Operations Planning Workshop, July 30-Aug. 1 at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, MD. The Maryland Transit Administration is hosting this year’s workshop, which provides information-sharing opportunities for both established professionals and individuals new to the field.

Topics to be addressed include looking for efficiencies; broadening relationships among planners from various jurisdictions; innovative operations scheduling concepts; facilities planning; innovations in vehicles, service planning, and scheduling; and transportation planning for special events and natural disasters.

More information about the workshop is available at the APTA web site.

State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference Is Aug. 14-16

APTA is joining the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Community Transportation Association of America to present the 2012 State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference Aug. 14-16 at the Sax Chicago Hotel in Chicago. The Illinois Public Transportation Association and Illinois DOT are hosting the event.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the State Public Transportation Partnerships Conference, which emphasizes the important role states play in support of public transportation. The agenda includes best practices and programs of state associations and state DOTs, as well as federal, state, and local partnerships for public transportation.

Sessions will cover topics such as procurement, performance measurement and management, mobility management, refining messaging for federal and state legislators, state initiatives, state DOTs and state transit relationships, state financing of public transit, and effective management of state transit associations. In addition, the conference will feature a program update from the Federal Transit Administration as well as state association and national partner roundtables.

Registration is now open for this event. The program overview—along with additional information about the conference, registration, and hotel accommodations—is available here.


Opinions on the Passage of MAP-21












MARTA Helps Volunteers Register More Than 1,000 Georgians to Vote

BY SUSAN BERLIN, Senior Editor

Elections—at the federal, state, and local levels—are the major topic of discussion this summer and fall. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is helping the voter registration effort by offering space in its stations for nonpartisan volunteers to add new voters to the rolls.

MARTA’s effort began in late June, when 1,186 Georgians signed up to vote in the state’s July 31 primary. This election is an important one for Atlanta area public transit supporters, including a referendum across the 10-county MARTA service area proposing a 1 percent regional sales tax. This tax would provide $8.5 billion for transportation improvements, more than half of which would go to public transit.

“Several organizations had reached out to MARTA about coming into our stations for voter registration,” explained Toni Thornton, community outreach planner. “Because we received so many requests, we at MARTA decided to see if this was something we could offer to interested organizations and individuals.” System employees earlier conducted small voter drives on a volunteer basis, she said, but this is the first time MARTA has invited other organizations to bring their registration efforts into the stations.

Before moving ahead, MARTA established guidelines for the participating organizations. For example, the voter registration tables could not impede the flow of traffic to and from the platform; they were set up in the general open area of each station. Another requirement was that the organizations could not include any political affiliation in their names.

MARTA knew that it had to include its hub station, Five Points, in any voter registration drive; it identified the other stations with high ridership numbers—H.E. Holmes, Kensington, College Park, and Lindbergh—for the primary election registration effort June 18 and 21. “We’re looking at future dates before the general election,” Thornton said, “probably in late September, and we’ve already had requests to add more dates and stations.”

How did MARTA make contact with the sponsoring organizations? “Public transit agencies can ask community organizations to partner with them on this sort of project,” she continued. “Initially, we sent them information through our database. We invited them to participate, letting them know they would be responsible for training voter registration volunteers. We invited each group to provide up to six volunteers so we wouldn’t cause traffic problems.”

MARTA passengers stopped by the tables and filled out the voter registration forms during their walk to or from the trains. The sponsoring organizations were responsible for submitting the information to the appropriate government body.

In summary, Thornton said: “We’ve gotten so much positive feedback about the voter registration effort from our customers, as well as from the organizations that participated. I’m pretty excited about it.”

MARTA hosted voter registration drives at several of its stations in preparation for the July 31 primary election, and plans to schedule more events before the November general election.


Standards Reports: A Major Benefit to APTA Members

To help the APTA Standards Program monitor the benefits to APTA members of its almost 300 standards, recommended practices, guidelines, and white papers, the program recently surveyed users of its materials to comment on how they have used the information they have found through the program.

Here are a few examples of public transportation agencies and businesses sharing the benefits they have achieved through the APTA Standards Program.

* The Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority in Antioch, CA, reported using APTA Standards Program documents “all the time.” According to the agency: “We used these documents instead of hiring a consultant to develop/train us. We purchased items based on descriptions of what was needed in these plans instead of buying things we don’t need. We were able to contact the people involved to get one-on-one advice and leadership….Without the help and guidance received from this program, the smaller [public transit] agencies would not know how to be efficient and sustainable. This program is a vital teaching tool to every agency.”

* LTK Engineering Services explained that the APTA documents have helped save the company money through labor savings: having the information available means spending less time to research industry standards and existing vehicle designs when writing new specifications or researching specific parameters or systems. APTA information provides design guidance and direction, serving as an effective supplement to traditional vehicle specification requirements.

* The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority referred to its use of the APTA Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices for Rail Transit Systems, Volume 2, and Information Technology Recommended Practices. The agency used these standards to revise its maintenance practices for rail equipment and incorporated the standards into its maintenance requirements.

* “While changing practices at an organization such as ours,” wrote Metro Transit in Minneapolis, “you are often met with pushback from employees, unions, and executives. If you can point to the APTA Standards that apply, you can show that the goal you are trying to achieve is more closely aligned with the rest of the industry. This assists in getting that important buy in along with financial and other resources.”

The agency described its application of APTA draft standards as the starting point when it began changing its electronic device procedure in 2009: “Much of our work had been done by the standards group.  We were left with gathering other statistics on distractions, correlations to drunk driving, meeting and conferring with the unions, etc.  While we gathered articles and other relevant material to help us, our final procedure looked very much like the APTA standards for both agency and operator controlled distractions.”

* URS Corporation related the benefit of its use of APTA’s light rail vehicle standard to creating technical and commercial specs for a light rail project in Detroit. “Since the formatting was completed by APTA, it allowed our team to focus on the unique client needs and requirements,” the company stated. “The document provided a comprehensive roadmap that identified all of the necessary technical and commercial requirements, which ensured a complete specification. It was particularly useful in ensuring that all of the FTA guidelines and requirements were addressed.”

In addition, URS said, “Using the LRV standards document we identified many best practices, along with many current industry standards that we did not have to research—saving us time and money.”

Passenger Transport will cover selected case studies from members in future issues.


Who's Doing What in the Industry

Greg Evans, Doris Towery, Gary Gillespie, Ed Necker
EUGENE, OR—The Lane Transit District Board of Directors has elected Greg Evans, APTA Region VI representative and Executive Committee member, to a two-year term as its president.

Doris Towery will serve as vice president, Gary Gillespie as secretary, and Ed Necker as treasurer.


Gerald C. O'Neill, William T. Thomsen
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Urban Engineers has promoted Gerald C. O’Neill, P.E., CCM, to general manager and senior vice president for transportation and facilities management services. He previously served as director of construction services.

O’Neill has nearly 30 years experience, including more than 20 years with Urban Engineers. He has served in roles including project manager, program director, and executive-in-charge for multi-million dollar projects featuring public transit, bridges, highways, facilities, and rail.

Also, Urban Engineers named William T. Thomsen, P.E., general manager of national infrastructure services. In addition to his new duties, he will continue serving as a senior vice president responsible for overseeing the firm’s New York and Northeast regions.

During his career of more than 30 years with Urban Engineers, Thomsen has gained extensive experience encompassing the management and engineering of major projects for public transportation systems.

For APTA, he is a member of the Capital Projects Subcommittee, Clean Propulsion & Support Technology Committee, High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Committee, Light Rail Transit Technical Forum, and Rail Transit Committee.

Paul Grether
CINCINNATI, OH—Paul Grether has been named rail manager for Cincinnati Metro. In this role, he will manage Metro’s involvement in the Cincinnati Streetcar project.

Grether comes to Metro from the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, where he was manager of streetcar development since 2005. He worked on the Atlanta Streetcar Project, a 2.7-mile modern streetcar line now under construction.

He is a graduate of the Leadership APTA Class of 2011 and serves on the APTA Research and Technology Committee and Streetcar Subcommittee.

Richard Dalton, Dale Zehner
ALEXANDRIA, VA—The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) named Richard Dalton acting chief executive officer effective July 1, following the retirement of Dale Zehner.

Dalton joined VRE in 2009 as director of rail equipment and services. Earlier he worked in rail operations, specifically technical and mechanical issues, for 20 years in the private sector.

Linda Somilleda, George Karbowski, Felicia Friesema



WEST COVINA, CA—Foothill Transit announced the appointments of Linda Somilleda as director of customer service and operations and George Karbowski as director of maintenance and vehicle technology—both newly created posts.

Somilleda has served Foothill Transit for 16 years, most recently as director of Marketing and Communications. Karbowski joined the agency in 2001 and in 2010 spearheaded the launch of the fast-charge, all electric-heavy duty Ecoliner bus. Earlier, he was equipment and engineering supervisor at Los Angeles Metro.

Also, Felicia Friesema was promoted to director of Marketing and Communications. Friesema began her transit career with the agency in 2003, serving as key spokesperson to the press and evolving Foothill Transit’s online presence to include social media.


Gov. David A. Paterson
NEW YORK, NY—Former New York Gov. David A. Paterson has been named to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board of Directors, nominated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and confirmed by the New York State Senate.

He succeeds Nancy Shevell, who served on the board since 2001.

Keith Zecchini, Lillian Hames, Mark Dimmoc



NEW YORK, NY—Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has named Keith Zecchini global chief information officer, based in New York City, and Lillian Hames as an assistant deputy program director on –the program management team for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, based in Sacramento, CA.

Zecchini has more than 27 years of experience as a senior technology manager involved with planning, developing, and implementing information technology solutions to address global business opportunities. Most recently, he was vice president of Talisman Energy and, earlier, a vice president within the energy practice of L&T Infotech.

Hames is a senior rail transit executive with more than 25 years of experience, working most recently as a special product coordinator in the general manager’s office of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. Prior to that, she was general manager for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit.

Also, Mark Dimmock has been named managing director of PB’s Australia-Pacific operations, based in Sydney. He succeeds Jim Mantle in his new post and also will continue as the firm’s managing director of global mining.




Bob Paddon,  Stéphane Forget, Laurent Chevrot, Chris Akiyama, Daniel Bergeron, John King

Bob Paddon

TORONTO, ON—The newly elected chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) is Bob Paddon, executive vice president, strategic planning and public affairs, for TransLink in Vancouver, BC. He was part of the Metro Vancouver team that created TransLink, joining the public transit agency in 2001 from Metro Vancouver. He succeeds John King, city of Lethbridge, who becomes immediate past chair

Also elected were Stéphane Forget, Société de transport de Montréal, first vice chair; Laurent Chevrot, Société de transport de Sherbrooke, vice chair-communications and public affairs; Chris Akiyama, SEON Design, vice chair-business members; and Daniel Bergeron, Agence métropolitaine de transport, Montréal, vice chair-government agencies.

John J. Plezbert
CHICAGO, IL—URS Corporation has named John J. Plezbert business development director in the Chicago office of the company’s Infrastructure & Environment Division.

Plezbert comes to URS after 40 years of service in the public sector in Chicago. He served the Public Building Commission of Chicago as first deputy executive director and, in 2006, led the restructuring of the agency after being appointed by its chairman, Mayor Richard M. Daley. He also was first deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of General Services and held a variety of management positions with the Chicago Department of Aviation.